It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VIII

Posted by jbaumgartner on January 17th, 2012

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….Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s momentum changing alley-oop against Tennessee. My favorite plays are those ones where in a second, the whole mood of a chaotic gym suddenly changes. The combination of floating from one side of the hoop to the other (hang time we can only dream of) and the emphatic CRACK of the rim snapping took UT’s good vibes and threw them for a complete 180. If there’s one thing I love about the modern game, it’s the microphone near the rims – they make monster slams even better (watch at the 0:40 mark).

I LOVED….Baylor keeping me wondering whether they’re for real. Coming into this week, I looked at their schedule and thought, well, they still haven’t played anyone stellar. And yet, even after last night’s tough loss in Allen Fieldhouse — a place where nobody can reasonably expect to win — it’s getting harder and harder to find too much to fault with these Bears. This weekend’s upcoming game in Waco against Missouri will help me figure this team out.

I LOVED….Syracuse continuing to shrug off the scandal surrounding the program and keep pace at No. 1. It’s tough to focus on playing when your coach and the university are under so much scrutiny, but this mess was not brought on by these kids – who have worked hard to put themselves in prime position for a postseason run. Let’s hope that they continue to tune out the other stuff.

I LOVED….feeling the upset-happy “This is College Basketball” vibe for the first time this year on Saturday. North Carolina turned the world upside down by getting trounced, Northwestern shocked the hottest team in the country, Iowa upended Michigan, Oklahoma took out KSU….this is the chaos I know and love.

I LOVED….Indiana getting beaten badly twice in a row. Now, yes I’ve been on the Tom Crean train all year as the Hoosiers have shocked their way up the rankings. But the best part of the long college season is seeing which of the early upstarts are for real. Almost all teams are going to have tough stretches like this one, and now I’m really interested to see how IU will react to some adversity after a string of momentous victories. My prediction? I think you’re looking at a #5/#6-seed in the Tournament, but we’ll see.

Five Things I Hated This Week

I HATED….questioning a national title contender not because of sloppiness, or a technical part of their game, but because of hustle and intensity – known more commonly by its cliché of “heart.” Anyone who saw the Florida State embarrassment of No. 3 North Carolina knows what I’m talking about. We witnessed the preseason No. 1 get beaten to every loose ball, get beaten down the floor, fail to come within 10 feet of perimeter shooters, and get trounced by 33. When you’re playing a team that is 10-6, getting beaten by 10 or 15 is not the worst thing ever since home-court advantage is so big. But getting slaughtered by a small Seminoles team and not having any backbone at all raises endless questions about the toughness of a Tar Heel team many thought would be clipping down the nets in April. How they respond in the next three weeks will be telling as to what we can expect in March.

I HATED….seeing this twist in the Bernie Fine case. Fabrications involving serious allegations like these are just a mess, as well as a complete show of disrespect to the people who actually did undergo terrible trauma. An incident like this calls into question all of the other victims who are telling the truth, and will make prosecution and justice that much harder for future cases.  And we thought this thing couldn’t get any worse….

I HATED….more UConn off-the-court issues. Try as he might, Jim Calhoun can’t keep his program out of the limelight – and we’re not talking about last year’s national title. You hate to see it, but the suspensions and violations seem to nag the UConn program fairly consistently – whether it’s recruiting, stolen computers, or this latest Ryan Boatright incident. Plus, Calhoun just served a suspension for failing to create an atmosphere of compliance. I give him full credit for sticking around and not bailing after the national title last year (many would have), but you hope the Huskies stay in the headlines for their play on the court.

I HATED….Saint Mary’s rushing the court against Gonzaga. I know I’ve griped about this before, but come on Gaels – not only should you act like you’ve been there before, but YOU HAVE BEEN THERE BEFORE! You’ve beaten Gonzaga twice in the last two years, you went to the Sweet Sixteen two years ago….expect it and give those poor campus security guards a break.

I HATED….Virginia coming up short against Duke on the road. I’m a huge Tony Bennett fan after watching him turn around Washington State, and he’s on the same track at Virginia. What he really needs is that signature win or two against the ACC elite, and stealing one at Cameron Indoor would have been the perfect clip for those recruiting videos he’s sending out. The Cavaliers will have other shots this year for that win, and I hope they get it.

jbaumgartner (48 Posts)

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