And here we are, ladies and gentlemen. March Madness.
I have a bunch of hoopservations about the college game, none of which is worthy of more than four or five sentences. Thus, here is a potpourri of mini hoopservations:
1a. For starters, this is not the site to come to for upset picks based on super-duper-insider info and fantastic scouting reports. If you want that kind of analysis, keep surfing the ‘net and you’ll find it without too much trouble. I’ve never seen St. Peter’s play. Or Indiana State. Or Belmont. In fact, I thought Belmont was a horse race, not a college.
1b. Great, I just offended all of my readers from Belmont. When you only have eight loyal readers, you can’t afford to offend anyone, but I just did. No wonder I’m having so much trouble attracting new readers.
2. BYU, at one point this season, looked like a legit contender. Then it suspended one of its best players for having sex with his girlfriend. I have plenty of opinions about this, but they’d certainly offend some people and, well, I just can’t afford to offend anyone at this point.
3. Is it too early to declare the expansion to 68 teams a failure? If not, what additional information do we need before we are able to determine that the expansion was a bad idea?
4. Jeff Capel got fired this week. Not the biggest story out there, I know, but I think it’s interesting because of what it says about the way we perceive college coaches. When Capel made VCU competitive, he was a hot young candidate for a job at a bigger program. He took the job at Oklahoma, and did quite well, when he had Blake Griffin. Since losing Griffin, he hasn’t done so well. Funny how that works. Take a step back and look at this: when he makes a team like VCU competitive, people think he’s a coaching prodigy. When he recruits Blake Griffin, people think the praise was worthwhile. Then when he loses Griffin and stops winning, people think he doesn’t even deserve to keep his job. How about some perspective, folks?
5. Last year, I hoopserved that tournament upsets, contrary to popular belief, generally did not involve a team with five underrated upperclassmen beating a team with five overrated underclassmen. Rather, they generally involved a lower-seeded team having a star who carried it to a win. (Here, if you’re interested.) In light of that, I looked at the list of this year’s leading scorers, and note that teams to keep an eye on are Penn St. (Talor Battle averages 20.1 ppg), Wofford (Noah Dalman averages 20 ppg),and BU (John Holland averages 19.2 ppg). If you’re kind of into this angle, but you’re more interested in rebounds than points, I note that the list of leading rebounders includes Nikola Vucevic from USC (10.2 rpg) and Keith Benson from Oakland (10.1 rpg).
6. It’s interesting that people can see what they want in this tournament. Those who are down on the game will see that the top eight seeds are about as weak as the top eight seeds have been in a while. Florida? Notre Dame? They’ll also see that the tournament is wide open, essentially because there is a lot of mediocrity, and very few teams that have potential for greatness. Those who are not down on the game will see a lot to like about this tournament. For starters, the defending national champion returns multiple critical starters, and heads into the tournament as a #1 seed. And, they will see a bunch of potentially great matchups. UCLA-Michigan State in Round 1?!? Seriously? Plus, a potential matchup of St. John’s, the revitalized school from NYC, and BYU, the school that kicked a player off of its team for violating the school’s Honor Code — an Honor Code that, as I understand things, does not allow students to drink caffeine. Like I said, I’m not going to comment on BYU’s decision, but you don’t need my commentary to see that St. John’s / BYU would be an interesting clash. Looking down the road, a potential Ohio State / Syracuse matchup would be awesome. Another run from Butler would be thrilling. And, don’t forget, Kemba Walker might just grab the whole bracket by the throat and not let go.
I don’t know about you, but I’m psyched.
How can you not address the Knicks’ defensive shortcomings? As you all saw last night, two All-Stars and a fabulous point guard weren’t enough to defeat the worst team in the league, which point up its fourth highest point total of the season against New York. Knicks coach Antoni (notice the absence of a D) is allergic to defense, as are all the teams he coaches. Knicks top priority needs to be one of those grizzly veterans who plays lockdown defense, not adding anymore stars.
Sippy! Nice to have you on board.
Regarding Antoni (I like that, by the way), I hear you that he doesn’t have a record of coaching good D. Four responses to that:
1. Antoni, for better or worse, is the coach of the Knicks right now. To try to win with Antoni as your coach, it makes no sense to construct a roster of players who are primarily focused on D. Now, whether or not Antoni SHOULD BE the Knicks coach, that’s a different discussion. The point is that he is, and one you put him in that spot, you’ve got to build your roster accordingly. Given that he’s the coach, the ‘Melo move makes lots of sense.
2. The Knicks now have a bunch of good defenders / rebounders: Fields, Turiaf, Balkman, Douglas, Brewer. That group at least brings SOME defensive toughness to the team. If Billups / Antony / Amar’e can do their thing on the offensive end (and they will), it’s a group good enough to win lots of games with.
3. I still don’t get what people think would have been a better option than making the deal. When I ask the question of people who didn’t like the deal, all I hear is that the Knicks should have “waited for free agency in 2012” to make their team better. But that’s a year and a half away. And, anyway, didn’t we already try the whole wait-and-hope-free-agents-come-make-us-a-championship-team thing? Haven’t we learned?
4. You’re really making judgments after two games? Two?