Posts Tagged ‘bob huggins’

Talkin’ Final Four: Duke v. West Virginia

TIM: John, as you know, I am very happy that Duke is in the Final Four. But there has been a bit of an unintended consequence of the Blue Devils’ advancement this season; namely, did you know that people don’t like Duke? That they actively root against Duke? That they may even–and I can’t believe I’m saying this–hate Duke?

I always considered us rather popular.

JOHN S: You may not be wrong about the popular thing. Yes, people “hate” Duke, but they hate Duke the same way they hate the Yankees, the Lakers, Notre Dame, etc. That is, people hate Duke because they are the team of front-runners, passive followers of the game, and entitled fans. Of course, there are components of race and class in the hatred around Duke, but mainly it comes down to this: Success breeds resentment.

Which is actually why this team presents such a problem to Duke haters. There has certainly been a share of anti-Duke sentiment in the run-up to this Final Four–enough to turn scumbag Bob Huggins into a likable coach–but it really hasn’t been a dominant storyline. I’ve actually seen more articles—like this one and this one and this one–calling out Duke haters for basically being hackneyed and outdated.

Because this team hasn’t been talked about all year, doesn’t have any real national stars, was not a presumptive Final Four team, and doesn’t live and die by the three–in short it doesn’t exhibit the qualities of traditional hated Duke teams.

Part of this is also due to the simple fact that Duke hasn’t been to the Final Four since 2004; there are people in high school who can’t remember the last time Duke won a national championship. Duke hate just doesn’t resonate like it once did.

With that said, if Duke and Butler meet in the championship, I’m sure fans will view it as Good vs. Evil, David vs. Goliath.

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Talkin’ Final Four: Butler vs. Michigan State

John S: Alright, Tim, it’s Final Four time. I don’t know how we manage during the two weeks before the Super Bowl, because just having two more basketball free days really chills my excitement for the Final Four. An up-for-grabs game between two very likable teams that not many people saw getting this far, though, is a great way to start the weekend. But, this game is going to be UGLY. Neither of these teams plays a very fast game, particularly now that Kalin Lucas is gone, and each of them likes to keep the game low-scoring. Matt Howard, Butler’s leading rebounder who is going to be counted on to hang with Michigan State’s great rebounders, seems to start the game with three fouls. Butler managed to beat Syracuse and Kansas State by getting them to take bad shots, but the Bulldogs themselves haven’t shot particularly well either. So this game may not be the most aesthetically pleasing of the Tournament. My question to you: Will it be ugly exciting, or ugly boring?

Tim: Well, if you run down the games these two teams have played in the Tournament so far, it’s hard not to envision this being ugly exciting. Michigan State won its four games by a total of 13 points–which I think is the fewest ever for a Final Four team. After its first-round win over UTEP, Butler’s last three games have come down to the final minute. I have no doubt in my mind that this game is going to be close. Continue reading

The Double Bonus: The Final Countdown

TIM: Four more days of lousy basketball, am I right, John? We lose all our Cinderellas by Friday, and then the refs giftwrap a Duke win on Sunday. I can’t wait for the Tournament to be ruined next year with 96 teams.

JOHN S: I hope you’re kidding. Duke’s in the Final Four! At least be excited about that. And we did get some great games last week. Michigan State and Tennessee was decided by one point, Butler upset Syracuse, West Virginia upset Kentucky in a game that can only be described as very weird, and the Duke/Baylor game was exciting throughout. But we should probably discuss the best game of the Tournament at least little, despite so much already being said about K-State vs. Xavier. I’ll ask you this: Does that game lose any of its cache because K-State lost its next game? I mean, I think if the Wildcats had managed to beat Butler and then steal the championship, that game would be put in the Pantheon with the Laettner shot. As is, it probably won’t even be as remembered as Farokhmanesh’s shot by this time next year.

TIM: You saw right through me. I totally wanted to start with K-State and Xavier, and not just because I got into a brief commenting war with a fellow named “Mikey” on Joe Posnanski’s blog about it. I, for one, thought this was the best Tournament game since 2005; if I were one of those weird people who thought the decade ended in 2010 and not 2009 and my list of the Top 10 College Basketball Games of the Decade were pushed back a year, Kansas State and Xavier likely would have fit in nicely at No. 4. Even before the game went to overtime, I remember thinking that it had been particularly well-played and was shaping into one of the Tournament’s most memorable games. Continue reading

Talkin’ Basketball: Kentucky vs. West Virginia

Once again, Tim was right and John was wrong in picking the early game. Well, they’re back for tonight’s game–John S to see if he can finally get one right, and Tim to tell you who will win. They are both trying to get over the fact that Dick Enberg is likely calling the last game of a great career tonight.

JOHN S: Alright, it’s time to move on to tonight’s game, the marquee matchup between Kentucky and West Virginia. The only Elite Eight game between the 1- and 2-seeds, this is probably the most anticipated game of this round; whoever wins this one will likely be the favorite going into the Final Four. It will also be by far the toughest contest either team has faced. Kentucky is coming off a 17-point win over everyone’s favorite Cinderella, and even though the score doesn’t really tell how close this one was (Cornell was within six with under six minutes left), it never really felt like the Wildcats were in danger, even when the Big Red were up 10-2. Throughout this Tournament, Kentucky has shown how much margin for error they have, and how much better they are than most other teams when they do everything well. Meanwhile, West Virginia hasn’t played a single-digit seed yet, but they are coming off a pretty dominant second half against Washington in the Sweet 16. So do you think the Mountaineers can give hang with the Wildcats? Continue reading

The Double Bonus: The Talking Cure

As usual, Tim in black and John in red.

In the aftermath of Bob Huggins’ ejection Monday night against Connecticut, ESPN’s Andy Katz raised an interesting question: Why do NCAA officials talk so often with coaches?

Conversations between coaches and officials are much more prevalent in basketball than in pretty much any other major team sport. I postulate that this derived from the positioning of officials on a basketball court; the official on the outside of the three-point line usually finds himself right next to the coach. The frequent stoppages of play, during timeouts and even more so, free throws, give coaches plenty of time to yap with refs.

As such, it’s now a common sight at a college basketball game to see a coach like Huggins or Jim Boeheim or Mike Krzyzewski carrying on a conversation during free throws with refs like John Cahill, Jim Burr, and Karl Hess. In fact, it’s pretty much a go-to shot during the broadcast of a game. Kyle Singler’s called for a block, show replay, have announcers discuss call, Davis misses first free throw, show Krzyzewski talking it over with Hess. We see this several times each game. The announcers even explicitly refer to it as “working the officials.” Continue reading