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Why are you player hatin' Bill Simmons?

George Mason Basketball: Why are you player hatin' Bill Simmons?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Why are you player hatin' Bill Simmons?

Bill Simmons, one of my favorite writer/personality at, wrote an article on Monday basically bashing the quality of the game in the 2005-2006 college basketball season. Its funny how quickly the tides have changed from one year to another. Most would have called last year one of the most thrilling NCAA tournaments in history because of all the upsets; but others want to see it as a watered down product because their beloved Dukes, UConns, UNCs, and other big conference favorites choked big time. The casual basketball fan had to love the fact that for once we didn't see the same teams advancing far in the tournament. Why is it exciting to watch the same teams advance in the tournament every year? I got tired of the last couple of Superbowls because I was sick to my stomach of watching Tom Brady play in it again and again. Sure its great for fans of teams like Duke and UNC but what about the majority of us that hate those guys? Did you see how many "J.J. Redick is gay" websites there were last season? Bill Simmons wrote this on Monday:
When I was growing up, college teams stayed together for three-four years (like Georgetown and St. John's in the mid-'80s, or Duke and UNLV in the early '90s). Once that continuity was removed, the quality of the product declined and bottomed out with a disaster of a 2005-06 season that featured two astounding realities:

1. Two white guys (Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick) were indisputably the two best college basketball players alive.

2. George Mason made the Final Four.

One year later? Everything's OK. The quality of play has been remarkable, culminating in Sunday's Georgetown-UNC classic, an electric game that also happened to be exceptionally well played (at least until UNC fell apart near the end). If you love basketball, you were legitimately thrilled like me. Which raises the question ... what's happening here? Is the 2006-07 season an aberration or something more?

I'll admit that I loved watching the Georgetown-UNC game too, it was a great game and brought memories from previous tournament history. But why can't George Mason and other mid-major schools that haven't been around as long have their fun too? Mason beat a UConn team that was the odds on heavy favorite win the tournament. Every ESPN analysts picked them and with good reason, 4 of their players went in the first round of the following NBA draft. Mason didn't beat these teams on a miracle buzzer beating shot they simply went right at the opposing teams and never doubted themselves. Simmons blames the lack of continuity from some of the major conference teams as the reason for a lower quality college game. Thats a good one Bill, why can't you just admit that these coaches like Roy Williams are overrated, how many McDonalds High School All-American players do you need to win a championship? If you Williams and Jim Calhoun are such legendary coaches they should be able to win with far less talent, yet they can't even make a Final Four with the best high school recruits in the country year after year. When was the last time either of those coaches took a low level player and made them into college basketball stars? Larranaga took guys like Tony Skinn (too small) and Jai Lewis (too fat) and mold them into tournament heroes. Even Wichita State head coach Mark Turgeon was able to take Paul Miller (a player recruited by the school to play baseball) and turn him into the Missouri Valley player of the year.

Simmons received a lot of emails from fans like me and here was his response yesterday:

Wanted to clarify something from yesterday's blog: Some readers wondered why I'd praise this year's NCAA Tournament (which has featured few upsets and a Final Four with two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2 seeds) and dismiss last year's tournament (which featured a ton of upsets and a Cinderella making the Final Four).

The answer is simple: I like watching good basketball.

That was the underlying theme of yesterday's blog -- for the first time in years, the quality of play has matched the excitement of the tournament itself. Because the elite teams were so weak over the past few years, college basketball had degenerated into a 3-point shooting contest -- really, anyone could beat anyone else if they made 3s, so the style of play transformed into a slash-and-kick game with guys launching 23-footers (and there never seemed to be a Plan B). As a basketball fan, I just didn't think it was an interesting evolution and had trouble watching that crap. (And that's what it was: crap. Maybe it was exciting, but it was still crap.) The reason I loved Sunday's Georgetown-UNC game was because it was an up-and-down game that featured low-post offense, ball movement, coaching strategy, fast breaks, guys killing themselves to protect the rim and everything else you'd ever want from a college basketball game. That 2005-06 George Mason team would have gotten blown out of the building by either of those teams. I'm telling you.

So last years George Mason would have gotten blown out by either this years Georgetown or UNC team. News flash Bill, UConn had more talent and experience in their pinky last season than those two squads have this year. Niether of those teams dominated every aspect of every game their played in the tournament so far and they were a #1 and #2 seed having the easiest paths to the Final Four. Everybody and their mother said Mason would get destroyed against UConn last year; did he forget they were double digit underdogs? Was that game not up-and-down like this years Georgetown-UNC? Why was that game so much better? Because Patrick Ewing's and Doc River's sons were playing on Georgetown? Because of Roy Williams coaching history? No its because its a Big East school against an ACC school that has played against each other in the tournament before. Just enjoy the games Bill, why the hate?


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