Some College Basketball Today

The college basketball season is coming to the end of its “silly season”.  Many of the games to date have been glorified scrimmages – despite the Wofford upset of UNC – or they have been interesting matchups made possible only by made-for-TV concocted “tournaments”.  It is too early to draw any conclusions about teams yet, but conference games are just about to start.  Nonetheless, there are 4 things associated with college basketball now that have caught my attention:

  1. Can you imagine anyone happier than Steve Alford the moment LiAngelo Ball and his younger brother LaMelo Ball signed with that pro team in Lithuania?
  2. Bobby Hurley has Arizona St. on the map in college basketball.  Arizona was supposed to be “the big guy” in that part of the country this year but Hurley has the Sun Devils at 12-0 and ranked 3rd in the country.  This Saturday, Arizona and Arizona St. meet for the first time this season.
  3. Bruce Pearl has Auburn at 12-0 despite all the “distractions” at work there considering the FBI investigations into recruiting scandals and Federal criminal charges.  Granted, Auburn has not played any college basketball “bluebloods” yet, but 12-0 is still impressive.
  4. Trae Young at Oklahoma is getting a ton of attention as the best freshman player in the country.  I have not yet seen him play a real game; I have seen lots of ESPN highlights, but I do not consider those things to be reliable indications of a player’s skill or prowess.  This Saturday, the 12th ranked Sooners host the 10th ranked Horned Frogs of TCU.  If that game is on in my area, I will be tuned in.

Often, the most difficult questions to answer begin with the word, “Why…?”  Let me pose a few of them here:

  • Why do fans attend NFL Exhibition Games?  The regulars see little to no action; the most important outcome for a game is to avoid any sort of injury to one of the team’s regulars; the tickets cost as much as real game tickets.  I don’t get it…
  • Why do The ESPYs exist?  This programming is rampant network narcissism and various other media outlets report on it.
  • Why do NFL teams have cheerleaders?  No one ever said that he/she would stop going to games if the teams ditched the cheerleading team.
  • Why is the NFL Combine televised?  I realize that NFL Network needs programming to fill time on the air, but still…
  • Why does the NCAA continue to pretend that making a school “vacate wins” or “vacate championships” is a meaningful punishment?  At some point, the folks who cover collegiate athletics have to call the NCAA pooh-bahs on this nonsense.
  • Why aren’t the stupid bets between mayors or governors on games like the Super Bowl not prosecuted as illegal sports gambling?  Tell the truth; you would love to see FBI agents in dark sunglasses leading Gov. Frick and Gov. Frack out of their statehouses in cuffs as part of a perp walk.  You know you would.

Bob Molinaro had this in a recent column in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

“Teeing off:  In an interview with Golfweek, Jack Nicklaus said he doesn’t follow the PGA Tour and won’t when Tiger Woods returns. ‘Do I wish (Tiger) well? Yeah, but I’m not interested in watching him,’ said Nicklaus. ‘I’ve watched him play golf for 20 years; why would I want to go watch more?’ He added, ‘I don’t watch anybody play golf.’ I’ve never felt so connected to Jack.

I too feel very connected to Jack Nicklaus at this moment – – but I would have missed the opportunity for this connection had not Professor Molinaro made me aware of this comment.  Many thanks, good sir…

Bob Molinaro had another cogent observation regarding the catch-that-wasn’t-a-catch in the Steelers/Patriots game about 10 days ago:

“Reversal of fortune: If you think the replay official cheated the Steelers out of the game-winning touchdown pass against the Patriots, maybe you can appreciate the irony of somebody named Jesse James being robbed.”

Wish I had thought of that line first…

The Miami Marlins are openly and unabashedly dumping salary; new baseball honcho, Derek Jeter has not even tried to hide that fact.  Meanwhile, about 250 miles northwest of Miami, there might be another “salary dump” in its early stages.  The Tampa Bay Rays just sent Evan Longoria to the Giants for a bunch of players who do not make nearly as much as Longoria does.  Let’s be clear; Evan Longoria in 2018 is not the same stud infielder that the Rays put on the field 5 years ago; his career is on a downward arc.  That is why I said the Rays might be in the early stages of a salary dump.  The key indicator for me will be the fates of starting pitcher Chris Archer and closer Alex Colome.  If either or both of those guys go somewhere else for prospects, then the Rays are dumping salary.

Finally, since I started today with commentary about college basketball, let me close with this comment from Brad Rock of the Deseret News on the same subject:

“A 2,300-year-old gymnasium has been discovered in Egypt. “Found inside were papyrus scrolls, copper carving tools, and Jim Boeheim’s clipboard.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “Some College Basketball Today”

  1. The trading of Evan Longoria is not just a salary dump but, unless the tax payers of Hillsborough County are stupid enough to pay for three quarters of a $600 million new stadium, it is the beginning of the end of baseball in Tampa Bay. Sad!

    1. David:

      From afar, it seems to me that South Florida has a “pro sports problem” akin to San Diego. The weather there is good for such a large portion of the year that residents develop outdoor hobbies/activities that compete with attending games. The Marlins and the Rays have been fighting an uphill battle to try to reach attendance levels around the middle of the 30 major league teams. Neither team has been very successful, however.

      1. The Devil Rays actually drew 31 million fans in their first year. However, they we so badly run over the next 7 years that the fan base declined significantly and they only drew 14 million in 2005. Sternberg has tried and attendance was up to 18,000 a game in 2008-10. They then lost their core players and have struggled to put a decent product on the field.In addition, there are numerous other issues that keep the fans in front of the big screen tv.

        1. david:

          I presume you mean 3.1 million fans in the first year as opposed to 31 million but in either case, the Rays have not gotten close to 3 miliion in recent years. The Rays were good in the 2008-2010 time so averaging 18,000 per game is an indicator that folks in that part of the world have other things taking up their time and/or discretionary income. In 2017, the Rays drew 15,477 per game at home – lowest in MLB by almost 3,000 fans per game. Ouch!

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