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The Reasons There Will Truly Be March Madness In College Basketball This Season

(photo courtesy of

(photo courtesy of

Every year college basketball starts to pick up around this time. Teams are closing out their season and conference tournaments are getting ready to start. And along with that, many are starting to think on who their favorites will be heading into March Madness. Plenty are probably even scouting teams to see who they will pick to win it all. Usually by this time, there are a few teams that many are sold on in regards to having a good chance to win the title. Last year, there were really high hopes for the University of Kentucky and Duke was also a team many thought of as winning the title. Duke was able to do so and prove many right about them. And while Kentucky did not win the title, they made it all the way to the Final Four before being upset by Wisconsin. Coming into this year’s tournament, there is not that much certainty on who could win the tournament. There are some nights that there are apparently obvious teams that could win it all. And the next game, that same team comes out and lays an egg. So why so much parity in college basketball this year you ask?

The mass exodus to the NBA from programs has caught up to college programs, especially the top ones. Teams like Kentucky, who lost seven players, and Duke, which lost four (five if you want to count the dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon), had a lot to replace coming into this season. And unlike the previous times when they were able to just reload and still be the same team, this year has been different. Duke, which has not exactly been the deepest team over the years, is really short this year with depth. And with senior forward Amile Jefferson missing most of the season with a foot injury, the Blue Devils were even more depleted. They have essentially been playing one big man all year (Marshall Plumlee) to go along with what they have. And because of that, they have been up and down all year long. Duke replaced their talent with more talent this year, but the magnitude of players they lost compared to what they have now is not even close. As far as Kentucky, they have been solid this season, but have not lived up to the hype they have had each and every season. They replaced the seven players they lost last season with the #1 recruiting class in the nation. And even though they brought in talent to replace talent, they have not been the same or played to the same level. They are starting to play well, but they have been up and down all season long. They sorely miss some of the guys they had last year and they are definitely not as deep a team. The fear they put into teams last season is not there in regards to this team and the effect they have on their opponents. And along with the fear they put into each opponent, some of the composure and experience walked right to the professional level.

But other than losing players, there are just some imbalanced teams that are out there this year. Some teams have good inside play and shaky guard play while others have good guard play and nothing inside. Teams like North Carolina and Oklahoma come to mind as imbalanced. North Carolina has been strong inside all year. Senior forward Brice Johnson has been the man inside, giving the Tar Heels 16 double-doubles all year long. And when the Tar Heels attack the basket as a whole, they can overwhelm you. But the make or break thing about them is their three-point shooting. When teams force them to shoot the basketball more, there can be an issue. For example, in their most recent loss to their rival, the Duke Blue Devils, the Tar Heels went ice cold from three-point range. They shot 1/13 from behind the stripe and they froze out Johnson essentially in the last 15 minutes. This deficiency in their game is one thing that has cost them time and time again (along with some games where they come out in a malaise). As far as Oklahoma, they were better than some thought they would be at the start of the season. Behind senior guard Buddy Hield, the Sooners have been shooting the lights out for most of the season. But when they lose, more times than not it is because they depend so heavily on their perimeter game. They do not have one player that can really get it going inside when they are missing the three-pointers. And since they have gotten into conference play, they have not been as sharp with the jumpers and threes they take. The result has been a few losses this year in the conference and people are starting to cool on them. The reliance on jumpers and threes can be something that could harm this team in a one-game scenario and could ultimately lead to their downfall.


The collective inexperience across the county with teams along with the imbalanced teams have led to the current climate we have going into the tournament. And what this has created is a tournament that is wide open. Anyone that can pick which teams make the Finals Four with 100% accuracy needs to play the lottery immediately. I hope everyone is ready to be entertained. This college basketball season is going to have an exciting finish.

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This Isn’t John Calipari’s Wildcats

(photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

(photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

The Kentucky Wildcats came into this season having to replace a lot of talent. Seven players chose to leave school early and enter the NBA Draft, including #1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns. And with those seven leaving, there were plenty of spaces available. With that being said, Kentucky again had the #1 recruiting class in the nation and they were expected to roll again this year. The season started with being led by point guard Tyler Ulis and guard Jamal Murray, as they went 7-0 out of the gate. But when the Wildcats lost to the UCLA Bruins, the chinks in the armor started to show. The Wildcats would go on to lose three more times in the last nine games and there has to be some concern there. As time goes by, if they don’t get it together, they could be following the steps of the Kentucky team led by Archie Goodwin back and Nerlens Noel back in the 2012-2013 season. That team had a bunch of hype behind them and then ended up floundering in the first round of the NIT. And to boot, Noel tore his ACL chasing down a Florida player and trying to block his shot. This team was not as disjointed as that team was, but it seems they have not got it going and on the same page as of yet. So what needs to happen for this team to get it together?

