Backdoor Cuts: Vol. VIIPosted by jstevrtc on January 20th, 2010
Backdoor Cuts is a college basketball discussion between RTC correspondents Dave Zeitlin, Steve Moore, and Mike Walsh, whom one of the RTC crew often calls Matt. This week the guys attempt to come up with college hoops’ answer to outdoor hockey, show their advancing age with references to the early 90s, and somehow get a couple of Jersey Shore references by the editors.
STEVE MOORE: With the illustrious quasi-sorta leader of our Gang of Three sitting in a jury box all week, I’ve been summoned to lead things off. And, as always, I’m going to use this space to make a terrible segue into referencing my alma mater.
Last weekend, I piled on 15 layers of long underwear and a snazzy new hockey jersey to watch my Boston University Terriers face the hated Boston College Eagles at Fenway Park. My seats weren’t that great, and we couldn’t see that much, but it was a blast — especially as the snow started coming down. Anyway, I thought it was a decent tie-in to this week’s topic, which is (drumroll please…), your choice for a non-traditional site for a college hoops game.
With Final Fours played in football stadiums, and even regular-season games taking place beneath 7 million-foot HD plasma screens, there has to be at least one or two athletic directors with this idea. Even pro basketball has gone outside, with the Phoenix Suns playing exhibition games outside at a tennis stadium. Weather will play an issue in any idea like this, which is why — for the sake of a fun argument — we will ignore it in this discussion. Let’s imagine that your proposed game could take place in the middle of the summer. Give me your venue and teams to take part, or even more than two teams if you think a double- or triple-header might be in order. Feel free to think outside the box.
As for my ideas, I’ll go with two proposals, one a little more traditional and probable than the other. First, let’s open the doors at the Cotton Bowl for Texas-Oklahoma. I’d be open to Texas-Kansas, as well, but the Texas/Oklahoma rivalry has a long history at the Cotton Bowl. Watching those two go at it each season — with half the stadium in red and half in burnt orange — is a sight to behold. Plus, while a tennis stadium is the ideal setting, given the similar size to a basketball court providing better sight lines, a dedicated football stadium like this one will work just fine. I know the Sooners are down lately, but I have a feeling they’ll be back up again soon, and this would be a great spectacle.
I’ll wait until later to give you up outside-the-box idea, and get your takes on it. So lets hear it fellas:
MIKE WALSH: For me, the outdoor hockey games have been one of the cooler developments in sports in recent memory. I think it’s an exciting change of pace for the fans, it looks awesome on TV, and it brings the players back to their roots of playing pond hockey as a kid. (Editor’s Note: I’m well aware that most kids playing youth hockey today aren’t hoofing it out to their local ponds, they’re getting carted from rink to rink by their parents, but let the sports purist in me have my delusions, will you?)
With basketball, simply bringing the game outdoors just doesn’t do it for me, though. You need a hook … some zing …. some panache. What if the Florida Gators played a game in an actual swamp? What would that look like? Maybe we could go back to the mid ’90s and play on one of those nausea-inducing courts from MTV’s Rock ‘N Jock with the 50-point basket hanging from the arena ceiling? Couldn’t you just see Coack K complaining to the refs that Flea was setting illegal screens?
But alas, I fear my genius is before its time. And, on top of that, the sports purist in me just threw up in his mouth a little. So here’s what I propose: We go old school.
I think you host a game at the birthplace of the sport, Springfield, Mass. Play the game in a small gym, peach baskets instead of hoops (we can at least cut the bottoms out, watching a game where they have to climb a ladder and pull the ball out would be more painful than Pauly D piercing his … um … spicy Italian sausage), throwback unis, the works. The inaugural Peach Basket Classic should be played by Kansas and UCLA, two of the NCAA’s most storied programs.
Or, in the interest of preserving those fragile peach baskets, we could have two Ivy league teams go at it since no one would be able to dunk anyway, right Dave?
DAVE ZEITLIN: Many thanks go out to my two esteemed colleagues for keeping the ball rolling on this column while I endured neverending hours of court as only dreams of Steve’s delightful basketball commentary and Mike’s love for all things Jersey Shore calmed me from going crazy and trading places with the defendant. But I also must apologize to our loyal reader for taking a week off — I blame the Philadelphia justice system and J-Woww for punching me in the face.
So on to the topic at hand. To me, college basketball is all about communities. It brings people together in towns, cities and campus across the country. But too often we forget about the community where college stars originally come from. In our neck of the woods, Mike and Steve can attest that people from Chester will lie down in front of traffic to shake hands with Jameer Nelson, and that in Coatesville there’s a Rip Hamilton Day, a Rip Hamilton Street, a Rip Hamilton Court, Rip Hamilton Wendy’s and I think even a Rip Hamilton Snow Pile Off the Corner of North Caln Road.
Rip is also very proud of his Coatesville roots, seemingly mentioning the oft-troubled, blue-collar, basketball-is-life city in every interview he gives. How cool would it have been if UConn, during its national title run in ’99, played a game at Coatesville’s famous playground court at Ash Park, where Rip once starred growing up? Throw in some old-timers talking about the guy who once scored 40 points with one shoe, a referee who works in the neighborhood car dealership and a ban on defending alley oops, and you’d have a real playground game. Of course, the logistics of setting up a major event at a venue like this would be impossible, but the idea of an outdoor game is certainly intriguing, especially at all the famous playgrounds around the country.
What do you think, Steve? Rucker Park?
STEVE: Why yes, Dave, I was going to suggest Rucker Park – thanks for letting my secret out of the bag one paragraph early. As you mentioned, it would be logistically impossible, but just imagine a game like St. John’s vs. Fordham or St. John’s-Seton Hall at Harlem’s famous Rucker Park. And if that won’t work, it would be fun to at least see a game played on asphalt – anywhere – instead of hardwood. Complete with chain link nets, Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes.