Another week of great college basketball action is in the books, and we are creeping ever closer to March Madness. This week I debut a couple of new segments (College Basketball 101 and the March Madness Word of the Week). I also take a look at what college basketball can learn from Tim Tebow, Sports Spectrum’s 2011 Athlete of the Year.
The week that was
- San Diego State went 34-3 with a Sweet 16 appearance last year. That team was led by seniors and do-it-all sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard, who became the 15th pick of the draft. So you might expect some drop off the following season right? Not so fast, my friend. The Aztecs are 14-2 and won in dramatic fashion Saturday beating then 12th ranked UNLV.
- Is North Carolina a legitimate championship contender? Not too many championship level teams get blown out like the Tar Heels did at Florida State Saturday. The Tar Heels displayed little to no toughness or resolve after things quit going their way, losing 90-57. Many analysts picked them to win it all before the season began, but there are a lot more questions to be answered, now.
- Indiana seems to be coming back down to earth after playing at such a high level the first half of the season. Last week, the Hoosiers lost to Minnesota at home by three and were blown out at Ohio State.
- “Almost” only counts in horseshoes, though it can give a basketball team some much needed confidence. Tennessee led most of the way Saturday vs. No. 2 Kentucky but faltered down the stretch to the SEC front runners, losing 65-62. But the Vols should feel confident about competing well with the rest of the SEC, especially since they got talented freshman Jarnell Stokes on the court, who just graduated high school a few weeks ago.
- St. Mary’s beat then No. 23 Gonzaga last Thursday and are 17-2 and undefeated in the West Coast Conference. Point guard Matthew Dellavedova is a big reason for their success, leading the team in scoring (15.4 PPG) and ranking 8th in the country in assists (6.6 per game).
- Alabama fans were quite clever during their home game against LSU. Fans would mockingly cheer for LSU once they reached halfcourt, referencing LSU’s football team’s struggle to cross the 50-yard line in the BCS National Championship against Alabama.
- The Big 12 championship still goes through Lawrence, Kan., or so it seems. KU “Rocked, Chalked and Jayhawked” all over previously unbeaten Baylor Monday, winning 92-74. Speaking of “Rock, Chalk Jayhawk,” what on earth does that mean?
College Basketball 101
The Rock, Chalk Jayhawk Chant (According to Wikipedia):
The cult chant was first adopted by the university’s science club in 1886. Chemistry professor E.H.S. Bailey and his colleagues were returning by train to Lawrence after a conference. During their travel, they discussed a need of a rousing yell. They came up with “Rah, Rah, Jayhawk, Go KU”, repeated three times, which later became “Rock Chalk Jayhawk, KU”.
By 1889, “Rock Chalk”—a transposition of chalk rock, a type of limestone, that exists in Kansas, but only in the Cretaceous-age bedrocks of central and western parts of the state (more than 150 miles west of Lawrence) and on Mount Oread where the University is located, which is similar to the coccolith bearing chalk of the white cliffs of Dover—later replaced the two “rahs.” Those responsible for the change are unknown with Bailey himself crediting the geology department and others an English professor.
U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt called it the greatest college chant he had ever heard.
Who knew its origins were so nerdy? But I guess anything the great Teddy Roosevelt signs off on must be great.
What College Basketball Can Learn from Tim Tebow
1. Show good sportsmanship
Who needs to take notice: Cincinnati, Xavier, Arizona, Oregon State and many temperamental head coaches throughout the nation.
The Cincinnati-Xavier brawl was well publicized, and another shoving match broke out this weekend between Oregon State and Arizona. In addition to the behavior of players, this past Saturday, on College Gameday on ESPN2, Hubert Davis, Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps all expressed disappointment in the way many head coaches have been handling themselves on the sidelines this season.
Despite a brutal loss and some questionable sportsmanship coming from New England’s side, Tim Tebow was gracious in the Broncos loss, making sure to shake hands with his competitors and giving them credit in the postgame press conference.
2. Be polite and courteous
Who needs to take notice: Florida State students
Tebow is known for being polite and courteous with the ever demanding media and any of his fans.
Florida State fans were so jacked up in anticipation of the final buzzer of their win against North Carolina that the Tar Heels head coach sent his players to the locker room before the final buzzer because he was concerned with his players safety. Seminole fans overtook the court in celebration after the game was over.
3. Don’t Quit
Who needs to take notice: North Carolina, Louisville
When the game gets away from Tebow, we don’t see him pouting on the sidelines, moping on the field, or giving less than his full effort. In this weekend’s game against New England, Tebow was fighting until the bitter end, despite the result being clearly in the opposition’s favor.
Louisville seemed to quit in their 90-59 loss at Providence last Tuesday, and North Carolina also lacked effort in their 90-57 loss at Florida State. You never know, if you keep fighting, you may just have an epic comeback, ala Duke and Jay Williams vs. Maryland in 2001, where Duke trailed by 10 with a minute left in the game and ended up winning in overtime.