Under Calipari, Kentucky has always had that one big man that could put the ball in the basket. His first one he got at Kentucky was DeMarcus Cousins. And after that there have been guys like Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Julius Randle and Karl-Anthony Towns. Along with the guard play that we have come to expect, we always look for the next big man Kentucky would produce that would get it done in the paint. Coming into this season, that guy was supposed to be freshman Skal Labissiere. He was the #1 big man in the 2015 recruiting class and he was multitalented. He was a 6’10” big man with a skill set that was more of a faceup post guy. His style, unfortunately, has not translated to the college level. He has not been as strong as many thought he was going to be and is only averaging 7.7 points while losing his starting job to senior Alex Poythress. Speaking of Poythress, he is a 6’8” small forward with incredible explosion to the rim. But he has been very inconsistent, just like his career has been to date. And if you take a look at Kentucky’s other big man, Marcus Lee, he is a guy that can finish at the rim but cannot create his own offense. For the Wildcats to go any further, they will need one of these three to step up and step up consistently. One other option to bring in up front is Derek Willis. The 6’9” junior from Kentucky can shoot the basketball, but he is not a guy that can give them much in the post. But even with that, his shooting touch would help spread the floor for the guards of Kentucky to attack.

Defensively, the Wildcats have been solid at times on the perimeter. The defense has caused havoc, led by guard Tyler Ulis. But when the shot goes up, that is when the adventure begins. Kentucky has usually been a team that boxes out and outrebounds teams. And at the beginning of the year, Coach Calipari alluded to this team needing to get better in that area. Well, it seems like they have not been getting the message. Even with the veteran players in Poythress and Lee, the Wildcats are giving up second-chance points. And when that happens, Kentucky is giving up an offensive rebound and more than likely two points. Those extra points have not hurt them a lot this season, but those extra points could hurt them at the wrong time. The one thing the Wildcats could do to alleviate some of the rebounding issues is team rebounding. What that means is instead of guards sitting around watching the big men rebound, they need to help them out and get down there to fight with them. If they are able to do that, there is some stress taken off the big men of Kentucky. It may take them out of the fastbreak a little bit, but it will be worth it if they are not giving up second and third shots.

Rebounding and scoring from their big men is a huge thing, but what is even bigger is leadership. Who was the voice of the team was never a question for the Wildcats in 2014-2015. Last year, there was leadership and focus for numerous people. And because of that leadership, it helped Kentucky have the type of season they had. With this year’s team, the leader is unquestionably point guard Tyler Ulis. He is definitely the one barking out the signals and making sure things run smoothly. He also is the guy that takes some of the big shots along with guard Jamal Murray. Both he and Murray are also carrying the team offensively, combining for 32 points per game. But for this team to take the next step, he has to ride some of his teammates. A leader is someone that is not always liked by his teammates and Ulis has to learn that. He has to push them to be better and do better. If he is able to strike that chord with them, then that means he is taking ownership of that team. Many teams have a player that steps up and does the things that a coach would do in terms of getting on guys and leading them. Ulis has all the capabilities and has shown he is capable of it, but he has to do it all the time. That is what leaders do.

The Wildcats are not doing terrible, but they are not doing as well as Calipari teams usually do. For them to take that step forward and be considered a serious National Title contender, they will need to get better play out of their big men. The Wildcats also have to have leadership take over this team along with the improved post play. Only time will tell what happens, but the Wildcats’ problems will only get worse if they lose Thursday night against Arkansas. Time is of the essence.

