Where is he now: Denny Crum, Louisville

Louisville coach Denny Crum yells instructions to his players during the second half of their game against Kentucky Saturday, Dec. 27, 1997, in Lexington, Ky. Louisville upset No. 4 Kentucky 79-76.

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Louisville coach Denny Crum yells instructions to his players during the second half of their game against Kentucky Saturday, Dec. 27, 1997, in Lexington, Ky. Louisville upset No. 4 Kentucky 79-76.

Denny Crum has played for, assisted or coached some of college basketball’s dynasties.

From his playing days at UCLA under John Wooden, to becoming an assistant coach under Wooden for three national titles, to taking over Louisville and winning two national championships (1980 and ’86), Crum is one of the legends of the game.

He retired from coaching in 2001 after 30 years, leading the Cardinals to 675 wins and six Final Four appearances. Crum now spends part of his time as a co-host of the “Joe B. and Denny Show” (with Joe B. Hall) in Louisville or fly-fishing in Idaho or Alaska.

Q: What does it take just to reach the Final Four?

A: It takes a little good luck or no bad luck, one of the two. I've had it happen both ways. I know in '80 when we won, we won two overtime games before we got to the Final Four. We had either good luck or no bad luck. Those can work for you or against you.

You have to have good teams. It helps if you have a superstar who can help carry you when things aren’t going like you want them to.

Q: What does it take to be the champion?

A: Oh boy. I think a lot of it has to do with, I know in our situation, we won two overtime games. In one of them against Kansas State we ended up having Darrell Griffith foul out, who was our best player. We put in Tony Branch, and he ended up hitting the winning basket. We had a little good luck being able to have someone step up and make plays when your superstar isn't in there.

It’s rare to see someone win today with a good, well-balanced team. Everybody seems to have somebody who is better than anyone else and plays well in the tournament.

Last year, Kentucky had Anthony Davis. They had other good players, but he was just better than anybody else.

When we won it ’80, we had Griffith. When we won it in ’86 we had (Pervis) Ellison and (Billy) Thompson.

I know most teams that are good enough to win it, they have one of the truly outstanding players.

Q: How has the Final Four changed from the time Louisville won its two national championships compared to today?

A: The biggest thing has to do with the venue. All of them are playing the big domes with 60,00 people or so.

We played in Reunion Arena in ’86 (Dallas) and ’80 we played in Market Square Arena (Indianapolis), and it’s not even an arena anymore. It’s a totally different venue.

It’s a lot more fans, even if some of the seats aren’t the best. They still have 40,000 to 60,000 pe0ple who can say they were there.

Whether you have a team in the fight it doesn’t matter, you see fans who are great basketball fans who are there from everywhere.

Getting a ticket used to be tougher than it is today. You can go online and get tickets today. I don’t know what kind of seats you will get. I guess it depends upon what you are willing to play.

Q: How have the players changed?

A: I don't think they have changed a lot. I think there are more good athletes than there were in those days. You could always find some really good athletes on a lot of the teams, but it seems like every team has one or two kids who you say, 'Boy, I'd like to coach that guy.'

That’s the main difference.

The great players in those days could play today, even though they may be against different teams and different competition. There just seems to be more good players than there used to be.

Q: How has basketball changed?

A: They put the 3-point shot in right after we won in 1986. I think that's changed our game a lot. I think there's a lot of teams that you look at them and say they don't seem to be that good, but if they can shoot the 3s and make them. … It's hard to defend the post and good 3-point shooters. A team like Indiana, Michigan, teams that have really good outside shooting but are really strong in the post, too.

Duke has (Seth) Curry outside and the two big kids inside who are both really good players.

Those kinds of teams have the best chance.

What’s interesting to me is I really feel I like there are a lot of good teams that on a given night can beat you. I mean, 30-40 different teams.

A team like an Indiana, Louisville, or Michigan … I think a lot of those teams, you can beat any of them. But just about any of them can beat you. Picking brackets this year can be a real crapshoot. There’s going to be so many upsets because of seedings. There are so many teams good enough to beat you on a given night.

Q: Would you enjoy coaching today’s game?

A: I think so. I don't think the game is a whole lot different than it was when I was coaching. There are teams that press that do a good job and teams that are going to play a straight zone or matchup zone and teams that will play man-to-man defense.

You see a lot less today than you used to see. You don’t see as many teams run set plays with options on each of them like you used to have.

Today it’s more motion-type stuff without individual plays that you can call or that your guards can initiate.