March Madness begins in the Winter

19 Jan

Its different living in a non NBA city. Part of the fun of living in places like Portland and Oakland was the passion for NBA hoops. I was fortunate enough to see a Blazers game at the Rose Garden, and lived in Oakland during the crazy ’07 run by Don Nelson’s Warriors.

Pretty much since the great class of 2003 NCAA hoops has been a thing where I stop in to see who next good NBA baller will be. The gap in the quality of play is about as wide between the NBA and NCAA as it is between the NBA and WNBA (Men vs. Boys). The few times I stop in are the UNC-DUKE matchups (one day I will blow a grand to see that match-up in Cameron Indoor)and the NCAA tourney.

Living in Austin during this time period is a funny one. I moved here in ’01 knowing that UT athletics was on the verge of some fun times. The football team was in the hunt for a national title every year, and even the T.J. Ford led Horns were making some noise on the hardwood. Now both programs are perennial disappointments.

Looking ahead at the basketball schedule, I noticed some interesting games to be held in the drum this year despite the quality of Rick Barnes’ squads. I circled a few early before the season began, especially the game with KU, and UNC.

I even had a nice little week where I’d get to see three players that interested me. James McAdoo, C.J. McCollum, and Tony Mitchell. The UNC game would be easy, as the Tarheels would be coming to Austin. I’d have to travel to Denton to watch McCollum play against Mitchell.

UNC was actually coming to town. Legitimately one of the real blue bloods of college basketball–royalty.There was a semblance of historic awe about the game. UNC was historically a title contender and at this point the ‘Heels were a top ten team. I figured everything would be there to see the blood bath, what I’m sure no one guessed was the UT would be doing the blood letting.

I was trying to get a real gauge on this James Michael Mcadoo kid.
The Media had been hyping this kid up, with he and Strickland being the only legit returnees that I knew about.
From the tip off, things seemed to be off with UNC.

The first five minutes were a little blah.

From the onset, UT started pounding them on the boards. UNC’s offense seemed like it could never get into a rhythm and definitely had problems getting easy buckets. The Horns hustled down after every bucket on transition and UNC was not able to run the fast tempo offense that Roy Williams generally implements.

Part of the problem was that UT played very good defense and took smart shots on the offensive end, limiting Carolina’s fast break points. But it was also obvious that Roy lacks a true floor general. His teams generally only go as far as his backcourts would take him.

Rashaad McCants, Raymond Felton, Kendall Marshall, Ty Lawson, Rex Walters and Adonis Jordan, Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Miles and Jacque Vaughn

Well this team sorely lacked the kind of guy who could make everyone else’s jobs easier. They had to fight for each and every bucket and it took forever for them to get into an offensive set.

Even worse Macadoo seemed like an over-hyped dud. Bro was whining about the refs, whining when his teammates didn’t get him the ball. One time he fell down on a play and appeared to hurt himself and it took nearly two minutes before a couple of North Carolina’s bench-warmers came to check on him. The rest of the squad went to the huddle.

Which made me wonder if Mcadoo is even liked by his own team. His body language during the game reeked of Primadonna. It made sense. His uncle was Bob McAdoo. He was light skinned and (we all know that light skinned people think they are better than everyone—white people because they got a little color and black people because they got a little white in them).

But I’d seen crybabies like him before, guys like JR Giddens and Kellen Winslow II came to mind.

And in all my years of going to UT games and watching UT games. I haven’t seen such an empty stadium since the Tom Penders days. The venue was half empty lots of empty seats and burnt orange fans sprinkled with the powder blue. I had no idea so many UNC grads/fans lived in Austin.

Carolina Blue supporters went home disappointed. Go back to Tobacco Road, put that L in your pies and smoke it.

Carolina Blue supporters went home disappointed. Go back to Tobacco Road, put that L in your pies and smoke it.

That being said, that is the loudest I’d heard that venue since the T.J. Ford days and those games would be packed. The fans were in a frenzy and you could tell it was affecting the play of both teams. UT was clearly feeding off the energy while UNC seemed baffled half the time. It was ugly. I thought old Roy was gonna have another heart attack—the poor guy.

I wouldn’t be surprised if old Roy hangs it up in the next couple of years. He doesn’t look like he’s having much fun, and what else does he have to accomplish really? He’s in the twilight of his years. It may be time for him to do something else. Who knows.

