Archive for the college basketball Category

Hopefully this is the last time I talk about this

Posted in college basketball, college football, NCAA, sports with tags , , , , on August 23, 2013 by cueball

Amateurism is dead, smothered by NCAA commercialization. Yet, NCAA drags it around like it’s in a bizarre remake of “Weekend at Bernie’s.” – @JayBilas, ESPN Basketball Commentator Jay Bilas via twitter

How did I end up here?

I, like most people who love college sports started out believing in the sanctity of the NCAA and the current college sports model.

I love reading and writing and I believe in the concept of education as a good unto itself.

College football and basketball is a part of my Saturday’s and has been for as long as I can remember.  Back in the ancient times before the explosion of ESPN I remember waiting for the Jefferson Pilot introduction to start with the pilot himself on his boat in his yellow rain slicker.  That always meant the start of college football or basketball for the day was at hand.  The voices of Keith Jackson and Ara Parseghian are still ingrained in the football loving part of my brain.  I am a graduate of UNC Chapel Hill and a devoted fan of all of its athletic teams.

Yet, I sit here right now hating the NCAA and what it pretends to represent.

The first cracks in my blind devotion would come with the Fab Five.  This is a fascinating group of players.  On one hand they actually won nothing, yet they are more famous the then teams that beat them to win national championships and Big Ten Championships.  On the other hand, they were the first athletes to openly ask, “Why does everyone else get to make money off me except me?”

My knee jerk reaction at the time was the same as many now, “You’re getting a scholarship.  Shut up and be happy.”  However, the seeds were planted and I didn’t wholly believe what I was saying.

Then the slow drip, drip of all the television contracts, coaches contracts, “one and done” rules, etc. washed away the improvised splatter of “amateurism” the NCAA keeps trying to paint on itself to protect its revenues.

One of the arguments you will often hear by defenders of the NCAA’s status quo is that the huge CBS/Turner contract is split between all the NCAA schools and all of the teams in all of its sports, so it doesn’t equal that much money per school per team.  However, I look at it differently.  Having to split that money between so many athletic departments means that you have to protect what little revenue you have at all costs.  In this case that means making sure you don’t have a huge expenditure line of paying players eating into those revenues.

I think it is clear that the current system is going to collapse in on itself sometime within the next 10 years.  A system where the group at the top gets all the revenue and the group at the bottom who does all the work gets compensated in tuition and housing yet can’t get an outside job or use their own name to make additional money seems unfair because it is.  Coaches can quit and go to different schools with no repercussions as long as they can pay the buyouts, but a player leaves to go to a different school for whatever reason has to sit a year, unless granted a waiver by the powers that be.  Additionally, schools who claim poverty when asked to pay their “student-athletes” a living wage better not have a coach making millions of dollars.

Again, if the system seems unfair, it is because it is.  If we were still in a time when all the money surrounding college sports was solely the province of outside agents than the NCAA holding the line for amateurism would be more acceptable.  However, you can’t sell a jersey with a player’s number on it and then claim that you were only selling the team and the individual.

How many #50 Tar Heel jerseys were sold before Tyler Hansbrough matriculated to Chapel Hill?  Now, I love Rich Yonacker, Cecil Exum, Octavus Barnes, and Brian Bersticker as much as the next Tar Heel fan, but the school wasn’t moving a whole lot of merchandise with 50 on it when those guys wore the number.  The NCAA getting caught using the names of players as a search parameter for jerseys on their website was humiliating for them and funny for us, but it was at best a symptom of a failed system built upon a manufactured belief system with no basis in reality.

This is why college teams should not use uniforms to attract recruits

Posted in college basketball with tags , , , , , on February 28, 2013 by cueball

As a college football and basketball fan, I often hear someone say how all these uniform changes are great because they attract recruits because they are cool.  First, most of the uniforms aren’t cool.  Cool is classic and never really changes.  Blue jeans will always be cool.  Second, changing your uniforms in order to change the minds of 18 year old American males is a slippery slope that leads to this:

Real Madrid v. Manchester United and Duke v. UNC Diary, Part 2

Posted in college basketball with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by cueball

8:42

Pregame pint will be Highland Brewing’s Devil’s Britches IPA.

As for the game it will probably be a comfortable Duke win, but if UNC is still within one possession at the first TV timeout of either half, the game will be close.  Either Duke wins by 20 or it comes down the last possession.

8:56

First surprise of the night, Devil’s Britches uses Calypso hops a different profile then I’m used to in IPAs.  Must get used to it.

Second surprise, PJ Hairston in the starting line-up.

9:10

I don’t know if I really enjoy Duke/UNC games.  Too much nervousness.

9:17

1st TV time out 9-6 UNC.  Things could be fun tonight.

