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ruminations on college basketball
dave-oh my god!
soopageek
A Raw Deal
Mississippi State should've been in the tournament. They were 4th overall in the SEC, cracked the top 25 for a couple of weeks this season, and in the conference tournament put away Florida (who did get in and was 6th in the conference), Vanderbilt (ranked and 3rd in conference) and nearly knocked off Kentucky to win the whole thing. It won't surprise me one bit if they beat North Carolina in the NIT this weekend.

The Syracuse Injury
They should have no problem rolling past Vermont, but it will be interesting since Vermont and Syracuse have a history. Vermont upset them as a #13 seed to #4 seed Syracuse in the 2005 tournament. Could this be the year that a #16 seed finally beats a #1 seed? On the whole doubtful, but without Onuaku, it's not outside the realm of possibility. Losing a 65% FG completer is not something Syracuse, or anyone, can afford right now. At any rate, they will certainly have their hands full with Florida St. or perennial overachievers, Gonzaga, in the second round. There's a very good chance that Syracuse won't make it out of the second round.

Kentucky Champs?
I still don't see it happening. They certainly have the talent and coach to pull it off, but they don't have the seasoning of a team like Kansas or Duke. There are a lot of people trying to compare this team to the Michigan Fab Five. I'll grant you they may have more talent than that team, and definitely bigger, but I don't see the discipline and dedication. I'll be in front of the TV rooting Kentucky all along the way, but I see Kentucky out of it by the Sweet 16 or Elite 8.

Here's the bottom line: if a team can contain Cousins (and several have) Kentucky struggles. Cousins' inexperience begins to show. He's not used to being contained. I'm sure in high school no team could. On top of that, he's stubborn and too many times insists on trying to make the shot when he's double/triple teamed rather than dishing it off to the open man. I mean, if you have three guys on you, SOMEONE is open on the perimeter. He makes the smart play sometimes, but more often than not he a) gets fouled and struggles at the stripe, b) gets the ball tied up, or c) gets the ball stripped away. Then he gets frustrated and tries even harder and the cycle of failure and frustration continues and it begins to show on the defensive side in fouls which puts him on the bench for most of the game.

Cousins has proved all year he can't break that cycle, so I'm not really expecting him to magically start doing it now.

The Argument for Cousins and Wall To Stay
This is a) a pipe dream and b) not practical for either guy, but I think there is an argument to be made. Cousins and Wall both would benefit from the discipline and experience of another year of college ball, Cousins in particular as evidenced above. I don't begrudge either of them for taking off for the NBA. A year of earning millions of dollars in an industry where you're lucky if you have a 10-15 good years, rather than risking injury in another year of college ball, is probably the way to go. I also doubt seriously that Coach Cal is doing anything to convince either of them that they would benefit from another year. Part of what makes him such a successful recruiter for these "one and dones" is that he gives them a place to showcase their talent and facilitates a quick transition to the pros. Both players are expected to go in the first 10 picks, with Wall undoubtedly being the number one pick in the draft. It's unlikely either will pass up the opportunity.

That said, both would have a greater chance for more successful professional careers with another year at the college level. When talking about Wall, a lot of people capriciously use the phrase "next Jordan". There's no doubt the kid has a ton of talent, and when comparing freshmen seasons between the two, Wall actually has more PPG than Jordan had, and Wall is a point guard compared to Jordan's shooting guard position. Wall is also a better free throw shooter than Jordan was. But if Wall jumps to the pros he'll never have some of the amateur experiences which made Jordan what he was: namely, leading his team to a National Title and leading the U.S. to an Olympic Gold medal. Jordan went pro after his junior year. In addition to his talent, I believe it was these experiences which made Jordan as great as he was. Wall has the potential to be that great, and may very well still be. I just think that by going pro after just one year he will miss some really great character building opportunities.

Of course, there's no doubt Patterson should go after his junior year this year. He'll likely go in the top ten of the draft and the dude graduated in three years. There's really nothing else left for him to do except win a National Title. The only way I see him staying is if Wall and Cousins stayed and tried to make a run for the title next year.

