It’s Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIVPosted by jbaumgartner on March 26th, 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…. the swag of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Absurd (and questionably timed) alley-oops, the wing walk, tongues wagging, unknown jigs while running downcourt – it’s hard not to like the amount of fun that these kids have on the court, and they have the talent to back it up.
I LOVED…. Duke’s defense on Creighton. The Blue Devils didn’t play well in this one, but man did they defend. I thought Creighton got the exact pace they wanted and the ideal defensive effort to slow down Duke’s perimeter play, and it still didn’t matter. Duke just continued to bang with a relentless Doug McDermott and got the stops that allowed them to finally pull away when a few threes began to drop. That’s the kind of game you have to grind out in March, and they did it comfortably.
I LOVED…. that I don’t have to watch Marshall Henderson for another weekend (and believe me, I was worried there for a while). In case you were wondering, Henderson’s stats in the tourney were about as prolific as the regular season – 14-of-42 from the field (33%), and 7-of-27 on three-pointers (26%). I’d love to see the Ole Miss coach explain to his players why they would build their team next year around a guard that shoots too much, and not particularly well.
I LOVED…. the statement game. For me this was an easy one to pick – Michigan seemed to be fading a bit, but they put on an absolute clinic against a very talented VCU team and showed just how versatile they can be when freshman Mitch McGary can stay on the floor for an extended period of time. It opens up everything else for the Wolverines, and with Trey Burke dancing around the lane and Tim Hardaway, Jr., able to spot up, this looked like a squad ready to make a legit run.
I LOVED…. The Game. I feel like I can sense this coming every year. You settle in for a slate of games on Thursday or Friday, and one starts to grow on you as that match-up you just have to see through to the finish. Harvard was the easy winner for me here – exhausted at 11:30 PM on Thursday night, I just couldn’t tear myself away from a Crimson team that was so obviously outmatched but just refused to be out-executed by New Mexico. What a great program win for Tommy Amaker.
Five Things I Hated This Week
I HATED…. Ohio State’s last two possessions against Iowa State. I wrote on this before, and in his defense I think that Aaron Craft has had some unbelievable games in recent weeks where he really picked his spots well on offense. But the fact is, with the game and season on the line, he literally dribbled away two full 35-second clocks on the final two possessions of the game. Never thought about passing, never looked over at Deshaun Thomas flashing open on a curl at the top of the key, but instead just kept dribbling. All props to him for the last shot – it was cold-blooded – but I’ll stand by my belief that this team isn’t heading to a title if that’s the way he plays at the end of games. The body of evidence is growing.
I HATED…. picking the best dunk of the opening weekend. Though I thought Tim Hardaway, Jr.’s breakaway reverse was pretty sick, I have to go with FGCU’s Eric McKnight and his Go-Go-Gadget arm reaching back to somehow snag a pass slightly behind him and still cock it and crush it home. I think Kevin Harlan agrees with me.
I HATED…. this key, pivotal, infuriating, careless, clueless, mind-boggling brain fart by Gongaga point guard David Stockton. With his team down just one late in the game against Wichita State, he stunningly took the in-bounds pass and walked out of bounds like he was passing it in himself. The Shockers then hit a three-pointer and went up by four.
I HATED…. Tubby Smith getting the boot. I just don’t get this one. Is Minnesota a world beater? No. Are they headed toward a national title in the next five years? Probably not. Have they played well at the end of seasons in recent years? Negative. But let’s focus on what they are – a consistent contender in the Big Ten, a team that navigated through a brutal conference this season to still make the NCAA Tournament and upset a good UCLA team in the opening round, and a program that has been cleaned up and brought back to respect after a rough, rough fallout from the ill-fated Clem Haskins years. But what they are is apparently not enough compared what they aren’t – and to me, that is exactly what is dreadfully wrong with the direction college athletics is heading, and why we have the problems that plagued Minnesota in the first place. I have to imagine Tubby will get a good shot somewhere else, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Golden Gophers wishing they’d had a bit more patience.
I HATED…. the precedent Gonzaga set for mid-major one-seeds. After all the arguments and debate over whether the Zags should be there, and whether they were the beneficiaries of a weak West Coast Conference schedule, Mark Few’s team dropped a couple of duds that probably will set mid-majors back for a while when it comes to Selection Sunday. They might be a better team than they showed, but all that matters is what happens when the Madness begins.