Tater’s Take on March Madness

This is the month we get the best event in sports: March Madness. I love the upsets, the buzzer beaters and the thought that any random team can go on a run and win it all. Normally, it is even more fun for me because My Kentucky Wildcats are there until the very end. This year, though, I’m adjusting to life without the Wildcats being around. It’s hard, but I’m still watching.

Buh Bye: I am happy to see that Duke, Wisconsin and Indiana have all been eliminated from the tournament. There are still plenty of teams that I don’t like, but I’m very happy that none there seams will win it all. I was even happier with the way they lost. Duke and IU are beaten easily and Wisconsin choked. I guess it’s petty to watch in hopes of others being disappointed, but I don’t care. I laugh at the defeat of these teams. Also, this picture is still valid

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Shut Up: Of course Duke and rat face Coach K@#@$$@ couldn’t go quietly. Coach K@##$@#$ decided to lecture an Oregon player for taking a shot at the end of the game. Not as the clock expired, but as a shot clock expired with time still on the game clock. I guess the polite thing to do is to hand the ball to Duke instead of continuing to play the game. This took place after trippy Grayson Allen refused to shake hands with the Oregon players as the clock expired. The same Grayson Allen who tripped at least two opponents during the season and was not punished. I’m sure coach K@###@$@$ would have been OK with the Oregon coach lecturing Allen on sportsmanship, right? To make things worse, when asked about it, Coach K@##$$ lied about the exchange and said it never happened. Stay classy, Duke.

Frauds: UNC and Syracuse are in the final 8. Both teams are teams that have committed academic fraud. UNC still has not been punished. Syracuse got in the field because the committee felt their losses while their cheating coach was suspended shouldn’t count against them. Yet somehow people still say Calipari is what’s wrong with college basketball and we hear more complaints about UK players going pro instead of the academic fraud issues. We need to get rid of the one and done rule and let the kids who have no interest in college go pro. That might help with the need to commit academic fraud to keep players on the court when they can’t do what it takes in the classroom.

Refs: College basketball officiating is horrendous. You know it’s bad when someone like Doug Sirmons is considered good enough to officiate a tournament game. The NCAA needs to find a way to fix this. They are ruining the game. Limit how many games they can call in a week. Actually review their work and install consequences for screwing up. Suspend the ones who call technical fouls when none are warranted. Fire the ones who are consistently bad. As long as they can be bad at the job, penalize people who complain about them and suffer no consequences, there is no reason for them to want to improve.

My Dream Final Four: I don’t have much love for any of the teams left in the field. I guess I will go with a dream final four of Oregon(though Oklahoma would be fine), Villanova, Virginia and Notre Dame. Most of those picks are because I dislike the other teams, not because I like the ones I picked. It would be interesting to watch the announcers blatantly ignore the academic fraud issues while calling a Syracuse/UNC gme, but not enough for me to want to see them win.

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Reflections on the Season and the Loss

I know some will think it is bad timing to post a basketball blog on the morning of the attacks in Brussels, but this is the first time I’ve had the time to type out my thoughts on the season. So, here goes:

Early this season when Kentucky lost to teams like UCLA and Ohio State, I would have said a second round loss was to be expected. The team looked OK, but not great and a second round loss wold not be a surprise given what I saw on the court. Unfortunately, wins against Duke, overtime against Kansas and a surge in the SEC tournament made everyone think the team was finally getting it together and had what it took to get to the championship game. This week against Indiana we discovered that the team was who we thought they were early in the season: a team with two great guards, but not much else A team not built for a long tournament run. It’s disappointing, but we are spoiled. This is only the second team in the Calipari era to not go to the final eight. That’s a pretty good run and there is a monster recruiting class coming next year.

I will miss watching Ulis and Murray play. They were one of the best guard combinations we’ve ever had. I wish we had them for another year, but we can’t expect a kid to pass up millions of dollars to stay in college one more year. I will miss good Poythress and even inconsistent Poythress. I can’t say I will miss Skal, because I barely saw him play, but I wish him the best in the NBA. Once a Cat, always a Cat no matter how much you were on the floor. You still wore the uniform and that’s enough. I will look forward to next year and the hopes of another final four run and will always be a fan no matter the results.

Now, the rest of the tournament field: Normally, I would want the team that beat Kentucky to go far so that we at least lost to a team on a championship run, but that team is Indiana. I can’t cheer for Indiana. Especially after Yogi Farrell’s mom tweeted trash about Ulis after the game. Learn how to win with class. It would be interesting for UNC to win since that might mean Roy Williams would retire and shake up the coaching world, but I can’t cheer for UNC(plus I can win money if they lose). No way I can cheer for Duke, Syracuse or Kansas(plus, again, I can win money if Kansas loses). So, I’m left with the Gonzaga Fighting Wiltjers(once a Cat, always a Cat) as my heart choice and the Oregon Ducks as my head choice. I guess an A&M win would be good for the SEC, so that would be OK as well. But, really, basketball is over for me and I will look toward the rebuilding Braves as my next source of sports frustration.

