Three Up, Three Down … not a Baseball blog

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By: Bryan Snyder
Assistant Athletic Director/Volleyball Coach

Charles, Kenny and Ernie need to get on board with the one and done perspective of college hoops

I was really struggling to come up with a topic for this month’s blog entry, but something I heard on Sportscenter the other day sparked an idea.  The phrase I heard was “the best two words in sports … Game 7!”  That got me thinking back to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, where for the first time ever, games were broadcast on several networks and not just on CBS.  Because of the TV contracts, the TBS/TNT NBA analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson, Steve Kerr, etc. were part of the studio show and game announcing crews.  The one common thread I heard from all of them was a complaint about the “one and done” scenario of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.  Yet, these same analysts LOVE game 7’s.  Does that seem somewhat odd to anyone else?  In the NCAA tournament EVERY game is a game 7!!  I am not an NBA fan in the least, and in fact, I am convinced that if the pick and roll was not allowed, that NBA games would have final scores of something like 32-30.  I love college hoops (although it is slowly going to the same type of play as the NBA as the officials get looser and looser with what they call) for the passion the players and fans display, and I think that basketball is one of the few sports were the “amateur” game is played more fundamentally sound than the pro game.

This whole argument of NBA vs. College hoops got me to thinking that everything in the world of sports fans is based on perspective.  SO …. I am going to give my perspective on three things that have happened recently in the world of sports that I like and three things that I don’t like.

Thumbs Up:  Dennis Rodman’s election to the Basketball Hall of Fame

Dennis was an interesting soul and one of the best ever at his craft

I have to say I was unsure if this would ever happen, and to see it happen so soon really restores a lot of my faith in those in the media, etc. who have a say in these types of things.  (Side note – Pete Rose SHOULD DEFINITELY be in Cooperstown!!)  I despised Rodman when he was with the Pistons (I was a big MJ and Bulls fan back then), but I always liked the role he played on his teams.  Once he started getting tattoos and dying his hair, I was able to like his personality as well as his game, and he will go down as one of my favorite players of all time (probably in the top 4 along with MJ, Dr. J, and Shaq).  Whatever your thoughts are on Rodman’s antics, the guy was one of the best defensive and rebounding forwards the game has ever seen.  He was also a winner (5 NBA rings), and had great longevity.  I think his resume is clearly worthy of this honor, and I am glad that the voters were able to look past the cover and realize the book was a classic!

Thumbs Up:  Kyle Singler returning to Duke for his senior season last year

This is one of those instances where most people will think Singler made a mistake by returning to Duke for his senior season after being name the Most Outstanding Player of the 2010 Final Four and leading the Blue Devils to an NCAA title.  He probably would have been a lottery pick last year, and after what most are calling a down year (16.9 PPG/6.8 RPG) in 2010-11, he is probably going to be a late first-round or early second round pick.  Now, he probably cost himself some money on his initial contract (the second contract will be in line with what he does in the next 3-4 years), but I would argue what he gained has no price.  Some are making comparisons to Kiki Vandeweghe, but, unfortunately, I see him more like Luke Walton in the NBA.  So, in my opinion, he traded one year of sitting on the bench on a weak NBA team, for being a starter for a team that was ranked #1 for quite a bit of the year and played to a packed house at the best basketball venue in the world (that is obviously my biased viewpoint), as well as one more year in college.  To me, it is a no brainer, and Singler made the right choice.  If I could go be a bench scrub in the NBA or go back and relive my senior year of college, I am choosing the latter.

Thumbs Up:  Ohio State winning NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship

Although I was rooting for Penn State to win the title, it was absolutely great to see Ohio State finally win their first national championship in men’s volleyball after making it to the final four so many times and being in the championship game on two other occasions.  They become the first team from the Midwest region (Lewis had to vacate their championship in 2003) to win a title, and that will only help grow the game.  Men’s volleyball is one of the most powerful and dynamic sports that you can ever see, yet there are so few opportunities for boys and men to play at the varsity level both in high school and in college.  I hope this trend will continue and the people will start to recognize that good volleyball can be found all over the country, and not just in “beach” states.

Thumbs Down:  Phil Jackson retiring

We'll miss you Phil!

As a fellow coach, I am very sad to see the “Zen Master” leave the coaching profession.  I have always admired him, and if not for Mike Krzyzewksi (remember my perspective on college basketball vs. NBA), he would be my favorite coach of all time.  Phil has always won, albeit with GREAT talent, but more than any other modern coach, I think he has kept winning in perspective.  You never hear “Van Gundy” type rants from him, he wasn’t afraid to challenge the superstars either publicly or privately, and several of the greatest players in the history of the NBA (Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Shaq, Kobe) all speak very highly of him as a coach.  The two most important measures of a coach are his win/loss record and the relationships he creates and maintains with his players.  Few have done that better than Phil.  We’ll miss you!

Thumbs Down:  Tiger Woods

What in the world is going on with Tiger?  He is my favorite athlete of all time, even above Jordan.  There was a time when he would pull off the impossible every opportunity he had.  He still shows flashes of greatness (front nine on Sunday at Augusta this year), but he is physically, mentally, and emotionally in a bad place right now.  I have kept believing in him, and will still root for him, but he has become a “side show freak” at this point.  He is usually not in contention, and he plays so infrequently, that when he does play, everyone wants to watch him, but he cannot deliver anything other than wildly inconsistent golf.  I think Tiger has always put a lot of pressure on himself, but I think he my be putting so much pressure on himself these days, that it will be impossible for him to live up to his own expectations.  Here’s hoping he can do the impossible once again.

Thumbs Down:  NFL Labor Issues

I am going to keep this one short and sweet (hopefully).  The owners AND the players are ALL making MILLIONS of dollars!!  Quit whining about the revenue split, share your info and data with one another, and get a deal signed.  I can’t believe people are falling for the “we get treated so poorly and have no retirement benefits” line the player’s union is spouting.  Now, I agree that the NFL owners are probably the most greedy collection of people on the planet, but players who play in the NFL CHOOSE (that’s right, it is their choice to play, nobody is holding a gun to their head) to play football for a living.  The reward of all of that money comes with the risk of injury.  The real problem with the players is that they are not fiscally responsible.  If I had a 5 year career in the NFL at the league minimum ($325,000 in 2010 with a $15,000 increase every year), that would earn me about 1.6 million dollars, not to mention all the per diems and other perks that the players get.  If they manage that money wisely, and don’t try to live beyond their means, they could live a very respectable upper middle class life for probably 15-20 years …. with health insurance.  They can also get another job once their football career is done – WOW, what a novel concept … work for a living instead of playing a game for a living!  As someone who works in athletics, I know just how lucky I am to be able to do something I love so much and actually get paid enough to provide for my family.  It irks me to no end that the players complain about their compensation!  On the other side of the coin, if the NFL owners (and oil executives) would cut their personal profit/income by 5%, we could probably end world hunger!

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