Monday, April 03, 2006

And Another Thing

As if the college hoop skeptics needed more ammo. Two absolute turkeys of semifinals, (though, in his intro to the George Mason game, the collassal prick even managed to sound magnanimous in congratulating the Patriots (who simply couldn't make the shots that they had made all tourney, and had no answer for Corey Brewer. Not a lot of 6'8" guards in the CAA, I'd imagine.), combined with the transcendant Wade-LBJ duel, and the Associationists cried, in unison, AHA! Proof of the superiority of said pro game.

Myself, I take a slightly different tack. The fact is that the crazed intensity of the best two young slashers in the L going head to head, or the deleriousness of Staples as Kobe goes for 22 in the 3rd quarter is noteworthy because it is so rare. One of the things we forget watching tourney games is that they are neutral court games. Just for the heck of it, I rewatched the first Villanova-UConn game from this year on the DVR (definite "save until I delete status"), and I was struck by the rabid intensity of the crowd, and the game wasn't even played on campus. Aesthetically, 5,000 drunken college students tends to add to the experience.

Plus, as much lip service as NBA players give to "every game mattering" anyone who watches often knows that this is BS. Each team has at least 10 games a year that they basically phone in (and given the schedule, it's almost inevitable.) This dynamic is even more clear in person, where you can often tell in the first 6 minutes that one team (usually the visitor) is just not with it tonight, and extensive gar-bage time could ensue, as Marvelous Marv might say. Over the course of a 35 game college schedule, finding a reason why each game is 'special' is not as much of a stretch: there are rivalries, hated players, must-win-to-get-into-the-tourney situations, the big bullies going into a hostile gym (my favorite games), and so on.

Finally, the college game just sounds different. Even in tournament games there is a particular moment, when one team is on a run, perhaps has just hit a 3 to cut a lead to 2. As the other team brings the ball up the floor, the point guard comes to half court to meet him, gets down in his stance and starts clapping. There's a particular roar at that moment, that you almost never hear in the NBA.

I'm not going to claim that the college game is better, or more skilled, or any nonsense like that. I am still going to claim that from an excitement standpoint, I'd rather watch a regular season D-I game over most NBA games (Phoenix games largely excluded at this point. Boris Diaw is in my current 5.*) Now the playoffs (Playoffs!?!?!?), that's another story.

* Just to keep track, I think I'm going to have to keep a tally of my "five on the floor". Right now

PG - Jason Kidd. 12 wins and counting, carry on.
SG - Kobe (I still hate him, but that 3rd quarter was pretty sick.
SF - Boris Diaw
PF - KG. Please stay in the Mini-Apple.
C - Joakim Noah. Go Gators (blech).


Icepick said...

MY's argument for prefering the pros to college misses the mark. The NBA has better players, but it doesn't necessarily mean they play better basketball. The US team at the last summer Olympics had better players than the other nations, but they didn't have a better team and they didn't play better basketball.

Your points about the energy of the crowds at the different levels are pretty much on the mark. You see this when comparing (big time)college football to the NFL, too. I prefer the NFL, though because not only does it have better players, they also play better football! These kinds of things ought to matter....

VW: hawdczar! The Czar of Hawd!

reader_iam said...

I prefer the NFL, though because not only does it have better players, they also play better football! These kinds of things ought to matter....

Oooh, eerie ... for a minute there, it seems that you were channeling my husband.

Icepick said...

No, Reader, your husband channels me. I don't believe in psychic phenomena!