Wednesday, November 20, 2013
What is going on in college basketball? First the powerful and tradition rich University of North Carolina, yes that North Carolina and not UNC Asheville, NC Central, UNC Greensboro, or even Winston Salem State U of North Carolina, lost to a super coached Belmont University team with a roster full of rivals 2 star and 1 star players at best. Well, so much for the sophisticated system of ranking HS basketball players! Or maybe the rankings should include dedication, hard work, and basketball intelligence and educability!
Now we fast forward and watch Drexel of the Colonial Athletic Conference, a school that has a great academic reputation and the best Cooperative Education Program this side of Northeastern University in Boston come into a magnificent arena not even 1/4 filled with fans and beat a team from the powerful and battle tested Big East Conference in Seton Hall University. Interesting that this must have been a huge game for little Drexel since they are accustomed to playing games in that band box second floor gym that most HS's would use as a practice court. OK OK OK, I am exaggerating. But trust me when I tell you FDU with the end stands missing would be a palace for them!
Please know I am a fan of the new Big East Conference. I think in time it will be one of the 3 premier conferences in college basketball, and that time is coming soon. The question is will Seton Hall and Rutgers, and St. Johns be power players in the conference or just names bringing up the rear? Here are my thoughts:
St. Johns is moving back towards prime time and to selling 15,000 seats at the Garden. Yes, the true mecca and what a facility nit is will soon be filled with college basketball fans for great SJU games. These guys are quietly, maybe that is the wrong word (smile), getting the job done with talent and execution. Does not hurt to have a recent player in the NBA either! SJU just might be ahead of schedule and back as a national program!
Rutgers has the potential based on location, potential facilities, player availability as members of the Big 10 or as they say BIG conference, and a new Coach who hopefully will be the right one to get it done. Right now they are fighting to be decent. Fighting to be able to compete. And truth be told they could easily end with a winning record this year or be humiliated in some games as FDU is known to do all too often. Come on fast Eddie, be fast, but make sure it is done right and your team is prepared.
Now we get to todays team, SHU of South Orange, not East Orange, because East Orange players are tough as heck!!!! SHU has not shown that toughness losing to a team with players who were not worthy of a BE scholarship and based on this played hard to prove they should have been. Seton Hall did not execute on the court and the fans did not execute in the seats. One of the great things about a home court advantage is when fans never give up on a team and help motivate them to play harder and with purpose. Yes, it really is the responsibility of the coach, but at the true big-time programs fans make visiting teams winning a game almost impossible.
Lets now talk coaching. No not just X and Os, lets talk about motivation and preparation. Not preparation H, like some teams play as if they had taken! Stevie Wonder could see the visiting team was out to secure a win. It is not like years ago when mid major teams showed to put on a good show, lose, get a nice paycheck, eat, and go home. These teams are showing up motivated feeling they can win. And the coaches, like the Belmont Coach, and even Bruiser Flint, feel they are just as good a coach if not better than the coaches they are competing against. Do you honestly think Bruiser Flint does not feel he is a better coach than Willard and out to prove a point? Bad loss for Seton Hall!!!
So who is the best Freshmen basketball player in America? Is it the big strong kid at Kentucky? is it the Harrison twins at Kentucky, is it the stud player Wiggins at Kansas? None of them to me! Without a doubt the best Freshmen in the land and the number 2 pick in the 2014 NBA draft if it was held right now would be Jabari Parker, son of Sonny Parker the ex Golden State Player and Chicago Sports organizer. Pure ability and skills like only we could amigine. The total package and a guy out on a mission, and not the Mormon mission he just might make prior to an NBA career!
The best basketball player in the land and the number 1 pick will be the super talented Oklahoma State player Marcus Smart who killed Memphis with 39 points yesterday without breaking a sweat! This guy is the next true super star and the actual number 1 pick in the NBA draft if it was held this week. Interesting that a guy who would have been top 5 in the 2013 NBA draft, becoming a millionaire, would return to school because as he says, he wanted to work on some things. Well, it seems the work has paid off and he is a dominant player to the point he is a must see for anyone who enjoys college basketball! Who is number 1? Marcus Smart!!!!