It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VIIIPosted by jbaumgartner on January 24th, 2011
Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball. This week Jesse decides to liberate us of our Kentucky readers — seriously, Jesse, why do you hate our website? — takes pleasure in Clemson’s frustration, and finally figures out that Matt Painter is a top-notch leader of men. Wildcat and Tiger fans, we’ll make sure Jesse gets your hate mail.
The Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED…..looking at the countdown to March Madness last week and seeing it was just a mere 54 days until my favorite three weeks in sports. Then I heard a Gus Johnson cackle – OhhAhhWOWWW!!! — on CBS this weekend. In fact, it made me go back and watch this highlight compilation — just to get my Gus fix. The Madness is drawing near.
I LOVED…..Syracuse’s zone. I had a buddy bring this to my attention this weekend while ‘Cuse-Nova was on TV, and it’s so true. College basketball is the game of constant change, what with players graduating, coaches moving, etc. But the 2-3 zone is one piece you can bank on every year, without fail. Jim Boeheim stands by his trademark D, and though at times it might be mediocre, it’s never bad. How amazing is it that teams still can’t completely figure it out after all these years?
I LOVED…..the transformation of Washington’s Isaiah Thomas. As a west coast resident I probably see way more of the Pac-10 than most, but this has been stunning. UW put Thomas at the point after Abdul Gaddy went down for the year, and he’s suddenly changed from a sometimes-too-selfish scorer into a pint-sized version of Steve Nash. Here’s a guy that averaged 2.6 and 3.4 assists a game his first two years, and had more than six dimes just once this season prior to Gaddy’s injury. Since then? Try 9, 8, 7 13, 10 and 8. Plus, he’s averaging 20.2 PPG over those six games. Take a look if you get a chance, because I swear Lorenzo Romar’s staff made him stop practicing and watching nonstop tape of the Phoenix Suns. Lots of over-penetration while keeping the dribble and a pass-first mentality that just wasn’t there before.
I LOVED…..the cruelty of the North Carolina-Clemson game in Chapel Hill. With the loss on Tuesday – and it was a winnable game – the Tigers are now 0-55 all time on the road against the Tar Heels. Zero and fifty-five. And at this point it’s just agony for Tiger fans, who have been close several times in the last few years – including one of the bigger choke jobs of all time in 2008. Well, schools are trying to save money in this economy, right? Maybe Clemson should consider saving some travel money next year.
I LOVED…..finally coming to the conclusion that Matt Painter is just a darn good coach. His Purdue teams kind of fall into the Pitt category for me, as in not terribly fun to watch. But after years of telling myself the Boilermakers were just surviving in a mediocre Big 10, I give up. The results are too strong. Going to the Sweet 16 last year without Robbie Hummel, and then keeping this current team high in the rankings without Hummel again, it’s hard to argue anymore. The kicker was Purdue’s impressive display on Saturday to beat Michigan State. Props to Painter, and yes – I’m still on the MSU bandwagon. I may die there.
The Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…..the chest-thumping. I wasn’t a huge fan of the salute, to be honest with you, but now this chest-thumping is really getting on my nerves. Is there another motion out there that so blatantly screams “ME ME ME MEMEME LOOK AT MEEEE!!!” I finally lost it when Kentucky freshman Brandon Knight pounded his front side against South Carolina after…knocking down a free throw. What a joke. Fifteen feet from the basket, unguarded, no time limit, that’s all me baby. All me.
I HATED…..John Calipari’s ridiculous tirade against Terrence Jones during UK’s loss to Alabama. That included his wonderfully mature choice to label his star a “selfish mother——,” and get caught by the camera. I can’t stand Cal, for the record, so I can’t pretend to be shocked. But let’s honest – he was probably terrified. Besides those two well-chosen words, he probably was telling Jones something to the extent of – “Oh my GOD, what are you doing??!! If you don’t play like a lottery pick everyone is going to figure out that I don’t actually coach and just enjoy a nice courtside seat!! Get it together!!!” I then received my vindication when Jones (who had actually dominated the last two minutes prior to getting yelled at) disappeared during the final few minutes as the Wildcats lost.
I HATED…..realizing that the Florida and Auburn score was in the 40s. No joke, I turned it on, saw the 40-37 score and watched the last five minutes completely thinking that we were heading into halftime. Not until the coaches went to shake hands did I grasp that the game was over and we had just witnessed a game that brings back memories of Pete Carril’s Princeton teams. Eighty-five total points? That takes some serious effort in today’s up-and-down era of college basketball.
I HATED…..tuning in to the exciting Ohio State-Illinois game and watching the Illini cheering section lay a dud. Jared Sullinger is at the free throw line with five minutes left and OSU up just six, but you could hear a stinking pin drop in that stadium. You’ve got a top-ranked and undefeated team in your house, and you can’t exercise the vocal cords a little? Come on, I know it’s Saturday and the student section is pretty hung over. Still, suck it up, guys.
I HATED…..the intentional foul called on Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre for swinging his elbow against San Francisco on Saturday. I don’t really like the new rule, and I like it less when it’s called to change the game. If you’re not going to let a player secure a ball and swing it through, and you are going to let defenders reach in, then what exactly is someone supposed to do in a close game? Curl up and let a jump ball be called? We shouldn’t let players savagely toss elbows around, but we need to acknowledge that it’s a basketball play, too. This rule needs work, and I liked Zags coach Mark Few’s quote in the Spokesman-Review: “It’s one we need to look at as coaches and refs,” Few said of the new rule, which is in place for player safety reasons. “I don’t know what the rebounder is supposed to do, and I don’t know what to coach the rebounder on.”