Basketball

Don’t expect USA Basketball to bring us together

Featured image A headline in the sports section of the Washington Post (paper edition) declares: “Popovich and Kerr hope U.S. team is unifying force.” The reference is to Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, who are coaching USA Basketball in the upcoming FIBA World Cup. I assume the Post’s headline was written without irony. In reality, USA basketball couldn’t have selected two coaches less likely to be a unifying force. Popovich and Kerr »

April madness

Featured image There was some hand-wringing when this year’s Final Four materialized. No Duke, no Kentucky, no North Carolina. No Zion, no Ja Morant, no Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga’s Japanese star, to market. Nor did the tournament have a Cinderella. Yes, Auburn and Texas Tech are unheralded programs, but that’s because they’re usually also-rans in power conferences. They don’t resemble VCU, George Mason, or the Butler of a few years ago. Worse yet, »

Magic, Mateen, and Jumpin’ Johnny Green – Michigan State’s all-time basketball greats

Featured image Michigan State last made the Final Four in 2015. At that time, I wrote that its coach, Tom Izzo, “typically builds his teams around outstanding guards, especially at the point, and a tough forward in the 6-7 to 6-8 range.” This, I noted, is “a winning formula, especially during tournament time.” This year’s MSU team was constructed the same way, with junior Cassius Winston at the point, junior Joshua Langford »

Sir Charles, The Rifleman, and beyond, Auburn’s all-time best basketball players

Featured image Auburn stormed into the Final Four by beating college basketball bluebloods Kansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky. It was almost enough to make one forget the Tigers’ near defeat in the first round at the hands of New Mexico State. Auburn made it to the Elite Eight on the strength of two outstanding guards — Jared Harper and Bryce Brown — plus a quality big man — Chuma Okeke. In the »

Wahoowa, a look at the best Virginia Cavalier basketball players of all-time

Featured image I’m happy that the Virginia Cavaliers survived their near death experience in the Elite Eight and advanced to the Final Four. I’m a fan of Tony Bennett, their coach. He built the program the right way — patiently. It was exciting to see Virginia lose in the first round of last year’s tournament to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County — the first time a number one seed has lost »

Remembering Texas Tech’s all-time greats as the Red Raiders crash the final four

Featured image This weekend featured four great college basketball games, at least two of which were classics, as the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament teams became the Final Four. We can thank the relative lack of early round upsets for the great product at the Elite Eight level. When the dust settled, the Final Four were Texas Tech, Virginia, Auburn, and Michigan State. Texas Tech made the Final Four thanks to »

More Than an Athlete? [with comment by Paul]

Featured image Lebron James is perhaps the most privileged person on the face of the Earth. Graced with once-in-a-generation athletic talent, he also happens to be 6 feet, 8 inches tall. And, best of all, he was born in the United States of America. Our free enterprise system has allowed James to parlay his talent, and lots of hard work, into an $85 million a year income. Not bad! But not enough »

A century of excellence: All-time great Kansas University basketball stars

Featured image The University of Kansas basketball program has a glorious history. It’s one of the top five college basketball programs of all time. Kansas has won three national championships, played in the championship game nine times, and will be appearing in its 15th Final Four tomorrow. The Jayhawks have been coached by James Naismith (inventor of the sport), Phog Allen, Larry Brown, and Roy Williams — legends all. But its most »

Arizin and his heirs (2) — All-time Villanova basketball greats

Featured image Villanova has been an elite basketball power for as long as I can remember; indeed, for as long as I have lived. The Wildcats have made it to six final fours, winning two national championships: 1985 and 2016. As good as Villanova has been in the past, it’s fair to say that the program is now enjoying its golden era. Coach Jay Wright has led the team to three of »

Remembering Bennie Oosterbaan and Ron Kramer

Featured image A reader and friend informs me of an omission from my list of all-time great University of Michigan basketball players. The omitted Wolverine is Bennie Oosterbaan. I don’t know whether Oosterbaan rates among Michigan’s twenty best basketball players, but he’s arguably the school’s best athlete ever. Oosterbaan earned All-American recognition five times; twice in basketball (1927 and 1928) and three times in football (1925, 1926, and 1927). He earned nine »

Glory days again, at last — Loyola of Chicago’s all-time basketball greats

Featured image This year, the early rounds of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament served up even more upsets than usual, or so it seemed. Consequently, the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 featured too many uninspiring matchups and, frankly, mediocre games. The main exception was the Kansas-Duke clash — a game for the ages. Fortunately, a good Final Four field has emerged. It features Villanova (second place in the Big East regular »

Strange doings on tobacco road

Featured image On Friday night, I watched the ACC tournament semifinal game between North Carolina and Duke. It was my first viewing this season of these college basketball powerhouses. Two things surprised me. First, Duke, famous for its hard-nosed man-to-man defense, played a zone. Second, North Carolina’s oft-maligned Theo Pinson was dominating the game as kind of point-forward. The day before, Pinson had scored 25 points against a nationally-ranked Miami team. Against »

Anthem protests fail to catch on [UPDATED]

Featured image The recently completed NFL season was marred, in the opinion of many, by players taking a knee during the National Anthem. To what extent has this gesture, or similar shows of protest, spilled over to other sporting events at which the Anthem is played? The answer, as far as I can tell, is that it hasn’t spilled over at all. The playing of the Anthem was observed immaculately at the »

Watching #1

Featured image Last night, I saw the Villanova basketball team take on Georgetown in Washington, D.C. I attended not because I expected an interesting contest, nor did I see one. Villanova was at least 40 points ahead when, with about three minutes to go, coach Jay Wright pulled his starters. Rather, I went because I wanted to see the Number One ranked college basketball team in the country. I hadn’t seen a »

Trump gets UCLA shoplifters out of China

Featured image Three UCLA men’s basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China are on their way back to the United States after President Trump personally intervened in the case with China’s head of state, Xi Jinping. The three players — LiAngelo Ball (brother of Lonzo and son of LeVar), Jalen Hill and Cody Riley — were caught by video cameras stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to where the team »

Steve Kerr wants to have it both ways

Featured image Steve Kerr is the coach of the Golden State Warriors, the NBA championship team that doesn’t want to visit the White House because it objects to President Trump, and thus had its invitation rescinded. Kerr has produced a disingenuous article called “Mr. President: You Represent All of Us. Don’t Divide Us. Bring Us Together.” Like his star guard Stephen Curry, Kerr wants to have it both ways. When the Warriors »

Do female college athletes lack mental toughness?

Featured image I don’t know. I don’t watch women’s college sports, and thus have no opinion. But Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post has one. She sees a problem: The data shows that since. . .2012, female athletes have become more anxious, more prone to depression, less adult and more insecure than ever before. What is up with that? According to a 2016 NCAA survey, 76 percent of all Division I female »