With the Super Bowl out of the way, here are some more sports notes from the past few days.
L’s team had a big game Saturday. Her team played the squad they were tied with for second place in their league. Looking at comparative scores, it seemed like the teams were pretty evenly matched. We were going to have our best player. Things looked good.
Then we got stomped.
L threw a ridiculous pass from the left wing, through the entire defense, to a teammate under the hoop who laid it up and in just before the halftime buzzer for our second basket of the game. We were down 12–4. It did not feel that close, either.
It didn’t get better in the second half. The opponents had two girls three inches taller than our inside girl and they just shut her down. Their team defense was great at all five spots and barely gave us any looks. Worst, our best player went 0–12 from the free throw line in a 13-point loss. Yep, Oh-for-Twelve. Poor kid, the misses got worse and worse as they piled up. She almost threw one over the backboard. Yikes.
L was 0-fer from the floor, but she was also the only girl who was able to get shots. She was forcing them but at least she was getting them off. She blew an easy layup late in the game, making her approximately 0 for her last 129 on layups. She did have a few other absolute dimes. One she again whipped through the entire defense, placed it on our inside girl’s right hand above her shoulders, and she laid it in without ever putting her left hand on the ball. It was kind of dope and got some vocal reaction from the dads. But otherwise L struggled like everyone else.
The crazy thing about the team we played was that they were coached by a high school girl. She knew her shit, was cool and calm on the sideline, and obviously has these girls drilled well on the fundamentals. I’m glad I wasn’t coaching and getting my ass kicked by her.
Fortunately L’s game saved me from most of the KU game Saturday. Games at West Virginia are always the worst, so I wasn’t too bummed either about missing it or the loss.
I was bummed but not surprised that KU fell out of the rankings on Monday. The program’s reputation clearly kept them ranked a few weeks longer than they should have been included. L was borderline pissed when I told her it was the first time since she was four months old that had happened. Not sure why she was so worked up about it, she’s watched maybe 15 minutes of KU basketball with me this year.
Luckily Monday night KU got their shit together, at least in the second half, against Oklahoma State. I was in multiple texts threads with KU friends and my OSU buddy. I don’t want to dig back into them and give myself a headache, but I believe all of my friends would be comfortable with be summing up those conversations by saying the first half was a display of garbage basketball by both teams.
There’s not much to say about KU that I haven’t already said, although I think their struggles are currently being compounded by a total lack of confidence. David McCormack, in a huge upset, might be the most confident player on the team right now. But their lack of talent and skill and hoops IQ looks even worse when they play tentatively. I liked how most of the team played hard in the second half last night. Hopefully they’ve learned if you do that, good things will happen, and eventually the shots that have been clanging off the rim for the last month will start to fall again.
College Hoops Landscape
I guess if KU has to have a really down year, this is the year to do it. How crazy is it that none of the 13 winningest programs in D1 are ranked right now? Or that Duke, Kentucky, and Michigan State are likely to miss the tournament, and North Carolina would only squeeze in if the brackets came out today? Hell, if KU slips up over the next week when they play Iowa State twice and then K-State, they will slide into bubble territory. Those schools are the five most dominant Power Five programs of the past decade. And they all, to some measure, suck right now.
I kind of scoffed early in the year when John Calipari blamed Covid for Kentucky’s struggles. But with all these blue bloods having issues, most of whom are relying on young players, that has become a reasonable explanation. Incoming players who normally got a full summer of workouts with/against returning and former players had to work out on their own last year, and they look like what freshmen used to look like.
Sadly those other programs will probably bounce back and be just fine next year. KU, depending on how long the NCAA shit drags on and what the eventual penalties are, could be facing a decent stretch of relative mediocrity.
Although, if Bill Self can keep his roster together over the summer and find a good transfer point guard, I think KU will be fine next year. It’s the years after that which could become problematic. And that’s if the NCAA allows Self to continue coaching.
The Pacers are on a 1–5 stretch. If KU hadn’t won last night I might be ready to give up on all basketball for awhile.
L’s game Saturday also caused me to miss a lot of the PGA event. Once I got home, caught the final minutes of the KU game, and caught up on Twitter, I saw the outburst over Jordan Spieth’s round. I thought he was done at –7 for the day, so I was thrilled when I switched to NBC and saw he still had four holes to play. And he continued to drop absolute bombs for birdies.
It was a scintillating performance, full of all the high-wire stuff Spieth is famous for. As one podcast afterward stated, other than Tiger Woods, no golfer creates as much excitement as Spieth when he’s on. There’s something about his game that is so fragile and relatable. Plus he is so open about his success and failures that he doesn’t seem like your average, boring tour pro. Even at his best he always seems so close to losing it and looking like your average weekend duffer. Then he hits an amazing approach from the desert and holes a 60-foot putt and you are screaming and texting your friends.
There was a buzz on golf Twitter as people lost their shit. I missed Spieth’s peak, as it came when I was giving golf no attention. Even though he fell apart on Sunday – predictably – it was fun to be a part of the Jordan Spieth experience for an hour or so. I hope he can continue to round out his game so this is a weekly recurrence rather than a singular event.
- Gonzaga and Villanova are obviously in the mix of best programs of the past decade, and are doing just fine this year. ↩