It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIIPosted by jbaumgartner on March 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…. seeing Cody Zeller want, demand and pursue the ball with the game on the line against Michigan. Yes, Michigan helped blow this one with a last-minute collapse, but credit Zeller for being aggressive and relentless on the glass in IU’s biggest game to date. Winning in Ann Arbor has been brutal for road teams in the last two years, and Zeller’s fingerprints were all over this comeback – which is exactly what the Hoosiers will need during the next four weeks if they want to cut down the nets in April.
I LOVED…. Mark Few’s honesty about being No. 1 in the nation. After downplaying the accomplishment previously, the Gonzaga coach said this in a Seattle Times story after beating Loyola Marymount in the WCC Tournament — “I was kind of surprised at how many of my (coaching) colleagues reached out to me,” said Few, referring to the No. 1 vote. He smiled sheepishly and said, “I’ve adjusted my thoughts on it.” While it may be up for debate whether the Zags should be there (though at this point, it’s becoming hard to argue), it is undeniably a huge accomplishment for a mid-major program and it’s cool to see Few come to that realization.
I LOVED…. the emotion from Victor Oladipo and Tom Crean after Sunday’s win. What a special moment as they embraced after clinching the title, with Oladipo barely able to hold it together. Yes, it’s just a game – but these guys give a lot of themselves to one area of their life, and it’s special to catch a glimpse of just how much work and effort goes into it.
I LOVED…. While on the same subject, Yahoo! columnist Pat Forde’s great feature on Victor Oladipo’s conflicted relationship with his dad. Definitely worth a few minutes.
I LOVED…. that after several years of shying away from Big Ten games because of the slow pace and low scores, I am now at the point where I look at my week and circle the conference’s big match-ups as must-sees on my schedule. Indiana-Michigan was the kicker, and was very representative of all the great basketball the conference has treated viewers to this season.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…. VCU. Having watched the first 15 minutes of the Rams vs. Temple, I felt safe going about my Sunday knowing that the Owls weren’t going to recover from that press-based attack. But of course, as seems to happen with amazing consistency in this crazy year, the Rams choked away their big lead and now go from being one of my upset picks to just another team that I literally have no clue about.
I HATED… wasted hype. The two Carolina-Duke games each season are two of my absolute favorites days of the year. I build them up, the media builds them up, the players build them up – usually for the simple reason that no matter what the record or the rankings, they are darn good games with crazy twists throughout. Unless of course, all your hopes and dreams of quality basketball are dashed in a four-minute, 14-0 run to start the game that ruins everything. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.
I HATED…. zero consistency. I’m really only asking for one thing in this next week of conference tournament craziness. Show me one team that is consistent – maybe they don’t even win their tournament title, but they are the same team every night. They don’t disappear like Kansas, implode like VCU, pull a Jekyll & Hyde like Butler, or melt down in the biggest minute of the year like Michigan. Just give me one team that I feel comfortable putting as my national champion. OK, comfortable is asking too much – how about just relatively unsure?
I HATED…. this stat. In 28 games, UCLA star freshman Shabazz Muhammad has 24 assists. You read that correctly – TWENTY-FOUR!! I might have had 24 assists in three hours of pickup ball at the Brooklyn playground on Saturday. That’s less than an assist a game for a player who consistently handles the ball and draws double teams. You can say what you want about Muhammad and whether the criticism he’s gotten is fair and whether he should have celebrated more when his own teammate hit a buzzer-beater (he should have), but you cannot say that 24 assists in 28 games is not selfish. It is. It’s ridiculous. And it’s not a great testament to Ben Howland either.
I HATED… remembering that after a miraculous run to the Big South conference title, the sub-.500 Liberty Flames will possibly not get the thrill of going up against a #16-seed thanks to the 68-team format. I’ll say it every year – 64 is the magic number, and the last thing we need is some extra middling big conference teams in the mix.