It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XIII

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 28th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse pumps up Harrison Barnes, weighs in on Cheerleadergate (and no, that doesn’t refer to any of Seth Greenberg’s offspring), and tells you what he thinks about BYU as a 1-seed.

The Five things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..a different way of watching college basketball. I found myself on a treadmill at the gym on Tuesday, and alas, the one TV with ESPN was as far away as it could possibly be and still be in the same room. Naturally I tried to watch the Tennessee/Vandy game anyway, but could only see tiny players moving around the screen and a dot for the ball. You should try this out – since you can’t always tell the score or know if the ball goes in the hoop, you find yourself guessing who is winning by the flow of the game, fouls, spacing, etc. It’s good for 30 minutes of entertainment, plus you almost forget that you’re…running on a treadmill.

I LOVED…..Two minutes worth of “How do you like me now??!!” from Harrison Barnes against NC State. There is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING better than sticking it in the face of a big-time rival on the road. And when you do it with two consecutive rim-rattling putback dunks, followed by a deep dagger from three, you’re just tacking on style points to what was already a perfect 10.

It Will Be Interesting To See How Far Everyone Has Barnes And the Improved Tar Heels Going In March

I LOVED…..seeing the look on Seth Greenberg’s face Saturday night after the Duke win. For whatever reason, I’ve always liked the guy. I think it dates back to that time he got thrown out of the game at Cameron Indoor. But mostly it’s because he’s stuck it out at a school where football is really all that matters, and basketball is just something people follow in the late winter and spring. The guy coaches his butt off against the basketball royalty in his conference, and he 100% deserved that monster win to push his injury-ravaged Hokies into the tournament (knock on wood, but they have to be in).

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XII

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 22nd, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse is diggin’ the balance at the tops of the rankings, offers up some serious rule changes, wants respect for USU, and says UNC needs to tidy things up a bit.

The Five things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..Derrick Williams’ unbelievable block with 0.2 seconds left to save Arizona’s memorable win on Saturday. Yes, it was close to goaltending (I thought he just barely got it), but what an incredible I’m-an-All-American-and-we’re-not-going-to-lose-this-stinking-game kind of play. I mean the guy got up 12 feet, and did it by coming out of nowhere. We won’t see many bigger plays this year. Time to pay attention to Tucson, America.

I LOVED……the UA-Washington game for its larger impact. Of all the big conferences, the Pac-10 gets the least attention thanks in large part to their glaring lack of an ESPN contract. Not many people catch the FSN West channels (or the late start times), so when the league is also struggling a bit with quality, things can hit rock-bottom. Well, the Pac-10 had its chance on Saturday with a prime-time game between its two best teams – and they delivered. An up-and-down game with a thrilling finish was just the medicine the league needed. Maybe now they’ll think about, you know, pursuing a better contract with the Worldwide Leader.

A Close Call Ends a Close Game, But the Pac-10 Won (AZ Daily Star/M. Popat)

I LOVED……Tom Izzo going Good Samaritan and helping a stranded motorist out of the snow. Perhaps it’s sad that this is a story, since any decent person should be stopping. But let’s be honest, I’ve driven by people before – we all have. Especially after a bad day of work, and Izzo has now had about 80 of those in a row.

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XI

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 14th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse jumps on the St. John’s bandwagon, reminisces about his UNC vs Duke days, and wishes Ohio State hadn’t lost.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..this tweet from North Carolina freshman Kendall Marshall this past Tuesday, just two days after tearing apart Florida State’s defense: “Just got turned down for Valentine’s Day. Confidence is low right now lololol.” As a buddy of mine phrased it, come on Chapel Hill – 16 assists doesn’t cut it for the ladies?

I LOVED…..the biggest shot of the weekend coming from college basketball’s version of Carrot Top. Wisconsin’s Mike Bruesewitz splashed a monster three from the top of the key with the shot clock running down to seal Ohio State’s first loss of the season. It’s hard to miss his fire-colored curles on a telecast, and even harder when he’s front-and-center in the game’s biggest moment. A few more of those shots and Bruesewitz will have a cult-like following from the fad hair lovers in America.

I LOVED…..a good ‘ol fashioned Duke-UNC throwdown. I was around the rivalry for four years during college, and I’ll never for one second believe that there’s a better annual game than the regular-season matchup at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Like no other rivalry, records seem to go out the window and emotions reach some sort of twisted, chaotic climax. This year we even had the UNC chancellor hatin’ on the campers of Krzyzewskiville — via Twitter no less. Alas, we now have to wait 51 more weeks for the next edition at Cameron.

