College Basketball By The Tweets: Kentucky/Louisville, Nick Johnson and Two Freshman Phenoms…Posted by Nick Fasulo on January 2nd, 2013
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.
After a week of angry UL fans tweeting me grammatically incorrect vulgar/homophobic/threatening tweets, I must say..UL fans, “your” the best
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) December 29, 2012
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.
In Kentucky, 17% of the population is Louisville fans. In Kentucky, 17% of the population lives below the poverty line. Coincidence?
— Not Jerry Tipton (@NotJerryTipton) December 27, 2012
— Big EZ (@BigEZ) December 29, 2012
Louisville fans secured home court for their team, as there was no Sea of Blue present at the Yum! Center.
Louisville fans held out, didn’t sell tickets to UK folks. This place is 95 percent red.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) December 29, 2012
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.
Cauley-Stein loves dunking on Nerlens Noel. Did so already at #Kentucky Midnight Madness
— Terrence Payne (@terrence_payne) December 29, 2012
Archie Goodwin has big time potential he has that Westbrook factor but that’s a gift and sometimes a curse.
— I am ESPN (@WJL1691) December 29, 2012
But in the end, the experience of Rick Pitino’s club prevailed. A freakishly fast-paced game left everyone involved exhausted.
Damn do I love watching teams that embrace pressure + quickness. Louisville is the principal. Beautiful interruption.
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) December 29, 2012
Louisville hangs on, 80-77. I think the feeling in the building is catharsis. Lotta stress on a lot of faces in here down the stretch.
— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) December 29, 2012
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.
Is “The Block” the Derrick Williams block or the Nick Johnson block?
— RC (@ZonaRube) December 27, 2012
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.
I like Nick Johnson’s block better than Derrick Williams block. He definitely got up higher than Dwill!
— Martin (@MartiniWeenie35) December 26, 2012
Nick Johnson’s block to clinch the game brought back memories of Tayshaun Prince against the Pacers in 2004. Came from nowhere!
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 26, 2012
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.
@royalreality That is a tough call. If McLemore were as aggressive as Bennett I think he would be answer. Both studs, could argue either.
— Eric Bossi (@ebosshoops) December 29, 2012
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.
Moved Ben McLemore into the Top 5 on our Big Board. Best NBA prospect KU’s had since Paul Pierce. insider.espn.go.com/nba/draft/resu…
— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) December 23, 2012
#IWillTwerkFor Ben mclemore.
— Lorren Overley (@Overley_Tweetin) December 21, 2012
Enjoy Ben McLemore, #Jayhawks fans. You’ll have him this season.
— Bob Baptist (@BBaptistHoops) December 22, 2012
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…
Anthony Bennet. Absolute.Monster.
— Ryan Greene (@ryanmgreene) December 29, 2012
Anthony Bennett’s open loathing for properly constructed rims and baskets is a wonderful thing.
— Andy Hutchins (@AndyHutchins) December 29, 2012
If I were an NBA GM there is no way I take Noel or Zeller over Anthony Bennett
— Corey (@Zazmania) December 29, 2012
I wonder how many NBA scouts saw that sequence from Bennett and started salivating.
— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) December 29, 2012
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.
Counting down the days
— tony parker (@tonyparker32) December 25, 2012
@tonyparker32 time for TP32 to come home. The UGA family will welcome oh with open arms. Play for the “G”, the state that loves you!
— tnturfdawg (@tnturfdawg) December 27, 2012
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.