9:27

Lads playing well right now.  Duke has recovered and is starting to play well.  The next 4 minute period will tell a lot.  If UNC can keep up their momentum in the face the coming Duke run, this will be fun all the way down to the wire.

If this is a close game, cogent analysis will be hard for me to come by.

9:55

Exhausted after one half.  I need a beer.

10:22

UNC slipping now.  Duke has made a run and UNC looked a little lost on the last couple of possessions with Duke’s defensive intensity increasing.  In the next 4 minutes, Duke could take complete control of this game.  UNC has to respond out of this TV timeout.  Must get the ball inside with the elder Plumlee sitting on the bench.

10:29

Yep, saw that run coming.  Paige takes a horrible shot which leads to a Duke 3.  For once though, Roy calls the timeout to stop the run.

10:36

At the pacing around keeping away from breakable objects point in the game.

11:14

Well that ended badly.  Not a classic of the rivalry, but a tight game.  It resembled a mud fight for the most part.  Roy did a great coaching job tonight.  Everyone wanted to see what the small lineup would do for an extended period.  Against a team like Duke it works really well.  I don’t know if anything UNC could throw at Miami would work.   Game was decided by the inability to hit free throws.

Time for another beer.  See you in the morning.

Something ugly maybe/perhaps happened during the Duke/NC State game last night

Posted in college basketball with tags , , , , , on February 8, 2013 by cueball

The first damn Tweet I saw this morning was about Duke’s Cameron Crazies chanting about Tyler Lewis’s recently deceased grandmother.  story.  Here is a summary:  Last night during a basketball game, a small group of douche-bags maybe/perhaps did something douche-baggy and got called on it by people who maybe/perhaps heard them do it.  Reporters at the event who didn’t hear it defiantly and categorically claim it didn’t happen simply because they didn’t hear it.  Tweeters spent this morning arguing among themselves over what maybe/perhaps happened.  Everyone then claims what  maybe/perhaps happened says something bigger about something.  No one is quite sure what though.  Then everyone grows tired of it and moves on.  The End.

I had a longer more involved post with how this says something about how uncertainty, nuance, and saying “I don’t know” is forbidden on the internet, but I realized I was only contributing to the pollution.

This is about a letter to the editor of the DTH

Posted in college basketball with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 14, 2013 by cueball

Fans are not entitled to championships.  Fans of some sporting entities feel that they should not lose and if they do someone should be fired new players should be found.

Fans should be disappointed with losing.  They should be borderline angry when their team does not execute the basics.  That is perfectly reasonable.  Sometimes I forget that fan is a shortened version of fanatic meaning fans are by definition a little irrational.

However, there is a difference between irrational and delusional.  Fans of historically successful teams sometimes forget how hard it is to win and that everyone else is trying to win.  That mental blindness makes them prone to overreaction and panic, and often makes them forget what bad really looks like.

A team with the talent to win if and when if figures itself out and a team that has no hope of winning because of lack talent and coaching are two different things.  The first team usually plays good for a half and bad for a half and loses games like that until they start putting together consistent effort for the whole game.  Those teams are frustrating, but that happens with inexperience.  The second team is just bad.  Think 8-20.  Fans with common sense and a bit of perspective know the difference.

Another thing that happens for fans of ultra-successful teams who forget what bad truly looks like or what losing feels like, is that they forget to enjoy the wins.  Winning is the result of hard work and timing.  It is very hard.  Winning isn’t something that is a given or a birth right.  Therefore it should be enjoyed, but it often spoils the wrong people.  It doesn’t usually spoil the ones actively creating the success (coaches and players) they are too busy working towards it.  It spoils the fans.  They forget winning is a precious thing that must be tended to and respected or it will go away completely.

For coaches to achieve the type of consistent success fans clamor for, requires a borderline insane focus on the task of winning and being successful that most fans can’t begin to imagine. Urban Meyer risked his health for that type of success.  People laugh when Nick Saban wins a national championship and starts worrying about off-season training and recruiting 10 minutes later.  That is how you build something that successful for a long period of time.  The fact that more coaches, particularly in college, don’t go completely off the rails mentally or physically surprises me.

There is some ephemeral line that separates fans demanding success and fans petulantly lashing out at everyone and everything when they don’t win.  I think it is somewhere between the difference of fans being disappointed with loses and angry at bad play and fans impatiently screaming for their next hit of winning and the accompanying superiority.  Winning allows fans to talk crap on Facebook because their team beat their friend’s team.  Of course both contributed to the game by watching on television and drinking beer.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve dropped a lot of things from my fandom.  Chief among them is the moral superiority of my team to yours.  I haven’t lost my love my teams, but I’m not playing so winning or losing really says very little about me.  Therefore, why would I talk smack about a game to an opposing fan?  Somewhere along the line, I have managed to untie my self-worth from my team’s success or failures.  I learned during a very cold February that no matter what befalls you personally, the world will keep spinning.  I think that is even truer when it comes to how good or bad your favorite team is.  My team’s losing may make life a little more annoying, but it will go on regardless.