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How To Fix Duke Basketball This Season

(photo courtesy Mark Dolejs/ USA Today Sports)

(photo courtesy Mark Dolejs/ USA Today Sports)

The Duke Blue Devils were one of the youngest teams in college basketball last season. There was youth littered all over the team, highlighted by the three superstar freshmen they had starting for them (point guard Tyus Jones, guard/forward Justise Winslow and center Jahlil Okafor). The team was very successful during the regular season, but some worried if they had enough to actually win a title. The main team anyone could talk about was the University of Kentucky. They had a combination of veteran players and star freshmen and they went ten deep with their abundant of basketball riches. They were under the microscope all season long and even went undefeated throughout the entire season. But when they got the Final Four, they were unexpectedly beaten and there went all chances of them winning the title. And when they lost, it opened the door for the Duke Blue Devils and they walked right through it. The Blue Devils would win the championship and then the exits of Winslow, Jones and Okafor left them to reload again. And that they would do, capping their incoming class off with super freshman Brandon Ingram. And with what they had coming back, many expected them to pick up where they left off. Well, the Duke Blue Devils have not exactly done that this year. They just lost their third game in a row and their fifth game of the season, leaving many to wonder what is wrong in Duke.

On Duke’s National Title team last season, the offense seemed to flow with ease. The reason for that was that they had multiple playmakers on the court at all times. Tyus Jones was a shotmaker and a playmaker for his team at the point guard position. And in Winslow, you had another guy that could go get his own shot along with create for others. Add that to a guy in the post that drew so much attention in Okafor and that team was hard to defend. Fast forward to this year and there are not many playmakers at this point. Junior Matt Jones is more of a spotup shooter than an actual creator. Sophomore Grayson Allen is more of a scorer than a playmaker. Derryck Thornton, the young guard who reclassified, is coming in off the bench. He is still trying to figure out his game at the college level and we still are not sure what he is. And freshman Luke Kennard is talented but he is in a serious shooting rut. The answer to their offensive issues would be to move Brandon Ingram to point guard. He is their best playmaker by far and he draws the most attention. So what Duke could do is use his ability to handle the ball and breakdown the defense to get easier shots for Matt Jones and to help take some attention away from Grayson Allen. And in drawing the attention, Ingram would also make it easier for Marshall Plumlee to clean up the boards and get some putbacks.

But the Blue Devils don’t just have offensive problems. It seems the Blue Devils defense gets broken down far too often. And in doing so, that puts their defense in compromising positions. The truth of the matter is they don’t have the type of defenders that can cover space like they used to in the past. The athleticism is down across the board and that has hurt their style of play defensively. So with that being said, there are a few adjustments that they can make to overcome this. One suggestion would be to play a sagging man defense on all of their opponents. That would help them contain penetration into the lane and is good for teams that cannot shoot very well. The second option for the Duke Blue Devils would be to switch up defenses. In doing that, the opponents would not get used to a particular defense all the time and that would help Duke keep their opponents off balance. A preferable defense considering their length they should try is the 1-3-1. Brandon Ingram, standing at 6’9”, would be dangerous at the top of that zone. And Grayson Allen has enough athleticism that he could cover the baseline in the 1-3-1. These two suggestions would help the Blue Devils until they are able to get their defensive rock back, Amile Jefferson. The senior forward is critical to their defense with his ability to cover up defensive mishaps and rebound in and out of his space. But there is no word on when he will return to the floor after his foot injury.

The season is still young and the Blue Devils have some time to get this one together. And after all, they are not exactly out of the running for the NCAA Tournament. But if they don’t solve these issues, they could continue to get worse as time goes on. Being that Coach K is the coach at Duke, he will more than likely make adjustments until he is able to find the right strategy and combination to get this together for his team. But until then, the Blue Devils will be getting exposed on both ends of the court.

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The One-Game Suspension Of BYU’s Nick Emery Is A Joke

( photo courtesy of The Big Lead)

( photo courtesy of The Big Lead)

Utah versus BYU is a game that happens every year in college basketball. These two in-state rivals playing each other have become a staple in the state of Utah and something most look forward to there. No matter the records or expectations, both teams come out fighting tooth and nail with each other until the finish. And the result of all that competitiveness usually means a highly emotional, very competitive game. Well, this most recent one was controlled by the home team, the Utah Runnin’ Utes. They were up 51-28 at halftime and they hung on for an eight-point win. But the win for Utah did not come without an ugly scene. With 1:48 seconds left in the game and Utah leading by 19, BYU put up a shot. While the shot was going up, Utah senior guard Brandon Taylor was chasing around BYU freshman guard Nick Emery. When both got on the baseline, Emery appeared to punch Taylor, knocking him down. And according to Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak, Emery taunted Taylor when he gave him the punch, telling him to “Stay on the ground.” Emery was immediately ejected from the game and it was announced that he would have to serve a one-game suspension. Emery eventually apologized, saying the emotion of the game got the best of him. But is the one-game suspension really enough?

