Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

‘Non Shock-Jocks’ talk: A whole lotta basketball

ASCH:
Despite the fact that the barrelful of fun that is the NHL regular season is approaching its home stretch, we’re going to completely ignore it and talk about basketball this week: we’re gonna talk college basketball (is anyone’s bubble bursting?), we’re gonna talk pro basketball (what was the worst deadline deal?), and even the business of basketball (its business being, apparently, leaving Seattle).   B-Woods, we’ve got some options here: Where do you want to start?

WOODS:
This was perhaps the most exciting NBA trade deadline in recent years, but I’d like to start with the Seattle Sonics.   Commissioner David Stern has already called it “inevitable” that the Sonics will not be in Seattle in the next couple of years.   I have always been a Sonics fan; even when I would go to Vancouver Grizzlies games as a kid, I still considered the Sonics my team. Consequently, there are a number of emotions that get triggered when I think of the Sonics leaving.   Immediately I try to find someone to blame and find multiple possibilities, the first being former owner (and Starbucks CEO) Howard Shultz. Shultz sold the team to a skeezy businessman from Oklahoma City, Clay Bennett, whose only goal was to get the team out of Seattle and to OKC.   Of course, you can also put some blame on Bennet, who “promised” that his original intention was to keep the team in Seattle.   Then there’s current commissioner David Stern, who somehow allows a team with a consistent fan base, years of history, including an NBA finals appearance 12 years ago, and a general manager who is planning for a bright future surrounding soon-to-be rookie of the year Kevin Durant, to leave.   I just feel a little helpless about the whole situation, so let’s hear your bubble teams for college hoops.

ASCH:
I agree that the Supes packing up shop is a tragedy, and there is certainly enough blame to go around: Commissioner Stern and his buddy Bennett lied to us all, and Howard Schultz, a multi-billionaire, isn’t willing to swallow a few million for the hometown team. As a result, it looks like the Sonics will leave the 14th-largest media market in the U.S. for the 30-somethingth.
But, yeah, let’s talk bubble.   We’re both love discussing how deep the PAC-10 is this year and how many of its teams will go dancing: Stanford, UCLA and WSU are all no-doubt-about-it-write-that-check-and-cash-it-now-sure-thing tournament teams.   After that, though, there’s a pack of six pretty evenly-matched squads from which only two or three tournament teams will likely emerge.
Right now I’ve got USC and Arizona State as the fourth and fifth teams coming out of the PAC-10, and Arizona on the bubble as the potential sixth. UW, Oregon and Cal all look like they’re NIT bound (and maybe OSU could get a win against Reed College).   Is that how the PAC-10 looks to you?   And what do you think about two-time defending champ Florida’s chances of making it back to the Big Dance?

WOODS:
I pretty much agree with you on the PAC-10.   The top three teams are locks.   USC should be in on their strength of schedule (lost to Kansas by four and took Memphis to OT) along with a big win against UCLA.   Arizona State looked like they might be out of it after losing five conference games in a row, but bounced back and beat Stanford and have a quality non-conference win against Xavier, so I think they’re in.   For me, and this is where we differ, I see one more team getting in, in this case Arizona.   Arizona took Kansas to overtime and has quality wins against Texas A&M and Illinois, and I think the strength of the PAC-10 as a whole helps them earn a 10-12 seed in the dance.
As for the defending champs, barring a major upset victory against Tennessee on Wednesday, I don’t think they have the résumé to get in.   They played a pretty soft non-conference schedule, with no notable wins and not even any noteworthy losses, unless you count Ohio State, who the Gators lost to by 13.   Other intriguing bubble teams come from the Big East, which is always so tricky to figure out because it’s so big (16 teams?!).   They currently have five teams ranked in the top 25, which makes me think that at least one and maybe two more will get an invite simply from the strength of the conference.   It looks like Pittsburg should be the sixth team in, with a 21-8 record and wins against Georgetown and Duke.   Other than that, your guess is as good as mine, Eli.

ASCH:
The battle for the seventh (and maybe eighth?) tourney bid from the Big East behind Pitt is intense: West Virginia is 9-7 in league play with a big game against Pitt looming; Villanova has recent conference wins over UConn and WVU; and Syracuse has a win at ‘Nova and another over Georgetown: and one of these teams must be left out.
Changing gears one last time, though, I’m ready to call the Shaq deal a bust.   The Suns are 2-4 since the trade and Shaq doesn’t look like he’s integrated into the offense.   Do the Suns even get out of the first round in the West this year?
As a parting shot, congrats to Cornell for winning the Ivy league title and becoming the first team to clinch a spot in the tournament this year.

WOODS:
A ton of NBA teams made some big changes, here’s how I grade them:
Lakers: A+; Spurs: A; Mavericks: C+; Suns: C-; Cavs A-; Hawks B; Nets B+; Bulls C; Sonics B-; Grizzlies F; Heat A-.
And my parting shot goes to Whitman’s Ultimate Frisbee team, who got invited to the prestigious Stanford Invitational this weekend after an impressive performance in Las Vegas last month.   Congrats and good luck, Sweets!

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