Take Heart, Kendall. Your Rising APG and the Love of the UNC Nation Will Keep You Warm

I LOVED…..St. John’s continuing its resurgence under Steve Lavin. There’s something extremely cool about reviving a program that has such an amazing history and plays in MSG, the Mecca of basketball stadiums. New York City is so connected with our game’s history that it’s fun to see an energetic coach put some excitement back into the program. Let’s hope this isn’t a one-season deal.

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume X

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 7th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse goes nuts (as did most people) on the whole Larry Drew II situation and claims Brandon Knight isn’t a real point guard (God help us), and then takes his place in the long line of Wild Bill fans.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..“Wild Bill” from the Utah State student section. Apparently I missed this guy last year, but you sure can’t miss him when you’re an opposing player at the free throw line. You get a couple options, too, when you’re playing the Aggies. Wild Bill could choose to expose his rather robust cleavage, or he might switch things up and don an elephant costume – like he did this last week against Nevada. Of course there’s also the Winnie the Pooh outfit, too. Personally I’m waiting for the first free-throw line victim that just starts cracking up. You know they want to, so I’d just let it loose for a few seconds so you could concentrate on the freebie.

How Can One Not Love This?

I LOVED…..three things that came out of Larry Drew II’s decision to quit on UNC (don’t worry, I rant about it in the HATE section, too). First off, UNC looked dynamite without him on Sunday against Florida State and showed again that the team is bigger than the decisions of one disgruntled player. Then there was Roy Williams, who said in the wake of Drew’s decision that “Z (7-footer Tyler Zeller) thinks that he can” be a factor at the point. And finally, check out Tar Heel swing man Dexter Strickland’s hilarious Tweet after realizing he’ll be the back-up point guard: “I gotta get on my Deron Williams swag for Sunday…lol @KButter5 (PG Kendall Marshall) I got u son!”

I LOVED…..some innovative expression from the Pac-10. This time it was Arizona point guard Lamont “MoMo” Jones, who went off for 27 points and hit multiple clutch shots in a dramatic 3OT-road win against Cal. “I’ve played like this my whole life,” said Jones. “To other people it might be something new, but to me it’s just another day in the life of MoMo Jones.” Players take note. If you want to be quoted, nothing does it faster than referring to yourself in the third person. Gets ‘em every time.

I LOVED…..that for all the talk of a weak SEC and a strong, dynamic Kentucky, the Wildcats are now 4-4 in conference play after taking a spill against Florida this weekend. Once again, that which we take for granted in college basketball comes back to bite us in the…whatever you call it. I stand by a statement I made after watching UK in Maui at the start of the season – Brandon Knight must become an actual point guard. Point guards don’t have assist-turnover ratios of 83-75. This UK team can make a run, but they need Knight to perhaps limit his scoring a bit (which is tough, since he’s a stud in that department) and get his teammates better looks on a consistent basis.

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IX

Posted by jbaumgartner on January 31st, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball. This week, Jesse kicks Purdue while they’re down and questions Peyton Siva’s true motives, but applauds Bob Huggins and — as all human beings with ears indeed should — Gus Johnson’s all-too-short turn at the desk.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..a coach thumbing his nose at the politically-correct answer. West Virginia coach Bobby Huggins had an interesting development recently when forward Dan Jennings just walked away from the bench during a game. Now, you could just say the kid’s off the team. Or that it’s “unfortunate” and you’re “dealing with it internally” — that’s one of my favorite coach-speak phrases. But no, Huggins gets rolling and says: “The truth of the matter is that he’s been a non-entity. We started him to try and get some other guys motivated and he did work hard in practice for a while, but look at his career stats.” Ouch. If leaving the team didn’t hurt enough, that one should sting Jennings for a while.

Huggins Did Not Mince Words When Answering Questions About Jennings. Anyone Surprised?

I LOVED…..The great diversity of POY candidates this season. You have Jimmer “When I don’t score 40 it’s an off night” Fredette on a solid BYU team. The Mountain West competition might not be great, but man that J is pure. Then there’s a classic NYC guard in Kemba Walker, who has made UConn perhaps the biggest surprise of the season. And finally Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, who keeps coming to play in the big games and leads the nation’s No. 1 squad. We have the shooter, the slasher and the post player — all on intriguing teams, all very different, and all still very much in the mix to be named top dog. My pick? If UConn is a top-15 team after the Big East season, it’ll be tough to beat Kemba.