Check out the video of this incident if you have not already:

Notice the deliberate swing that Emery delivers to Taylor. Also notice that after he does that, his head is bent over mouthing something to Taylor. Of course players are going to talk trash, but this incident crosses the line. In no way should he have just been suspended only one game. In fact, he got off light if you ask me. College basketball may have their own way of handling these types of incidents, but they are obviously dropping the ball on this one. If this incident happened in a bar instead of on a basketball court, the outcome would be just a little different. First thing is there would probably be no way that Emery would be bold enough to do what he did when no one was around him. On the court, you have referees and other players to shelter you from a fight. In a bar, there is some security, but not the level of a basketball court. Another thing that would be different is Emery would have been arrested if this happened outside the court. He essentially assaulted Taylor. If Taylor would have broken a bone, there would even be a case for him to sue Emery. But since there was not, it’s ok? Honestly, he is very lucky this happened on the court instead of off it somewhere. He should be in jail for assault.

Emery’s apology seemed like a pre-emptive strike towards a potential suspension coming. If he did or did not have an effect on what happened, we don’t know. But the ball now falls in the hands of the BYU athletic department. If they are ok with him only being suspended for a game, then we have an issue. In no way should he be playing that quickly. That one game serves not one purpose at all, especially at the beginning of the season. To really make him understand, they need to step in and sit him out more than just the one game. An appropriate suspension would be at least five games. At that point, he would understand the impact his actions have on things. And he would also understand that his actions would not be tolerated. One game is almost the equivalent of a slap on the wrist. And that further ensures that Emery will not feel the sting of what he did and learn from it. Ethics are something that BYU stands for. Being a private university, they once suspended basketball player Brandon Davies for the rest of the season for admitting to having premarital sex, which was against their school code of conduct. But where are their ethics when handling Emery’s situation? It seems like they conveniently forgot about them in his circumstance. He did something that did not represent their school at all and shone an embarrassing light on them. Yet after one game, he returns as if nothing happened.

Emery may never have an incident like this happen in his life. But what if he takes this slap on the wrist and does something worse the next time around? At that point, will BYU and the NCAA just going to let him slide again? Maybe they will feel guilty for not sending a resounding message the first time and try to crack down hard on the second try. The scary part about it is that he could get hurt someone worse than what happened to Brandon Taylor. There are a multitude of things that should have potentially gotten considered when placing the suspension on him. But at this point, it is what it is. Emery will be back on the court soon and we will have to keep an eye open for when or if he strikes again.

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What Happened At Louisville Is Nothing New In College Sports

Rick Pitino could be on the hot seat after details of strippers and more at Louisville. (photo courtesy of Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Rick Pitino could be on the hot seat after details of strippers and more at Louisville. (photo courtesy of Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Rick Pitino has been one of the greatest coaches in college basketball. He took an undermanned Providence College team to the NCAA Final Four. He revived the University of Kentucky program after NCAA punishment tore their program down. And after a brief stint in the NBA coaching the Celtics, he has made the Louisville program one of the best in the country. But the recent news that came out about his program in Louisville is something that does not put him in a good light. Currently there is a lot of talk about a former assistant at the University of Louisville. Andre McGee reportedly paid strippers to come to parties on campus to entertain recruits and players. And it is reported that McGee also paid some of them extra to sleep with some of the players. Five former players and former recruits told ESPN’s John Barr and Jeff Goodman about McGee’s deeds while there at the university on the condition of anonymity. And these claims will all be published in a book titled “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen”. The escort, Katina Powell is also writing in her book all about the payments she received and all the things that McGee did in terms of getting the monies to her for the strippers to attend the party. The immediate reaction from most has been one of horror and disgust. The immediate reaction is “How can this be happening on the campus?” The other reaction then goes towards Pitino. He says that he does not know, but according to some, he actually knew what was going on. And for that, some are asking for the university to get rid of him at this time. It seems really bad for Pitino and the university, but there is a little something that many looking down on Louisville may want to understand.

