Nick Fasulo is an RTC correspondent who writes the column College Basketball By the Tweets, a look at the world of college hoops through the prism of everyone’s favorite social media platform. You can find him on Twitter @nickfasuloSBN.
Full disclosure: I grew up a grossly obnoxious Duke basketball fan. UNC was evil, but a necessary evil, making up one half of what I believed to be the greatest rivalry in all of sports. But as of late, I can confidently say that the happiness felt from the hate of that lighter shade of blue has been usurped by another in-state rivalry. The build-up to Kentucky and Louisville’s annual late December battle was popcorn-making worthy. Twitter was abuzz all week, with profanity laced rants 140 characters at a time being hurled back and forth between the 80-mile stretch of I-64.
Never stop this hatred ever, guys. We’re all better for it.
More on Kentucky – Louisville
Per the usual, the build up was full of jabs that make this rivalry great.
Louisville fans secured home court for their team, as there was no Sea of Blue present at the Yum! Center.
Kentucky was down early, clueless against Louisville’s full court press, but foul trouble for the Cardinals and the emergence of Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley-Stein in the second half kept the game interesting.
But in the end, the experience of Rick Pitino’s club prevailed. A freakishly fast-paced game left everyone involved exhausted.
Nick Johnson To The Rescue
Perhaps the most exciting game of the holiday break was the finals of the Diamond Head Classic, where Arizona slipped past San Diego State, due in large part to a game-saving block by the Wildcats’ Nick Johnson. A 6’3″ guard, these are the types of plays a taller frontcourt player is supposed to make, meaning Sean Miller has a special athlete in his rotation.
Johnson’s block drew such oohs and aahs that fans started drawing comparisons with that play and another game saving swat by a former Wildcat, Derrick Williams.
My pick? Gotta go with Johnson. He’s no imposing big man, but a perimeter player who used his incredible hops to turn and make a play without even thinking.
Ben McLemore & Anthony Bennett:Two Stars In The Making
If you’ve seen Kansas and UNLV play this season, then you’ve probably noticed two freshman who have established themselves as clear-cut pros. Over the last 10 days, if you saw Ben McLemore drop 22 with ease on Ohio State, and Anthony Bennett show his versatility against North Carolina, you told yourself multiple times that these may be two of the best young basketball players in the country, regardless of level.
As part of a freshman class that few were psyched about following the litany of spring All-American games, the Jayhawks and Rebels seem to have the two most obvious one-and-done players as we enter the new year. McLemore, who is drawing comparisons to Dwayne Wade, seems to get less attention on Twitter because he makes it look so easy. He scores from anywhre on the floor, but doesn’t necessarily incite hashtag-inducing plays.
Conversely, Bennett has established himself as a must-see-TV player. He blows people away with his ability to create his own shot despite his girth, and his game compels people watching to immediately turn to social media…
Tony Parker Wanted To Be Home For Christmas
The curse of the overweight, overhyped Bruins big man continues. Just a few weeks after sophomore Josh Smith left the UCLA school and program, freshman Tony Parker aired, albeit cryptically, some grievances about his feelings about his first year in Westwood.
Parker soon defended his tweets, saying he was just a homesick college kid unable to be back in his native Atlanta for the holidays… which, let’s be honest, is completely understandable. Parker has not had an impact this season, getting only eight minutes of run a game. He finished with two points in just three minutes played Friday night in UCLA’s thrilling overtime victory over Missouri, meaning on the court he’s still got a ways to go to meet his potential and expectations.