It’s December and after the first month of College Basketball, you’re starting to see the contenders from the pretenders early and often. College hoops is a funny sport. Since there’s a tournament unlike football, it’s easy for a random team to get hot at the right time, and make a run to the final four (looks at Wichita State last year, Butler and VCU in 2011) , but mostly, you can tell who’s good enough to win a national title, or who’s just flat out average. I don’t really care what the Coaches and AP poll say. These are my rankings and I’m ranking the top 10 teams from here until March. If you aren’t with it, that’s unfortunate. Now let’s begin.
Now, I have to admit here. I love College basketball, and I’m happy that college basketball is back. Last night, it was in full swing with the Champions Classic, this time in Atlanta. The Champions Classic is a great early season event with four teams, and the rotation of each team playing each other + the locations is EXCELLENT. Last night, the Duke Blue Devils played the Kentucky Wildcats in the “Showdown” of top programs, and coaches.
As a Carolina fan, I can honestly say that I don’t really give care about both of these teams or their programs, but I do respect them.
First and foremost, Duke will always be UNC’s little brother. I don’t care about how they dominated Carolina for a bit of the 1980s, and a bit of the late 90s- early 2000s. Ever since Roy Williams took over, Duke has won three ACC regular season titles. Sure, you can brag about winning a conference tournament. That’s all grand and all, but the reality of the product is that you can’t win the regular season title against the school 8 miles away from you. I understand. Brag all you want. But when’s the last time other than 2010, that you’ve been “better” than Carolina? I’ll wait. Plus, you lost to Lehigh in the tournament last year. Lehigh. I’m seriously Lehigh right now that I just typed Lehigh again.
Kentucky is different to me. See, here’s the thing about Kentucky that makes me laugh the most. Kentucky fans or the BBN, considers themselves better than everyone else because they won a title in 2012. If I’m not mistaken, it took you 14 years to win number 8. Dog. It took 12 years for Carolina to win a title in 2005, then 4 more years in 09 to collect another one. So for Carolina, that’s two in almost 8 years. I’m not saying Carolina is a better program (ESPN did this summer), but it took you 14 years. The funny thing is, what makes you better than everyone else because you won a title in 2012? Swear, one national title doesn’t make you better than me, Michigan State, Kansas, etc. You won. Congrats. Very proud that you can get rid of the drought that was kinda funny especially with the early round exits from 2003-2004. The great thing about Kentucky winning was that they had the right combination, and a little luck to go with it (Once the only competition in the tournament lost their starting point guard with a broken wrist, it was pretty much a wrap).
A key formula was having guys who stayed an extra year, and a couple of stud freshman, plus senior leadership. That’s what a national title is all about, and that’s what Kentucky had last year hence why they won. It really had nothing to do with coaching.
So what does this have to do with last night’s game with anything that I said?
Watching that game last night was interesting because even though I respect both programs, I couldn’t help but laugh at both of these teams playing. I can’t lie here though. I did pick Duke to win. Not because I think they are better, but it’s because it’s early in the season, and Kentucky struggled mightily against Maryland, plus looking at the coaching matchup… Coach K is a better coach and John Calipari and will always be one. Now, I’m not really paying attention because I was looking over Micah’s blog (check that out if you haven’t yet), but I noticed that it’s halftime and Duke is leading. Which didn’t surprise me because Duke dominated the first half of play from what I saw.
But, I have a question. What made John Calipari make this statement, and why?
Like really, why?
Watching that half of basketball which, Kentucky should have been up by more if they could make free throws, it was kinda evenly matched. If I’m not mistaken, Mason Plumlee had two fouls quickly. Ryan Kelly had two fouls early too. It wasn’t like Duke was flopping. There is one thing of a accusing a team of flopping and ironically taking a shot at officiating, but there is another thing for saying this because you’re down two points at the half to a team who’s playing better than you right now. Sure, it was funny. I laughed at it. Then thought about it, and well, it’s why this blog is being written. But I don’t get it.
Now, I like Coach Calipari. I do. But to me, he’s a better version of Lane Kiffin. You’re probably wondering why I said that because I’m a USC fan. Both are great recruiters, but both are simply average coaches. The only thing Lane Kiffin doesn’t have is a championship ring which would make him from an average coach to that “great” coach because of the Teflon logic. Calipari can simply get the best guys in America because he can get them to the next level (NBA) in one season. That’s perfectly fine with me. But as an X’s and O’s guy, is he THAT good of a coach as most people make him out to be? Or does he rely on talent to trump this biggest flaw?
I’m not taking a shot at him. It’s just a question. What was Kentucky’s gameplan last night? With no point guard in Ryan Harrow (who’s just average, but he’s been sick so I’ll give him a pass), how were gonna create shots in the half court? The freshman stud in Nerlens Noel knows a couple of post moves, and that’s nice and all, but against a team with experience, are you going to trust him in the halfcourt to create offense? How about Kyle Wiltjer? Even though he ended up on a box carton after last night’s game after being taken out of the game by Ryan Kelly (That’s unreal, btw), you gotta go to him, right? How about Archie Goodwin? Can you trust his ability and talent against another freshman?
Calipari saying Duke flops when the fouls were practically even at the half is hilarious to me. It’s hilarious to me that he goes on National TV, makes a statement we’ve all known about Duke for years now, and then tries to justify it as why his team is losing at the half. No, coach Cal. Your team was losing because you can’t rebound, play defense well, and you have a problem that most of your teams has: free throw shooting.
Mason Plumlee had 4 fouls before the first TV timeout, Coach Cal. Then duke goes on a 11-5 run that seem to take the air of your coaching, and the Georgia Dome. But that’s because of flopping, right? Seth Curry said “YOLO” in the 2nd half and every time you thought you had a shot to win.
You know why Duke went up 12 at one point in the 2nd half, Coach Cal and Kentucky fans? Because Duke had a gameplan to play defense, rebound, run a bit, and hit their shooters on the break. Seeing Duke twice a year, I can tell you ahead of time that you don’t want them to get a big lead, then slow the game down in the halfcourt. That has nothing to do with flopping. When you have to cry and complain about officials, it means one thing: you knew you didn’t have a shot to win, and Coach K got in your head early on.
If you’re gonna complain and whine about the other team playing better than you, then UK fans, it’s gonna be a LONGGGGGGGG year for you, and himself. But, here’s some encouragement for you, Kentucky fans. I do think Kentucky will be a good team at the end of the season because even though Calipari is average when it comes to X’s and O’s, he does get guys to buy in. It just didn’t seem like he did that last night, and going on National TV saying this to Andy Katz didn’t help his cause with the national audience.
John Calipari, I have one piece of advice for you.
Shut the hell up, stop complaining, and just coach your team. You get calls all the time because you coach Kentucky. The same with Duke. The same with North Carolina. The same with Kansas. The same with UCLA. You’re at a top flight program in America. Stop bitching about flopping, and coach better. It’ll work out in the end if you do this, I promise you.