Pitino and Louisville are not the only universities that have probably done something like this. In fact, there are many universities that go all out for their recruits. Just to give you an example, I was once a young athlete getting ready to go to college. I was on a recruiting visit to a school that will remain unnamed to prospectively play football for them. On the trip, there was a woman that they purposely put me with. And it was like she on me from the beginning of the trip until the end. Now nothing physical happened between me and the woman. Besides, my mother and sister were there with me. But it isn’t like the woman lacked for trying. She would say things to me like “The football players get much play down here.” For those that don’t know what that is, she was saying some sexual innuendo when speaking to me in that way. And the crazy thing is she did not care if my mother and sister were there. Of course, my mother did not like that among other things about the specific university. And of course, I never attended that school. Plenty may not believe this happens at universities, but it is actually something that happens all the time. Plenty of universities have groups of women that they put together for the specific reason to get players to come to school. And plenty athletes that are reading my story are probably thinking that is light compared to what happened on their visits to a prospective school. The reality is that the colleges and universities really don’t care what happens in these instances. The main thing they care about is what student-athlete gets in the school to help the program make money.

So being that this is something that happens everywhere, many may watch what happens a little more closely. And just like fans are watching this one, there are many programs that are as well. Plenty fans may like to think the programs they watch are clean and do things the right way, but the reality is that many sweep things under the rug and the head coach acts oblivious to something he or she does not want to know about. If something happens and Pitino gets fired, there will definitely be some repercussions. Many will wonder if their programs have that one skeleton in their closets that can come out as a result of this one. Others will continue to live in the shock that this actually happened, oblivious that this could be happening at a university right near them. The fact of the matter is that this issue is something that just did not come out of nowhere. Of course, the Louisville issue is something that is to the extreme. But there will be some acts that will be similar if not worse that will be done in the pursuit of a recruit by a college or university. And in the coming days and weeks, there will probably be many former college athletes that come forward with their recruiting visit stories.

Rick Pitino is the face of the school and he is also the face of this scandal. Regardless if he knew about it or not, he will definitely be under fire for this fiasco. But this incident is similar to things that happen on college campuses all across the country. The sad thing about this whole scenario at Louisville that captures many is that Powell had two underage girls, her daughters, involved in this. Essentially she pimped her own daughters to the players/recruits at Louisville . That in itself is unsettling for many. And the fact that she could do this without thinking it over is even more appalling. Louisville is definitely in some hot water over this one, but there are also some universities sweating bullets over their recruiting practices potentially being exposed. Pandora’s Box has been opened. Let’s see if something comes out of it.

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Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan Has Sour Grapes

Bo Ryan had sour grapes instead of gracefully taking the loss (photo courtesy of

Bo Ryan had sour grapes instead of gracefully taking the loss (photo courtesy of

March Madness has come to an end with the Duke Blue Devils coming away as the champions. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has won his fifth title and he has done some with some pretty talented freshman on board. But along with the celebration of Duke, there was the agony of defeat from Wisconsin. The Badgers just could not come through this time like they did against the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday night. And just like that, one of the best seasons under head coach Bo Ryan ends without the glorious ending. You would think that Bo Ryan would lose graciously as a veteran coach, but that was far from what we received. The coach would go on to use two remarks that would resonate with some in the sports world. Quite honestly, it was surprising that he would want to go out this way with these comments. And it should not be something that we accept as just something a coach says after disappointment.

The loss was definitely a tough one for Wisconsin. The team had come so close yet the title ended up seeming so far away. And for Wisconsin next season, there will be a different look minus Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, should Dekker leave school early. Ryan seemed somber when he spoke to CBS after the game, but he spoke on something that he thought about the game. He spoke on the officiating and what he felt like it was. Here is an excerpt of what he said: “It was just a situation where you just have to be able to handle all the hands and the checking. All the body contact — there was more body contact in this game than in any game we’ve played all year, and I just feel sorry for my guys that all of a sudden, a game was like that. I think they’re struggling with that a little bit. We missed some opportunities. They hit some tough shots. You know, it’s just a shame it had to be played that way.” It seemed like Ryan continued to talk about how the game was played and things like that. Though it was true that there was some errors by the officials, there should be no reason for Ryan to blame the officials. Did Ryan forget that his team forgot to take the ball inside consistently in the second half? Did he forget that his team let Grayson Allen of Duke drive past them and finish at the rim? Did he forget they went through a drought in the second half that essentially cost them the game? But conveniently, Ryan can remember all the things that went against his team in his mind and all the things his team did to lose the game. That sounds more like a coach that is bitter about a loss than a veteran coach that has been in his share of rodeos.

