I’m a huge college basketball fan. It’s the only sport that I truly care about, and it has BY FAR the best format for the regular season and post-season for any major sport.
Think about it: Major League Baseball is ungodly long. Teams routinely give players days off when they’re not injured just because there are so many games. Only 8 teams make the playoffs so half the league is playing for nothing before the All-Star break. The NBA and NHL are also too long. Single games mean nothing through the course of the year so it’s not a big deal if a team loses one. And seriously…2 months to get through the playoffs? College football is on the opposite spectrum. If you’re a national title contender and you lose the first game…you’re done. It doesn’t matter if you win every other game by 50 for the rest of the year. There are still going to be two teams that go undefeated and they’re going to play for the championship. And of course the post-season in college football is beyond bad with the BCS and all the random bowl games. The NFL is probably the only other sport that comes close to college basketball. My only problem with the NFL is that the games are only on Sunday/Monday. The rest of the week is just dead.
Now take college basketball. Each team plays about 30-35 games so every game truly matters. So you can’t have a bad streak and lose 4 in a row (which wouldn’t be a big deal in MLB/NBA/NHL) and expect to have a great year, but you know that everyone is going to lose at some point so 1 loss at the beginning of the regular season doesn’t ruin the whole year. You have games almost every day of the week, major upsets where fans rush the floor, parity to the point that anyone can win on a given night, and new superstars emerging every year. Plus, I think everyone can agree that there’s not a more exciting week in sports than the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. The NCAA tournament is without question the best event in sports. No other event can stir up that many different emotions from everyone involved. I seriously get goosebumps every single time I watch the One Shining Moment videos from 2005 and 2009 when my Tar Heels won it all. It won’t do much if you’re not a UNC fan, but try watching the video from when your team wins. If you don’t get a little emotional then you’re probably not a real fan.
Now, on to my second point (which was going to be the original point of this post until I felt compelled to justify my thoughts on college basketball). Tom Izzo is considering taking the head coaching job of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tom has won a national championship with Michigan State, and taken his team to the Final Four in 6 of the last 11 years. Every player that he has recruited that has completed their full eligibility has gotten an opportunity to play in the Final Four. The thing is, MSU wasn’t that good in at least 2 of their Final Four runs – getting there as a 5-seed twice. Izzo was great at getting his team to play it’s best when it counted and became a master of the back-to-back format of the tournament because of his thorough preparation. Plus, he makes 3 million/yr and has an incredibly talented team coming back to play next year. He’s only won once in 6 trips to the Final Four so he has some unfinished business there that I’m sure he’d like to clean up. Oh, and one other thing. Michigan State is known to run nearly a hundred different set plays that Izzo orchestrates. In order to succeed in Izzo’s system his players have to know what their role is on every different set play.
Now, take everything you now know about Tom Izzo and tell me why he thinks going to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers would be a good idea. Ok, if Lebron James stays in Cleveland, than yes Lebron alone makes it a good idea. If that’s the case then I can understand Izzo’s thinking. But Lebron hasn’t given any indication that he wants to stay in Cleveland. Plus, you’d think that Cleveland management would at least consult Lebron on the new coach if he’ll be staying, but clearly they have not.
My question is : Why would Tom Izzo succeed in the NBA? Do you think the 1-on-1, streetball mentality of NBA players is going to fit well with Izzo’s huge list of set plays? Has any other college coach actually done well in the NBA? (Calipari -no, Pitino – no, Donovan-quit before he started) Is Izzo going to be able to mow through the NBA playoffs like he did the NCAA tournament when it’s so drawn out that it gives everyone more than enough time to prepare?
I just see the move as a bad idea for Izzo, a bad move for the Cavs, and a disappointing blow to Michigan State. Nobody is a winner there except Izzo’s bank account, and that’s already doing just fine.
So Tom you have the opportunity to become one of the also-ran college-turned-NBA coaches, or you have the chance to become one of the best college basketball coaches ever. I think it’s an easy choice.