It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VIPosted by jbaumgartner on January 11th, 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…..someone perfectly expressing everything that pissed me off about the Renardo Sidney decision. Here I was trying to figure out exactly how to denounce such a cowardly, selfish decision by the Mississippi State program, and ESPN.com’s Pat Forde took care of it in this exquisitely-worded blog post. This thing stinks like the three-week-old lettuce sitting in my fridge, and Forde captures each part of that repugnant scent.
I LOVED…..being re-convinced how talented Duke is in seven minutes. I sat down on my couch last week to watch them take on the usually scrappy UAB Blazers, hoping to figure out if the Kyrie-less Dukies still had it. Seven minutes later they were up 26-4, and I suddenly had a free evening to go to the gym. If Nolan Smith keeps playing like this and the outside shooters can make a few, they’ll still be the toughest out come March.
I LOVED…..getting a different slice of college b-ball this week when I turned on the much-anticipated Montana State-Billings/Alaska-Anchorage matchup. There’s something exceptionally pure about watching two schools play hard in a gym that is definitely nowhere near the size of the one at my high school. The game was a rout with two minutes left, but guys were still flying all over the place. I only had one issue – really FSN, you really couldn’t find a better close-up shot on the Alaska campus than the sweatshirts being sold inside the student union? I hear there’s some scenic snow up there.
I LOVED…..Washington’s Isaiah Thomas trying to single-handedly bring “raise the roof” back into the college game (check it out here). I feel like we could reintroduce plenty of other stuff from the 90s, too. You know, fanny packs, Doc Martens, rocking out to “I Want It That Way.” It was a golden decade of style, to be sure, so kudos to Thomas for taking a little piece with him to the court.
I LOVED…..a good ol’ fashioned prank war. Many people probably heard about the sticky-note attack on John Henson’s car by some North Carolina walk-ons. But it goes deeper, as apparently the whole team has been getting into the action. For all the time these 18-20 year-olds spend in front of the cameras and being criticized as adults, it’s nice to see that immature tomfoolery still has its place in the collegiate athlete’s life. And as far as Roy Williams goes, the coach probably figures this is light stuff after watching Tyler Hansbrough jump off the deck of a fraternity and into a pool before his senior year.
The Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…..UConn’s Roscoe Smith inexplicably tossing up a full-court shot with 11 seconds left on the clock and the game tied. And I mean “hate” in the sense that if I hypothetically put myself in Jim Calhoun’s shoes, I just don’t understand how anyone could not know how much time was on the clock at a crucial point in the game. And miscalculate it by 11 seconds. Of course, as a neutral observer I think it’s one of the most hilarious things we’ve seen his season. Bombs away.
I HATED…..another transfer. This time it’s Minnesota’s Devoe Joseph, who looks like he’s headed to Oregon. More and more in today’s game you get kids who don’t mesh with a coach, and they solve their problems by picking up and moving elsewhere. But it’s amazing how few of them eventually make a big impact at the college level. I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s sure the exception. That whole trend seems to really be a statement on the way young players are brought up these days.
I HATED…..how the elite teams crumbled on the road this weekend (or Notre Dame yesterday against Marquette). Five of the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 teams couldn’t handle business away from home on Saturday, and so it’s worth asking – what gives? Everyone knows it’s tough to win in a hostile environment, but perhaps we’ve now built that theory up to a point where we give teams a pass when they struggle in those situations. As if they are supposed to. I’ll say this – those teams that do hold their own on the road will be my picks to advance in the tourney, where there are no gimmes and no cozy home courts.
I HATED…..John Calipari’s attempt to make Enes Kanter into a victim while pretending to be blown away by the NCAA’s decision to make him permanently ineligible (a piece of news you can put in the LOVE column, by the way, as far as this contributor is concerned). My favorite line is that the governing body “just set another precedent.” Yes, Coach Cal, they set a precedent that even without a contract, paying a player still violates the NCAA’s amateur status rules. Shocking. Kanter is a big boy – he made money before, and he’ll make lots more in a few months.
I HATED…..hearing about how tough it was for Bruce Pearl to watch his team play on TV because of his suspension, or how “helpless” he felt. I generally like Pearl. He screwed up, he admitted it, and he’s paying the price. But what’s sad for the players in that program is how so much of the season is just about Pearl, thanks to the penalty. They’re in the middle of a crucial conference stretch, but everything is still focused on their coach sitting out and why that matters. You’d like to think the focus will shift back to the guys on the court at some point, but that probably won’t happen — and it’s a little sad.