The very next night I found myself in Denton, Tx. 3 rd row at the Super Pit. There were 58 NBA personnel there in attendance to see the matchup of Lehigh vs. UNT. I had seats right behind the Lehigh bench. C.J. McCallum the nation’s leading scorer was facing off against Tony Mitchell.

Mitchell of course, I’d seen a few times the previous year, during his freshman campaign. He was undoubtedly the best player to come through Denton since Sheldon Williams’ little brother played there. He fell into the laps of the Mean Green because of some academic problems that prevented Mitchell (a local boy from Pinkston)from playing at Mizzou.

He played well during his freshman campaign but the Mean green didn’t do well enough to make the NCAA tourney. The last time I had seen him play he’d air-balled a potential game winning trey against Arkansas State (former school of Arthur Agee from Hoop Dreams).

This was something I’d been looking forward to for a while, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out that McCallum, the point guard who dominated Duke in the NCAA’s last year wouldn’t be playing. What a dick tease.

Donnie Nelson who’d come to check it out, left early to go see the Mavs take a shellacking from the visiting Miami Heat.

I thought about leaving but decided to stay just because I’d come so far, buying a ticket a head of time, and coming up from Austin. I was glad I stayed. Mitchell had an okay game, didnt put up any real numbers until the game was out of hand.

Lehigh put it on the Mean Green. They have other players besides C.J. (who hung out on the bench in a brown suit helping his teammates with any tidbits he may have seen from the sideline—if the NBA doesnt work out for him he may be a great coach).

They are a great passing team, got rebounds when they needed and shot the 3 ball well. I could see them getting to sweet sixteen (and further depending on if they get McCallum back for the NCAA’s—he may shut it down for the year though). I could even see them beating Duke again.

After seeing what he had done against Duke last year I was convinced he’d be the best PG in the coutnry this year. I was pretty bummed I didn’t get to see him play.

As for Mitchell, one of the scouts was overheard saying that Mitchell would be best suited to stay in college a year. The new coach for the Mean green is pretty terrible and seems like a control freak, Mitchell may decide his best option is to go to Europe and play for a while before he’s NBA ready.

Fans and NBA scouts were screwed out of seeing what could have been private NBA workout in little old Denton, Texas

Fans and NBA scouts were screwed out of seeing what could have been private NBA workout in little old Denton, Texas

This Saturday I’m excited to go see Ben Mclemore play for KU at the Erwin center. I mistakenly thought that this year’s Jayhawks team would be boring. Part of that was the media’s attempt at portraying Jeff Withey as the go to player on the team. I’d seen plenty of what he had done last year and didn’t think he was the kind of guy to be the feature dude (I saw Nick Collison play and Withey was no Nick Collison—not by a long shot).

I judged the Jayhawks too harshly after the game against Michigan State because the game was so boring. I remember thinking there was no way I was making a trip up to Lawrence just to fall asleep in the rafters of Phog Allen court.

Then I heard about this McLemore kid, who apparently played AAU ball with Bradley Beal. I had a free Saturday afternoon to watch the Ohio State game and bro brought it. He came with it and willed the Jayhawks to a with timely scoring. The role players of course played very well, Travis Releford shipped in, Elijah Johnson played a solid game, and Withey had some blocks and boards, and of course my boy Kevin Young made timely plays(seems like something good always happened when he was in the game).

Last Tuesday though I was watching NBA and didn’t think to flip over to watch the KU- Iowa State game. The ticker would come up on the television and I saw the game was close but settled for highlights of the game. It ended in classic Allen Fieldhouse fashion with McLemore hitting a 3 to send it into overtime. They of course went on to win.

So this will be a treat, got a great seat for the game, it’ll be the day after my birthday, and I’m sure the KU faithful will bring their “Rock Chalk “ chants down here with them and fill up the Erwin Center with the blue and scarlet. The only question is when they do the Rock Chalk Chant, will I find myself swept up in it and chant along? And just as importantly am I allowed to as fan but not as an alumnus? Is it as elite a club as the Jews where conversion and immersion is absolutely necessary?

Honestly I don’t know, but I got a nice birthday present in the mail. It is as if God him(her)self is chanting for me to go to grad school in Lawrence.

No confusion as to who I will be rooting for on Saturday

No confusion as to who I will be rooting for on Saturday

Welcome to Austin,TX Jayhawk fans. Hope you have a safe and fun time while you are down here.

Shout out to Longdistancejayhawk.com.

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