Monday, March 22, 2010

This week's columns from The Washington Post - March Madness, and the Division III basketball championship

Let us begin today, after one of the great weekends in the history of college basketball with this question: Why would anyone want to change this tournament? It is about as close to perfect as a sporting event can get -- if you forget the endless timeouts, the 20-minute halftimes and the absolutely ridiculous late night tip-offs. And still the NCAA and the WCA (Whining Coaches of America) want to change it?

To quote the great basketball maven John Patrick McEnroe Junior: You can not be serious!

If the tournament were expanded, teams such as Northern Iowa, St. Mary's and and Cornell would have fewer opportunities to create memories against Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 5 seeds. Please, for the love of basketball, let someone with a grain of sanity intervene before it's too late.

Then again, it may already be too late. For college presidents, conference commissioners and NCAA administrators, nothing starts the morning like the smell of money. Ask the ACC power brokers, who thought conference expansion was such a swell idea. That's worked out so well that over the past five seasons, the ACC has sent one fewer school to the round of 16 (Duke, North Carolina and Boston College) than the Missouri Valley (Wichita State, Bradley, Southern Illinois and now Northern Iowa.)

Read the rest of the column: A level of march madness that can't be expanded

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SALEM, VA. The ball was in Alex Rubin's hands but there was nothing more he could do with it. The buzzer had just sounded, the confetti was already falling from the rafters of Salem Civic Center on Saturday afternoon and the players from Wisconsin-Stevens Point were charging the floor.

Rubin and his teammates from Williams had come into the Division III national championship game with a record of 30-1. With 11 minutes to go they led, 54-44, and appeared to be on their way to the national championship. But the Ephs went cold and the Pointers got hot. A 22-5 run gave Stevens Point a 66-59 lead with five minutes to go, and with about 1,000 fans who had made the trip from the Midwest going crazy, the Pointers held on for a 78-73 victory.

And so, a split second after classmate Blake Schultz's futile final shot had rimmed out, Rubin found himself standing helplessly with the ball in his hands. He looked at the ball for a moment and then flung it as far as he possibly could. Then, like his teammates, he collapsed in tears.

"It occurred to me that was the last buzzer I'd ever hear as a player," he said about 30 minutes later. "I knew it was the last time all seven of us [seniors] would be together as teammates." He forced a smile. "Tough moment."

If you think there is any difference at all in the emotions that run through basketball at the Division III level and the big-time level, you're right: For the players on the 404 Division III men's basketball teams, the final buzzer is almost always the final buzzer. Rubin, a Landon graduate, is majoring in psychology and Spanish. If he ever shakes hands with David Stern he will be wearing a suit, but not a baseball cap.

Click here for the rest of the column: At the Division III basketball championships, emotions run just as strong

9 comments:

GIANT GLASS said...

In my ultimate conspiracy theory, they under seeded a few teams on purpose, hoping they would advance. Now after the tournament is over, The NCAA can claim that expanding the field to 96 gives more teams like Cornell, St. Mary's and Washington a chance to make a run. I mean, who knows if Illinoi, Seton Hall or VCU could have been a final four team if just given the chance...

Anonymous said...

You can't help yourself can you John? You couldn't just talk to Gary Williams today. You had to throw in a potshot at John Thompson III that was totally irrelevant to the discussion. Can you go 24 hours with out ripping on some aspect of the Georgetown program? Did Nan Keohane get some degree from Georgetown we don't know about?

How petty.

Gordon said...

I'm sure glad that the NCAA is going to save us all from what has happened so far in this years tournament by expanding to 96 teams. We certainly can't have anything like this occur again!

I would be great to see Cornell send Kentucky and their cheating coach packing. As a Kentucky fan I was deeply disapointed to see the powers that be sell their souls to the devil in order to win. I was rooting for Tubby Smith and Minnesota.

Tiger did what he had to do. Choose a time when it would be beneficial to speak. I for one don't want to know anything else. In fact I already know TO MUCH. As for his refusal to answer any questions about Thanksgiving morning. In a perverse way he's protecting Elan. Had he done that prior he wouldn't be in the mess he's in.

Count CBS as now officially in Eldricks back pocket for refusing to take the 5 minute interview. I'm sure it had nothing to do with March Madness and everything to do with not wanting to rattle Tigers cage. Now that wimp Jim Nantz has a marker with team Tiger. CBS can claim they didn't want to "pile on" when things were at their lowest for Woods.

In a perverse way I'd like to see Tiger win the Masters. Then maybe just maybe we all could get back to gold and away from tabloid journalism. what Tiger did has been going on since the tour began and will go on long after Tiger is retired.

Jeff said...

There was a great article by Ron Sirak on his trip to the parking lot at the Tavistock Cup.

http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-tours-news/blogs/local-knowledge/2010/03/at-tavistock-a-tradition-worth-dropping.html#ixzz0iy2zD8LG

I can't wait for the segment on the Golf Channel about this. I may be waiting a while though.

Anonymous said...

If the knock on Gary Williams is he can coach and can't recruit (see Washington Post 3 part series last year), isn't it time to get a 3 part series on how John Thompson III can recruit but can't coach. Inconsistant play 3 years in a row is a direct result of poor coaching and preparation. Maybe they don't practice at georgetown, they only pose. Practice? Practice? We're talkin bout practice?

Anonymous said...

John - You usually get it right on the money but, Greivis - overrated? Did any of those MD greats have more or less talent on his team? There are 3 players that, traded in for him at the point, might have been able to do what Greivis did with this team - Adrian Branch, Walt Williams & John Lucas...Regardless of Greivis' overall standing among the MD greats, the overrated comment was really just unneccessary and untimely. No need to slap him in the face as he's going out the door. He will be sorely missed.

Anonymous said...

So when do you think some of the BCS schools will smell the roses and adopt the mid-majors' philosophy of building a team? The schools that cannot recruit with the Dukes, uncs, KYs, etc would be well served to look closely on how it's done.

Pete said...

John,

I think you had one too many on St. Patty's day. Of course we want more games. CBS has yet to show a complete game. If we get more teams we will get more networks involved and maybe we will get to watch basketball instead of commercials. What are the morons at CBS thinking? How can you attract fans during March Madness if you don't show the whole game? Do they switch teams when watching baseball? NO! Do they switch tournaments when watching golf? NO! I could go on and on (except of course those other idiots that show the Olympics at NBC - but don't get me started. We want to watch basketball. 128 teams. Think about it.

Pistol Pete

michael.kuprenas said...

If they do make the mistake of going to 96 teams, one thought would be to make the conference tournament champions the odd seeds, one through sixty-three (ranked by conference RPI). Then have the other 64 teams play each other to fill in the 32 even seeds (2-64). That would restore some of the luster to the conference tournaments since a win gets you a bye, and also not force all of the mid majors to play each other to see which ones advance to play the "prestige" teams.