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Monday, April 8, 2013

Banshee's Best: Banshee Blitz

This blog has been around for about eighteen months.  Nonetheless, Banshee Sports is still very much a work in progress.  As I announced in January, I'm committed to having several recurring features on this blog that readers can depend on.  One of the recurring posts is Banshee's Best.  I had such a hard time picking just one topic to focus on that I came up with an idea for a new monthly feature:  The Banshee Blitz.  This column is a test run.  The basic idea of The Banshee Blitz is that I'll hit on a few hot topics.  Not a lot of research and backstory.  Just my thoughts ... rapid fire.

So, here we go ...

Mike Rice and Twitter mob:  If you are reading this blog, then you surely know by now that Mike Rice, the head basketball coach at Rutgers was caught on video tape throwing basketballs at players in practice and screaming homosexual slurs.  When this story jumped from ESPN to CNN, the Twitterverse and the blogosphere lost it's collective mind.  There was a non-stop demand that this coach, who had already been punished with a heavy fine and multi-game suspension, lose his job.  Once Rutgers complied with that demand, the Internet mob turned its attention towards the AD who had not immediately fired Mike Rice.  Although the exact circumstances might be a little hazy, the AD has resigned.  Next in the Twitter and media firing line: the president of the university.  That has yet to be resolved.

Don't misunderstand what I am about to say.  I would never behave the way Mike Rice behaved.  And, I would not function well under a coach who behaved that way.  Do I think Mike Rice should have been fired?  Do I think the AD should have been fired for moving too slowly?  Do I think the president of Rutgers University should be in the unemployment line?  I DO NOT KNOW.  Here is what I do know:  People with Twitter accounts or blogs or a national radio audience really do not know, either.  Being qualified to break down a teams ability to score against a 2-3 zone does not make you qualified to make personnel decisions at a state university.  The general public has no idea what disciplinary processes and rules exist at an institution.  The general public doesn't have any idea what mitigating circumstances might have existed.  Nor do they know the details of the investigation that was conducted or even if an investigation was conducted at all.  In short, the general public only knows what is shown on a 30-second video clip that was edited to fit in a SportsCenter segment.

Again, I am not saying that Mike Rice should not have been fired.  But, I am saying that the Twitterverse and the blogosphere are not the proper forums for making that type of decision.

Brittney Griner to the NBA:  Last week, Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, hinted that he might give Brittney Griner a shot at a roster spot in the NBA.  I don't believe for one moment that Cuban was serious about doing this as anything more than a publicity stunt.  And yet, this somehow sparked people to legitimately debate this on Twitter and on sports talk radio.  That was still just idle chatter.  And then Griner herself chimed in.  Griner responded to Cuban on Twitter by saying: "I would hold my own! Let's do it."  Fine.  Griner's a confident college kid having some fun.  But, a couple days later, Griner followed up that tweet by posting this picture on Instagram:


Okay.  That was the last straw for me.  I'm not sure who photoshopped this image.  But I am sure that Brittney Griner wouldn't "hold her own" in a men's college game, let alone the NBA.  Could Brittney Griner compete with men?  Yes.  But those men would be at a suburban YMCA.  Not the NBA.  Griner is a center who plays in the post with her back to the basket.  She is 6'8" and weighs 208 pounds.  Given optimal circumstances, she can squeak a one-handed dunk over the rim.  Impressive ... for a girl.

So, just for comparison's sake, let's look at a few NBA players.  Who is the first 6'8" player in the NBA that comes to mind?  LeBron James, of course.  Somehow, I don't see Griner getting a lot of shots off against King James, let alone guarding him.  Not fair, you say?  Maybe so.  After all, James is the greatest player in the world.  So, let's look at a few other power forwards.  Serge Ibaka.  Zach Randolph.  Dirk Nowitzki.  Those names ring a bell?  How about Blake Griffin?  Somehow, I don't think that the man who jumped over a car in the process of dunking would be impressed with Griner's hops.  And, if you want to keep Griner at her natural position of center, things don't get any easier.  Who would she be facing down on the blocks?  Dwight Howard.  Tyson Chandler.  Pau Gasol and his brother Marc.  Greg Monroe.  Roy Hibbert.  Joakim Noah.  Brook Lopez.  Need I go on?  Not only is Griner 4 to 6 inches shorter than these guys, but she is slower and has about 24 inches less on her vertical.

Brittney Griner is possibly the most athletic and talented woman to ever play the game of basketball.  But, the idea of putting her on the court with the best male players in the world is ludicrous.  It's also insulting to the greatness she actually possesses as a female player.

Louisville's Luke Hancock comforts Kevin Ware
(Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)
NCAA Basketball is Still Great:  All throughout the this season and this year's NCAA tournament, the narrative that has been rammed down our throats is that the quality of play in men's college basketball is declining.  Well, I am absolutely fed up with hearing about how the quality of college basketball is something that needs to be apologized for.  Like most tautologies, "it is what it is" is kind of meaningless.  But college basketball in 2013 "is what it is," and what what "it is" is still worth cherishing.  Sure.  I agree that it would be nice if the officiating was such that a guard could cut through the lane without risking a mortal wound.  And the current one-and-done NBA rule probably means that no other 5-year old will have an imaginary playmate like the collegiate Patrick Ewing.  But, in just the last few weeks, we got to see a a Protestant Christian school in Central Virginia bounce back from an 0-8 start to earn a ticket to the Big Dance.  We got to see a school that only began playing Division 1 basketball last season advance to the Sweet Sixteen.  And, we got to see a team that was vomiting and crying after seeing 4 inches of a teammate's shin bone sticking out of his skin cut down the nets and celebrate a national championship just eight days later.  You tell me what other sport can bring your those story lines in the space of one month. I'll tell you the answer:  It's none.


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