That’s Debatable: Giving ThanksPosted by rtmsf on November 25th, 2010
That’s Debatable is back for another year of expert opinions, ridiculous assertions and general know-it-all-itude. Remember, kids, there are no stupid answers, just stupid people. We’ll try to do one of these each week during the season. We’re fairly discerning around here, but if you want to be included, send us an email with your take telling us why at firstname.lastname@example.org. And have a beautiful Thanksgiving, everyone.
This Week’s Topic: It’s the time of year to give thanks. What college basketball related thing are you most thankful for this season?
Matt Patton, RTC Contributor
Early season tournaments. This year feels like one of the best years ever: the Maui Invitational (Kentucky, Michigan State, Washington and UConn), Puerto Rico Tip-Off (Vanderbilt, Minnesota and UNC), 2kSports Classic (Pitt, Texas and Illinois), and CBE Classic (San Diego State, Gonzaga, Kansas State, Marquette and Duke) all highlighted at least three at-large NCAA teams with an astounding 13 teams that have appeared in the top 25 counting UConn’s imminent inclusion. That’s really unbelievable when you think about it: we saw 15 probable at-large bids face off against at-large talent, and the conference season is still a month away! Some early season tournaments are jokes (here’s looking at you, Cancun), and it’s annoying that the Puerto Rico Tip-Off takes place in a gym the size of my high school’s (with horrible attendance to boot). But don’t act like it wasn’t awesome to see Duke battle Kansas State on a “neutral” floor two hours from the Little Apple, or Washington and Kentucky take their talents to Maui (and the impressive mobility of Big Blue Nation for migrating across the country). These are the nonconference clashes of titans that normally take place only in our sleep, in March, and now in November.
Zach Hayes, RTC Editor/Contributor
I’m most thankful for the seniors that have stuck around to play college basketball for four years. Given the pressure of today’s one-and-done-or-failure mentality, the seniors that have graced the college hardwood for four seasons truly represent what this sport should be about on and off the court. Whether it’s Kyle Singler’s silky smooth jumper, the end-to-end quickness of Corey Fisher, the rebounding prowess of Kenneth Faried, the scoring artistry of Jimmer Fredette or the leadership qualities of Kalin Lucas, these wily veterans will have dazzled us loyal hoop viewers from their first day at practice as a freshman to the moment they receive their college degree. They didn’t appear and disappear from our lives after four months. They didn’t decide to play overseas and collect that first paycheck as soon as possible. After studying how they’ve improved and tracking their ups and downs after four winters, these players almost seem like family. They take us back to a time when staying through your senior year was applauded rather than stigmatized. Mr. Singler, Fisher, Faried, Fredette, Lucas and all the rest of the seniors that deserve so much more attention than they receive, I thank you.
Brian Otskey, RTC Contributor
I’m most thankful for the NCAA, believe it or not. The much-maligned organization has had a very good year. Most importantly, they resisted the urge to expand to a 96-team tournament which would have been an unmitigated disaster. Just imagine a 5-11 NC State team or 6-12 St. John’s making it into the tournament. That would have likely happened last season under a 96-team format. I realize they are probably not done with expansion but let’s give them some credit for holding off, at least for now. The NCAA has also cracked down on some name brand programs, most notably Kentucky, declaring Enes Kanter ineligible. This was the correct decision as there is just no way a professional athlete should be able to play an amateur sport. Connecticut and Jim Calhoun have also come under fire from the “new” NCAA. Don’t forget Bruce Pearl’s situation, Baylor being the subject of an investigation and Oregon as well. I’m sure there is more out there and hopefully the organization will continue its crackdown in the coming years. The NCAA is still a heavily bureaucratic operation with many problems but 2010 has been a positive step in the right direction for collegiate athletics.
