SportsProf

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Monday, February 21, 2005

The Art of the High Majors

They play at a different speed from the rest of the competition. No, I'm not talking about the top five drivers on the Nextel Cup circuit, I'm talking about the top college basketball teams in the country.

I'm as much of a hoops romantic as everyone else, and I always like it when a Southern Illinois makes it to the Sweet 16, but let's face it, if you're a romantic in that realm, your college hoops rooting experience will end before the NCAA Tournament does. While many like to watch the Bracket Buster weekend (and it's fun), what the teams involved are fighting for ultimately is a chance to win one and, if they're very fortunate, two games in the NCAA Tournament.

After that, the chalk takes over. Many rooters hold out hope against all hope that a Gonzaga or a St. Joe's can make it to the Final Four, and they've come awfully close. But that's just one slot out of four, and those four slots usually go to the big names.

And it's easy to see why.

They just play the game at a different level. They play it crisper, faster and, yes, even harder. Their concentration is better, they're better drilled, and they're better focused.

Case in point, last night's Wake Forest-Duke game. I didn't watch all of it, but I watched a lot of it, and the intensity was just great. Both sides worked very hard at both ends, and there was outstanding play on both sides. Duke won because J.J. Redick seems to rise to ever challenge thrown at him, and his 38 points (a career high) couldn't have come at a better moment for the Blue Devils. Duke had been on an uncharacteristic slide, and Redick was the stopper last night. I've written before about "Zing", and there was a ton of "Zing" in his game last night. He hardly missed.

If you watched this game you noticed the high basketball savvy, you noticed the marksmanship, you noticed the hustle. You probably also noticed the speed, although sometimes that's hard to pick up on television. A few years ago I watched Kansas play at Princeton, and the effort that the Jayhawks put forth was nothing short of spectacular. Every time they got a rebound, the Jayhawks sprinted to their appointed spots on the floor and ran downcourt with a great sense of urgency. They also worked very well together on defense. Princeton, on the other hand, looked like it was playing at another gear. Unfortunately for the Tigers, their engine, as it were, didn't have the gear that the Jayhawks' did.

Contrast your average-to-very good mid-major team to a high-major, and you'll see pockets of brilliance in two different ways. First, there are a couple of players who could play at the high-major level, and perhaps one who could start and perhaps even one who could star. Second, these teams can put together strings of outstanding play that could make a more talented high-major team look flatfooted and out of step, perhaps even for an entire game.

But then you have to come back down to earth. Because most of the time the beloved mid-majors cannot string together weeks on end of high-level play, especially against Top-25 competition. They simply do not have the talent to do so. True, there are many teams who dominate their conferences, and those teams are special. It just may be that they're not worthy of a Top 4 seed in the tournament. Or a spot in the Sweet 16.

They practiced the high art of high-major Division I college basketball last night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Both teams had at it, hammer and tongs, for the entire game. Each team answered the other's challenges all night long, and in the end Messrs. Redick, Melchionni, Ewing and S. Williams were too strong for Messrs. Paul, Gray, Levy and E. Williams.

It was quite a show, and the level of play should get better come March.

After all, whoever will emerge as the national champion will have to play even better.

And that's hard to imagine.

But it will be fun watching.

1 Comments:

Blogger Sports Junky said...

I agree,

I love College Basketball. and recently I have bought stock in it. Not like real stock on Wall street, but a stock market that is strictly for sports.

You have seen it? Its pretty cool. You buy issues for your favorite teams and you make real money. Not like a fake stock simulator. I cash out Dividends each time the team wins. Also I can sell my team stock when the price goes up.

check it out if something like this interests you.
heres a link http://allsportsmarket.com
you can log in and check it out for free..

They just released IPOS for College Basketball this week, so there are alot of good deals there.

Hope that helps
-Erik

2:31 PM  

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