Sportscenter and Twitter have killed college basketball
Most everyone is aware that young athletes nowadays desire to be on the highlights more than they care to work on their fundamentals. That issue has been going on for almost two decades now, and it affects college basketball more than the NBA. With the emphasis on making dynamic plays, the majority of NCAA players have absolutely no midrange game. Everything is either an unwarranted foray to the rim (for a dunk or wild layup), or a 3-point attempt. Lots of problems with that approach; two big ones are that most of these guys can’t shoot well, and secondly, the way charges are called in college basketball, guys are turning the ball over at an astronomically high rate.
Twitter on the other hand is killing the game because only coaches and programs that have an active social media presence or are considered “cool” get the best players. In all reality, places like Duke and Florida don’t deserve elite players. They both play this awful 3-point dominated offense despite having the ability to have the biggest and best athletes in the country. Baylor and Texas, coached by Scott Drew and Rick Barnes, respectively, continually get the best recruiting classes, but none of these players ever get any better. Drew and Barnes are just not good coaches, but because their programs have cache amongst the youngsters, they continue to get talent that never cultivates. It’s more important now to be a good recruiter versus a good coach, and the best recruiters can work their way around 140 characters quite easily.
Perry Jones is so frustrating
Some people are just made to play basketball, and Perry Jones III is one of those people. The guy is 6-11 with crazy long arms, a soft jumper, good handle, impressive vertical leap, and he’s very quick. How does this guy sleep walk through games, and disappear in all the big moments and big games? How does someone with his prodigious talent amass 4 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal in three NCAA tournament games? The whole thing is so baffling. He is literally the 2nd coming of Lamar Odom. They are the same height and weight, have similar skills, and they same ability to frustrate people with their seeming lack of desire. When Odom is on, he is one of the few un-guardable players in the NBA … Perry Jones could be the same exact way. Odds are he’ll be better in the NBA than in college because of his size and since his skill set is just so vast. The odds of him becoming a super star are nil unless he finds the Wizard of Oz before the tin man does so he can get that heart first. Greatest odds are of him getting drafted highly (just like Odom), and tantalizing numerous teams over the course of his career because he never fully taps into his full potential (just like Odom).
Ohio State is also frustrating
The Ohio State Buckeyes are a well coached team, and deserve to be in the Final Four. I do have to mention that Jared Sullinger gets what I affectionately call “Tyler Hansbrough” calls. I honestly don’t know what it is, but every time I look up he’s getting bailed out with a soft foul call. Just like Hansbrough he’s an undersized NBA power forward who plays below the rim. Maybe the refs feel bad for him, maybe he’s a really good guy and they want him to succeed? I’m not sure, but I hope it stops. Another thing that I hope stops is the man crush all the commentators have for Aaron Craft. I’ll be honest, I appreciate his motor, passion, and rabid defense, but he’s really not that good. The only reason he does anything offensively is because he’s got two NBA players on his team in Sullinger and DeSahun Thomas. Craft is certainly a guy everyone would want on their team, but all the accolades I’ve been hearing the past few weeks need to be toned down quite a bit.
Cinderella is dead
Thanks to the one and done rule, and parity (thanks to AAU basketball and the internet), the gap between major conference and smaller conference programs is often negligible. The reason that this year’s tournament didn’t have many amazing finishes or memorable moments is because almost all the teams were evenly matched. Duke losing to Lehigh was obviously unexpected, but people who watched them play all year knew the team was significantly flawed, and wouldn’t win more than 1 or 2 games in the tournament anyway. Poor Missouri ran into a team, Norfolk State, which plays exactly the same way that they do. None of the “upsets” were truly upsetting, and it will continue to be this way indefinitely. Less heralded schools can shoot the 3 just as well as the big schools. The one difference between elite programs and everyone else is size. Kentucky has a center that could start in the NBA right now. North Carolina has three potential lottery picks on their front line (Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and James Michael McAdoo), Kansas has Thomas Robinson, and Ohio State has Jared Sullinger. Smaller schools don’t have big guys that are going to the NBA, so this is the only thing separating the haves from the have-nots. Going back to Duke for a second … they have size with the Plumlee brothers, but the team predominantly takes long jump shots, so that inside advantage is nullified. The same can be said for Florida, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Wisconsin, etc.
-North Carolina not being full strength is disappointing. It’s pretty obvious UNC and Kentucky are the two best teams, but when Kendal Marshall went down, Carolina’s fast break offense got stuck in neutral.
-Harrison Barnes was supposed to be the second coming of Kobe Bryant coming out of high school. He’s has a loaded offensive repertoire, but with Marshall injured, he looks like a one dimensional jump shooter. His reputation has been smeared a bit in this tournament, it remains to be seen how it affects his draft status.
-Missouri is responsible for annihilating most everyone’s bracket. They played great all season, and even won the Big 12 tournament. Their flaws were exposed, playing a Norfolk State team that essentially plays the exact same way they do, and with guys pretty much just as athletic. This was a perfect example of the parity of college basketball. Mizzou had an advantage inside, but continued to launch threes and make wild forays to the rim.
-Duke is never supposed to lose in the first round, but this team was very vulnerable. Their top shooters had all been in a slump for the past two weeks, starting power forward Ryan Kelly was out due to a foot injury, and everyone else on the team is overrated. Mason Plumlee will get drafted off of his size and athletic ability, but he has no basketball skills at all. Seth Curry is not even half the player his brother is (or dad was). Austin Rivers is good, but he thinks that he’s great. He averaged 15 points/game, which is fine, but for someone with a reputation of being a cold blooded sniper, he only shot 43% from the field, 36.5% from 3point land, and 66% from the free throw line. He also had more turnovers than assists during the season. Rivers has a slick crossover and can get into the paint, but since he’s not an elite athlete, he has trouble finishing at the rim. If he doesn’t develop a floater, learn to make better decisions, work on his shooting a bit, and drop the ridiculous wanna be gangster vibe, he’s going to have a rude awakening in the NBA if he truly decides to go pro next year.
-UCONN was a disjointed mess the entire year, and their loss to Iowa State was a microcosom of their disappointing season. In Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond they have two surefire lottery picks in the NBA draft, but neither guy has the demeanor to dominate the game. They had a point guard controversy, an unsettled big man rotation, and a less than healthy coach. The Huskie’s flameout shows that winning takes more than just talent.
-For years people have advocated for not having the women’s NCAA tournament the same time as the men’s version. It is a complete disservice to the women because no one is paying attention to them right now except for their friends and family members. Not only is the men’s tournament more compelling, the biggest reason is the money factor. The lucrative adverting dollars spent by companies keeps the men front and center, and the millions of people who make wagers doing bracket challenges with their friends and co-workers ensure the women get pushed to the back burner. It truly is a shame because these female athletes really are talented.