Off Topic, Yet On Topic…

Let me start by acknowledging this up front: Jack McCallum is an award-winning sportswriter who has been with Sports Illustrated for as long as I can remember, and I am–as Whelliston so eloquently stated yesterday–a jerk with a blog.

That’s why I’m surprised to be writing that McCallum’s piece in this week’s mag was both remarkably shallow and illuminating.

McCallum spent a week in the Big East, mostly with Jim Boeheim and Syracuse. The result, in my mind, is little more than a puff piece for the conference that is below his and the magazine’s standards.

The article amounts to: coach is tough on player, team has tough games in a tough conference, conference has great colorful coaches, conference is so darn good even its bottom teams are better than your best teams. This isn’t exactly breaking news nor telling us anything we didn’t already know. It is a story that is told every year.

Yawn. I expected more from one week with Boeheim and that kind of access.

And that’s fine, to be honest. Nobody said I had to like the work, and that isn’t my beef. My issue is the treatment of the entire story. There is no doubting that physical play has dominated college basketball this season. Elbows, blood, and near fights occur nearly every night. This is also a reason that officials are routinely skewered–it has become a tough game in which to mede justice.

However SI feeds the problem. I’m not going to go as far as saying glorify, but there is a hint of the Big East being much better because of its physical “hard urban edge.”

There are eight photograhps in the piece–two of Boeheim in the locker room, a great shot of the CarrierDome as the dominant lead image, and five that depict some player being–and these are their words–“dragged, hogtied, or taking on the chin.”

Kids: head to the Big East, plant your elbow in someone else’s mug, and we’ll get you in SI, on television, AND the NCAA tourney!

The point is that I would like to invite McCallum and Sports Illustrated to Richmond on March 6 to get a look at colorful coaches and solid, skillful basketball. I’d like them to see a wide-open tournament that has the physical play but more basketball than MMA.

I’d like them to see Eric Maynor manage a basketball game, Gerald Lee (a center mind you) get the ball at the top of the key and run a 1-4 set because he has those skills, Charles Jenkins do his thing as a power guard (thanks Mull).

I’d like them to watch Marc Egerson, who is the only player in the country not named Blake Griffin to average a double-double and 2.5 assists per game. I want them to see George Mason, surely a familiar name to UConn, and marvel at their balance.

Maybe then they could get a story that isn’t told all the time, everywhere.

And I’d like to see these colorful coaches play the CAA teams at the top, you know, to prove on the basketball court that they are so much better.

But we never seem to get that either, huh? We just have to trust them until a suitable BracketBusters replacement is found.


~ by mglitos on February 20, 2009.

3 Responses to “Off Topic, Yet On Topic…”

  1. One simple word: AMEN.

  2. Michael

    A fellow Amen. To add to your comments, with a little luck Jack should come down and watch a quarterfinal game with Drexel vs. either Hofstra or ODU if he wants to see physical. Or if he wants quickness instead , he can watch Julius Wells or Pierre Curtis blow by people via a high screen (ask Hofstra on that one).

    And as your point on coaches, imagine a game with Bruiser Flint and Matt Brady. Priceless.

    As for the bottom teams in the Big East being better than the top teams, I am sure you know that Seton Hall lost to JMU this season. Can anyone remember the last time St John’s beat Hofstra?? Or that Providence, which isn’t even a bottom Big East team lost to St Mary’s in the 76 Classic on a neutral site (mind you not CAA, but you get the point).

    It’s always laughable to hear about these power conferences being powerful top to bottom and that the bottom teams would be the top teams in a mid major conference. The RPI’s and non-conference SOS of these teams say otherwise (Seton Hall has 81 RPI and a non conf SOS of 200), (St John’s RPI 147, non-conf SOS of 302).

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Gary, uh, Northeastern BEAT Providence this year, and played UConn to single digits last year – both on the road.

    Granted NU shyt the bed @ USF this year, but USF lost to a Wright State team on a neutral court that NU smoked on the road yesterday.

    There’s a reason why most of the bottom feeding BE and ACC teams don’t want to have anything to do with the CAA.

    The Boston Globe is sending Mike Vega down to Richmond – he covered BC hoops for years, so he’s a former BE writer who will see the CAA’s live and in person this year.

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