It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IIPosted by jbaumgartner on November 28th, 2011
Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish on Mondays throughout the season. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.
Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED….that classic first game of the season where you just get blindsided. With a lineup full of projected first-round picks and some much-needed experience from last season, many felt that it would take a while for top-ranked North Carolina to fall. But those Runnin’ Rebels from UNLV went Jerry Tarkanian on Roy Williams’ crew and gave us 2011’s first shocker. That was seriously out of nowhere, and just two weeks into the season we can start asking what seems to be an annual question about UNC’s ability to defend the perimeter.
I LOVED….how Rick Majerus has Saint Louis rolling this early. The Billikens have already knocked off Washington, Boston College, and Villanova this season – marking them as a mid-major to deal with down the road. Majerus is a fascinating coach with plenty of supporters and detractors (see this great article from Sports Illustrated’s S.L. Price in 2008) but he’s one heck of a basketball coach.
I LOVED….Griffin Lentsch’s 89 points last week for Grinnell College against Principia College. For those not familiar with Division III Grinnell, the Iowa school plays a crazy-fast, shoot-happy style that scores boatloads of points – so this kind of outburst makes a slight bit of sense. Still, I’ve been fascinated with point totals like these ever since Kobe Byrant dropped his remarkable 81. Scoring 89 points at any collegiate level is pretty remarkable.
I LOVED….looking at Gonzaga’s schedule. This year the Bulldogs play host to Washington State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Butler and Arizona (in Seattle). You’d be hard pressed to find any other mid-majors who get big programs to risk a road game, but it speaks to how much respect Mark Few’s program commands. Now, if only we could get Washington coach Lorenzo Romar to reinstate the home-and-home rivalry between the state’s two best programs and stop chickening out because of recruiting concerns.
I LOVED….watching UNC’s Kendall Marshall in the Las Vegas Invitational. Though UNC suffered that shocker to UNLV, I don’t know that there is a better passer in the nation. No one saw Marshall being this good, this fast when he entered Chapel Hill last year, but Roy Williams certainly pulled a recruiting heist. Next time the Tar Heels play, take a look when Marshall gets an outlet pass. He throws so many deep hucks the length of the floor because his eyes are immediately looking up the court. And watch his UNC teammates – now that they’ve been with him for a while, their immediate reaction is to keep their heads glued back for the inevitable floating dime that can lead to an easy layup while the defense is still running with their backs to the ball (a natural reaction, because few point guards throw that pass). No matter how the highly-touted Heels fare this season, No. 5 is worth the price of admission.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED….this. I said last week that I was worried about Jim Boeheim’s reaction, and this is why. You just never know.
I HATED….the lighting at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Check out these UConn/Central Florida highlights (another shocker) in Paradise Island of the Bahamas. The crowd is in complete darkness? It looks like the NBA dunk contest, but during an actual game instead. Really weird. We’ll see how the Huskies do from here on out, but full lighting might be appreciated.
I HATED….the continuing saga of Reeves Nelson, and the effect of his selfish attitude on the pathetic UCLA Bruins (picked to finish first in the Pac-12 this year). Those who have watched UCLA the past few years know that Nelson has plenty of talent, but this combination of missing practice, planes, team banquets, etc., is just pathetic. To be honest, after reading that link I think Ben Howland is letting him off too easy. All that, and you sit him out just one half against Chaminade? Maybe a real punishment would give Nelson a real wakeup call. If not, this could be a lonnnng year in LA.
I HATED….rough news from South Bend with senior Tim Abromaitis going out for the year with a torn ACL – ending his career. Season-ending injuries are tough in general, but they seem to have an extra sting when they happen in the first two weeks (when the guy has worked his butt off all summer in preparation), or the final two weeks (when he’s put in a full season of work and is psyched for the postseason). Add in the fact that he’s a fifth-year senior, and this one is tough to swallow.
I HATED….on-court logos. Forgive me for going back an extra week, but this weekend I stumbled upon Seth Davis’ piece from the Carrier Classic in which another player was almost badly injured from slipping on one of the decals that are often slapped on courts for different events. That got me nice and riled up, because I’ve heard coaches complain about these for so long now, and it’s just ridiculous that the safety of players continues to be at risk for these sponsors. Look at the suggestions from Tom Izzo and Roy Williams in that article – it just can’t be that difficult to make changes and still keep the sponsor exposure.