It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VPosted by jbaumgartner on January 3rd, 2011
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…..trying to figure out just how far one extremely talented player can carry a not particularly talented team. We all knew Kemba Walker wasn’t going to keep UConn undefeated for long once conference play started, but it’s been a blast watching him try. Critics will say UConn looked vulnerable this week while losing to Pitt and eking out a win against South Florida. I say, holy crap, Walker kept them in the game at Pitt despite no help (he had 31 points), and he wouldn’t let them lose a letdown game the next time out. Fingers crossed that he doesn’t wear out, because it could get ugly for the Huskies if that happens.
I LOVED……some more innovative marketing, this time from Xavier, which served fried gator to commemorate a game with Florida. A fun idea, but they might have to nix that with some other teams on the schedule if they’d like to avoid the wrath of animal rights groups (Bulldogs, Bearcats….maybe not so much). They also play the Charlotte 49ers, so we’ll guess the Musketeers aren’t advocating cannibalism. Here’s another question, though – say Xavier played the mighty Banana Slugs from UC-Santa Cruz……would they dare? It can’t be worse than escargot, right?
I LOVED…..the start of conference play. It could be my favorite time of the year, in fact. For all those schools out there hiding behind their wussy schedule of downtrending mid-majors and other pushovers, now is when the truth comes out. There’s no hiding in conference play, and we’ll know more in two weeks than we ever figured out in the last month and a half. Want an example? Who had flaky Oregon State going 2-0 to open its Pac-10 slate?
I LOVED…..New Mexico getting interrupted when a fire alarm cleared out the entire arena. That’s straight out of freshman year of college, when people can’t seem to figure out the mysterious art of popping popcorn in the dorm microwave. If that isn’t enough, though, NM’s stadium is a potential fire hazard (read the link). $60 million dollars, and you didn’t factor that in?
I LOVED…..the variety of rankings. I’ll admit it – KenPom, RPI, AP, USA/Today, they’re starting to grow on me. Is Team X really unranked, or are they No. 5 in the country. And you know why I love it? Because while we can nerd out with our numerical arguments, all those teams will be in the tournament come March. No getting jobbed by the BCS and scamming us out of our ideal title game – instead, we can argue to our heart’s content and then actually see who was right when everyone goes head-to-head.
The Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…..over-refereeing. This week it came in Saturday’s Washington/UCLA game, when UW’s Justin Holiday got T’d up for a little extra conversation after a big bucket. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen stuff like that this year, and here’s my question. Why do we rarely see refs stop play and warn players that they’re nearing the line? Why the T straight away? We want athletes to be passionate and outgoing, but our refs make it seem like every word uttered on the court is a hair’s width away from inciting some sort of riot (and must be punished as such). Come on, zebras – consider it your creative challenge to balance tough refereeing with the reality of the emotion in today’s game. There are worse things out there than a little trash talk.
I HATED…..the closing of Oregon’s McArthur Court. It seems like we lose a little something every time these new stadiums go up. Williams Arena in Minnesota or Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis come to mind as some of the gems we have left the college game (I know there are many others). Change is great, but vintage is still priceless as far as I’m concerned. Pour one out for good ol’ Mac Court this week.
I HATED…..hearing that Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus ended up in the hospital after colliding with two players and cutting himself on the scorer’s table. Here’s to hoping for a full recovery. But on a lighter note – did anyone check out the players that smacked into him? Considering his rather rotund nature…you’d have to believe he dealt out some punishment himself.
I HATED…..ridiculous statements. Yes, we’re looking at you, Chris Wright. After your Georgetown Hoyas beat Depaul, you declared that “I can take anybody off the dribble – simple as that.” Sure you can, Chris. That’s exactly what happened when you went 1-for-9 three days before in an ugly loss to Notre Dame. This is a talented Hoya team, but Wright will need to be on his game every night for them to avoid the inconsistency that has plagued the program during the last few seasons.
I HATED…..observing two of our major conferences on the fritz. The Pac-10 and ACC combined to produce (drum roll, please) TWO teams in the AP Top 25 this week – Duke at No. 1 and Washington at No. 23. Only five combined teams are even receiving votes. No, I don’t mind the Big East (crazy deep again) or quality mid-majors, but given that we end up watching these conferences all year on TV, I wouldn’t mind seeing a quality product on the tube during the next three months.