It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IIIPosted by jbaumgartner on November 26th, 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… Ohio State. Maybe I’m jumping on the bandwagon too early, but I grew to really enjoy this team by the end of last year and feel strongly that they have two unique pieces in Aaron Craft and DeShaun Thomas. An elite (albeit annoying, in my view) point guard and a versatile wing scorer are two of the more important components in the college game, and any team that possesses them has a chance to be a tough out.
- I LOVED… as I do every year, trying to figure out how deep this Gonzaga team can go. Each season I really get a kick out of trying to imagine the Zags playing against good competition all year, eventually accepting the reality that they don’t, and then trying to piece together a mental image of what team will show up in March when they inevitably get hit in the mouth by a legit squad with good guards. Still, it’s hard not to like Mark Few’s lineup this season. Not many teams will shoot it better than Gary Bell, Jr. and Kevin Pangos, and even though Elias Harris is turning 32 or so next week, he’s an active presence on the glass to complement a VERY underrated Sam Dower. I guess the Zags can’t be a sleeper in the traditional sense, but this might be their best (and most well-balanced) team in a while.
- I LOVED… Tom Crean showing no shame with his stick of Wrigley’s finest. How can you not love this? If strict adherence to the five-second rule and the world’s weirdest/creepiest Tweet ever doesn’t appeal to this generation’s high-schoolers, I don’t know what does.
- I LOVED… reading this Sports Illustrated article on Michigan’s Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Glenn Robinson III. It seems like we get plenty of stories every year about father-son relationships gone bad, but this was a rather refreshing example of two kids that have really gone about things the right way and made it through the tougher parts of living in the shadows of their NBA All-Star dads.
- I LOVED… running out of excuses. Duke beat Kentucky? OK, a little unexpected, but come on – the Blue Devils are always ahead of the game in November. We all know they’re still limited and not much different from the team that went down to Lehigh last season. But wait, they beat Kentucky AND Louisville? On neutral courts? So that’s half of last year’s Final Four in the span of 12 days, including the team I think is the favorite to cut down the nets this year — the Cardinals. Maybe it’s time to start believing that this Duke team is pretty legit, and if they beat Ohio State next week (that would be THREE of last year’s Final Four) they should be the unquestioned No. 1 at this point.
Five Things I Hated This Week
- I HATED…. not being able to get away from benefit-related suspensions. Shabazz Muhammad’s reinstatement at UCLA and these recent Indiana decisions are the latest in a long list of headlines about what’s been happening off the court, rather than on. What’s interesting to me is that you can pretty much break these into two categories – infractions involving benefits while players are at school (making the NCAA look more and more out of touch each time, as they fail to see: a) that everyone runs the same system, and b) it takes advantage of players); and infractions involving benefits while in high school, almost always related to AAU programs, high school coaches, and influential adults that leech onto young athletes. So while I get tired of the headlines, I do appreciate that with each one, we hopefully are getting closer to addressing two of the biggest issues in the modern college game.
- I HATED… waiting a week, checking again, and realizing that yes, Maryland is still heading to the Big Ten. Anyone growing up on college basketball will always associate the Terps with the great rivalries against Duke and UNC, the battles with Jordan, the 10-points-in-a-minute collapse against the Blue Devils, the Juan Dixon-led squad finally breaking through and rising to the top of the conference and the nation. I guess these shifts are just inevitable with all the money flying around the conferences, but UM out of the ACC sure doesn’t seem right.
- I HATED… preseason rankings (again). Here I was just sitting around last Sunday night, and I turn on the TV to see NC State go down 20 to Oklahoma State. Then I look on Friday and they’re trying their best to lose to UNC-Asheville. Oh wait, I thought the Wolfpack was going to be way better than Duke and Carolina because of that awesome preseason ranking… oops. Then Indiana was down at the half to a badddd Georgia team, UCLA went down to Georgetown and (gulp) Cal Poly, and North Carolina gets KO’d by Butler. Enough with the rankings already, right? Play. The. Games.
- I HATED… being deprived of Missouri’s guard play during this preseason tournament smorgasbord. Michael Dixon’s suspension has left this Tiger team a bit declawed, so to speak, especially with the perimeter-oriented style that Frank Haith has fostered after taking over from Mike Anderson. Their guard play has made them one of my favorite teams to watch in recent years, but without Dixon things could continue to get ugly on the court.
- I HATED… Morehead State coach Sean Woods losing a bit of self-control and pushing a player during his squad’s loss to Kentucky on Wednesday. However, I did like the very reasonable one-game suspension and Woods’ clear apology for the incident. By all accounts an intense coach, this will probably serve as a good balance check for Woods as he works to build the Eagles, who, by the way, were within six points of UK with less than seven minutes to play in Lexington.