But Ryan was not done with his commentary after he said this. He also took a shot at one-and-done players. When answering a question about it being hard to say goodbye to his seniors, this one an excerpt of what Ryan had to say: “Oh without a dout. All the seniors that I’ve had-hard to say that. But every player that’s played through the program, okay, we don’t do rent-a-player. You know what I mean.” Some may say that he may not have intended his comments to come out the way they did, but guess what? They did. In this instant, it seemed like he was taking a shot at programs that recruit players that are deemed one-and-done players. And he seemed to try and put his program on some moral high ground because his team did not recruit these types of players. Honestly, he may want to remember that not many if any one-and-done players are actually considering Wisconsin nor have they ever. And he also may remember that the kids that are leaving have a chance to make some money off their talent, like coaches do when they manage players on the sidelines. He may call them rent-a-players, but for Ryan, he rents most of his players for four years while they make absolutely nothing off what they do for him. All the while coaches like Ryan are getting paid to coach these players and benefitting from what the NCAA has put together in this structure. And while we are on Ryan’s salary, he was actually the 10th highest-paid coach in America at $2.75 million. While the NCAA is pimping these players, Ryan and other coaches are the playas on the sideline crushing a lot while the players break their necks for both and get no money. So for Ryan to get mad at certain players for taking advantage of the system we have and coaches for recruiting them is crazy. And by him saying he would not take a one-and-done player is not true. He would take one in a minute if that would line his pockets more and make his program better if even for one year.

In the end, Ryan comes across as a hypocrite for how he complained about the refs and the one-and-done players in college basketball. We all know he would take one if they considered Wisconsin and we all know that he was not complaining about how the game was officiated when he won versus Kentucky. Several calls were missed in that game and yet there was Bo, silent as a church mouse when it came to that. So maybe the next time Bo should take the high road when it comes to talking to the media. Many roasted Kentucky for having players walk off the court without shaking hands and the infamous Harrison comments. But it seems that some are turning their heads the other way on these Ryan comments. Honestly, both were bad and both actions were that of a sore loser. But Andrew Harrison and Willie Cauley-Stein, who was a Kentucky player that walked off the court without shaking hands, are young kids who will learn from their experiences. As for Ryan, he knows better. He has been in the game probably longer than Andrew Harrison and Willie Cauley-Stein have been alive. Yet he makes this mistake of coming across as a sore loser instead and a deflector of blame. Wisconsin did not lose the game because of officiating or the one-and-done players. They lost the game because they did not make enough plays to win.

It’s Time For Coaches To Embrace Social Media

In this new age of sports, there is much more to the game than just playing. The image a player projects has become very crucial in creating your own brand. These days, social media is an important aspect of creating that brand. Everyone has a Twitter or Facebook account and uses that to express themselves and their thoughts. But apparently, not everyone is a fan of players expressing themselves. The latest expression of disdain for social media with his players came from Louisville head coach Rick Pitino.

rick pitino

Apparently, Pitino is not the biggest fan of social media. He recently made the following statement to ESPN’s Mike and Mike:

Pitino had some strong words for social media in regards to athletes. Even going as far as to say that “every hour on it is like taking a little bit of poison.” I could understand some of what he was saying. From a certain viewpoint and in what city he lives and coaches in, players can receive a ton of praise. But they can also receive a ton of undue criticism from overly passionate fans. And if athletes are not prepared for it, they can be blown away by it. Some learn over time how to handle the criticism, but Richie Incognito showed that some still have a lot to learn. But in the grand scheme of things, it sounds like technology has passed Rick by. Gone are the things that he did as a youth and here are the things of today’s America. You cannot hope to have players avoid something that is part of society as a whole. So, instead of trying to steer his players away from social media, Rick ought to pay attention to his in-state rival’s head coach and his way of thinking.

john calipari

Kentucky’s John Calipari is a coach that has attracted the top talents in college basketball. Some would say that he is just in it to make himself look better. People can talk until their blue in the face about what he is in coaching for, but one thing you cannot dispute is the things he does to help these players with social media. Calipari is one of the few coaches in America that seems to care about his players on social media. Here is what he said on ESPN’s Mike and Mike:

Calipari’s frame of mind is way different than Pitino’s. And he spoke the truth about him and other coaches that encourage their players not to use social media. They truly don’t understand it and how to use it. While he probably embellished when he said he did not read one response, he did drop some knowledge in terms of what social media is used for and how he helps prepare his kids for the usage of it as their careers go on.

