Sports Curmudgeon 3/27/17
Of course, I will begin today with comments regarding the tournament games over the weekend:
- UNC/Butler: Butler is a good defensive team and can usually control tempo – – but not in this game. Butler scored 80 points and lost; that only happened to them once all season long.
- Baylor/S. Carolina: S. Carolina’s defense is smothering without being frenetic. They held Baylor to 17 for 56 from the field and 3 for 13 from 3-point territory.
- UCLA/Kentucky: Kentucky’s guards not only outplayed, they dominated the UCLA guards. This was an excellent game with lots of talent on display.
- Wisconsin/Florida: You could not script a game ending like that for a movie and survive the scorn of the critics. Wisconsin dominated the first 12 minutes of the game and then their offense went to sleep for the next 10-12 minutes.
- Kentucky/UNC: Carolina played solid defense on the Kentucky guards and held Fox and Monk to 25 points vice the 60 points they got against UCLA.
- Oregon/Kansas: Jordan Bell had another dominating game with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 8 blocked shots. I wonder if he also made the travel arrangements for the team to get to Kansas City…
- Carolina/Florida: This was an excellent game. Freshman, Maik Kotsar played very well shooting 6 for 10 from the field. S. Carolina only got 3 points from its bench players in the game.
- Gonzaga/Xavier: Gonzaga was just too big and too quick for Xavier in this game; the Cinderella run ended abruptly here.
I would like to take a moment and reflect on the commentary that followed the UCLA/Kentucky game. As I mentioned above, the UK guards dominated the game scoring 60 points between them; however, when pressured on defense in the next game, those same guards only produced 25 points. That is a big swing and it points to a facet of the game that did not get sufficient attention. The UCLA defense – such as it was – played a passive zone for much of the game; neither Bryce Alford nor Lonzo Ball as the guards out front did much of anything to challenge or disrupt the Kentucky backcourt.
After the game, there was a narrative that seemed to play out in much of the reporting and that narrative went sort of like this:
- Lonzo Ball’s father – Lavarr – shone a bright light on his son for this tournament and when it came to a big game against a big-time opponent, the light was too bright.
For folks who had tired of Lavarr Ball’s braggadocio, that is a satisfying narrative; but I think there is more to it. I do not think that Lonzo Ball “wilted” in the glare of the spotlight that his father created for him; I think that Lonzo Ball is not a very good defensive player at this stage of his career and I think that deficiency in his game is due to the fact that he has probably never been pressured by any of his coaches to learn to play defense. I think that is a more analytical conclusion from that game in place of some sort of self-satisfaction derived from mocking Lavarr Ball.
One other outcome of the basketball tournament this year is that it became part of the political system of the country. No, I am not talking about the national “debate” over whether the players are exploited or about how/why the NCAA changed tournament venues as a result of laws passed in North Carolina regarding public restroom usage. Rather, I am talking about the Senate in the State of Arkansas demonstrating nationally that each and every government problem in that State has been totally resolved to the benefit of every citizen in that State. That MUST be the case because that august body took the time to introduce and pass a resolution to chastise the officials in the Arkansas/UNC game and to urge the NCAA to provide better training/education for basketball officials so that other teams, schools and fans will not have to suffer:
“… cruel and undeserved fate at the hands and whistle of a pinhead dressed in stripes.”
Let me move on to the other major revenue sport at the collegiate level – – college football. The SEC announced last week that it will implement a new security measure for all its football games next year. This policy has already been in effect for Alabama and Auburn games and now the SEC will institute it conference wide. It is referred to as a “Clear Bag Policy” and it will limit what fans may bring into the stadium to watch a game. Here is what will be allowed:
- Bags that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″
- One-gallon clear plastic freezer bags (Ziploc bag or similar)
- Small clutch bags, with or without a handle or strap, that do not exceed 4.5” x 6.5”
There is even another restriction on these bags:
- An approved logo no larger than 4.5” x 3.4” may be displayed on one side of a permissible clear bag.
Finally, here is a comment from Bard Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:
“Last weekend Council Bluffs hosted a Monster Jam event where big, powerful trucks crush smaller, weaker vehicles. It’s the same basic premise as SEC non-conference football season.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………