It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IXPosted by jbaumgartner on January 31st, 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 kicks Purdue while they’re down and questions Peyton Siva’s true motives, but applauds Bob Huggins and — as all human beings with ears indeed should — Gus Johnson’s all-too-short turn at the desk.
The Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED…..a coach thumbing his nose at the politically-correct answer. West Virginia coach Bobby Huggins had an interesting development recently when forward Dan Jennings just walked away from the bench during a game. Now, you could just say the kid’s off the team. Or that it’s “unfortunate” and you’re “dealing with it internally” — that’s one of my favorite coach-speak phrases. But no, Huggins gets rolling and says: “The truth of the matter is that he’s been a non-entity. We started him to try and get some other guys motivated and he did work hard in practice for a while, but look at his career stats.” Ouch. If leaving the team didn’t hurt enough, that one should sting Jennings for a while.
I LOVED…..The great diversity of POY candidates this season. You have Jimmer “When I don’t score 40 it’s an off night” Fredette on a solid BYU team. The Mountain West competition might not be great, but man that J is pure. Then there’s a classic NYC guard in Kemba Walker, who has made UConn perhaps the biggest surprise of the season. And finally Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, who keeps coming to play in the big games and leads the nation’s No. 1 squad. We have the shooter, the slasher and the post player — all on intriguing teams, all very different, and all still very much in the mix to be named top dog. My pick? If UConn is a top-15 team after the Big East season, it’ll be tough to beat Kemba.
I LOVED……Roy Williams’ rabbit ears. You can have your own opinion on Williams, but you can’t deny that he’s a bit sensitive to criticism on occasion. Recently it was some unhappy callers on his radio show who prompted this response at a press conference: “Don’t call me next week and say how good we are; keep your [darn] phone calls to yourself.” Could he stay mad at the fans for long, though? Wait for it…..wait for it…..just a few days later: “Do I wish that I would have just let it go and not said a word?” Williams said. “You’re darn right I do. I wish I had not said one word. I wish that I would have just kept swallowing it. I hate that I said that.” And all of Tar Heel Nation lived happily ever after.
I LOVED…..Announcer Gus Johnson running the desk at CBS for Saturday basketball talk. As you might have figured out by now, I just love Gus, period. But on Saturday, it was specifically for his sign-off after an analysis segment with Seth Davis. As the camera faded out and CBS’ music came on, Gus reached over and casually offered Davis a rather unexpected fist pound. A man of the people knows a fist bump sums up any occasion – even primetime television. Stay classy, Gus. Never let them change you.
I LOVED…..ESPN3.com. Why? Because when the NCAA scheduling gurus made the amateur mistake of putting Ohio State/Purdue at the same time as the State of the Union, I was able to set up the game on my computer and still catch the president on TV. Not a bad combo.
The Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…..television. Building off the last point, why in the world is a big-time game going on during the State of The Union? And then, as if that wasn’t enough, BYU/San Diego State wasn’t on any normal channel. So while Jimmer dropped 43 on the Aztecs, I – and the majority of America – had to twiddle my thumbs and get occasional updates. You’re killin’ me, Smalls.
I HATED…..Kemba Walker giving up the ball with the game on the line against Louisville – twice. Yes, basketball is a team game. Yes, good players get their teammates great shots. But that goes out the window in the last 20 seconds. You’re Kemba Walker, the clutch closer who is responsible for several clutch moments already this year, and you hang on to that stinking ball. If I’m Jim Calhoun, I’ll lose because Kemba missed shots at the end of regulation, the first overtime, and the second period – not merely one of those three.
I HATED…..watching Peyton Siva’s clutch underhand scoop to beat West Virginia and not knowing if he really meant to kiss it that high off the board. Maybe? I have to go with no, because there’s no way you intentionally put a ball that close to going completely over the hoop. Siva, by the way, is making a name for himself with some clutch plays so far in the Big East regular season.
I HATED…..a ridiculous reprimand. It wasn’t for recruiting violations, or lack of sportsmanship, but rather a bus delay in a blizzard. No joke, the Colonial Athletic Association reprimanded Towson for missing tip-off against George Mason (ed. note: corrected) after a 70-mile bus trip turned into a 10-hour nightmare because of snow/traffic. Considering that your league is already under the radar (a nice way to put it), perhaps you’d like to keep something like that private and not give the whole country a laugh. If snow conditions are that bad, perhaps it might be worth, I don’t know, postponing the game before the bus trip? Just a thought.
I HATED…..Purdue laying a giant egg in Columbus this week against the Buckeyes. As if watching it muted during the SOTU wasn’t bad enough, is it too much to ask a very good Purdue team to not wet the bed in the opening ten minutes? I know the big, bad sea of red can be super scary, but maybe you could hang within ten points next time and give me a reason to stick around for the second half. The Boilermakers have too much experience to be doing that on the big stage.