It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IV

Posted by jbaumgartner on December 3rd, 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… the challenge that John Calipari has on his hands. He proved that he could win a title last year, but the question in coming years is whether his one-year-and-out philosophy can continue to bring home the hardware that UK fans believe should be the norm. Several bad losses in a row, however, are showing that this group is not at the talent level of last year’s champs. In many ways, this should be a great test – if UK is not the most talented team in the country, does Calipari have the coaching chops to keep them in the conversation? Stay tuned.
  • I LOVED… thinking about upcoming Louisville battles with Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse after the Cardinals were selected to replace Maryland in the ACC. While I’ve had about enough of this whole conference realignment fad in the last couple years, the addition of these two Big East powerhouses to such a basketball-crazy conference is definitely reason to smile (and the folks over at ESPN just might feel the same way).
  • I LOVED Larry Brown. There are only a few coaches out there who can walk into an under-the-radar (nice-speak for “not relevant”) program like SMU and declare that they’re going to be “pretty good pretty quickly.” Fortunately LB has the resume and personality to do just that. Do I think they will be? No way. But just hearing his enthusiasm made me smile and think – now wouldn’t that be something….

Larry Brown Is Off to a Good Start at SMU

  • I LOVEDRasheed Sulaimon’s assertiveness as a freshman. This kid is going to be good, but more importantly he’s exactly the type of wing playmaker that the Blue Devils have been missing all the way back to Kyrie Irving’s injury, if we’re being honest. Sure, he probably takes a few more heat checks than Coach K might like, but he puts constant pressure on the D with his quickness and aggressiveness, has a promising stroke from deep, and should allow Duke’s other guards (read: Seth Curry) to spot up and reap the benefits of inevitable double teams from penetration. Duke is very good this early in the season, and if they’re still around in April, Sulaimon will be a big reason.
  • I LOVEDCody Zeller giving us his first “I’m the Player of the Year” statement against his brother’s former Tar Heels. In particular, I loved that even though UNC knew he would leak out on fast breaks and try to outrun the UNC bigs (JUST like his brother did for four years), he did it five or six times anyway. He’s going to be fun to watch all year.

Five Things I Hated This Week

  • I HATED…the final score of Georgetown-Tennessee – 37-36, and no, that’s not a typo. I thought those were reserved for the Big Ten, but apparently the Big East and SEC wanted a chance to stake their own claim on offensive futility. I’ve always wondered if coaches throw these tapes out – I mean, how much value can watching brick after brick add to your preparation, compared to the possible psychological damage?
  • I HATED…trying to figure out if UCLA’s problems are the product of a few bad apples or a system that is faulty at its core – or its coach, to be more direct. Josh Smith’s departure this week has to bring Ben Howland’s program into a bit more question after last year’s allegations of systematic issues. This might not be the last straw, but UCLA is one of those unique places that relishes its reputation for discipline, class and success, and the administration can’t be thrilled with these types of headlines this early in the year.

Is Josh Smith Emblematic of the Ben Howland Era at UCLA Now?

  • I HATED…that there is even a question of whether Duke should be No. 1 at this point, much less the fact that they likely will not be. All Coach K’s kids have done so far is beat three top-four teams, all from last year’s Final Four, and two on neutral courts. Has Indiana done anything to lose the top spot? Of course not. They looked great against North Carolina and might be better that the Blue Devils, but the rankings should be about resumes rather than preseason rankings, and Duke’s qualifications are second to none at this point.
  • I HATED….the news that Rick Majerus had passed away, at the age of 64. As eccentric and unorthodox as any coach roaming the sidelines, he was one of college basketball’s most unique personalities and put some outstanding teams on the floor at his different programs. College basketball without him will undoubtedly be a little different this season.
  • I HATED…the Big East adding Tulane. I really don’t think that needs any more explanation.
jbaumgartner (48 Posts)

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