College Basketball’s Low State of Affairs 12 Feb 18
by Tony Medley
I was fighting the
flu the last two weeks so I spent the last two Saturdays watching
nothing but college basketball. I saw all the top teams in action;
Villanova, Virginia, Purdue, Michigan State, and even our two local
mediocre teams, USC and UCLA. I don’t know which was more painful, the
flu or watching the deplorably low quality of today’s college basketball
#4 ranked Duke got
knocked off by a St. John’s team that had lost 11 consecutive games!
Worse than the defeat was the classless way Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski
talked in a postgame press conference. Instead of lauding St. John’s
marvelous play, he pouted, “We did not play basketball. The first 32
minutes were not worthy of our program. We had blank faces; we didn’t
talk; we were like five individuals out there. It was disgusting,
really.” What was disgusting was Krzyzewski refusing to give credit to
St. John’s, basically giving the message that “they won because we
played so badly.” Hey, Mike, maybe you played badly because of the way
St. John’s played.
What Krzyzewski said
to the press is what you say to your team in private. It’s not what the
coach who has won multiple national championships tells the public after
his team has been upset by another team that just played better. Despite
his reputation, Krzyzewski came across as just a petty, poor loser.
Then there was
Virginia against Virginia Tech. Virginia is constantly ballyhooed as
playing wonderful defense. After watching them defeat Syracuse in a
low-scoring game, they couldn’t hold a four point lead against Virginia
Tech with 30 seconds left in overtime, giving up an uncontested layup
and the game winner, an offensive putback rebound by one lonely Virginia
Tech player with four Wahoos under the basket.
The simple fact is
that Virginia’s defensive reputation is due to the fact that they work
the clock constantly which keeps the score down. While they have some
good shooters, they pass up uncontested three-pointers for the sole
purpose of slowing down the game and holding down the score. As far as
the quality of defense goes, Pete Newell’s California teams of the 1950s
actually did play exceptional, innovative defense. Virginia just plays a
slowdown offense which makes it look as if they are a tough defensive
team because their games are always low-scoring. They certainly didn’t
show great (or even good) defense against Virginia Tech.
Purdue–Michigan State, #2 v. #3. While it was a close game and while it
was enjoyable to watch Purdue’s old-fashioned low post offense, neither
of these teams looked like they were world class.
Villanova was even
less impressive, also losing to St. John’s after St. John’s beat Duke.
St. John’s record to date is 8-13, yet they beat the #4 and #1 ranked
teams in the country in successive games. That gives you a taste of the
low quality of today’s college basketball.
I watched almost
every game the great UCLA teams played circa 1963-75 when the Bruins won
10 NCAA Championships. Even given the fact that due to the 3 point shot
today’s game is different from what it was in the days of yore, none of
the top ranked teams today could come within 20 points of any of those
Bruin teams a half century ago. Just the thought of Virginia or
Villanova or Purdue or Michigan State going up against the Bill Walton
teams that won 73 games in a row (comprising the biggest part of UCLA’s
all-time record of 88 wins in a row from 1971-74) or the Lew Alcindor
teams that won three consecutive NCAA titles 1967-69 makes one cringe in
anticipated sympathy for today’s aforementioned top teams.