Dunkadelic Phat Five
Despite the stupid name, there is royalty in college basketball. Of the 347 teams in Division I college basketball, five teams, comprised of Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, and UCLA have regular and post season traditions that are hard to deny. For the past 22 years, at least one of these teams has been in the Final Four; 40 out of the last 44 years. Of those 22 years, a Phat 5 team won the NCAA Championship game 11 times. All-time, the Phat 5 have won 29 of the 71 NCAA tournaments. Kansas, Duke, and Kentucky all have great shots at being in the Final Four again this year, so it's likely that tradition will go unbroken for a 23rd straight year. Kansas and North Carolina won the last two Championships. There's a really great chance that streak could go to 3 by the end of this tournament. Not surprisingly, the Phat 5 hold the top 5 of the top 6 spots for the most wins in the tourney:

UCLA: 11
Kentucky: 7
North Carolina: 5
Indiana: 5
Duke: 3
Kansas 3:

Of course, the greatest of them all is Kentucky. Just for fun, here's Kentucky's impressive all-time and current stats:

Number of Wins: 2020 (#1 NCAA), also the first school to reach both the 1000 and 2000 win plateaus.
All-time win percentage: 76% (#1 NCAA)
NBA draft picks all-time: 92 (#2 NCAA)
All-Americans: 50 (#1 NCAA)
Final AP Poll Top Ten: 39 (#1 NCAA)
Final AP Poll #1: 8 (#1 NCAA)
20 Win seasons: 54 (#1 NCAA)
30 Win seasons: 12 (#1 NCAA)
35 Win seasons: 3 (#1 NCAA)
Total non-losing seasons (.500): 93 (#2 NCAA)
Holds record for consecutive non-losing seasons (.500): 60 (1927-1987); current streak, 23 years.
Number of Coaches With a NCAA Championship: 4 (#1 NCAA)
Conference Regular Season Champions: 44 (#2 NCAA)
Conference Tournament Championships: 26 (#1 NCAA)
National Attendance Titles: 22 (#1 NCAA)
Consecutive games with a three-point shot scored: 744 (current, and #3 NCAA)
Holds record for consecutive home wins: 129 (1943-1955)
Holds record for largest NCAA Tournament combined point differential: +129 points (1996)

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C'mon, 4th place in the SEC is like 7th place in a real conference. I have a hard time feeling sorry for Mississipi St. or any other "slighted" team. The point of the tournament, other than making CBS and the casinos a lot of money, is to crown a champion. If you want to make a legitimate claim that you deserve to be a champ, then win your conference tourney and prove it. Otherwise don't gripe that a school that has a larger following or a big name coach edges you out when you know the real point is to make CBS money.

I would also say that at some point you have to draw a line there and call it the modern era. For example, using your logic, Army would be NCAA football royalty and the Browns would be one of the best teams in the NFL 'cause of the 11 consecutive championship appearances when Otto Graham was the QB.

Personally, I'd probably draw the line at the Fab 5. That was the start of the current NCAA game. But you could probably go a little farther back, but certainly it's not apt to compare an era in which freshman had to sit to today's one-and-done system.

Also, calling a team "royalty" when they boot half a dozen academically eligible players out because the new coach only cares about winning is a big questionable...

On an unrelated note, I'm sure you've trucked through Denton, TX, before...Steve Albini was lecturing there the other night...don't know if he's in Austin this week or not...

There's been more than one "modern era" over the past 100 years, what matters is a program's ability to adapt to the changes. Personally I'm not a fan of the NBA's change which forced the one-and-done system... if the kids want to go pro out of high school they should be able to go... but it is what it is and there's not a lot collegiate coaches/programs can do about it except adapt to it.

I've been in Denton many times, it's where all the northern DFW truckstops are. I imagine Albini has been down there in the region for SXSW.

Yeah, I don't know if he's doing the Austin thing or not, but Denton had their own "conferette," Nx35, last week put on by Midlake and he was one of the featured speakers.

The NBA did not force the One and Done--Marbury, Anthony, etc were well before the rule change. Personally, I'm a fan of the NBA rule though there are those who oppose it because it makes the pro product stronger, just like it works for the NFL. It saves NBA teams from their own stupidity when it comes to giving tons of money to guys like Kwame Brown who can't play. Guys always have the Europe option, like that dude playing for the Bucks now.

I'd love to see the NCAA make a rule saying players have to stay for three years if they come, but I definitely don't want the NBA to start accepting high school kids again. Otherwise, guys like OJ Mayo would be a first overall pick based on "potential."

There have been many players that have gone pro after only a season or 2 after proving themselves beyond the high school level. But there were kids that went straight from high school to the pros, Bryant and James being the most notable to be successful in doing so. But by having this one year rule, the NBA has forced an environment where this generation of Kobe's and Lebron's are going to college and biding their time, which seems senseless.