Ultimately, the thoughts of Pitino are null and void because kids are going to be kids. Social media is here to stay, so why not embrace it and help them instead of discouraging them. Athletes more than anyone are seen in the public eye through all they do everywhere. So why not prepare them to handle social media and other things instead of having athletes pretend social media does not exist? In this instance, Pitino needs to come out of the dark ages and embrace what is there instead of continuing to badmouth it like it’s a sickness. While social media can get you in trouble, it can be a blessing when handled correctly. Maybe Rick needs to learn that and teach his players like Calipari is at Kentucky.

pitono vs calipari

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The Real Thug Life

Richard Sherman During the last few weeks, the term “thug” has been used pretty frequently. It was used for cornerback Richard Sherman after his passionate interview after his Seahawks defeated the 49ers for the NFC title. The term was used after the Marcus Smart incident where the Oklahoma point guard shoved a fan. It seems like this term is used just as freely as any word in the English dictionary. Black people on the football field and in life are being called “thugs” a lot these days for the way they act, dress or conduct themselves. It’s alarming that this word has replaced the N word as the new name to call Black people when they do something that is frowned upon by members of society. But what I wonder is if anyone using the word “thug” even knows what it means or better yet, where the term came from. If they did, then maybe they would reconsider calling Black kids “thugs”.

The original thugs
Around 1356, a group of Indian people named Thugs were first introduced in the world. They were described using the word Thuggee, which is a Hindu word for “thief”. The Thugs came about from banned members of from society that banded together to make a fraternity of thieves and killers. Although they came around in the 1350’s reportedly, the thugs really became strong around the 1800’s in India. These Indian people would join travelers and gain their confidence, only to strangle or tie a noose around the neck of the people they befriended. They would rob the victims as well as bury their bodies after robbing them. The Thugs would continue to do this until the 1830s when the British came in and eventually subdued them. The Thugs were reported to be responsible for at least 2 million killings over their entire existence. In essence, they terrorized India and had the country living in fear.

The real Thugs in India were on a whole higher level than what people consider “thugs” in today’s society. In fact, there should be absolutely no way the so-called “thugs” of today compare to these people. The Thugs in India were ruthless. They would smile in your face only to kill and rob you later. The only thing Richard Sherman did was be loud and emotional after playing a great game. And as far as Marcus Smart, he may have lost his cool at the wrong time, but he is in no way a thug. In fact, I believe the original thugs would laugh at the thought of these two and others that have even been called the term they put on the map.

Maybe the next time people will examine the words they use when calling people things. And for all those that like to call people thugs, maybe they should take a look at the history of the word and think long and hard before calling someone that term again. Smart, Sherman, and many other athletes that have been called thugs are not thugs at all. The real thug life happened in India. Read up on your history people.

For more sports conversations, follow me on Twitter @General_MP or come check me out at my Facebook page Mike Patton-The General .

The Fallacy Of Bad Officiating

lebron talking to official Officiating has been one of the biggest thorns in a lot of fans’ collective eyes. Fan have let it be known their thoughts on officiating over the years and it is no secret that most are not thrilled with them. Some would even say that their calls throughout the game could be the cause of their teams losing. It seems as if everyone wants the same thing: perfect officiating. But honestly, is it really possible for perfect officiating to happen?

Examining some of the complaints with officials can leave you with mixed reviews. One complaint that always comes up is the free throw line disparity. For example, the University of Memphis played against the University of Connecticut this past Saturday. The Huskies won the game in overtime by five points, but there was some discussion over the discrepancy in free throws shots. The Tigers shot nine free throws the entire game while the Huskies shot thirty-six free throws. The first thing you would hear is the Tigers were treated unfairly by the officials. That may or may not be true, but what is being missed is the Tigers were not the aggressor for most of the game. More often than not, the team that is more aggressive gets rewarded with the calls. The Huskies came out and went right at Memphis and that made all the difference in the disparity.

Vision of a referee is always a thing that is questioned. You always see people disagreeing with a referee with every blown whistle. And with those “missed calls”, plenty believe the referees are blowing calls against their teams on purpose. But the imperative word to remember is judgment in these situations. Not everyone is going to interpret each and every call the same way. Some see every single bit of contact as a foul, while others think that more contact should be let go. No wonder there is complaining on every single call. Some don’t understand there is contact in the game of basketball while others have the game confused with football. With no clear and concise definition of how the game is played, more fans have a distorted view of what is or isn’t a foul. And that leads to disgruntled fans and some inaccurate statements.

