It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIIIPosted by jbaumgartner on February 28th, 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 pumps up Harrison Barnes, weighs in on Cheerleadergate (and no, that doesn’t refer to any of Seth Greenberg’s offspring), and tells you what he thinks about BYU as a 1-seed.
The Five things I Loved This Week
I LOVED…..a different way of watching college basketball. I found myself on a treadmill at the gym on Tuesday, and alas, the one TV with ESPN was as far away as it could possibly be and still be in the same room. Naturally I tried to watch the Tennessee/Vandy game anyway, but could only see tiny players moving around the screen and a dot for the ball. You should try this out – since you can’t always tell the score or know if the ball goes in the hoop, you find yourself guessing who is winning by the flow of the game, fouls, spacing, etc. It’s good for 30 minutes of entertainment, plus you almost forget that you’re…running on a treadmill.
I LOVED…..Two minutes worth of “How do you like me now??!!” from Harrison Barnes against NC State. There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING better than sticking it in the face of a big-time rival on the road. And when you do it with two consecutive rim-rattling putback dunks, followed by a deep dagger from three, you’re just tacking on style points to what was already a perfect 10.
I LOVED…..seeing the look on Seth Greenberg’s face Saturday night after the Duke win. For whatever reason, I’ve always liked the guy. I think it dates back to that time he got thrown out of the game at Cameron Indoor. But mostly it’s because he’s stuck it out at a school where football is really all that matters, and basketball is just something people follow in the late winter and spring. The guy coaches his butt off against the basketball royalty in his conference, and he 100% deserved that monster win to push his injury-ravaged Hokies into the tournament (knock on wood, but they have to be in).
I LOVED…..how the Purdue/Michigan State game on Sunday showed us that the regular season means something. Let me explain. Yes, Purdue has played great basketball this year and the Spartans have struggled. But tell me you didn’t look at that matchup and think: well hey, the Spartans have just as much talent and are playing at home and really could use this victory – so let’s throw out the records and pick Izzo’s kids. I wanted to do that (even though I’ve given up on MSU, I swear), but shame on me. As you watched Purdue kick the living snot out of the still-talented Spartans, you were witnessing what happens when a team develops winning habits over the course of a long season. They know how to make key plays, they know how to hold a lead, etc. And the Spartans can do none of the above. You don’t just get to change the effects of the past because you want to win, and I loved how evident that was in East Lansing.
I LOVED…..St. John’s doing the one thing that can truly validate them as a program on the rise. Other pretenders, pay attention…it’s called winning on the road. College basketball truly has a culture of road wussies, so manning up and walking out of hostile territory with a “W” is more valuable than ever in today’s game. Steve Lavin’s athletic bunch did it against Villanova, and I’d love to know what coach wants to face the Red Storm (and they play exactly like one) in the first round of the tourney.
The Five things I Hated This Week
I HATED…..how Pitt had an slight chance to tie Louisville at the end of overtime on Sunday. For anyone who missed it, Louisville went up five points with 0.5 seconds left on a dunk. That’s when a cheerleader prematurely went onto the court and disrupted the play (although apparently the buzzer had sounded…but that’s another debate). Pitt was awarded a technical and hit two free throws before missing a three to tie. One, you’ve gotta feel sorry for that cheerleader, because CBS’ cameras focused on him for the next three minutes. Had Pitt miraculously won, he would have needed the 5-0 to escort him home. But I can’t stand that Louisville gets penalized for something like that. Those players put in all that time, the university invests all that money, and you’re telling me an overanxious cheerleader can decide the game? Something is off with that scenario. I don’t care how much they yell, or that they have official uniforms – the cheerleaders aren’t part of the team.
I HATED…..the idea of BYU getting a No. 1 seed, as suggested by this SI.com article. This is not college football. The Cougars are going to get a shot at the title just like everyone else. Since that is assured, and there is no BCS ridiculousness, it is actually OK to discriminate against teams that play in weaker conferences. If the Jimmerettes had zero or one loss (and one loss is a maybe), then we could talk. But people, BYU lost to a mediocre New Mexico squad and a UCLA team that received one vote in the AP poll last week. The Arizona team they beat just nose-dived, and their other wins are against mid-majors. They are very, very good, and they deserve a 2- or 3-seed, but the 1-seeds go to teams that end the year with big-time records against big-time competition.
I HATED…..seeing Indiana go to 3-13 in Big 10 play. Maybe it’s because I respect Tom Crean for taking the job even though he knew what the Kelvin Sampson fallout could be. But I think it’s more the same dumb sentimental reason I want St. John’s to have The Garden rocking again in NYC. Indiana and basketball are synonymous. We love nostalgic tradition with our sports here in the USA, and the Hoosiers putting a talented team on the floor just seems right. Keep trying, Tom. It’ll happen someday.
I HATED…..another classic case of looking ahead. Everyone (OK, everyone on the West Coast) was waiting for the big UA-UCLA showdown on Saturday. And what happens? Of course, UA fails to show up in the Thursday game against USC and takes much of the sizzle out of the matchup with the Bruins, which the Wildcats also lost. These types of games are incredible to me. The media analyzes them so much that all players and coaches know that they are trap games. They are literally asked, “Are you worried about this being a trap game?” But no matter, the teams still go out and lay eggs in these situations without fail – ruining the much sexier game to which we were all looking forward.
I HATED…..the same exact stupid, ridiculous, incomprehensible thing I hated last week. Banked shots that weren’t freaking intended to be banked. Perhaps I was just tempting the basketball gods with my complaint, because they sure came down and delivered a dandy when Wisconsin’s Josh Gasser squeegeed in a trey at the buzzer to absolutely blindside Michigan. I loathe these moments. How can you even run around and be excited? You didn’t even attempt to do something remotely close to what happened. I’m finding a new sport to write about. Maybe cricket.