The Worst Thing About Sports

There are many things written about what is wrong with sports. I think the worst thing about sports(except maybe people who write about what’s wrong with sports) is  the fans. Most normal people like me(ha) enjoy watching the games and then go on with our lives. We may scream at the TV and the officials when the game is being played. We might post random stuff on Facebook during the game expressing pleasure or displeasure about the results. We might even have players, coaches and officials we don’t like for whatever reason(although I don’t still hate Christian Laettner). What we don’t do, however, is go to the insane level some people do. Below are a few examples:

Ashley Judd(I love her) posted on Twitter after the SEC championship game that she thought Arkansas played dirty. I’m not sure I agree with that, but she has a right to express her opinion. What followed was a stream of replies on Twitter calling her names and threatening her. She has vowed to press charges against these people and I hope she does.

Saturday UK played Cincinnati. Cincinnati has a player with anger management issues stemming from a childhood tragedy. He was ejected from the previous game and many people felt he should not have been allowed to play in the UK game. There were some instance during the UK game when it looked like he might be heading toward another ejection. Some people in the UK fan base couldn’t just let it go after the win. They tweeted insults to the player after the game. I’m embarrassed that they are associated with my school.

It’s not just casual fans either. During the Maryland/WVU game, the WVU coach’s daughters tweeted negative things about Dez Wells and the accusations against him at Xavier. He was accused of sexual assault, kicked out of school, later acquitted and settled out of court in a lawsuit against the school.

Fans have always been fanatical, hence the name, but social media has unfortunately made it easier for fans to directly target players, coaches and other fans. Here are some rules to live by:

1. Remember these players are people. In the above cases they are college kids. They are someone’s kid. Would you want people to say those things to your kid? No? Then don’t say it to others.

2. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it on Twitter. Too many people have internet courage. They feel free to do stuff like this because they are somewhat anonymous and don’t expect consequences.

3. Remember it is just a game. It’s supposed to be fun. If you care so much that you are doing the above, re-evaluate your  life priorities.

4. If you do stuff like this in real life and your internet life is just reflecting you seek help.

Done and Done with One and Done

I really hope the new NBA commissioner is successful in his attempt to change the one and done rule. I have to say that I am done with watching the one and dones. I get the philosophy that you should recruit the best players available. Purposely recruiting lesser talent seems to go against the idea of trying to be the best. I can see why coaches wouldn’t change. I understand why the players will go pro after one year. If I had been offered millions to quit school and work in my chosen profession, I would have done it in a heartbeat. As a fan, though, I hate it.

I hate that you don’t really know the players anymore. I hate that the players don’t get the time to really improve while in college. It’s much easier to deal with inconsistent freshmen when you know that in a couple of years they will be very good players on your team. It’s hard to deal with that when you know that they will leave and in a couple of years be good players for a random NBA team. It’s hard to cheer for them because they are at your school when there’s a very good chance they don’t really care about your school. College sports should be sports played by college students. If you want a minor league system, develop the D League. Don’t use college sports as a substitute semi-pro team.

I like the baseball rule. Let players go pro right after high school but if they choose to go to college they have to stay for three years or until they are 21. Use the D league to develop the players that don’t want to go to college, but aren’t quite NBA ready. Let college basketball be played by college students.

NCAA Strikes Again

The NCAA took a break from allowing Auburn to pay football players to play and continuing to “investigate” former Duke player Corey Maggette to stick it to UK one more time.

 

On Monday, August 15 John Calipari will coach the Dominican National team in an exhibition against a group of former UK/current NBA players in Rupp Arena. The UK legends teams was to be coached by Joe B Hall. They were planning to invite any and all former players to return to be honored during the game and hoped to find a TV and radio deal.

 

The NCAA has decided that this game is OK, but only if there is no affiliation with UK at all. So according to the NCAA:

 

Joe B Hall can’t coach the legends team

The legends team can’t be called the UK Legends or mention UK at all

The game can’t be on TV or radio

Former UK players can’t be honored as part of the game

 

Way to go NCAA. I’m sure all of those 16 year old recruits out there would have been unfairly swayed to play for UK if they were able to watch an 82 year old man coach an exhibition game.

On Being a Fan

The University of Kentucky basketball team has had a very bad year. A year that will see the end of their streak of 17 years going to the NCAA tournament(barring a miracle in the SEC tournament). This has prompted people on the Cat’s Pause message boards to proclaim they will not watch anymore of the team’s games this year. It’s also prompted at least two of my Facebook friends to post status updates about not watching today’s game. These people are not true fans. A true fan sticks with a team through good and bad. A true fan will not give up on the team after one bad season. These “fans” need to talk to fans of the Chicago Cubs and ask them if 11 years since the last championship is enough reason to give up on a team. I am so tired of people who jump on the bandwagon of a winning organization only to jump off again when they are no longer number one. So, to you “fans” who have left the building I say “Good riddance and don’t bother coming back when things are looking up”.