Thursday, March 24, 2005

Officials, Tiger & being the Best

I saw this last week, but forgot about it until now. Apparently during the ACC Tournament Championship game Georgia Tech's Jarrett Jack was called for a foul when J.J. Redick pushed/pulled/grabbed him before taking a dive. I didn't see the game, but I certainly wasn't surprised when I read this. In fact, I've almost come to expect it -- it's part of what comes with playing Duke in the ACC (incidentally, I thought it was pretty funny when someone forgot to tell the officials in the Miss. St. game that Duke is supposed to get all the calls -- and that includes no more than two fouls on Shelden Williams, and an automatic foul for every opposing player that tries to defend Redick -- in exchange for Shavlik Randolph fouling out early sometime in the second half).

Anyway, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt didn't think it was very funny, especially since it happened with 18 seconds left and the Yellow Jackets were only down a point at the time:
"If you have two eyes that work well, you should have been able to see that," Hewitt said. "It's inexcusable. It's absolutely inexcusable."

Hewitt also said, "It'll be a long time before I forget what happened. It was wrong."
Well, it wasn't too long before Hewitt heard from John Swofford, the ACC commissioner. He reprimanded the coach and also threatened to suspend him for a game if it happened again. Now I understand why Swofford has to take the position he did, but I hope and pray that he's not blind to the fact that NCAA officiating is awful. And I mean William Hung awful.

Speaking of Hung, for the most part I don't watch reality shows, but I can think of one show I'd never miss. Have some goon like Donald Trump (but who knows something about basketball) sit down with NCAA officials to watch a tape of their performance after a particularly bad outing. And then let the Donald stop the tape at particularly egregious offenses, ask the official in question to explain, and then before he can stutter out his answer lay into him like Ron Artest at a beer-tossing expo.

I saw this quote by Tiger Woods the other day, and it left me shaking my head (and it's not even about his wife):
"...But how will he know when it's time to quit?

"When my best isn't good enough, I'm walking," Woods said. "You'll know when you're not able to produce any more. I don't lie. When I play well, I tell you guys. And I tell you when I haven't played well. I've won tournaments out there when I wasn't playing my best. But if I play my best and don't win, there's no reason to be out here."

Has he ever played his best and not won?

"No," Woods said flatly.
It's really, really, really hard for me to imagine someone never failing when they were at their best. This might be one of the most remarkable things I've read in a long time. Even Michael Jordan can't say that.

Speaking of Jordan... is in the process of trying to come up with the all-time greatest college basketball player. Not surprisingly, Jordan's on the list -- even though I don't think he was the greatest college player of all time simply because he played within the system at Carolina. But there are also some other interesting guys (and girl) that made the cut (the writer than nominated them is in parentheses):

Bill Russell, San Francisco (Frank Deford)
Honestly, all I know about Bill Russell is from the 5-second clips I've seen of him dominating five white guys who collectively were still shorter than him. He very well could be the best player ever, but I'd never know.

Chris Mullin, St. John's (Lars Anderson)
I remember Mullin was unbelievable during the early '80s (which I think is the last time the Big East was good) and I actually liked him a lot. He might be a serious candidate because this guy was awesome and while he was abusing alcohol -- imagine how dominant he wouldn't have been if he was sober.

Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse (Bill Syken)
This is almost a really stupid choice. The only thing that keeps me from calling it completely ludicrous was that Anthony was largely responsible for winning a title for Syracuse as a freshman. But given that he left for the NBA about 15 minutes after the game ended, he shouldn't even be considered.

Shane Battier, Duke (Kristin Green Morse)
Uh, I can only assume that Ms. Morse is a habitual drug user and made this selection while on one of her trips. OK, Battier was good -- infuriatingly good -- but he's not the best college basketball player ever if for no other reason than you can see his brain. This has nothing to do with the award, but it creeps me out.

Pete Maravich, LSU (Tim Layden)
Much like Bill Russell, I didn't see any of Maravich's games, but I have seen a documentary about his life. And from what I saw, this guy was unstoppable. He's the original street-baller because he was a ball-handling machine who could score from anywhere (The Professor who?). Plus, any guy who averaged 40+ points a game should get strong consideration.

Len Bias, Maryland (Seth Davis)
This is another solid pick. Bias used to wear out opponents and one of the few good memories I have from those UNC-Maryland games was when Jordan blocked Chuck Driesell Jr.'s shot to help the Tarheels win the game.

There are some other players who will be profiled over the next few weeks, but I found it interesting that Danny Ferry didn't make the list (and yes, I'm serious). He's another guy who used to wear out opponents, and he was Christian Laettner before Christian Laettner was. He could play inside and outside, he could beat defenders off the dribble and he could pass. Of course, when he got to the NBA his "Duke-to-NBA" gene kicked in, he became a role player, shaved his head and got a reputation as a goon. But hey, he was still a really good college player.

I was actually surprised not to see J.J. Redick's name on this list. I have expected the nomination to be from Coach K followed by an assortment of XOXO's.