Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekend Hangover - Love/Hate

Well my bracket is completely busted after the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, so that’s the hate of the week………….the link is on the right to check the standings of the Sports Addict Brackett Challenge and see how awful my picks were.


- Who was the biggest hero of the weekend? It definitely wasn’t the politicians who want to celebrate the fact that they actually did something over the weekend. And let’s face it, they really didn’t do anything since there are still more hoops to jump through. The real hero of the weekend was Ali Farokhmanesh, the Northern Iowa kid who hit the 3-pointer that sent home tournament #1 seed Kansas. His shot wasn’t just a clutch shot, it was one of those shots where the coach is yelling “Noooooooooooo! Yes!!!” because you’re up 1 with under a minute to play and typically the coach wants you to run some clock before shooting. Yet the Kansas defended backed off Ali, and to quote the great Gus Johnson, Ali decided to “rise and fire” from beyond the arc. Immediately after he hit the shot I got a text from my brother “that kid has balls the size of….well…….Iowa.” Enough said.

- The other contender for hero of the week? Korie Lucious of Michigan State, hitting the game winning shot to send the Spartans past Maryland into the Sweet 16. In a highly entertaining game that went back and forth in the final minute, Lucious carried a team that lost its best player, Kalen Lucas, and was also dealing with an injury to Chris Allen. It also ended the career of Maryland’s star guard, Greivis Vasquez, and it will be interesting to see where Vasquez’s pro potential ends up. The Spartans will have their hands full dealing with the Northern Iowa team next week, especially if the Lucas injury is a torn achilles heel like it appeared to be.

- So what is the best conference this year? There are 11 conferences represented in the sweet 16 which is a great illustration of the parity and thin line between the major conferences and the mid-majors. There is only one conference with more than 2 teams still alive: The Big Ten (Michigan State, Ohio State & Purdue). The Big 12 (Kansas St & Baylor), Big East (Syracuse & West Virginia) and SEC (Kentucky & Tennessee) have two teams each, and the rest are single teams from conferences including the ACC, Pac-10, Ivy, Atlantic-10, Missouri Valley, West Coast and Horizon. It was a very impressive showing for the much-maligned Big Ten.

- On the other side of the spectrum, it was enjoyable to watch teams that were definitely overrated show how overrated they were. I’m talking directly to New Mexico, a team that cried about a lack of respect for their great record and then they completely wet themselves in the tournament. They were completely dismantled by the 11th seeded Washington team. Other teams that were exposed as frauds during the first weekend: Temple, Vanderbilt, Richmond, Pittsburgh and yes, Wisconsin. It happens every March when teams cry for respect or build up expectations, only to deliver a performance like Jennifer Lopez like Gigli.

- The quote of the weekend. It had nothing to do with basketball, and took place at dinner Saturday night with a group of friends discussing how a girl should pace herself drinking on a date to roughly match the amount that the guy is drinking. We got into a discussion of a girl who was drinking 4 cocktails to 1 for her date because she figured it was free drinks and she knew the date wasn’t going to lead to a second date (or even a second bar). To which my friend just deadpans “Why would you waste a hangover on a bad date?” Well said.


- The performance of Wisconsin was pitiful. First, Cornell was flat-out better than the Badgers in every aspect of the game. Their big slow white guy was better than Wisconsin’s guy, Nankovil. The Cornell scorer (Wittman) was equal to the Wisconsin scorer (Leuer). The Cornell undersized point guard played under control, didn’t turn the ball over and made shots – all things that Trevon Hughes did not do. The Cornell shooter (Jacques) made his shots, and Wisconsin’s shooter (Bohannon) could barely hit the ocean if he fell out of a boat. Cornell had guys coming off the bench that made contributions, and the Badgers did not. At the end of the day, there are not many teams that can out-fundamental a Bo Ryan team, and Cornell did that.

The most disappointing aspect was the disappearance of the Badger senior backcourt of Hughes and Bohannon. When the Badgers got hot near the end of the regular season after Leuer returned from injury, those two were driving the bus. In the Big Ten tournament and in both NCAA Tournament games, they drove the bus into a ditch and lit it on fire.

- In addition to the Wisconsin veteran backcourt collapsing, the same happened to Kansas and Villanova. Kansas’s Sherron Collins was awful in the Jayhawks debacle and he wasn’t able to step up and carry the team like you would expect from a senior All-American point guard. Similarly, Scottie Reynolds couldn’t get Villanova past St. Mary’s in the second round, proving that the first round struggles were not a fluke and Villanova was not nearly as good as everyone thought. Time to change the thought that an experienced floor leader is what is needed to advance in the tourney. And it also put an end to my “Fat Point Guard Theory.”

- If you were a pseudo-small market team and were about to sign your franchise catcher to the biggest contract in the history of the franchise (and among the top 5 contracts ever in the sport), wouldn’t you want that to be the lead story in sports? Wouldn’t you want your team to get the publicity it deserves for keeping its star player? The Twins signed the best catcher in the game, Joe Mauer, to an 8-year, $184 million contract that will keep the Minnesota-native home and keep the Twins competitive. Yet they announce it on a Sunday when all the national sports outlets are spending their time on the NCAA tournament and the Tiger Woods interview. Wouldn’t they have been better served holding on to the announcement until Tuesday when the college hoops dies down and they can get the attention of the media?

(and I say pseudo-small market because Minneapolis is not Milwaukee, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Baltimore, Tampa or Cincinnati)

Every Monday I give a quick recap of some things during the weekend that were a “love” – enjoyable, good, or entertainment – or things that were a “hate” – things that stunk, bad plays, or other things that were painful to watch.

No comments:

Post a Comment