I LOVED……Roy Williams’ rabbit ears. You can have your own opinion on Williams, but you can’t deny that he’s a bit sensitive to criticism on occasion. Recently it was some unhappy callers on his radio show who prompted this response at a press conference: “Don’t call me next week and say how good we are; keep your [darn] phone calls to yourself.” Could he stay mad at the fans for long, though? Wait for it…..wait for it…..just a few days later: “Do I wish that I would have just let it go and not said a word?” Williams said. “You’re darn right I do. I wish I had not said one word. I wish that I would have just kept swallowing it. I hate that I said that.” And all of Tar Heel Nation lived happily ever after.

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VIII

Posted by jbaumgartner on January 24th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor.  In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball. This week Jesse decides to liberate us of our Kentucky readers — seriously, Jesse, why do you hate our website? — takes pleasure in Clemson’s frustration, and finally figures out that Matt Painter is a top-notch leader of men. Wildcat and Tiger fans, we’ll make sure Jesse gets your hate mail.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..looking at the countdown to March Madness last week and seeing it was just a mere 54 days until my favorite three weeks in sports. Then I heard a Gus Johnson cackle – OhhAhhWOWWW!!! — on CBS this weekend. In fact, it made me go back and watch this highlight compilation — just to get my Gus fix.  The Madness is drawing near.

I LOVED…..Syracuse’s zone. I had a buddy bring this to my attention this weekend while ‘Cuse-Nova was on TV, and it’s so true. College basketball is the game of constant change, what with players graduating, coaches moving, etc. But the 2-3 zone is one piece you can bank on every year, without fail. Jim Boeheim stands by his trademark D, and though at times it might be mediocre, it’s never bad. How amazing is it that teams still can’t completely figure it out after all these years?

The Boeheim Zone Often Vexes Opponents, Even Still

I LOVED…..the transformation of Washington’s Isaiah Thomas. As a west coast resident I probably see way more of the Pac-10 than most, but this has been stunning. UW put Thomas at the point after Abdul Gaddy went down for the year, and he’s suddenly changed from a sometimes-too-selfish scorer into a pint-sized version of Steve Nash. Here’s a guy that averaged 2.6 and 3.4 assists a game his first two years, and had more than six dimes just once this season prior to Gaddy’s injury. Since then? Try 9, 8, 7 13, 10 and 8. Plus, he’s averaging 20.2 PPG over those six games. Take a look if you get a chance, because I swear Lorenzo Romar’s staff made him stop practicing and watching nonstop tape of the Phoenix Suns. Lots of over-penetration while keeping the dribble and a pass-first mentality that just wasn’t there before.

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VII

Posted by jbaumgartner on January 18th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor.  In this piece he’ll spend each week reviewing the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball. This week, Jesse gives props to the Hopson coiffure and reveals his man crush on Jay Wright — then alienates the entire city of Pittsburgh. We’re sorry…ya Yinzers.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..listening to a Pac-10 nail-biter – that’s right, listening – on a radio this week since the game wasn’t televised. Everything in today’s media market is so visual and video-based, and you can get almost any game on the tube with the right cable package. But there was something very appealing about trying to picture exactly what was happening on the court with 2.5 seconds left using just a single voice and the crowd noise during the Washington vs Stanford game. I’d argue it even upped the drama.

I LOVED…..how I found myself wondering just how in the world Villanova coach Jay Wright always has short, athletic guards every year who can do it all. Every. Freaking. Year. Corey Fisher, Scottie Reynolds, Randy Foye, Allan Ray, and so on. While I always have to pick against ‘Nova in the tourney because I think they’ll run into someone too big, you have to appreciate the fearless perimeter play that Wright gets from his small guys.

Fisher Is Yet Another Product of the Jay Wright Short Athletic Guard Factory

I LOVED…..Scotty Hopson’s Scottie Pippen haircut. So classic. When you have by far the best name ever for a basketball player, it’s important that you back it up with the best basketball haircut of all time – the unbeatable fade. Props to you Scotty, you’re doing Pippen and Will Smith proud with the ‘do.

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume VI

Posted by jbaumgartner on January 11th, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor.  In this piece he’ll spend each week reviewing the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..someone perfectly expressing everything that pissed me off about the Renardo Sidney decision. Here I was trying to figure out exactly how to denounce such a cowardly, selfish decision by the Mississippi State program, and ESPN.com’s Pat Forde took care of it in this exquisitely-worded blog post. This thing stinks like the three-week-old lettuce sitting in my fridge, and Forde captures each part of that repugnant scent.

