It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIVPosted by jbaumgartner on March 7th, 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 digs a rout out west and credits the Thompson men in their handling of Klay’s mistake, and tells the Longhorns and Hokies what he thinks of ’em.
Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED..…Rick Pitino saying that there were no hard feelings about the Louisville cheerleader who gave Pitt a chance to tie the game last Sunday by running onto the court and hurling the ball skyward, earning a technical. He went on to say that the overzealous student should “enjoy your moment of glory.” But while Rick might have been all chummy the next day, that frankly was not the case after the game. Click this link and listen to the audio of his press conference: “I’m sure it was unintentional, but you could actually lose a game that way …. But hopefully he’ll learn the rules of basketball next time.” Pitino might have been in his happy-go-lucky PR mood after taking 24 hours to calm down, but his gut reaction is pretty hilarious – don’t EVER touch my ball.
I LOVED……a subconscious admission of a classic Duke flop tactic (P.S., I’m neutralizing the upcoming Duke hate by giving Nolan Smith mad props for single-handedly keeping the Devils in the game against UNC this weekend). While watching the UK/Vanderbilt game this week, I saw a guard draw a three-shot foul by sticking out his legs on a jumper and acting his way into the call. The side announcer (I want to say it was Jimmy Dykes) proceeds to say, “Over the years, Duke’s shooters. You go back to even guys like J.J. Redick. So good and so clever. (Jon) Scheyer. Nolan Smith right now…just enough of a foot out when you’re in the air to draw contact.” THREE Duke players, NO ONE ELSE! It was quite humorous, and come on – you’ve got to give credit first and foremost to Best Actor nominee Reggie Miller, who invented that move long ago.
I LOVED…..seeing a team get embarrassed….by defense. Utah State posted a ridiculous score on Saturday — 72-30 against Louisiana Tech — to run its season record to 28-3. How many times do we see coaches get criticized for scoring too many points in a game and embarrassing an inferior opponent? It has to be the most common complaint when it comes to sportsmanship. But I love this score because a) it’s incredibly embarrassing, and b) you can’t possibly criticize USU. What are they supposed to do, relax and let the Bulldogs score a few easy ones? Stop switching on screens? What a dominating performance.
I LOVED…..the bracketologists. Honestly, I think the Lunardis and Glockners of the world start their projected brackets too early in the year. I really don’t care that much in mid-January. But no matter, they are going strong now and I love this last seven days of trying to figure out where everybody fits into the tournament picture. It’s a pretty unique process when you think through other sports at the collegiate level. At no other time do we debate the tiniest details (was blowing out Weber State by 30 in November enough?) of so many different teams who could win it all.
I LOVED…..a dad reaming out a son who did something stupid. Lakers great Mychal Thompson didn’t waste a lot of words discussing his son Klay’s marijuana possession charge this weekend in Pullman. The boneheaded maneuver came at the worst possible time for Washington State, who needed to beat UCLA on Saturday to try and grab a tournament bid. My own father and I discussed this one at length. Personally I loved that Klay’s dad publicly said how dumb it was. Obviously not every dad has the public visibility that Mr. Thompson has, and I think reasonable public criticism can help a kid who is probably on his way to the NBA. My own dad disagreed, saying it was something to do in private (which probably happened, too, perhaps with some selective language for emphasis). Given that Klay Thompson went the classy route and apologized to the crowd via microphone at Saturday’s game, I think I win this battle. Though I’m sure Pops doesn’t agree.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…..witnessing Matt Painter’s obvious lack of hugging ability on Senior Night. E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson both came off the floor against Illinois high as kites – and with good reason. In a year when Robbie Hummel was again injured, the Boilermakers have overperformed and been a top team all season long, and they had sewn up their final home win. But as they went in for the traditional bear hug with Painter, the potential coach of the year showed a rather obvious aversion to bodily contact. Half a second. If that. Come on coach – the cameras are rolling and asking for more. In the words of Entourage’s Ari Gold, hug it out, bitch.
I HATED…..not being able to decide if North Carolina’s fans were correct in rushing the court after Saturday’s win against Duke to claim the ACC regular-season title. On one hand, is UNC – as a legendary basketball powerhouse that tends to hold itself to a certain standard – ever allowed to rush the court? But on the other hand, it’s the ACC title against a top-5 Duke team. Does the combo of Duke + conference title make it barely legal? So many questions, but no answer from this writer.
I HATED…..Virginia Tech. Come on Hokies, we want you in. I swear. We’re pulling for you so, so hard. Bracketologists had you as a lock after the Duke win, and Dickie V even said on national TV to Seth Greenberg that it was a done deal (which is probably the biggest problem). But of course, you tank two games and now have that familiar doubt creeping in as we approach Selection Sunday. I guess they just love drama in Blacksburg.
I HATED…..soaking in the euphoria of a great last week of the regular season, and then spending a solid hour trying to figure out if winning the conference tournament actually helped any of my favorites for the Final Four. Just the fact that I’m debating it means something is wrong, and it’s been wrong for a while. I despise conference tournaments — they’re nothing more than a way to get more power-conference teams into the Big Dance and tire out the good teams who are set to make a run. Teams don’t play back-to-back games all year, so here’s a great idea – let’s make them do three in a row (more for certain Big East teams) and then dive into the NCAA Tourney. Shorten it, give an extra week of rest after it, do something. Just not this. You shouldn’t be debating whether teams should win or lose a competitive tournament because it could hurt them during the most important three weeks of the year.
I HATED…..the Texas late-season swoon. Perhaps the Longhorns can pull it together, but losing three of your last five isn’t a great way to head into March Madness (especially when you’ll probably be starting the NCAA Tournament after a loss in the upcoming Big 12 Tournament). This is becoming somewhat of a trend down in Austin, though last year’s disaster was on a different level. Come on Rick Barnes, pull it together or all the fingers will again point in your direction.