It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IIPosted by jbaumgartner on December 13th, 2010
Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this piece he’ll spend each week reviewing the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball.
The Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED…..a good comeback story, in this case Notre Dame’s Carleton Scott. Here’s a guy who didn’t play much his first three years and had an issue of some sort last season that caused him to leave the team for a bit. Well he got his chance this year, and the bouncy 6’8 forward has showed big-time versatility while putting up solid numbers in Irish wins against Georgia, Cal and then Saturday against Gonzaga (a career-high 23 points). It’s nice to see someone with obvious talent taking his final chance, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on an NBA roster somewhere next season.
I LOVED…..teams who know how to schedule tough. I’m looking at you, Tom Izzo, and you, too, Bruce Pearl. Game after game you send your guys into hostile environments. This week it was Syracuse in New York for the Spartans, and Pitt in Pittsburgh for the Vols. Yes, MSU has struggled thus far, but these tough games are exactly why that team always wins the close ones in March and makes it to the later rounds. Repeat after me: SOFT SCHEDULERS OF THE WORLD UNITE AND CONFORM, you have nothing to lose but your inflated records, media detractors and early tournament exits.
I LOVED…..the creation of the Champions Classic. Much like ESPN’s little 24-hour marathon to start the year, matching up four elite programs gets fans amped up earlier in the season. No complaints here.
I LOVED…..Illinois using the women’s basketball. Loved might not be a strong enough word. It was hilarious, golden, priceless, whatever adjective you want. If you’re like me, your reaction was something to the tune of: no way…..how…..for seven minutes???…..drop on the floor in laughter. In this day and age of increased replays and greater official oversight in sports, it’s nice to know the zebras can still give us an unthinkable gem like that one. And if you’re Oakland coach Greg Kampe, you’ve gotta wonder what it says about your team that you were significantly more effective with the women’s ball.
I LOVED…..the disparity between some of the nation’s top freshmen. You have the Jared Sullingers who come out and produce from the first game (props for the 40-spot against IUPUI), but then you have the country’s #1 recruit, Harrison Barnes, struggling to have a big impact. It just shows again that at least one year in college can be an extremely valuable tool for this young talent.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…..the antics from Mississippi State’s Ben Hansbrough against Kentucky this week. Or did I love them? Hard to say, because it’s so difficult coming to terms with Tyler Hansbrough’s brother gesturing to the crowd, holding the finish on his shot and showing …..gasp…..emotion in the excitement of a big game. Did anyone check Ben’s birth certificate? Lil’ bro can stroke it, to be sure, but he might want to simmer down a little when the game is only in the first half (especially since the Irish got smoked in the second half).
I HATED…..Kyrie Irving’s injury. This Duke team could be something special, and I know I’m not the only one out there who wants to see the Blue Devils get a full shot at an undefeated season. That will never happen with Irving out, and he’s going to need a strong medical clearance before he risks his already sky-high draft status.
I HATED…..seeing this story about point-fixing come up again this week. Fans manage to put up with steroids, illegal benefits/recruitment, and all sorts of other shenanigans from their athletes. But nothing creates a pit in your stomach like the idea that an outcome might be fixed.
I HATED…..another poor shot in the waning seconds, this time from Washington’s Isaiah Thomas at the buzzer against Texas A&M. It’s amazing how often in college that players wait too long or fail to be assertive enough with the clock winding down. A perfect example was Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney against Purdue last week, when he ended up taking a terrible fadeaway at the end of regulation. I don’t often suggest that college teams copy anything in the NBA, but they would do well to watch the pros in late game situations. See the clock, be assertive. It’s not that hard.
I HATED…..Hawaii leaving the WAC. That’s mainly because of what it does for Utah State. Stew Morrill has built a great program down in Logan, and each member that leaves the WAC makes it harder and harder for him to get his teams up in the rankings so they can snag a good tourney seed. Texas State, Texas-San Antonio and Denver enter the conference in 2012, and forgive Morrill if that development makes him a little surly this holiday season.