It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VIPosted by jbaumgartner on December 18th, 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 magic of an intrastate rivalry in a basketball crazy state with Butler/Indiana. There are some games that seem like they’re just meant to take place in March, with all of those final consequences, and this sure seemed like one of those contests. What a treat of a game this early in the year, with all the back-and-forth and late dramatics that you could ask for. It makes sense that the Cinderella-prone Bulldogs and the upstart Hoosiers would be primed to start up a testy rivalry, but this barnburner might have just sped up that process by a couple of years. And you have to love the recruiting implications, too.
I LOVED… Sean Miller’s Wildcats taking out Florida in an early-season battle of potential March heavyweights. This one made me smile for two reasons – one, I feel like Miller is still on track with molding UA back into the perennial power that it was just a few years ago (and with that campus to recruit to, as it always should be…). But the other reason is that we need a couple of schools in the West to step up after a rough couple of years, just to restore some geographic balance to the college landscape. This Wildcats team looks like they could do their part this season.
I LOVED…. how content Tubby Smith is. He’s got another sneaky good team at Minnesota this season, as the Golden Gophers have only lost to #1 Duke and taken down Memphis and San Diego State, among others. You have to think that a guy with Tubby’s resume (read: national title) has turned down some offers at more marquee programs the past few seasons, but he’s remained committed to what most people would consider a rather moderate-profile university in a quality conference. It’s not flashy, and neither is Tubby, but it’s refreshing to see a good coach stay the course and keep building.
I LOVED…. Indiana losing a game at this point in the year. Though I’ve questioned their No. 1 ranking from the start, I really do like this team and think they very well could cut down the nets at the end of the year. But they needed some adversity, and getting it now rather than in late January or February will be a positive development, in my opinion. And getting it from a team that isn’t at their talent level should give Tom Crean even more material to work with in practice.
I LOVED…. this Stanley Roberts LSU graduation article – talk about a refreshing story in this day and age. Give it a read.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED….sleeping on Brad Stevens… again. I should have learned my lesson by now, or so you’d think. Every year I tell myself that this is the year Butler will become more of a footnote, the year that its smaller talent pool will catch up, the year that will make it just a little easier for Stevens not to feel bad about leaving for a bigger platform. And then, of course, he goes out and KOs North Carolina and then the top-ranked Hoosiers in the span of a few weeks. Tradition? It’s growing at Butler with each passing year.
I HATED…. more in-season conference realignment moves from the Big East. I understand that it’s a first-movers market out there for these universities, with a lot of money at stake, but I sure wish these didn’t take up so many headlines during the season. It was especially bad when reporters were out there asking current (and in-season) UConn athletes if their school had been disrespected because the ACC opted for Louisville over the Huskies. NBA free agency happens during July/August/September– any votes for restricting conference moves to summer vacation, too?
I HATED…. imagining life as a Big Ten coach this year. For all the flak they can get during down years with some low-scoring yawners, this conference is just brutal this season. Take a look at the rankings: Michigan (#2), Indiana (#6), Ohio State (#7), Illinois (#10), Minnesota (#13), Michigan State (#20). Wow. I’ve been trying to toss around the number of conference losses that I think will win the regular season title, and I wouldn’t go any lower than four. Maybe five.
I HATED… more turmoil around Wake Forest’s coaching situation. We’ll have to wait five years or so to really know, but you get the feeling that this Demon Deacons program could be heading the wrong way for many years to come. With some exceptions, small private schools get on the basketball map with coaching and recruiting stability that turn an off-the-radar campus into a place to be (Duke, Gonzaga, etc.). But when you expect that success and start running through coaches in a desperate attempt to find it, you run the risk of becoming irrelevant and earning the reputation as an athletic department that isn’t willing to stay the course (and thus, not attracting the very candidates you so desperately desire). Patience can be hard, but a coaching merry-go-round won’t bring Chris Paul or Tim Duncan back to Winston-Salem.
I HATED… more coach discipline for anger issues on the court – this time at Rutgers. Maybe it’s because this is already the second incident this season, but the fact that these are piling up makes you wonder that for every one that is reported, how many out there are not.