It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VI

Posted by jbaumgartner on December 29th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish on Mondays throughout the season. This week’s was delayed due to the lack of college basketball over the weekend. 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….defenders who are willing to risk being the #1 highlight on SportsCenter. Two brave Texas Longhorns bit the bullet last week against North Carolina, and they paid a hefty price. First Dexter Strickland went up and over his Texas defender for the poster slam. Then, P.J. Hairston put on a hit that would make NFL safeties smile before throwing down a one-hander.

I LOVED….the strong early showing from the Big Ten. I’m the first to admit that I don’t love the style of play from this conference, but it’s nice to see so many teams with quality wins early in the year. On the top of that list is Indiana, which finally dropped its first game on the road against Michigan State (more than excusable). If Tom Crean’s revitalized Hoosiers can put together a decent conference season and Michigan State continues its strong recovery, you could be looking at a lot of high seeds from the Big Ten come March.

Crean Has Turned Indiana Around

I LOVED….a name like Fab Melo of Syracuse. First off, you can’t go wrong when you are a seven-foot Brazilian named Fab. Combine that with an identical last name to the program’s national championship hero/NBA star, and it’s almost too much. And if Fab puts up more games like the 12-point, 10-block, and 7-rebound performance against Seton Hall, Cuse fans will be chanting his name plenty by the end of the season.

I LOVED….the Georgetown Hoyas setting me up again. After Wednesday’s big win against Louisville on the road, they’re 11-1 and rolling. So just like the last few years, I will get too excited, expect big things, think this year is different, and end up frustrated with them all season and still picking them too far in my bracket. Oh well, at least I’m prepared early this time around.

I LOVED….this feel-good moment around the holidays, with UConn’s Andre Drummond giving back his scholarship to teammate Michael Bradley, who initially sacrificed it so that UConn could have room for the star recruit.

Five Things I Hated This Week

I HATED…..seeing that there might be an official end date for Rick Pitino’s time as a college basketball coach. Pitino has made some mistakes, to be sure, and his personal life was front and center for all of America to see just a few years ago. But he’s also one of the better talent developers that we have seen, and to bring three different programs to a Final Four is quite an achievement. You never count a Pitino team out of the running, and no one should be looking forward to his exit.

I HATED…..Xavier’s post-brawl funk turning into a three-game losing streak. While I wrote last week that I thought the initial loss was a good lesson, you would hate to see one incident turn a quality Musketeer squad into a mediocre club for the rest of this season. Give it a few weeks, but I think Tu Holloway will provide the direction this team needs to get back up in the rankings and make a March run.

I HATED….a dumb end-of-game decision. Western Kentucky gave Louisville a big-time run last week, but faltered down the stretch. Still, they were down six with the ball and a minute left, only to have a guard hoist up a 20-footer from just inches INSIDE the three-point line. Those final seconds are frantic, but you have to be aware that even if you hit that low-percentage heave, you’ll still be down two possessions. Any jumper has to be a three at that point, and the Hilltoppers unfortunately didn’t handle the tense final moments very well.

I HATED….not being able to figure out this UConn team. I know it’s early, that they’re 11-1, and that titles are never won in December. Still, I didn’t expect them to drop that game against Central Florida, and I’m confused by closer-than-expected wins against UNC Asheville, Fairfield, and most recently, South Florida. Maybe the Huskies just need a few big games to get them amped up (and they will have more than they want with the Big East schedule), but I am not sure what to think just yet.

I HATED….more transfers. I know that I keep harping on this, but it’s such an aggravating topic. Tony Bennett’s up-and-coming Virginia program now has to try and sustain its success with two scholarship players (a redshirt freshman and a sophomore) leaving right before the ACC season starts – and as the article details, because of playing time. As far as I’m concerned, if you aren’t an NBA prospect then you should be sticking with your program for at least two years to try and crack the rotation, rather than bailing when things don’t go your way for a little while. People love to talk about coaches being obligated to stick around for their recruits, but how about the other way?

jbaumgartner (48 Posts)

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