It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IIIPosted by jbaumgartner on December 5th, 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….a game so good that you’re left wondering if you just saw the National Championship preview. There was plenty of hype involved with Kentucky-North Carolina, and it would have been easy to see the game devolve into a sloppy, up-and-down affair. But instead we got everything we asked for and more. Fans and scouts alike were able to salivate over matchups like John Henson-Terrence Jones, and while lightning fast, the pace was still in control. One point on a non-neutral court certainly doesn’t give us any lasting conclusions, other than we’d all be happy to see these two powers square off again in April.
I LOVED….seeing something new. Every year we witness moments that are absurdly unthinkable, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen one like this shot from Detroit’s Ray McCallum, Jr. When in doubt, use the bounce.
I LOVED….seeing a well-balanced attack this early in the year. It’s not shocking that I’m talking about Ohio State, with how much experience and chemistry they have on the court. But still, their dismantling of Duke last Tuesday was a clinic on offensive balance. They may have arguably the best player in the nation in Jared Sullinger, but the Buckeyes spread the ball around so well that it even overshadowed Sullinger’s brilliance on the block.
I LOVED….Wisconsin’s performance against UNC during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. You’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about, since the Badgers went down 60-57 in Chapel Hill for their first loss of the year. But I throw that final score out the window. On the road, against arguably the nation’s best transition team, the Badgers completely dictated the game’s pace. You don’t see a 25-24 halftime score in Chapel Hill very often, and Bo Ryan’s group managed to play a possession game throughout the competitive 40 minutes. They might not have come out on top, but making an opponent like UNC play your game bodes well for the rest of the season.
I LOVED….watching Austin Rivers coming into his own against Ohio State. Anyone who watched his high-school highlights knows that Rivers has 80 times the offensive skills that his dad, Doc, ever dreamed of possessing. Against the Buckeyes he finally let loose a bit and started torching perimeter defenders with a crossover, shiftiness, and change of pace that made him look D-Wade-esque at times. He still needs to look for his teammates a bit on those drives, but that will come with time. This kid has the full package, and the more games he plays, the better these Blue Devils are going to get.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED….another Arizona transfer. Sidiki Johnson is headed out of Tucson, and while the circumstances might be unique, Lamont “Mo-Mo” Jones headed out last year as well (family issues were involved in that case). It’s not a trend yet, but with the type of talent Sean Miller recruits, he’ll want to make sure those guys are sticking around.
I HATED….that Jim Boeheim put himself in this position. As stated before, it was a mistake when he first opened his mouth in an unabashed defense of Bernie Fine. But I love that he made sure to address his potential mistake at the top of this press conference. However, going back to the Hate side, it’s rough for these Orange that their great start is completely overshadowed by the scandal. I felt awful for Penn State’s seniors a few weeks ago, and there’s a similar regret for the players affected this time.
I HATED….Roy Williams’ refusal to call a time out… again. Everyone knows that he prefers letting his team play rather than sitting them down for two minutes, but Saturday’s final play against UK was the wrong call – period. Yes, Kendall Marshall got Tyler Zeller the ball in a good position down low. But Harrison Barnes was the best closer in the country last year, and you can’t tell me calling a TO with 20 seconds left and isolating him wasn’t the mandatory decision.
I HATED….the decision by Utah State students to stage a “silent protest” during the Aggies’ loss to Denver because of actions taken by the school administration against the student cheering section. The Aggies went on to lose, breaking their 33-game home winning streak. Here’s a thought – instead of hurting your team, go protest the administration after the game is over and your team’s record isn’t on the line.
I HATED….reading about the possibility of losing games like UNC-Kentucky, Kentucky-Louisville, and other marquee non-conference matchups because of conference expansion… as if there weren’t enough reasons to avoid these conglomerate conferences. These early-season throwdowns are one of the best parts of the college season, and it would be a shame to see them disappear because conference seasons got in the way. Let’s hope athletic directors around the country are innovative enough to still make this work.