Trick or Treat: RTC Hands Out Halloween GoodiesPosted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2011
It’s Halloween night across college basketball nation and all the ghouls, goblins and ghosts are out trolling for sugary goodness. Whether Gary Williams shows up on your doorstep requesting a chicken wing or it’s an exasperated Jay Bilas wearing VCU garb from head to toe, Halloween is the only night of the year where everyone can act how they really want to act if there were no social mores, norms or YouTube. With the start of the season only one week away, RTC has put together a list of five tricks and treats for some of college basketball’s most notable people, places and things. Here’s our list of Halloween night goodies for all of college basketball’s kiddies, but don’t blame us if the bullies from over at Chapel Hill Street or Lexington Avenue jump out from behind a bush and steal all of your candy.
- Treats to Purdue’s Robbie Hummel & Arizona’s Kevin Parrom– in the form of confident minds and an even more explosive sets of wheels. The good-guy Hummel returns for his senior season after rehabilitating his knee from a second ACL injury last October. He’s taking it slowly, wearing a massive knee brace and practicing only on second days, but the obvious fear is that he’s one of those hard-luck cases who simply can’t get healthy (he has also experienced back issues in the past). Parrom, on the other hand, found himself a victim of a shooting in September as he was home visiting his mother with terminal cancer (who has since passed). The versatile wing is projected to be back in the Arizona lineup in about a month, but despite his positive attitude and diligent rehabilitation of a leg pierced by a bullet, both he and Hummel will have to overcome the mental hurdles necessary to compete at the highest level of college basketball. Let’s hope both players find all kinds of treats as two of the biggest success stories of the season.
- Tricks to Connecticut Basketball – for using a wink-and-a-nod to find a scholarship at the last minute for superstar freshman Andre Drummond, while former orphan Michael Bradley volunteered to give his up for the good of the team. No matter what the courageous Bradley says publicly, we still find the whole thing rather smelly. The NCAA may have stepped in and already provided a nasty little trick for the Huskies, though, in the form of an APR ban from participation in the 2013 NCAA Tournament — which, incidentally, is likely to impact Bradley rather than the one-and-done Drummond. Oy.
- Treats to Kansas’ Thomas Robinson — this kid more than any other deserves a breakout 2011-12 campaign. After a nightmarish year in Robinson’s personal life where he lost both of his maternal grandparents and his 37-year old mother in a span of a mere month, the talented big man is on the credit side of karma in a huge way and hopefully ready to cash it in. We’d like nothing more than to see Robinson become an All-American this year by leading Bill Self’s team to its eighth consecutive Big 12 regular season title, before heading off to the NBA Lottery as a superstar in the making.
- Tricks to the NCAA’s $2,000 Optional Stipend -- although we agree that football and basketball student-athletes are vastly underpaid relative to their value to the schools, making the stipend optional at the leisure of the conference only opens the door for even more of an inequitable distribution of talent than already exists. The power conferences can easily weather the extra couple million bucks such a measure will require, but as for the mid-majors… they’d best keep scouring those patches for the Great Pumpkin of Mid-Major hope to find their future stars.
- Treats to Coach K’s Path to 903 — by our analysis, Mike Krzyzewski is the second-best college basketball coach of all-time. In a couple short weeks, he’ll soon pass Bob Knight at the pinnacle of the D-I wins list (he’s already passed him in national titles), and what better place to do so than the perfectly-named Champions Classic? Krzyzewski has long had many detractors, but we certainly cannot think of any coach over the past three decades who has been able to sustain as much success through so many different phases of the game as this guy. Most of us already know he’s the most successful coach of the modern era, but victory #903 will cement it.
- Tricks to College Presidents, Especially in the Big East — someday we’re going to look back at all of this realignment nonsense and wonder why the school presidents and conference leaders left a valuable property like basketball out by the woodshed while worshiping at the shrine of college football. This is especially true in the conference formerly known as the Big East, which was built into a hoops superpower on the backs of small northeastern Catholic schools, NOT by chasing after blue-carpeted schools 2,500 miles away or other religious institutions deep in the heart of Texas. The Big East lost its way when it stopped focusing on its roots.
- Treats to Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney — well, sorta. While quick to accept the treat, he might upon closer examination think we’re handing him tricks instead: a few Ziploc bags of carrots and celery for the talented but portly Bulldog center. MSU has spent much of the last three seasons banking on the prolonged recruitment and suiting up of Sidney to start paying dividends, and perhaps not coincidentally, they’ve also missed the last two NCAA Tournaments. It’s put up or shut up time for the junior.
- Tricks to the Injury Weauxfgods — for already diminishing the hopes for a magical season through major personnel losses at Missouri (Laurence Bowers), Louisville (Wayne Blackshear), USC (Jio Fontan), and Indiana (Maurice Creek). The injuries to Bowers and Blackshear could mean the difference between the Sweet Sixteen and the Final Four for those schools, while the losses of Fontan and Creek may make even reaching the NCAA Tournament pie in the sky in LA and Bloomington.
- Treats to the NBA’s Greed — not only has the ongoing NBA lockout ensured that college basketball will enjoy a second year of service from the likes of NPOY candidates such as Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, UNC’s Harrison Barnes, Kentucky’s Terrence Jones and Baylor’s Perry Jones, but it also means that college hoops will receive more attention from casual basketball fans in November and December than it ever has before. Even if only 1% of those fans stick around after getting a taste of Duke visiting Sullinger and Ohio State on November 29, or Barnes visiting Jones and Kentucky on December 3, more exposure and more fans only helps the game in the long run. The longer the lockout continues, the more opportunities NBA fans will have to see how much more interesting our game is from a fan’s perspective.
- Tricks to the Cynical Cynics — we’re certainly guilty of this occasionally, but with all of college athletics’ problems, inequities, rationalizations, and specious justifications for its business model, we still love the hell out of the game itself. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that among all the other issues, but if you don’t enjoy watching young men from different backgrounds and regions of the country tip it off and do battle for a couple hours every few nights, get outta the business, man. There’s far too many of these jerks around, and far too few who get overjoyed by sitting courtside at the start of a big rivalry game and allowing the energy and electricity of the raucous crowd to engulf them. We do this because we love that feeling, and when that goes away, so will we. What do the cynics and haters who mail in their reports and can’t wait to get out of the arena each night tell themselves in the mirror each day — they’re doing it for the paychecks? Give your posh seats up to people who want them.