The root of most of the complaints really comes down to one big thing: sore losing. When their team is losing, the fans of that team are the main ones complaining about the officiating. And not only do they complain, but people always bring up the “if this call had been made then we would have won” statements. Honestly, the only reason a lot of people complain about perceived bad calls is due to their team not getting the benefit of the whistle. If the situation was turned around and there was a supposed missed call that benefitted their team, there would be no complaint at all from those same fans. Funny how that one works when bad calls help your team.

It’s always interesting to see how fans can view calls when they affect the teams they root for. Some become blind to the fact that maybe their team did not deserve some calls. And it seems the refs are used as an excuse for why their team did not win. In the end, good teams do not depend on the referees nor do they blame them. Good teams win despite what is perceived as a bad call or not.

For more sports conversations, follow me on Twitter @General_MP or come check out my Facebook page Mike Patton-The General .

Smart And Not So Smart Moves

Marcus Smart Marcus Smart is one of the most talented players in America. The Oklahoma State point guard is considered by most to be a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He actually could have been a lottery pick last year, but he came back to school to work on a few things to prepare him for the NBA. Things started off well, but as the season as gone on, the frustration has seemed to build coinciding with the play on the court. Smart has not shot the ball as well as he would like and his team has been scuffling as of late. As if the frustration was not enough, the incident on Saturday night versus Texas Tech took the scrutiny for the young man to another level:

Just like the announcer for ESPN, many were going off on Marcus Smart and his actions in this whole thing. And to his credit, he took responsibility for his actions in this press conference the following day:

But let’s get into what was reportedly happened in this incident. Smart reportedly told his coaches that he was called a racial slur by the fan in the stands, Jeff Orr. And to that accusation, Orr responded by stating he did not use a racial slur, but that he did call Smart a “piece of crap” (the video confirming that is not conclusive). Honestly, we may never know what was truly said in this incident because it is quickly turning into a “he-said, he-said”. But something was said because Orr apologized and voluntarily decided to give up his seats for the remainder of the season. Smart was handed a three game suspension by the Big 12 conference for his role in this incident and this will undoubtedly hurt his team. But to some that think this will hurt his stock in the draft, think again. Per Adam Katz of ESPN, many NBA scouts see this incident as a blip on the radar screen and still hold Smart in high regard heading into this draft. But the action has now painted a broad stroke as to what some will now know of this young man and that is not fair at all.

I can understand the feelings of Smart in regards to the being allegedly called a racial slur. In fact, I can identify completely with his reaction. I experienced someone calling me a racial slur when I was around his age. And of course I was angry when it happened. Fortunately, I did not do anything that would cost me the rest of my life. We all have to remember that Smart is a young man. And as a young man, he is going to encounter situations that he may not have come across before. To expect him to know how to handle himself in all situations as a young kid is crazy. And like Marcus said, he has looked at the situation and he will move forward from it and learn. Hopefully when or if he comes across the same situation, he will not give in to the people that are trying to get a reaction out of him. Because when you react to people in these situations, that’s when you give them some power over you through your emotions. That’s the lesson I had to learn and I’m sure this is a lesson that Smart will learn as his profile grows.

The real question needs to be asked of Mr. Jeff Orr. Just like Marcus Smart could have handled the situation better, Orr could have as well. And what makes it even worse for him is that he is in his 50’s. What 50 year old man does anyone know that heckles young men at a college basketball game? And by heckle, I mean say and do things to them that are meant to be hurtful and demean them. One example of Orr going a little crazy was when Texas Tech was playing the Texas A&M Aggies a couple years back:

Who would have thought a man in his 50’s could act like a kid when watching a game. John Lucas III, a former Oklahoma State player himself, chimed in via Twitter and had this response in regards to Orr: “I just saw the video. That same fan was at the games talking crazy even when I was in school and I don’t forget a face. He talks a lot of crazy ish.” So to Mr. Orr, what kick do you get out of flipping birds and talking trash to college kids? It seems to me he has some sort of issue and that this was not an isolated event.

After this whole situation, I have come to be an even bigger fan of Marcus Smart. He understands he must rise above that situation and did not run or point fingers in the aftermath. Not many people realize that at any age in this world. I hope he comes back and carries Oklahoma State to the NCAA tournament and then some.

For more sports talk, follow me on Twitter @General_MP or hit me up on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

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