The reason I don't like the rule is because it's a token measure. One year at the college level does no more to prove a player's potential for NBA performance than scouting them right out of high school. I think it should be longer or done away with... one year doesn't really prove anything. if it were really in the best interest of saving the NBA from itself, I agree with you, the age requirement should be extended to 21.

if it were an NCAA rule, I'd agree. it would be a token rule.

half the jobs in America any moron who can do simple math can do a decent job at. yet companies require college degrees to weed people out. the NBA is basically doing the same thing. not a degree, but they are getting a chance to see the player develop more. and it has unquestionably made the NBA better for it. ratings are at their highest since Jordan left the Bulls and it's because teams are doing a better job of avoiding total busts or picking trouble makers by seeing the guys play at a higher level--whether it's college or the Israeli league. It's obviously not perfect. It can't be. After all, most GMs are still former players and not that bright. But it's a better product right now. Kobe and Lebron are success stories, but you can argue that Kobe had a shitty team game until he was in his 30s and Lebron still chokes under pressure now. As does Dwight Howard. Anthony and Wade don't. Maybe it's just coincidence, but maybe they got some practice playing a year before they were millionaires in the tournament.

I don't like a lot about the college rules now...but they need to police their self, not ask the NBA to do it. Make a 3 year rule. Make coaches unable to work for another school when they are under contract. My it where schools have to honor any scholarship they give out as long as the student makes grades (when I was at Tech, Bobby Cremins was notorious for running players out of the program that he'd recruited if they didn't work out).

The problem is the NCAA has no authority to make and enforce a 3 year rule, or any rule of that nature. How can they make a kid stay in college? No more than they can any other student at their school. Require him to payback his scholarship? That's chump change for a professional athlete. The only way it can occur is if the NBA sets the rule, leaving it up to the player to decide the option he wants to pursue in the interim. I think most would opt for playing college ball rather than playing pro overseas, especially if it were set at 3 years.

that's true. they'd have to have the NBA enforce the rule, just like MLB does with the NCAA baseball rule. which i think they'd do if the NCAA made the first step. but David Stern has said as recently as last week that it's not his job to fix the college game. And I agree. College has to police itself. Ideally, that would be done by the schools, but it will take the NCAA 'cause their will always be angry alum grasping for former glory days willing to run off Bobby Bowden or bring in mercenary coaches with questionable loyalty and recruiting practices. To paraphrase Rick Pitino, Alabama fans won't realize that Bear Bryant is not walking through that door.

Oh and, say what you will about the SEC, I'm not going to be baited into some argument over conference toughness. There's no doubt it's not as tough as the ACC or the Big East... but it's on par with the Big Ten or the Big 12. It's no slouch conference.

I'm talking about relativity. Florida had a worse record overall, didn't make it past the first round of their conference tournament (beaten by Mississippi St. no less) and has been trending downward. They lost to fucking Georgia for chrissakes. I just don't understand the logic. Big deal if Florida had some quality wins in November... they haven't done shit since then, except surprise Tennessee. Mississippi St. went to their conference tournament championship game, beat Vanderbilt in the process, and would've beaten Kentucky on Sunday had it not been for a lucky buzzer-beater put-back by Cousins.

Doesn't the Big 12 have 8 teams in this year?

If Miss St. belonged, they'll have no problem winning the No Invitation Tournament. They still have that, right? Ultimately I think it came down to the fact that Florida is Florida and has Billy D and a crazy fan base that road trips well. And nobody in Miss. cares about basketball. It's the same thing that leads to who goes to what bowl. Or why Duke gets a #1 seed. Or Big 10 and Big East football get televised, despite the fact that they completely suck.

Cousins took 2 shots today and had 4 assists. He passed out of damn near every double team he faced.


BOOYAH, BITCH!

I know! I was very, very impressed with Cousins today. Every time he got double teamed down low he dished it out to the perimeter or found Patterson on a backdoor cut. There might be hope for them yet.

Also:

Wall: Gone. 100%.

Patterson: Gone. 100%

Bledsoe: 80% Stays/20% Leaves

Cousins: 50%/50%. Why?

It's a business decision. First, he's definitely not going to be the #1 pick this year. Lottery for sure, but not #1. If he stays, it's very possible he could be the #1 pick next year (it's going to be a weaker draft next year). Secondly, I hear from some people who are pretty well connected that the NBA lockout situation is also being followed closely and would factor into the decision somehow. I don't understand how it factors in, but apparently it does. I'll take these people's words, because I know they knows what they're talking about.

If Cousins chooses to leave, I won't be surprised in the least. He's certainly NBA ready and he's definitely going to be a lottery pick. But I won't be surprised if he stays, either.

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