Wednesday, February 27, 2008

College Basketball Thoughts

OK It’s about that time to take a look at the 2007-2008 College Basketball season that is/has been. Apologies are also in order to the masses for my lack of creative/any real material recently, work is killing me. Namely, they’re actually making me do stuff around here instead of simply writing for my sports page in between cold call messages. So I hope you all aren’t too angry at me. Then again, chances are your cares are very little. For those of you who do care I appreciate it, and as a side note, if you are reading this in your office and you get sales calls during the day, it’s not that hard to be polite. There are some attitudes on people out there, and let’s just say that there are a few people in Northern California who are not very receptive to taking calls, or attending the conferences I have invited them to. But enough about that, like I said, it’s time to talk some College Basketball.

Believe it or not I absolutely love the College Basketball season, it is a close second to the College Football season, and typically a little more reliable. The late season Duke Swoon, the undefeatedes start falling in conference play, the phenoms start playing every game like it’s the combine and take selfish shots (I’m talking to you Jordan Hill, look how that worked out for Hassan Adams a couple years ago). The best thing of the last regular season weeks of the College Basketball season, in my opinion, is the fact that as of right now, my bracket isn’t busted yet. Of course 3 weeks from now I will have guessed the play-in game wrong on my way to my bracket being officially busted by noon Thursday. So let’s talk some college basketball.

Lute Olson:
First off, the man is a legend like him/Arizona Basketball or not he deserves a little respect. And the treatment he got in the beginning of the season from the media was terrible. If he needed to take some time off, he deserved it and he did not deserve having his private life on the front page of ESPN/SI/etc. I realize these people are public figures. But what Coach O’s divorce had to do with public knowledge is beyond me. It didn’t need speculation, he left the program in capable hands during a rebuilding year, and as of November 4 the media should have left it with that. Coach O, on behalf of Wildcat fans everywhere we can’t wait to have you back next year, if you’re still willing to come back.

Arizona Basketball:
What a down year for the Wildcats. UA is on the verge of being a bubble team come March Madness and at least 1 win over the remaining 4 games is mandatory to have a shot. The win over Washington State on Saturday was a major step in the right direction. But it’s still too little too late for a rebuilding team that will most certainly lose 1 if not 3 of their top players to the draft this year and have another rebuilding year next year.

As a U of A fan I see this in all of our sports, and have for years. I’m used to it but that doesn’t mean that I like it, and I know there are people out there that agree with me. The team constantly playing to their opponent’s level and never knowing which team is taking the floor. And it’s not just a matter of having an off night, Using Arizona for example taking Kansas to Overtime but losing to Virginia. Beating Washington State twice and losing to Arizona State twice. This makes March even more upsetting because before we (or any other team in the same position) can even take that 5 or 6 seed deep enough in the tournament to upset a 2 seed in the Sweet 16 we lose to a lesser team in the first round. It drives me crazy.

As with College Football, though not as ridiculous as the 2007 season teams have been all over the AP Top 25. 47 to be exact, 47 different teams have appeared in the Top 25 at one point this season. Also the Top 5 is not really that safe. 3 teams, NC, Memphis, and Tennessee, have lost as #1, UCLA, Kansas, and Duke have all lost when ranked #2, Tennessee, NC, and Kansas have all lost when ranked #3, Texas, Washington State, UCLA, and Kansas have all lost when ranked #4, and Georgetown (twice), UCLA, and Duke have all lost when ranked #5. What does this mean? A Few things, first of all that this year’s Conference tournaments, will mean a lot to teams like UCLA as far as getting that #1 seed. Second, three teams have been #1’s this season. All three of those have been #1 in the last 6 weeks, and they just so happen to be the respective 1, 2, 3 going into the second to last weekend of the regular season, and current #1 Tennessee, lost to Vanderbilt last night. Third, Georgetown is praying for anything but a 5 seed in the tournament. The main difference between these rankings and the BCS rankings are the fact that these don’t really matter and the teams get to play it out tournament style which I am still pulling for in football.

Kelvin Sampson:
What really can be said? Sampson was bound to get in trouble, that’s why you don’t bring in coaches with past indiscretions, especially to a program that is finally rebounding after the Bob Knight fiasco a few years back. What did Kelvin do at Oklahoma? Oh that’s right illegal communication with recruits? I would make a joke about them going after Larry Eustachy but since he took a leave to be with his ailing mother and did not leave the program due to pictures of him with Natty Lights, I’ll refrain as much as I can. I think Jerry Tarkanian is looking for a Head Coaching position.

Pac – 10 Officiating:
I am saying this as a fan of a team in the Pac – 10 and I happen to watch mostly Pac – 10 games. I also say this knowing full well that Arizona has been on both sides of poorly officiated games. The Stanford vs. Arizona game 2 weeks ago was one of the worst officiated games I have ever seen on any level in any sport, including a High School game involving Gilbert High School in Arizona where the head official took off his referee jersey/shirt after the game and was wearing a Gilbert High School Football supporter T-Shirt. If I had not seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed it, it was straight out of the WWE Storylines. But I digress. The Thursday before that Stanford game Arizona played Cal and attempted 36 free throws. Pac – 10 officials are by far the worst officials in all of college sport. As I said it is not bitterness as an Arizona fan because we have been on both sides of the calls. It’s the fact that you go into the game knowing it will most likely be one sided and as a fan you don’t know which side your team is on. It’s not abnormal for Pac – 10 football officiating to be just as bad.

Bubble Time:
It’s about that time of year where Men hear the word bubble and thoughts of excitement, Selection Sunday, and basketball, rather than beer and gum. By my count there are about 6 teams who are on the bubble for the Tournament who were ranked by the AP at one point during the season. Arizona, Arizona State, Baylor, Kent State, Miami, Texas A&M are the 6 that need a big win, a couple wins, or a strong showing in an (if applicable) conference Tournament to secure a spot, but all 6 should be in. Other formerly ranked teams that look less likely of going to the Big Dance are Dayton, Ole Miss, Oregon, Rhode Island, Southern Illinois, Syracuse, Villanova, Virginia, and Kentucky, who, if they missed it would snap a 16 consecutive tournament appearance streak. These 9 teams still have an outside shot but conference tournament success looks to be their only chance at this late junction. They’re still breathing but on life support.