RTC’s Halloween Tricks And TreatsPosted by jstevrtc on October 29th, 2010
Halloween, as most of us know, is and always will be one of the Four Pillars of Absolute Kid Happiness, right up there with Christmas (where celebrated), birthdays, and the moment of the announcement of a snow day. It seems like only a blink of an eye ago that we were those kids, but alas, each of us at RTC has long since put away our ghostly sheets and our Star Wars masks (we eBayed those) and — some more gradually than others — over time, evolved, kicking and screaming, into what we suppose you’d call…a grown-up. Just because the body has matured, though, doesn’t mean the mind has, because we still get jazzed for All Hallow’s. Not only is it a metaphorical “Next Exit” sign for an upcoming holiday season (which we still dig, and always will), but October 31 is a city limits line, as well. It signals that the last non-college basketball month has passed. It means that it’s been a long summer, but now we’re all back in town for another golden autumn in Hoop City.
What better time to reward with treats some of the recent developments or teams/players/coaches in our game we’re diggin’ on these days, and require tricks of things that we’re not. It’s time for Rush The Court’s Tricks and Treats for 2010.
Treats (no particular order):
Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger. We haven’t been this high on big men since Andre’ the Giant’s turn in The Princess Bride. We’re just as hyped to see these guys take the court as we were for Messrs. Wall, Favors, Henry, and Cousins before last season. When each of us here at RTC was 18, our worries included things like summer fast food jobs and blowing money on these things called CDs (discoid objects that played music). These guys have to worry about things like, oh, making sure Ohio State basketball doesn’t drop at all after losing the Player of the Year, and bringing North Carolina basketball — home to not exactly the most patient of fan bases — back to prominence. Plus, as they’re instant program-changers, we want to finally see these dudes play against college competition. We’ve waited long enough. And heck, let’s throw Baylor’s Perry Jones in there, too.
Next treat goes to: Jim Boylen’s Twitter Photo.
It’s fantastic. It’s the Cadillac of Twitter avatars. It’s actually funnier in it’s smaller form, the way you’d find it on a Twitter application like TweetDeck, because you’re even less sure about what you’re looking at. Is this a poor defensive stance? Is he trying to scare us? The contrast of his clean-cut image and his coaching attire with the rugged mountain setting implies that you could be out climbing mountains somewhere in Utah and just run into Boylen walking along in his red Utah shirt, the way college mascots just hang out in the halls at ESPN in those excellent SportsCenter commercials. It’s like he’s a coaching yeti. And when you see it, if you claim to have any love for college basketball at all, how do you not follow this guy?
A bevy of Snickers bars go to the NCAA, who showed us that 68 > 96, and for the First Four.The biggest and best story of the summer came when we heard that the NCAA was not going to steroid-ify the Holiest of Holies, the NCAA Tournament, by ballooning it to 96 (or more) teams. They saw through the propaganda of the coaches, almost all of whom wanted a bigger tournament since that’s what would serve them best, theories on expansion that those coaches would never think nor utter if they were fans and not coaches. The NCAA eschewed even bigger profits in order to maintain the relative difficulty of “getting in,” and staying in. They completed that mathematical proof that not even Stephen Hawking or Will Hunting could prove — that 68 is most definitely greater than 96. And on top of that, they gave us the First Four, a now cant-miss event that will feature games between the last four auto-qualifiers and the last four at-larges. Finally, they gave the event (hopefully forever) to Dayton, the city that has earned the right to host it, a decision as clear-cut as predicting Secretariat to win the Belmont at the top of the stretch. You don’t just get treats for this, NCAA. If you came to our door, we’d probably put whole carton of Snickers, Reese’s, and maybe even a roll of $5-bills in your pillowcase. And you don’t even need our money.
Gus Johnson working more Big Ten basketball definitely deserves treats. We don’t like hearing about a guy losing his job, but it’s not as bad when you know that within 24 hours he’s going to find work that probably pays him even more than the job he just lost. That’s pretty much what happened to Gus Johnson when he and the MSG brass couldn’t come to terms on a new contract. The Big Ten Network wisely scooped him up and signed him to do even more college basketball games than he was previously doing, and that’s just good for all of us. The Big Ten probably doubled its ratings, and we get more Gus. It’s a perfect fit, too, since you can definitely count on Gus to bring excitement to a mid-winter 47-42 contest between, say, Northwestern and Wisconsin that looks as though it’s being played in a bog.
Tricks be delivered unto:
The NCAA for the delay in the Josh Selby and Enes Kanter decisions. We don’t get it. In both cases, you have all the evidence that you’re ever going to have. You’ve had it for a while. We know you have people specifically employed to review this data and recommend a decision and remedy. At this point, though, it looks like something that nobody over there is even worrying about, like it’s some household chore that gets put off for no other reason than procrastination. If there are that many other cases in line ahead of these two, then say so. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re not worried that you’re holding the schools hostage. They’ll be fine. But the limbo you’ve kept these young men in is unjustified, borders on a form of violence, and it looks like it’s a matter that’s just being pushed to the back of the desk week after week. If you’re worried that your decisions will be used as single standards for all future instances like this, then, as long as the decisions come from evidence and sound logic, we’re fine if you do what the Supreme Court did in the (no political statement is implied, here) Bush v. Gore matter, where they said the criteria in deciding this case apply here, and not necessarily anywhere else. We’ll let you off the hook like that. You can keep the Reese’s we gave you before, NCAA, but you’ll have to give us back that wad of cash. You’ve taken too long with this.
Fate, for taking Robbie Hummel away…again. Evidently, one of Robbie Hummel’s ancestors punched a nun. Because this doesn’t just happen randomly to a guy, and certainly not with the timing with which his two ACL tears have occurred. Even if you aren’t a Purdue fan, you recall the disappointment that consumed college basketball fans last season when Hummel tore that ligament for the first time, a point in the season when Purdue was peaking and the post-season was imminent. That was bad enough. Then, after months of rehab, a summer of increasing expectations for a loaded and finally-at-full-strength Boilermaker team, and merely days after Hummel was cleared for full participation…bang, it happens again. That’s just cruel. Normally we don’t shake our fist at fate like we are now, and we’ll certainly be on the lookout for randomly falling anvils when we go outside. But come on, ye otherworldly forces. That’s too for much for one kid.
Bruce Pearl and the Tennessee athletic department. Really, Bruce Pearl? It’s not as if there haven’t been other coaches nailed for texting/calling too much in recent years. It’s not like you didn’t know that the NCAA was talking about cracking down on all violations, and specifically the trendy ones involving cell phone calls and texts and things like what goes on during visits. It’s not as if you hadn’t been reprimanded about this stuff six years ago. But to still do all of these things, threaten recruits and their parents by pointing out how they attended improper events at your freakin’ house, and then lie to the NCAA about everything that happened when they ask you about it? And people accuse John Calipari of slipperiness? Wow. But it doesn’t stop there. When it came time to come down hard on Pearl for his behavior (before the NCAA inevitably does), the UT athletic department delayed the start of their self-imposed recruiting restrictions until after the time for signing class of 2011 recruits had all but ended — in other words, they imposed a recruiting ban that didn’t hurt them for next season. You didn’t get that one by us (or Sporting News‘ Mike DeCourcy), guys. For this behavior, Pearl and UT get from us the proverbial Charlie Brown rock as opposed to any treats. And you’re lucky we’re just putting the rocks in your pillowcases and not actually throwing them at you. Get off our porch.
As always, we welcome your comments — ghoulish or not — in the appropriate section below, or via Twitter. Good luck pilfering your children’s/nieces’/nephews’ candy, and as far as we’re concerned, welcome to November.