Brian Goodman, RTC Editor/Contributor
I’m thankful for Marquette and Connecticut turning heads with their performances this week. The preseason rankings in the Big East read as Pittsburgh, Villanova, Syracuse, Georgetown and everyone else. Marquette was tabbed eighth; the Huskies tenth. While the top two have handled things on their end, Jim Calhoun and Buzz Williams’ squads are already in the kitchen cooking up some crow. Five time zones away from Storrs, UConn made an early splash in Maui on par with last year’s party crashing from Syracuse in New York City. The Huskies were predicted to finish in the bottom half of the conference, and those who cover the Big East hitched their wagons to Austin Freeman for individual honors over Kemba Walker. The Husky junior’s response is loud and clear, exploding for 90 points over three games at Lahaina. The nation awaits the conclusion of the NCAA’s investigation into misconduct on the part of the Huskies’ staff, but in the meantime, credit Calhoun for keeping his young team sharply focused. Yes, the Golden Eagles left Kansas City with two losses, but they gave #1 Duke far more than #4 Kansas State could manage against the Blue Devils. The next night, they nearly sent Bulldog Nation into panic mode before falling short. Marquette will readily take on any challenge thrown their way and fight harder than many of the nation’s premier teams to make a name for themselves. Despite their lack of a consistent post option, they will never use it as a crutch. The Big East is at its best when these two teams are in the thick of things.
Andrew Murawa, RTC Contributor
I’m most thankful for the expansion of these early season tournaments and events. I remember being a college basketball fan when there was the Preseason NIT, the Maui Invitational and the Great Alaska Shootout. Now, since the NCAA made the wise decision in 2006 to allow teams to play in multi-team tournaments every season instead of twice every four seasons, we’ve had a boom in the number of tournaments, giving ESPN, Fox and others more content to show and giving us college basketball fans a chance to get to know teams well while still early in the season. Watching a team compete three times in four days as with the Old Spice or 76 Classics, or four times over a couple of weeks like in the NIT or CBE or Coaches vs. Cancer, gives you the opportunity to watch a young team match up with different styles, maybe have some struggles, hopefully have some success, and prepares the college basketball fan to watch the team grow throughout the season. And, I don’t even mind that some of these events (I’m looking at you CBE and Coaches vs. Cancer) aren’t even true tournaments.
David Ely, RTC Contributor
Without a doubt, I’m most thankful that the powers that be in the NCAA came to their relative senses during the offseason and only expanded the NCAA Tournament to 68 teams as opposed to 96. A 96-team field would have ruined the most perfect postseason in all of sports (college or professional). Not only would everyone have had to learn a new kind of bracket for their office pool, but March Madness would have become watered down with mediocre teams that had no right to compete for a national championship. One of the arguments against a playoff in college football is that such a system would lessen the importance of the regular season; well the same concept can be applied to the proposed 96-team tourney that lets just about any team with a winning record into the dance. You’d be hard pressed to convince fans that a random February game truly is a must-win under such a system, and Bubble Watch probably would cease to be relevant. Making the NCAA Tournament should be a genuine achievement, and I’m thankful that’s still the case … for at least a few more seasons.
John Stevens, RTC Editor/Contributor.
I’m thankful that my mechanic is not just amazing at his job, but he’s also an incredibly good-looking person, and smells fantastic. He is obviously from superior genetic stock, and the skill with which he repairs automobiles is equalled only by the effortless elegance he exhibits in how he lives his life. I would consider it an honor to shine his shoes with my own saliva, cerebro-spinal fluid, or, if he demands it, blood. My life is the richer for knowing him, and I know he would NEVER try and stick it to me. And this sentiment has nothing to do with the melancholy fact that either the timing chain just went out in my car, or there is a previously undiscovered colony of druids living underneath the RTC-mobile’s hood who enjoy banging pots and pans and making other unfathomable rattling noises as I try to drive said automobile. I mean, cripes, I got games to go to. In the meantime — what’s that? Turkey and mashed potatoes and about a thousand other dishes — not to mention holiday basketball — with a legendary family that I don’t wholly deserve? Hmm. Don’t mind if I do…
Danny Spewak, RTC Contributor.
I’m especially thankful this holiday season that NBA executives like this one say a lockout is likely. Admittedly, that’s an insensitive and selfish comment– very much against the holiday spirit– but I won’t apologize for it. Can you imagine watching Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, Elias Harris and Kyrie Irving for another season? And can you imagine a world in which you could strike up a conversation with a basketball fan about the college game before March?