It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIIPosted by jbaumgartner on February 22nd, 2011
Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse is diggin’ the balance at the tops of the rankings, offers up some serious rule changes, wants respect for USU, and says UNC needs to tidy things up a bit.
The Five things I Loved This Week
I LOVED…..Derrick Williams’ unbelievable block with 0.2 seconds left to save Arizona’s memorable win on Saturday. Yes, it was close to goaltending (I thought he just barely got it), but what an incredible I’m-an-All-American-and-we’re-not-going-to-lose-this-stinking-game kind of play. I mean the guy got up 12 feet, and did it by coming out of nowhere. We won’t see many bigger plays this year. Time to pay attention to Tucson, America.
I LOVED……the UA-Washington game for its larger impact. Of all the big conferences, the Pac-10 gets the least attention thanks in large part to their glaring lack of an ESPN contract. Not many people catch the FSN West channels (or the late start times), so when the league is also struggling a bit with quality, things can hit rock-bottom. Well, the Pac-10 had its chance on Saturday with a prime-time game between its two best teams – and they delivered. An up-and-down game with a thrilling finish was just the medicine the league needed. Maybe now they’ll think about, you know, pursuing a better contract with the Worldwide Leader.
I LOVED……Tom Izzo going Good Samaritan and helping a stranded motorist out of the snow. Perhaps it’s sad that this is a story, since any decent person should be stopping. But let’s be honest, I’ve driven by people before – we all have. Especially after a bad day of work, and Izzo has now had about 80 of those in a row.
I LOVED…..taking a look at the AP Top 25 poll this morning and seeing that SIX different teams had #1 votes. And FOUR of them lost this past week. I’d love to know the last time that happened (obviously I’m far too lazy) but it all points to my most very super favorite part of college b-ball – parity, parity, and an extra dose of parity thrown on top to drive you absolutely insane by the end of the season. Again we’re in February, and I don’t even feel confident enough to venture a guess about a potential Final Four.
I LOVED…..Kemba Walker saying “Hey, remember me?” last Wednesday against Georgetown with his 31-point, 10-assist, 7-rebound performance. All with just two turnovers, by the way. It was easy to continue lauding Jared Sullinger and Jimmer Fredette as their two teams improved upon gaudy records, but Walker’s body of work is still absolutely stunning at this point – and, in all honesty, should put him at the top of the POY discussion. Yes, he has off games (like against Louisville on Friday), but that’s going to happen against good teams when you’re Mr. Everything and get all the defensive attention. Almost 23 points a game, 4.6 assists, 1.9 steals, and all against less than two turnovers a contest while shooting 42.9 percent (he’s a guard, not a forward). Add in the average supporting cast around him, and UConn’s 20-6 record is still unreal.
The Five things I Hated This Week
I HATED…..that Utah State’s one bad game might ruin their season again. One little loss to Idaho (on the road, by the way, where the Aggies are every WAC team’s biggest game) has Stew Morrill’s club again looking at a low seed in the tournament, if any. Not only has this team been consistent in recent years, but they beat Saint Mary’s, beat Nebraska (gee, didn’t the Huskers have a big win last week?) and hung tough with BYU on the road. Consider that BYU is No. 7 in the rankings with losses to a 17-10 New Mexico team (5-7 in the Mountain West) and an unranked UCLA team. Utah State deserves a decent draw this year, but given that they are still outside the Top 25, that doesn’t seem likely to happen.
I HATED…..Portland’s attempt to parody Lebron James’ commercial. Maybe annoyingly amused is a better term than hate, but the Pilots aren’t exactly a squad that should be taking shots at the King. How ’bout this one….should I go 6-6 in conference play, or break .500 in the prestigious WCC? Should I brag about being 103rd in the country in total offense, or hype my 184th-best rebounding average? What should I do? Should I beat an 11-18 Pepperdine squad on the road, or should I lose? What should I do? [Note: for the record, I lost.]
I HATED…..a banked 3-pointer at the buzzer, this one from Utah’s Chris Hines to stun New Mexico. Few plays in sports annoy me more, actually – I think it’s akin to the ridiculously lucky soccer goals you see from time to time. Someone wins a game because of a play that was 100% luck, 100% unintentional and 100% unfair. Can’t they just not count? I vote that we change the rules – four points (or three points on a two) if you call bank mid-shot on at attempt that normally wouldn’t use the backboard. And if you don’t, tough luck – become a decent shooter.
I HATED…..an ugly start to the week. First we have a coach hitting a player, and then Kansas suspends Tyshawn Taylor right before the season’s most crucial stretch. I know there are a lot of programs out there, but it’s amazing how much off-the-court crud surfaces within a given year. Perhaps this season it’s just more front-and-center because of the Renardo Sidney incident, and now these, but let’s hope for some good basketball this week to neutralize the garbage grabbing the headlines right now.
I HATED…..being in the stands for one of the worst basketball games I’ve ever seen quality-wise. North Carolina is getting a lot of praise for its recent run, but the Tar Heels’ 48-46 win at home against Boston College (who they shellacked on the road) looked like the pickup basketball games I played in at lunch during high school. Turnovers all over the place, arctic shooting, poor late decisions — this one had it all. Never before have I seen a team try so hard to lose, and yet sneak away. It’s not like the Eagles deserved Reggie Jackson’s last-second three to go down (and it was three-quarters of the way in the hoop) but Carolina’s performance begged an L.