I LOVED…..being re-convinced how talented Duke is in seven minutes. I sat down on my couch last week to watch them take on the usually scrappy UAB Blazers, hoping to figure out if the Kyrie-less Dukies still had it. Seven minutes later they were up 26-4, and I suddenly had a free evening to go to the gym. If Nolan Smith keeps playing like this and the outside shooters can make a few, they’ll still be the toughest out come March.

Smith's Excellence Sometimes Gets Lost in the Wake of All the Talk About Singler, Big Toes, the Twins...

I LOVED…..getting a different slice of college b-ball this week when I turned on the much-anticipated Montana State-Billings/Alaska-Anchorage matchup. There’s something exceptionally pure about watching two schools play hard in a gym that is definitely nowhere near the size of the one at my high school. The game was a rout with two minutes left, but guys were still flying all over the place. I only had one issue – really FSN, you really couldn’t find a better close-up shot on the Alaska campus than the sweatshirts being sold inside the student union? I hear there’s some scenic snow up there.

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It’s A Love/Hate Relationship: Volume V

Posted by jbaumgartner on January 3rd, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor.  In this piece he’ll spend each week reviewing the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..trying to figure out just how far one extremely talented player can carry a not particularly talented team. We all knew Kemba Walker wasn’t going to keep UConn undefeated for long once conference play started, but it’s been a blast watching him try. Critics will say UConn looked vulnerable this week while losing to Pitt and eking out a win against South Florida. I say, holy crap, Walker kept them in the game at Pitt despite no help (he had 31 points), and he wouldn’t let them lose a letdown game the next time out. Fingers crossed that he doesn’t wear out, because it could get ugly for the Huskies if that happens.

The Huskies May Have Finally Dropped One, But Kemba Still Gets IALHR Props.

I LOVED……some more innovative marketing, this time from Xavier, which served fried gator to commemorate a game with Florida. A fun idea, but they might have to nix that with some other teams on the schedule if they’d like to avoid the wrath of animal rights groups (Bulldogs, Bearcats….maybe not so much). They also play the Charlotte 49ers, so we’ll guess the Musketeers aren’t advocating cannibalism. Here’s another question, though – say Xavier played the mighty Banana Slugs from UC-Santa Cruz……would they dare? It can’t be worse than escargot, right?

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IV

Posted by jbaumgartner on December 28th, 2010

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor.  In this piece he’ll spend each week reviewing the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..a monster throwdown over a brave defender. Too often these days the defensive player gets out of the way, fearful of ending up on the wrong end of an ESPN Top Ten nominee. But not Georgetown sophomore Hollis Thompson. He stood tall in the paint and boldly said “Posterize me,” to Memphis’ D.J. Stephens, who replied, “As you wish” in rim-rocking fashion. Also, you have to love that “Blake Griffin-esque” was the first adjective used by the announcers on the slo-mo replay.

I LOVED…..how many players rotate through the “No. 1 draft prospect in America” slot during the college season. First it was UNC’s Harrison Barnes, before he even took a shot. Then it was Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger for a bit, followed by some rumblings about Baylor’s Perry Jones. Of course we haven’t even gotten to the NCAA Tournament yet, that wonderful showcase that tends to exponentially inflate or deflate draft projections (remember Joakim Noah’s rise to the top of the board after Florida’s first title?). Stay tuned – next week’s No. 1 pick could be coming to a court near you.

I LOVED…..that Western Kentucky coach Ken McDonald felt so bad about his team’s performance that he reimbursed fans for their gas mileage. How awesome is that in today’s coaching world, which has plenty of big egos and more than a hint of the “don’t blame me” philosophy. You have to wonder why some big-name coaches don’t do things like this. Obviously it’s harder with larger fan bases, but big-name coaches make big-time money, and creative PR moves like this can go a long way. My hat is off to the Hilltoppers.

I LOVED…..an awkward moment. And who doesn’t love awkward moments, if we’re truly honest with ourselves. This week we had a doozy. Roy Williams, he of Carolina upbringing and the understudy of legendary Dean Smith (synonymous with God in Tar Heel country), released his necessary statement of admiration for Mike Krzyzewski as the Duke coach gets set to pass Smith in all-time wins. Take a read – it’s a humorous mixture of, “Yes this is amazing that you broke this record and I’m congratulating you” and “but you’re also passing my idol which really really sucks.” Oh and PS, these two coach in the sport’s biggest rivalry and don’t really get along that well to start with. Wayda suck it up Roy.

