Tag Archives: Kemba Walker

Let the Madness Begin

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.

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On Campus

This is one of my favorite times of year for hoops.  The college football season — and all the ridiculous bowl games that coincide with it — is winding down, and the college basketball season is ramping up.

Three hoopservations about the college game, now that we’re getting into the swing of things:

1.  Kemba Walker is good.  Very good.  (It’s because of hoopservations like this that I earn the big bucks for keeping this blog going.)

2.  Syracuse is very good, but they’re going to have trouble beating good teams if they continue to shoot 17-for-36 from the foul line, as they did yesterday.  (It’s because of hoopservations like this that I’m going to be asking my boss for a raise.)

3.  Looking at the Top 25, three names stick out.  They’re regulars in the Top 25 these days.  And, yet, they stick out because I don’t see any way they can be a threat come tournament time.  I’m talking about Pitt, Kansas State, and Notre Dame.  (Ranked 5, 14, and 17, according to the current AP rankings.)  Pitt, in recent years, has emerged as a national powerhouse, fielding teams with future pros like DeJuan Blair, Sam Young, and Aaron Gray.  Those teams were frequently ranked in the Top 20, or even Top 10.  And they made zero Final Fours.  Kansas State, in recent years, has also emerged as a national powerhouse, fielding teams with future pros like Michael Beasley and Bill Walker.  Those teams were frequently ranked in the Top 20, or even Top 10.  And they made zero Final Fours.  Notre Dame, in recent years, has emerged as a national powerhouse, fielding teams with future pros like Luke Harangody and Chris Quinn.  Those teams were frequently ranked in the Top 20, or even Top 10.  And they made zero Final Fours.

Now these teams are back, each in the Top 20, and, presumably, viewed by the experts as a threat to make the Final Four.  Well, I don’t buy it.  Am I supposed to believe that K State is going to win more without Beasley than it did with him? Or that Pitt will have more success than it was able to have with Blair and Young? I don’t see it happening.  I’m well aware that the teams that beat them back when they had those guys now have different players (that’s how it works in college hoops), but, still…  If the programs couldn’t get the job done when they had those talented future pros, I don’t see reason to believe they’re going to get over the hump now.

When the time comes to distinguish contenders from pretenders, I’ll be ranking them with the pretenders.

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