Tag Archives: Villanova

Just Let the Kids Play!

13 May

The world was less than shocked recently when it was alleged USC college basketball star OJ Mayo has been receiving cash, gifts and a car from agents intent on getting him to sign on as a client.  Is anybody truly surprised?

You know who’s really to blame here?  Mayo?  USC?  No.  It’s the rule that says that kids can’t jump straight from high school ball to the pros.  Instead, the misguided rule forces basketball prodigies with no real interest in higher education to attend college for one year before turning pro.

Who is this rule helping?  It’s not helping the colleges that have to deal with one year wonders who aren’t at college for the purest of reasons.   Meanwhile the kid goes off the pros and his millions and college coaches are left to deal with the negative impact a rent-a-player has on a program.  With the very big exception of Carmelo Anthony, have any of these guys ever delivered in a major way for a university?  Anybody remember Tim Thomas at Villanova?

The one year of college rule isn’t helping the kids much either.  We’re not talking about ball players who might actually realize they could do more with their life by chasing an education rather than pursuing a major league career with minor league talent if exposed to college.  We’re talking about basketball prodegies.  If some kid is forced to go to college for just one year and knows a major payday is coming from the NBA at the end of that year, what are the odds he’s cracking the books in a serious way?  Zero!  And what does that lead to?  Temptation and a mess.  A mess like the OJ Mayo situation. 

Someone should remind both the NBA and NFL that this is still a free market economy.  If a kid thinks he’s got the talent to go pro, he should get that chance.

If he fails, he can always pay or work his way through college like the rest of us.


Tough Is Being A Pitt Panther Fan This Time of Year!

27 Mar

Come this time every year, the flowers bloom and Pitt Panther b-ball fans see their March Madness turn to Spring Sadness. It’s so regular you could set your watch to it.

In my 20 years plus of following Big East basketball closely, I’ve seen Villanova, Georgetown, Syracuse and Connecticut claim national titles.  I’ve seen St. Johns, Seton Hall, Boston College and Providence make deep runs into the tournament. Notice who’s missing?

Pitt Basketball.  Despite being a better program than you might think, Pitt’s never come close to a Final Four berth.

Think about this, back in the 80s Pitt had future NBA star Charles Smith leading them alongside Jerome Lane.  That talented team won two straight regular season Big East Championships in 86-87 and 87-88.  But despite their regular season accomplishments Charles Smith and crew never got it done when it counted.  Both years, Pitt was eliminated in the second round by basketball powerhouses (sarcasm alert!) Vanderbilt and Oklahoma.  Perhaps this should have been a warning to Knick’s fans who would years later go through the agony of an admittedly hurting Charles Smith struggling to put back a lay up to eliminate the dreaded Bulls.

Since then, Pitt’s been pretty good.  Ben Howland, now at the head of a rejuvenated UCLA team, took Pitt to three Big East Championship games and two Sweet Sixteen appearances in the early 2000’s before bolting for LA.

When Howland’s assistant Jamie Dixon took over the good times kept rolling.  Since 2003-2004, Pitt’s made two more Sweet Sixteen appearances and four Big East Championship game appearances.  Pretty good right?  See I knew you didn’t realize what a great tradition Pitt Basketball has.

Yet, it’s not good enough.  After another early round exit this year, it’s still hard to be a Pitt fan. 

Those folks have got to be asking when’s their turn for that magical ride.  As a Red Sox fan, I could tell them to never get up hope.

 But, if they’re true fans, they know that already.