I LOVED…..a feel-good story. This one comes from Presbyterian College, which has a unique group of players who thought they would get a shot to play in the NCAA Tournament, only for the school to be denied Division I status. The cool part? Their studs all decided to stay and finish what they started, even though they won’t get a chance to be on CBS in March. Give it a read for a nice, refreshing change from the big-time programs.

The Five Things I Hated This Week

I HATED…..Renardo Sidney’s ridiculousness in the stands in Hawaii. Maybe it brings back too many eerie memories of Ron Artest’s rampage into the crowd, but any fan of college basketball has to cringe at what this type of publicity does to the sport. Yeah, the first instinct might be to smile and shake your head, but it’s downright embarrassing for the Mississippi State program – and a poor reflection on college athletes.

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume III

Posted by jbaumgartner on December 20th, 2010

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor.  In this piece he’ll spend each week reviewing the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..SILENT NIGHT!! Come on, what’s not to love about this hilarious marketing scheme where the entire crowd at Taylor University stays silent until 10 points have been scored. Palm Sunday anyone?

Creative Fans For the Win, Alex...

I LOVED…..an honest coach. This week it was Arizona’s Sean Miller, who said his Wildcats were nothing more than “frightened” kittens against the big, bad Jimmer Fredette in BYU’s rout over UA. On a similar free-flowing note, Craig Robinson of Oregon State sounded off on what he doesn’t like about the college game. Here’s to coaches who tell it like it is.

I LOVED…..that the incredible winning streak of the UConn women has us talking about John Wooden’s UCLA teams. Say what you will about how the two dynasties compare (no comment), but I soak up every bit of Bruins history I can when the mainstream media starts talking Alcindor and Walton. We’ll never see anything like it again.

I LOVED…..the worldwide effort to save Kyrie Irving’s toe. Not everyone loves the Cameron Crazies, but that’s pretty humorous.

I LOVED…..the shockers. Not that we expect anything less from our beloved college basketball, but no one saw Tennessee losing two games to mid-majors – the second to a team that had just kicked off its leading scorer. And then a downtrodden Gonzaga goes to Texas and beats a Baylor team we were just starting to hype. As usual, no logic needed.

The Five Things I Hated This Week

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume II

Posted by jbaumgartner on December 13th, 2010

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor.  In this piece he’ll spend each week reviewing the five things he loved and hated about the previous week of college basketball.

The Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..a good comeback story, in this case Notre Dame’s Carleton Scott. Here’s a guy who didn’t play much his first three years and had an issue of some sort last season that caused him to leave the team for a bit. Well he got his chance this year, and the bouncy 6’8 forward has showed big-time versatility while putting up solid numbers in Irish wins against Georgia, Cal and then Saturday against Gonzaga (a career-high 23 points). It’s nice to see someone with obvious talent taking his final chance, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on an NBA roster somewhere next season.

Carleton Scott Deserves a Strong Senior Year

I LOVED…..teams who know how to schedule tough. I’m looking at you, Tom Izzo, and you, too, Bruce Pearl. Game after game you send your guys into hostile environments. This week it was Syracuse in New York for the Spartans, and Pitt in Pittsburgh for the Vols. Yes, MSU has struggled thus far, but these tough games are exactly why that team always wins the close ones in March and makes it to the later rounds. Repeat after me: SOFT SCHEDULERS OF THE WORLD UNITE AND CONFORM, you have nothing to lose but your inflated records, media detractors and early tournament exits.

I LOVED…..the creation of the Champions Classic. Much like ESPN’s little 24-hour marathon to start the year, matching up four elite programs gets fans amped up earlier in the season. No complaints here.

I LOVED…..Illinois using the women’s basketball. Loved might not be a strong enough word. It was hilarious, golden, priceless, whatever adjective you want. If you’re like me, your reaction was something to the tune of: no way…..how…..for seven minutes???…..drop on the floor in laughter. In this day and age of increased replays and greater official oversight in sports, it’s nice to know the zebras can still give us an unthinkable gem like that one. And if you’re  Oakland coach Greg Kampe, you’ve gotta wonder what it says about your team that you were significantly more effective with the women’s ball.

I LOVED…..the disparity between some of the nation’s top freshmen. You have the Jared Sullingers who come out and produce from the first game (props for the 40-spot against IUPUI), but then you have the country’s #1 recruit, Harrison Barnes, struggling to have a big impact. It just shows again that at least one year in college can be an extremely valuable tool for this young talent.

Five Things I Hated This Week

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