Don’t Mess With Happy

Posted in college basketball, college football, sports with tags , , , on January 3, 2013 by cueball

The first rule of coaches should be, “Don’t mess with happy.”  Jim Valvano once said that and it is one of the truest things he ever uttered.  Why do coaches forget that?  Coaches will have a job where they have started to build something special.  They are beloved in the community and happy in their job.  Yet, they all think, “I’ll have a better chance to win there.  They have better facilities, better fan support, and more money.  I can win there.”

There are two things wrong with that mindset.  Most of the places with all the stuff people think make it easier to win had to be built by someone who decided to stay.  Some coach at some point in that program’s history made it a place where you can win.  It was hard work and he probably turned down more money and better opportunities at places where it was easier to win.   But, he stayed and he built it and that is the only way it has become a place where you win.

Couple that with coaches who in their arrogance forget the other central tenant of coaching, “You are hired to be fired” and you get the perfect storm lots of coaches being paid to not coach. That place where it is easier to win also has the expectations of winning, and usually winning in a certain way.

“Mo money, mo problems.”  The easier it is to win there and the more money they give you to win, means you have to win, and when you don’t you will be fired.

Take the two coaches from last night’s Sugar Bowl.  Florida is a place where you can win.  It has the facilities, support, and all the things coaches say they want.  Will Muschamp looks like a man with the weight of the world on top of him and always seems ready to literally self-combust on the sideline at all times.  Charlie Strong (here is a great article about him) came to Louisville after being passed over for job after job for reasons that are unfortunately too apparent when you see the color of his skin. He went to a school, Louisville, which except for a brief moment in the itinerant career of Bobby Petrino has not been a place where you could win.

He is making it that now.  He is the guy staying to build something.  He turned down Tennessee earlier this month to stay at a place that gave him a chance when no one else would.  He is staying with the kids he recruited to do something special.  Here is hoping that he stays for the long term, coaches at Louisville until he is in 60s and leaves a legacy by building a place that gives some new coach a better chance to win there than in other places.

A Lot of Basketball Announcers Suck

Posted in college basketball, sports with tags , , , on November 12, 2012 by cueball

In trying to watch college basketball games and take notes about what is going on during the games so I can write about them, it has become clear that there are some very bad announcing teams out there.  It is not that they do not know basketball.  It is that they do not have the ability to explain what is going on the court in a coherent manner.

Sometimes the play-by-play guy seems too concerned with making his analyst laugh then resetting the game.  Sometimes the analyst is too busy telling a story about the head coach of one of the teams, his new best friend by the way, to explain why the defense/offense the team is running is so effective against the defense/offense the other team is running.

So, besides watching games this weekend, I’ve tried to come up with rules for what I think makes good announcing, particularly for the play-by-play guy.  I concentrated on that position because it is the key.  A good play-by-play guy is the one who sets the information flow of the game and he also has the power to get the announcer to focus on his job instead of babbling about nothing.

The major problems play-by-play guys have are:

  • They think there job is to make us and the analyst laugh. This is not an open mike night at some comedy club.  The play-by-play announcer’s job is just that: to provide play-by-play.  It is to convey information in the most succinct manner possible.  Making the audience laugh is a tertiary concern.
  • They haven’t called enough basketball games to get the rhythm of basketball.  There is a different type of rhythm for basketball, football, and baseball.  Football and particularly baseball has a lot of down time for the announcers to converse about whatever they want to talk about.  Basketball with its near continuous flow does not leave a lot of room for witticisms and stories.  There is too much information to convey on each possession for digressions and announcers who primarily do the other sports don’t immediately get that.
  • Some announcers have not done enough radio play-by-play in any sport.  This is an interesting idea.  I think it would help many announcers when they are you to announce sports on the radio for a few years.  The reason: you have to explain everything and not rely on the visual to do your job.  I think some announcers figure if you are watching the game you know who shot the ball or who committed to foul because you can see it.  That isn’t necessarily true.  The game is played fast and is often a jumble.  That is why we have announcers to tell us these things.

Here are three simple rules to make things better:

  • Coming out of timeouts, reset the game.  Give the score, the lineups currently on the floor and any other information that will affect the play.
  • Let the audience know who shot the ball, who rebounded the ball, who committed the foul, etc.  In short, convey the information of what is going on to the audience.  Do not rely on the visuals to take care of that for you.
  • Set up the analyst to tell us what he sees on the court and why it is working.  Do not set up the analyst to tell us about the dinner he had with the head coach over the summer and why he thinks the guy walks on water.  The play-by-play announcer’s job is to make the analyst sound smarter, not dumber.

If announcers would do these simple things, our basketball watching lives would be better.