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Newz Forum: OTHER: Billy Packer, Bill Self, George Washington, baseball world cup plus more...

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posted on Apr, 10 2006 @ 01:26 PM
Let me start today with some notes from the weekend tournament games. When I watched Villanova beat Monmouth, I was looking for the Monmouth center who was listed as 7'2'; some 'analysts' prior to the game said that he would provide such a match-up problem for Villanova that it could be the Wildcats' undoing. Excuse me? John Bunch is not yet a 'work-in-progress'; he is still in the raw material stage waiting to see if some artisan might think there is something that can be made of him. He does have size - listed at 7'2' and 320 lbs - and part of him evolving into a 'work-in-progress' will involve converting many of those 320 lbs into muscle. And he will need to work with a trainer/coach on 'foot quickness'. At the moment, he just doesn't have any. Oh, and by the way, he was hardly the undoing for the Villanova Wildcats...

Speaking of the Villanova/Monmouth game, there was a missed call by the officials there and it also escaped the notice of Billy Packer who likes to point things like that out. A Villanova player was inbounding the ball on the baseline after a score and is allowed to 'run the baseline' in those circumstances. What he did was to run a step or two and then 'dribbled' the ball - probably out of habit and it did not give him any advantage - prior to throwing it inbounds to a teammate. However, as soon as that ball hits the floor, it is a turnover and the ball should have gone to Monmouth. That's one of those rules for which there is no 'interpretive wiggle room' for the officials. They simply missed that one - - and so did CBS and Billy Packer.

There is a guaranteed Cinderella mid-major in the Elite Eight this year because Wichita State plays George Mason and the winner will go to the Elite Eight. Bradley also has a chance to go to the Elite Eight if they can beat #1 seed, Memphis, in the Oakland Bracket. I don't think there are any other potential Cinderellas this year; Georgetown was a seventh seed, but they are hardly a mid-major.

Bill Self and his Kansas team lost to Bucknell last year in the first round of the tournament when Bucknell was a 14th seed. This year, Bill Self's Kansas team lost in the second round to Bradley who is a 13th seed. Has Kansas been getting high seedings based on reputation or is Bill Self not much of a tournament coach? There’s probably not enough information to make that call at the moment.

There was a lot of wailing about how George Washington was 'dissed' by the selection committee on the basis of their 26-2 season. All they got was an eighth seed; and particularly here in the DC area, there was a lot of emotion around that event. Now that GW is out of the tournament, it's fair to look back and note that they did precisely what one might expect from an 8th seed. They beat the ninth seed in a close game and then they lost to the first seed in their bracket without posing any huge threat to that team. That's what they did, that's what Kentucky did, and that's what you'd expect from an eighth seed. George Washington belonged in that spot because their 26 wins came against a hugely weak schedule. Let me just refresh the memories of some of the GW backers who must have forgotten those tough out-of-conference games against Kennesaw State, St. Francis (PA), Boston U, Norfolk St., Florida Int'l, Maryland-Eastern Shore, St. Louis and Stony Brook. There's eight out of conference games against teams who never came to the attention of the selection committee as serious 'at-large tournament invitees'.

Memo to GW University: It does matter whom you schedule. Mix in a difficult game or two here.

Have you had enough of announcers talking about certain players as 'The Bigs'? I have. This is a silly piece of jargon that needs to be put in the trash heap of modern linguistic usage.

I got to see a lot of Adam Morrison over the weekend. He is a prolific scorer but I cannot begin to believe that he is the best player in college basketball. There is a line that is attributed to Bob Knight but I have no idea if he originated it. Adam Morrison fits the description in that line to a tee. Adam Morrison cannot guard the floor. His defense is so bad that I have to wonder if he is even trying to stop the opponent from scoring. This should be a cautionary note for NBA General Managers plotting what to do with high draft picks. Adam Morrison may score in the NBA but he will be torched by even the fifth offensive option on opposing squads.

Adam Morrison plays with a lot of emotion and that's good. Rudy Gay on the other hand plays with all the verve and elan of a funeral director talking to the bereaved survivors about 'the arrangements'. After watching Rudy Gay play an entire game, I feel a need to go and order a triple shot of espresso at the nearest Starbucks just to get my heart started again. Make no mistake about it; Rudy Gay has prodigious physical talents. I think he could be even better on the floor if he added just a smidge of emotion/adrenaline to his game.

And just to show you that the NCAA ownership of the NIT did little to change the event, Charlie Walters reported in the St Paul Pioneer-Press that the opening round game of the NIT between Minnesota and Wake Forest drew 2,643 spectators in Minnesota. The NIT commands nothing more than benign neglect from basketball fans. As I pointed out last week, the only reason these games are played at all is to generate a little TV money for the NCAA and its member schools. The scholar-athletes in the Minnesota/Wake Forest games missed several days of class time and study time to play to an audience of 2,643 people. Ask Dr. Myles Brand how that fits with the mainstream mission of these universities the next time you see him.

Well, the baseball 'World Cup' is now over. On balance, I think you have to say it was a success. It was not as big as the soccer World Cup but no one should have thought that was possible. The games did attract attention and it did 'internationalize the game'. I don't want to get into a metaphysical discussion about whether or not 'internationalization of the game' is a worthy objective or not; but since that was one of the key elements of Bud Selig's stated objectives here, you have to say the games were successful on that scale. Presumably, folks will look at what went right and what went wrong in this tournament long before they try to organize the next one in 2009 to make it better. Here is a positive note to begin with.

TV ratings for the games that were shown on ESPN averaged 0.9 - that translates to 1.2 million households. Given that many of the games were on weekday afternoons, that is impressive; and that number is made all the more impressive when compared to the ESPN composite ratings for baseball games last year - including many night games. The composite ratings last year were only 0.7 so there is fan interest in these games even if there are grumblings from some quarters of the 'baseball community'.

One potentially negative outcome of the baseball 'World Cup' might become evident next October. Given the showing of the US team in the tournament, should we really call that thing in October the 'World Series'?

Finally, here is a description of golf from former major league player, Steve Sax, as reported in the LA Times:

'You can't call it a sport. You don't run, you don't jump, you don't shoot, you don't pass. All you have to do is buy some clothes that don't match.'

But don't get me wrong, I love sports... ... ...


[Edited on 10/4/06 by TRD]

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