4. Don’t throw chairs
Who needs to take notice: Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery
Have you ever seen Tebow throw a chair? I haven’t, but we did see Iowa’s head coach Fran McCaffery do that last week during a blow out loss to Michigan State. McCaffery must have spent more time watching Hulkamania than Tebowmania.™
5. Ignore opposing fans heckling
Who needs to take notice: North Carolina head coach Roy Williams and I’m sure a few others
Despite much heckling that Tebow faces on the road, both towards himself and his faith, he largely ignores it. You can’t always say the same thing with some of those in college basketball.
Last season, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams threw a fan out of the Tar Heels arena for shouting at one of his players. Sure, I know what you’re thinking, “It must have been vulgar and from the mouth of a Duke fan…” Nope! Williams threw out a fan from little ol’ Presbyterian College for saying, “Hey, Deon! Don’t miss it!”
Are you serious bro? Heckling happens everywhere in sports, and the athletes and coaches should be much more focused on the game than what people are shouting from the stands. We know Tim Tebow is.
6. You will never please your management
Who needs to take notice: Any college basketball player
Tebow just can’t seem to get full confidence from John Elway or his head coach John Fox. Just this week, after a great run as a starter during in the 2011 season, Elway said that Tebow had “earned the right to be our quarterback going into training camp next year.” No “We’ve found our quarterback,” or “Tim Tebow is our guy.” I’m sure something like that is frustrating, but Tebow hasn’t complained in the media, keeps his head down and continues to work hard.
There are plenty of times in college basketball where your coach may be upset with the way you are playing or with your shortcomings, but players shouldn’t complain to the media about it, or jump on Twitter and make statements how your coach is being unfair. Your next coach/GM may be even more demanding, show less confidence in you or draft Andrew Luck even though you have Peyton Manning.
Who needs to take notice: Everyone
When Tebow “Tebows” or does an act of “Tebowing” he is actually praying to his heavenly Father, and that’s something we should all do more of. (1 Thess. 5:17) What, you thought this whole segment was a joke?
March Madness Word of the Week
- 1. A team, likely from a conference or state you have never heard of, very capable of messing up your office’s bracket challenge. A few will claim to have known of their potential, but no one will have actually picked them to advance unless they have a connection to that school or were picking by team mascot.
- 2. A man so studly he can bust brackets with his bare hands (ex. Teddy Roosevelt)
The week that will be
No. 16 San Diego State at New Mexico – This one will sneak past many people but New Mexico is 15-2 just like San Diego State and “The Pit” is one of the toughest places to play in college basketball.
Vanderbilt at Alabama – These two SEC Heavyweights sit just outside of both Top 25 polls.
College of Charleston at Davidson – One of these two programs will likely receive the Southern Conference’s bid to the NCAA tournament, and as Davidson has once proven to be a capable bracketbuster, former Georgia Tech and now College of Charleston head coach Bobby Cremins has a team with that type of potential. Both teams are on my Bracketbusters Watch List which I will debut next week.
Alabama at No. 2 Kentucky – This could be a real exciting or very disappointing week for the Crimson Tide.
No. 1 Syracuse at Notre Dame – This game is notable because it will mark just the fifth road game in 21 games for Syracuse, and the Irish are good at home…
No. 5 Missouri at No. 3 Baylor – Baylor is coming off of a dissapointing loss at Kansas and have another tough matchup to deal with. How will they handle the adversity?
Florida State at No. 4 Duke – Can Florida State beat North Carolina and Duke in back to back weeks?
Purdue at No. 9 Michigan State – Purdue senior Robbie Hummel is scoring a career best 16 points per game despite playing on two balky knees.
No. 15 Mississippi State at Vanderbilt – This could be a real exciting or very disappointing week for the Commodores as well.
New Mexico at No. 20 UNLV – I think I just found the theme of the week. New Mexico could have a real exciting or, well, you know the rest.
No. 19 Michigan at Arkansas - The Hogs are quite the pests on defense, averaging 9.29 steals per game (11th in the nation).
Xavier at Dayton – Xavier’s other bitter rival is Dayton. I hope they steer clear of fisticuffs.
Virginia Tech at No. 17 Virginia – You have to wonder about Seth Greenberg’s job security. After many years being on the wrong side of the bubble, his team is off to a slow start in ACC play. A rivalry win could be big.
No. 1 Syracuse at Cincinnati – Another road game for the Orange. We know how tough Yancy Gates and the Bearcats can be, can the Orange?
Tennessee at Vanderbilt – I’m mainly interested to see if UT head coach Cuonzo Martin will break out the orange blazer for this rivalry game. He hasn’t for any of the other rivalry games, but it’s a big hit with Vols fans.
Aaron May is a staff writer at Sports Spectrum magazine. “Old School” is a column for college sports fans. Contact Aaron at firstname.lastname@example.org.