Perhaps you’re basking in the afterglow of the recently completed NCAA tournament, or swimming through the sludge of the Rutgers University coach-by-abuse fiasco. Maybe you’ve stepped away from college basketball altogether until next fall, opting to focus on baseball or spring football.
Regardless, the fact remains … the game, as it does with all big-time sports, goes on – day after day, month after month, year-round.
Be it hirings or firings, conference addition or subtraction, something always seems to pop up on the hoops radar. With all that, and the underlying reason behind everything being money, it was kind of nice to see that Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart opted to remain on campus at least another season, a decision he made public Wednesday.
No one-and-done for him. The green and gaudy lifestyle provided by an NBA bank account can wait.
With the culmination of the 2012-13 college basketball season, signed, sealed and delivered with Louisville’s Peyton Siva-sparked “speed kills” act Monday night in Atlanta leaving Michigan on the wrong side of an 82-76 score, we, alas, must bid adieu to this campaign’s Mid-Week Madness.
Yes, it’s true – sad, but true. No more blasphemous statements that cast doubt the true ever-lasting omnipotent quality of powerhouse conferences the big-name schools that play in them. No more insane suggestions that maybe, just maybe, a great player or five exists who wasn’t coveted by the Big Ten, Big East, ACC, Pac-12 or SEC, and that – holy cow – one of ’em may be better than the Otto Porters of the world. No more going against the grain, and calling into question conventional wisdom such as Indiana’s obvious place atop the game’s elite, that the Hoosiers just could not be touched when things mattered and that Victor Oladipo was the second coming of not just Michael Jordan or Dwyane Wade, but an other-worldly combination of both.
Yep, there has been just some crazy thinkin’ and preachin’ in these parts. But, rest easy. That’s over … for now.
The problem goes beyond Mike Rice and existed long before him.
In sports, in society as a whole, we often embrace the bully – not only by failing to stand up to him, but by making excuses for him and his behavior, by hailing him for showing “tough love,” and, worst of all, by continuing to put him in positions of power … because we’re just too damn scared to take a stand, or too damn screwed up to realize we even need to take a stand.
At a time we should be celebrating the impending culmination of college basketball’s annual elimination to excellence, not to mention another installment of fun-loving, thought-provoking and argument-starting Midweek Madness, we instead are being inundated with stories, videos and opinions about the physical, verbal and motivational, um, “tactics” used by a coach for power-conference program that hasn’t been a power since, well, ever.
Yeah, OK, Rutgers University reached the Final Four in 1976 and the Sweet 16 three years later. But, keeping it real, that’s not saying much for a program that just finished its 106th season. All told, the Scarlet Knights have made six trips to the NCAA Tournament.
With March Madness in high gear heading into the Sweet Sixteen, Mid-Week Madness remains on a mini-hiatus. Even with that, though, some mid-week observations about the Madness seem worthwhile.
That being the case, enjoy or despise at your leisure …
– It’s time to close the book on Gonzaga’s Cinderella story. Year after year, we keep trying to shoehorn that glass slipper on the Bulldogs’ foot. Ladies and gentleman, after 14 years of trying, it does … not … fit. We need to accept that and move on, and, if by chance, Gonzaga finally does do something major in the NCAA tournament, like, oh, say, reach the Final Four, kudos to it. Until then, enough already …
– Sticking with the aforementioned, why in the world did coach Mark Few anoint this group as the best during his reign at the small, Catholic school in Spokane? Rankings and newer-found respect aside, it wasn’t. All his words did was draw a bigger bull’s-eye on his team’s jersey, which, frankly, a good portion of the nation is sick of seeing and hearing about at this point anyway because it bombs in the NCAAs.
Well, it’s official. Butler, Creighton and Xavier will join the new, Catholic 7-run Big East, just as expected. The moves, announced Wednesday, will be lauded, praised and explained as the “right ones” for all involved, and, really, there is nothing wrong with them.
Creighton breaks free from the Missouri Valley, where beating the likes of fellow mid-major toughies Wichita State and Northern Iowa was met with little more than a yawn outside of Omaha, Neb. Xavier ends an 18-year run with the Atlantic Ten in which it emerged as one of the staple programs for non-power-conference “near-excellence.”
Butler, meanwhile, bolts the same circuit after one campaign, essentially using it as a waiting room before entering into what it believes will be greener pastures.
The question is, will the new Big East offer greener pastures … for all involved?