It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IXPosted by jbaumgartner on January 31st, 2012
Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this 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….big men getting down the floor. There is no seven-footer who runs the court better than UNC’s Tyler Zeller, and given the lack of fast break basketball in the NBA, that claim could probably even go a little further. It’s so funny to me – we’re literally talking about a 94-foot sprint that takes just a few seconds. Zeller isn’t the most graceful runner so it’s just pure effort. Why don’t more big guys take after him? Yes, it helps to have a faster pace and a quality point guard so that you get more consistent rewards/dunks, but there are plenty of cookies and easy stat padders for any big man who chooses to bust it up and down the floor.
I LOVED….trying to figure out exactly what I like most about this Kentucky team. I mean, just take a look at this stat sheet. Five players in double figures and no one over 13.5 PPG, three of those players at 6.5 or more boards a game, shooters, big men, ball control – while I like to hate on John Calipari, he’s taken a lot of talent and molded them into a winning machine thus far. More importantly, they seem to have really grown since some of those early games. Heck, they’re even making 70.5% of their free throws. When that happens with a Calipari squad, you know things are rolling.
I LOVED….debating whether Saint Mary’s can run the table in the WCC. Mainly I loved typing that sentence and not talking about Gonzaga for once. This league has really worked hard to get some non-Zag recognition, and Saint Mary’s has spearheaded that charge. With the thumping that the Gaels put on the Zags already this year, they certainly have a shot to pull out a rare victory in Spokane. If they get past that one, we could see the first undefeated WCC season since the Zags in 2008-09, and the first non-GU team since who knows when.
I LOVED….Murray State hanging right in there. Among the many entertaining and endearing qualities of American sports fans is the obsession with an undefeated season. We love pontificating about the possibility of perfection before each and every year (despite the growing implausibility of another UNLV), and our hopes are usually squashed by mid-January. The Racers are keeping pace, though, and I’m all for it. Sure their most impressive win is against a decent Memphis team, but come on – THEY’RE UNDEFEATED!!!
I LOVED….the repeating parabola that the Notre Dame Fighting Irish keep taking us on. In a way they remind me of Georgetown teams in recent years – repeatedly surprising and disappointing us, but rarely vindicating our predictions. Currently they continue to impress, racking up victories against Syracuse and UConn in recent days. But rarely do we reach the mid-point of a season and feel like we can trust Mike Brey with our brackets in March. Will 2012 be any different?
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED….Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown putting a damper on what is the dunk of the year thus far. One-handed, an alley-oop, and a complete posterization all put on hold immediately after because he couldn’t keep from getting a second technical in celebration. Markel, buddy, come on – you don’t need to tell that poor guy that he just got smashed on. I’m pretty sure he’s aware.
I HATED….the mess that is the UConn Huskies. What is it….too young? Too much success last year? Too much turmoil with Ryan Boatright? Too many expectations to start the season? Not enough focus from too much talent? Or is it too early to start worrying this much? There’s no shortage of questions in Storrs – that much is certain.
I HATED….a bizarre midseason extension for Miami’s Jim Larranaga. First of all, I’ve never really understood the concept in general. It seems like contract decisions are usually more effectively resolved in the offseason with more time and an entire season of work to look back upon. What exactly has been shown in half a season of work (11-7 record) that necessitates an extension for a coach in his very first year with the program? And so often I feel like these super-long extensions (except with staples like a Krzyzewski, Self, etc.) are precursors for tough times and expensive buyouts down the road.
I HATED….West Virginia not getting justice against Syracuse. Not to harp on the refs too much (basketball officiating is far and away the most difficult in my opinion), but it’s so painfully obvious when a defender blocks a shot after it hits the board. What a terrible way to end a fun game. As my friend said: “I don’t see a lot when I’m watching basketball games, but even I knew that one.”
I HATED….fouls like this one from LSU’s Malcom White on UK star freshman Anthony Davis. Though there has been an emphasis on intentional fouls from refs in recent years, I still feel like we see a high rate of these – where players just completely pound down and pull the shoulders once they realize that they have to foul or give up an easy two. In my opinion, the next step is to dole out 2-3 game suspensions to the guilty parties. I think that will make guys think twice before attempting a takedown just to avoid giving up a dunk.