It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XVPosted by jbaumgartner on March 14th, 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 asks who the best prototype player in the game is, backs the Princeton Tigers, and laments his bad bracket luck. Yeah, Jesse…tell it to Coach Greenberg.
Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED…..trying to figure out a unique question. I was having a debate with someone about Connecticut, and in the course of that argument said that “you have to remember, the Huskies don’t have five Kembas.” Well, my buddy (RTC’s own David Ely) asked which player I would take five of in order to form a team that would be the most competitive against a full squad from another school. Think about it, it’s a really interesting question. They have to be able to handle the ball if a team pressed, have to be big enough to compete on the boards (is 6’4 or 6’5 big enough?), have to shoot well enough to keep a D honest, have to be a versatile defender, etc. I think Jordan Hamilton from Texas might be my pick, but here are some of players that came to mind: Harrison Barnes (he’s the prototype you’d think of, 6’8 with some guard skills), Kyle Singler, Derrick Williams, Daniel Hardy, Brad Wanamaker, Scotty Hopson, DeAndre Liggins, Brandon Knight, Cory Joseph. Who would you take?
I LOVED…..two perfect buzzer beaters. Kemba Walker and Washington’s Isaiah Thomas gave us a couple of doozies to salivate over this week, and I liked them for different reasons. With Kemba, it was the ridiculous move. Yes, he had a post player on him, but that stepback was so comically absurd (Pitt’s Gary McGhee fell down) that the only critique might be that he exerted too much energy getting more space than he needed. He’s still my POY, by the way. With Thomas, it was the perfect setup. It was an incredible game (a TITLE game), overtime, swings for both teams…and a perfect ending. Thomas played the clock absolutely perfectly, and the backboard lit up just as his J swished through the hoop. Oh, and by the way, Gus Johnson was on the call (watch to get excited for this coming week): “Thomas….shake….crossover….stepback…..AHHHHIAAHHHH!!!!! AT THE BUZZER!!! YOUNG!!!…..ZEKE!!! (someone told Gus that Thomas was named after the NBA great PG)…….. COLD!!!! ….. BLOODED!!!!!”
I LOVED…..watching Harrison Barnes in the ACC Tournament, particularly his 40-point performance against Clemson. Barnes’ season has been pretty remarkable, going from the No. 1 recruit, to bust, to improving, and now to dominant at times. I’m trying to remember the last player who took such a remarkable journey during the course of a single year. It would be interesting to know how much credit goes to coaching, and how much goes to just playing. Either way, it’s a solid reason to keep the age rule at 19.
I LOVED…..the TV lineup this last weekend. I complained about the conference tournaments last week, and I’m still not sold. Why get teams tired before the season’s biggest event by having them play three or four consecutive nights (or in UConn’s case, five)? Still, I couldn’t complain when I found myself on the couch watching all these great matchups appear on the tube, one after the other. On further reflection, I guess I like the concept of the conference tournament. Since only one team gets the NCAA crown, it’s nice having another trophy to contend for, and the chaotic finishes were great theater. Still, there has to be a better format that can keep teams fresh.
I LOVED…..seeing the Princeton Tigers get back to the Dance, and by buzzer-beater fashion no less (guess I should have put them in there with Walker/Thomas). Having spent three years in Princeton as a kid, including during the glorious 1996 upset of UCLA (Gus was on the scene then, too), I love when the Tigers are in our field of 64 (yeah, 68, but I don’t start counting until Thursday). Whether it’s Bill Bradley or all those Pete Carril teams that scared the bejesus out of higher seeds, Princeton has a great tourney history that makes you pay attention when the black and orange step on the court. And what could possibly be better than having them knock off Cal’s UK Cats?
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…..finding out that Larry Drew II’s rapping abilities were just as bad as some of his decisions at the point this season before his bizarre departure from UNC. No joke – after having his dad inform Roy Williams that he was leaving, Drew decided to let America know how he felt by freestyling about it on stage at his 21st birthday. I suppose some psychologist would say this demonstrates our generation’s lack of communication skills, but I just say the kid can’t really rap.
I HATED…..the inevitable. Let me explain. My parents both attended the University of Washington. I grew up going to games on that campus and witnessing Lorenzo Romar save the program with a group of guys that came from my high school. I rushed the court when Nate Robinson & Co. beat a 26-0 No. 1 Stanford team in 2004. You get the picture. Then I attended the University of North Carolina. I watched two Final Fours and a national championship from 2005-09, witnessing a run of success that coincided with Tyler Hansbrough’s career. Now take a look the bottom of the East Regional of your shiny new bracket. UW is a 7-seed, and, yep, UNC is the 2. Damn. I was crossing my fingers it would never happen, but it finally just might. One win each and I’ll be locking myself in my room and not answering any phone calls.
I HATED…..hearing the bubble/snub talk on Sunday afternoon. One, I agree with the pundits – this is a terrible, awful, horrible bubble year. If you have to argue that you got jobbed, then you weren’t that good. Sorry to break the news. But despite that, I also hated two snubs. The first is Virginia Tech. Poor Seth Greenberg, the guy can’t buy a break. His Hokies semi-collapsed, but they did win an ACC Tournament game and did beat Duke. I blame Dick Vitale for guaranteeing him that he was in. My other snub is Utah State. Yes, they got in. But a 12-seed? Really? They went 30-3, had a decent non-conference schedule and played BYU tough on the road. And they won their tournament. The Aggies are also in BOTH Top 25 polls, so come on. A 7-seed is the worst they should have gotten.
I HATED…..UNC and Duke playing in the ACC Tournament. As I mentioned, I have experience with this rivalry. But I find the two schools facing off in the conference tourney to be a little bizarre. It just seems wrong to have them both on the floor and not be looking at the Crazies in Cameron or the sea of Carolina blue in Chapel Hill. I think it’s fair to say the game itself on Sunday was rather normal – not the intense regular season-matchups that we hype up each year.
I HATED…..seeing the 36-33 final score for the Penn State/Wisconsin game. A buddy of mine sent me an email that said simply, “Penn State and Wisconsin just set the game of basketball back 80 years.” That’s on the money as far as I’m concerned. The score was so bad that I actually refused to even look at the box score to see what the statistics were. Just being safe. They might be infectious.