It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XVIIPosted by jbaumgartner on March 30th, 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 continues his alienation of Kentucky fans, suggests Mr. Sullinger calm it down for a little bit, and wants D-Will to get his props.
Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED…..watching 40 minutes of North Carolina-Kentucky and coming away fairly certain that it was the highest quality of play we’ve witnessed this season. Guard play, NBA talent down low, spurts both ways, a tie game with a few minutes left…wow. There’s no doubt in my mind that those were the two best teams left in the tournament, even though that doesn’t mean the Wildcats will bring home the crown.
I LOVED…..that Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart had to say that “this Final Four banner will stay.” Stay, as in not be taken away like the other two banners that John Calipari has – excuse me, HAD – on his resume. Quite a statement, that your athletic director needs to accentuate that point right after the big win. Yes, I can’t stand Cal. Sue me.
I LOVED…..trying to decipher the Kyrie Irving situation. Common sense said getting him back anywhere near full strength put this Duke team right back in the title picture. But after Nolan Smith struggled in the shocker against Arizona (eight points, six turnovers), you found yourself balancing the effects (Irving had 28 points). The bottom line was summed up perfectly by ESPN’s Jay Bilas. Is there any way that you justify not playing the nation’s best PG? No. And do they win the title without Irving? No way.
I LOVED…..how NC State keeps holding out hope of being a big time program again. Maybe it’s just because I spent four years in the state, but the kooks in Raleigh crack me up every time. With the Wolfpack job open, I’ve already heard “rumors” about Arizona coach Sean Miller and VCU coach Shaka Smart in connection with the job. Who in their right mind would want to go there, especially over a job like Arizona, which is a stay-there-till-you-die destination (weather, history, recruiting, etc.)? State fans are crazy, and any coach who wants to follow Sidney Lowe is crazier. If Smart lives up to his name, he’ll steer clear.
I LOVED…..the power of one. With Jimmer, Kemba and Derrick Williams, this year seemed to have more teams that ever that depended so much on one body among the five on the floor. Maybe even more amazingly, one of those teams made the Final Four. On the other side you have Butler and VCU, the epitome of “team.” Man, it’ll be fun to see which combo wins out this weekend.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…..to see Jared Sullinger immediately say that he’ll be back next season. Hey, I love the sentiment. You’re ticked that you didn’t make it all the way and nothing will is going to stop you from getting that title. Emotions run high during the madness of the NCAA Tourney. But kid, you haven’t sat down with the draft experts yet. It’s a whole lot different when you’ve got NBA execs telling you that you’re guaranteed lottery money. Better to not say anything at first and get your fans excited. As it is, you’re just setting yourself up to tick people off if you decide (logically) to go back on your word and take the early cash.
I HATED…..poor execution at the end of a great game. Billy Donovan is an outstanding coach, but the plays his Gators ran down the stretch against Butler were poor, poorer and puke. Whether it was at the end of regulation or overtime, UF mismanaged the clock and ended up with 26-footers. Part of that blame (and certainly not all of it) goes to the sideline. Donovan had a great chance to get back to another Final Four, and a better decision on one of those possessions might have been his golden ticket.
I HATED…..that the teams in the Final Four are arguably the four schools who I thought had the best reasons not to make it. VCU? No way does a school play its way into the field and win five straight in a tough region (especially when Jay Bilas hates their guts). Connecticut? One guy can’t do it all. Kentucky? Too inconsistent, too young, and my least favorite coach. Butler? No way does lightning strike twice, and besides, you don’t lose a lottery pick and upset a 1-seed in the second round. Alas, here I sit as part of the 70-something percent of America without a Final Four team left in my bracket.
I HATED…..that Derrick Williams was left off the All-America first team. This year is a perfect reason for having writers vote right around the time that the Final Four starts. Sure, a guy shouldn’t be penalized if his squad doesn’t make the Big Dance. But if all the schools are in the tourney, then it serves as the perfect tie-breaker. I think the NCAAs did an incredible job of showing us just how valuable Williams, Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette were to their respective teams. After the show Williams put on during his four games, does anyone honestly think there were four better or more valuable players in the country?
I HATED…..that I woke up Monday with the knowledge we have a mere three games left in this season. Toss in the rain outside the window in my lovely hometown of Seattle, and it’s downright depressing.