It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIPosted by jbaumgartner on February 15th, 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….objectively realizing that you just saw one of the more dramatic shots in college basketball over the last 10 years. Factor in everything – a freshman, playing on the road, time expiring, a three-point shot when you’re down two, UNC/Duke – and I’ll put Austin Rivers’ three up against anything I’ve seen. Cold-blooded doesn’t do it justice – that rainbow was sub-Arctic. The only mark against the buzzer-beater is that it came in the regular season, but for the silent (and I mean drop-a-pin silent) Carolina fans on Wednesday, that was little consolation as they watched Duke pile on their Baby Blue home floor in celebration.
I LOVED….Michigan State stoning Ohio State on the road. For me, it both validates this Spartans team as a contender and cements the Big Ten as one of the most balanced and competitive conferences this season (five teams currently in the Top 25). Last season might have been a big disappointment, but you can’t say enough about the coaching job that Tom Izzo has done this year.
I LOVED….Michigan State’s Draymond Green getting some love and validation this season. Not to make this a Spartan-happy column, but Green has really stepped up as a senior after maybe getting overshadowed a bit by the talent around him in previous years. He’s one of the most well-rounded players in the nation (15 PPG/10.5 RPG/3.5 APG/1.0 BPG/36% 3FG), and he kept this group focused after a bit of a rough start. Now MSU is looking more legit with each passing week.
I LOVED….Gonzaga reminding Saint Mary’s exactly which program has dominated the West Coast Conference for the last decade-plus. It’s easy to take the Zags for granted or root for more parity in the conference (I often do both), but don’t forget that Mark Few’s Bulldogs thrashed Notre Dame, Butler and Arizona, lost a close game to Michigan State and beat Xavier on the road. Don’t sleep on ‘em.
I LOVED….Tony Bennett sticking with his philosophy on the opposite coast. It hasn’t been easy – and the Wahoos lost on Tuesday at Clemson for their second straight L – but Bennett has continued to pay no attention to the naysayers who said he couldn’t win in the ACC with his slow, defensive gameplan. But despite some attrition, UVA climbed to #15 at one point in the polls and has played almost everyone tough – nearly beating Duke at Cameron, too. It takes a determined man to do things his own way at a school with Virginia’s history, but Bennett seems like he’s well on his way to building a program with strong roots and his distinctive stamp.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED….my life on Wednesday night. While I can objectively appreciate the moment, as a UNC grad I have never experienced pain like that before – and hopefully never will again. It was the whole sequence. It was sitting with your face in your hands as a 10-point lead floated away in the last 2:30 with Carolina failing to attempt a single shot. It was cringing as Tyler Zeller missed two free throws and tipped a ball into his own basket during the last 40 seconds. It was yelling at the TV as Rivers sized up Zeller after making him switch on a screen – “NO! NO! DON’TGIVEHIMSPACEFORTHETHREE! He’s going to shoot it!!…..” It was knowing without any doubt that the stupid ball was going in as soon as he let it go. And finally, it was spending all of Thursday feeling as if something had physically been taken out of me, and knowing that I would be watching that shot over and over again on highlight reels for the rest of my life. As my buddy so eloquently put it on Twitter moments after – “I hate everything.”
I HATED….sleeping on Steve Fisher and San Diego State. I don’t know how you sleep on a team that was a #2 seed last year, but for some reason I wrote them off like any other mid-major as a one-year wonder. Shame on me. Fisher showed last year that his coaching talent deserves separation from the Fab Five, and he’s doing it again this season with a superb encore. It’ll really be interesting to see if he gets another shot with a big powerhouse school – and if he takes it.
I HATED….this attempt by UConn to try and make the NCAA let its basketball program play in the 2013 NCAA Tournament (they didn’t qualify because of poor academic reports) in exchange for – among other things – reducing the amount of games the Huskies play during the year (forfeiting revenue in the process). What a terrible precedent to try and set. If your team gets such terrible grades that they’re in danger of missing the tournament, you can purchase your spot in the Big Dance for the cost of a few games during the regular season. In effect, you’re buying away the consequences of the program’s failures with money. Pathetic.
I HATED….the Baylor Bears giving me no real reason to take them seriously as a Final Four contender. The talent is there, but with two opportunities to claim a signature win, Baylor was blown out by both Kansas and Missouri. The Bears have now lost all four games against Top 10 teams, and you have to start wondering if they can get over the hump by March.
I HATED….having to type “Austin Rivers UNC” into the YouTube search engine to give you the link in my first paragraph. Makes me wanna puke all over again.