It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IXPosted by jbaumgartner on February 11th, 2013
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…. my friend’s text response to my joking suggestion that Dickie V might not survive five overtimes at his age during the Louisville-Notre Dame game Saturday night: “At one point in the third OT he said on air, ‘Dan I gotta go to the bathroom. Seriously I’m not kidding,’ and then he was gone from the broadcast for like five minutes.” Priceless.
I LOVED…. Indiana going from an are-you-kidding-me loss to Illinois, complete with a late-game collapse and unforgivable defensive sequence on the buzzer-beater, to looking like a can’t-miss Final Four team by completely dominating Ohio State on the road. Of course, what good college team hasn’t pulled this Jekyll and Hyde routine at least once this season? If Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller are on their A-game, though, this Hoosiers team is awfully tough to beat.
I LOVED…. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s stroke. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone pure so many consecutive threes as he did against Ohio State on Tuesday. As LeBron pointed out in a tweet, it’s pretty because the form is so consistent each time he rises up. His clutch marksmanship should have gotten the Wolverines a win at Wisconsin on Saturday, and it could be part of some fun nail-biters in March, too.
I LOVED…. the cat-and-mouse ending to the Kansas-Oklahoma game. Bill Self made the absolute right call switching to the triangle-and-two defense, which got the Jayhawks back into the game in the final minutes. He dared the Sooners to beat them from the perimeter, and they did just that by knocking down multiple three-balls in the closing minutes. Perfect strategy shift, but better response.
I LOVED…. the Miami Hurricanes. Jim Larranaga has these ‘Canes playing with a fire and flair that is just plain fun to watch. They have speed and quickness at the guard slot, some girth down low with Reggie Johnson, the ability to rebound, and shooting ability that spreads the floor. And with D-Wade and LeBron stopping by to join All-Star shortstop Barry Larkin (whose son Shane has been impressive at the point), there’s no shortage of star power in the stands, either. If I have a nitpick, I think this group can get a bit three-happy, but they could easily still be undefeated in the ACC heading into their second match-up later this month with Duke.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED… Aaron Craft’s offense. Let me preface this by saying that I love the way this kid competes, his hustle, and his extraordinary defensive talent that really can change a game. But this week I found myself downright despising his decisions on the offensive end of the floor, especially the countless selfish plays down the stretch against Michigan. To put it succinctly – Craft does not have a great handle, is not a great shooter, and should not be going 1-on-1 against quality Big Ten teams. I think the stats back me up here, too, as he is currently shooting 38.5 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point territory. If this Buckeyes team is going to make some noise in the NCAA Tournament (which they absolutely have the chance to do), they need less Aaron Craft on O and more of their other talented options.
I HATED…. the thought of being an opposing coach who has to slow down IU’s Victor Oladipo. I kept going through the list in my head during the Ohio State game, and it went something like this: Make him finish at the hole! Lay-up. Give him some space! Three-ball. Get a little closer! Pull-up J. Make him move without the ball! Disgusting alley-oop adjustment mid-air for the reverse lay-up. Body him! Multiple putbacks down low. It’s ridiculous, but on any given play this guy can be the best athlete, penetrator, rebounder, shooter, and cutter on the floor. And that’s not even mentioning his defensive impact.
I HATED…. poor execution and strategy in the Michigan-Wisconsin game. In a nutty end-of-regulation sequence, both teams should have fouled but didn’t – resulting first in a Tim Hardaway, Jr. three-pointer to take the lead, and then an inexcusable lapse on the ensuing in-bounds play that allowed the Badgers to take the running 40-footer that went down like a pillow. You can bet that will be a practice theme around America before the brackets are drawn.
I HATED, HATED, HATED…. Russ Smith’s decision-making down the stretch against Notre Dame. So did Rick Pitino, as it turns out, who was less than pleased with his star guard’s hoist from the cheap seats with the game on the line – probably on par with Phil Mickelson’s decision to go chase his ball in the seaweed this weekend. Smith’s erratic play in a close game on the road has to bring up some concerns about tight finishes in March.
I HATED…. even more my decision to fall asleep on the couch at halftime after deciding that the lackluster pace and quality of play made this an OK game to snooze through. Somehow I always seem to miss these crazy Big East finishes. I swear I’ll be awake through the next one, although Rick Pitino might not live through another post-regulation period this season.