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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Even NPR Is in the Sack for Davidson

Glad that TMcD is having a nice tournament. But I'm sick and tired, I tell ya, of hearing that "tiny" Davidson is "the smallest school in Div. I."

Shit, people, this ain't Hoosiers. It's not like Davidson recruits its b-ball team from the student body or something. They recruit the same way other Div. I basketball programs do--with scholarships, facilities, etc. This is a university that had the cash to send students to the game last night on its dime.

To be clear, I'm sure that the academic standards are more rigorous than at some Div. I schools, and here I'm looking at Kentucky. (Oh, I said it.) Oh, and Davidson might not provide prospective high school recruits with "willing" co-ed action on their visits to campus. (Or it might--college basketball is almost a completely amoral enterprise. That's what I learned from He Got Game. But I doubt Davidson is Miami or anything.) But this is a Div. I program, regardless of the size of the student body.

I mean, this is a team that includes the son of a NBA player. And, guess what? He's the star of the team. It's not like these are five scrappy kids who started out playing in an intramural team, thought it might be fun to buy uniforms, then they enter this "tournament" thing, and beat Goliath. Oh, hell, it might be and I'm just still angry they beat the Hoyas.


At 11:43 AM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

So wrong.

The fact is, there really are Davids and there really are Goliaths. Look at the Final-4 so far: UNC, UCLA. And Kansas and Memphis are the favorites to take the other two spots. All four #1 seeds are still in the hunt with just 6 teams left. And all of those #1 seeds are large, public universities with huge sports budgets and loooooong track records of b-ball prowess. Only two teams seeded in double digits have EVER made the final four. Don't tell me this is not a stacked deck.

True, Stephen Curry is an NBA kid. But his dad was more a role-player than a star, and no big programs wanted SC, who as a senior was a skinny 5' 11''. Schools like Davidson only get players like that as a matter of recruiting fluke. Big schools in major conferences have huge recruiting advantages: resources, facilities, big crowds, TV deals. Davidson built a new b-ball gym in 1989, a nice facility, but one that betrayed its small-school home: seating was small, and there were multiple courts for student pick-up games at the top of the stands on either side, making the main court a quiet cavern.

Now add the difficulty of academic standards, which means DC is fishing in a smaller pond to begin with. Trying to poach guys from Duke or Stanford is not a realistic scenario, so DC gets the leftovers even here. Finally, to make a rather obvious point, college hoops is dominated by black players, often from urban environs. Attracting the most academically eligible of those kids to a small southern town resembling Mayberry where the college itself is small and has a marginal black population is no easy task. The degree is a good lure, but once again since the school is so small the name "Davidson" doesn't carry the national recognition that its academic reputation might warrant.

This is about as true a David-Goliaths story as you ever get. GMU was a great story too, but even they were a huge public school. Give the Cats their due. The media buzz they're getting this year is a tiny fraction of what any major program has gotten over decades of dominance.

Or maybe you're just jealous 'cause they did our laundry.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Number Three said...

Actually, I think you're right, too. Schools like Davidson really don't belong in Division I. They can't compete with Basketball U. Let them play in a lower division.

At 9:26 PM, Blogger tenaciousmcd said...

Yeah, you're right, Davidson just can't hang with the big boys. They may have beaten Gonzaga, G'town, and Wisconsin, but they got crushed by a whopping two points by Kansas.

Maybe we should just skip the 64-team format and have a four team tourney from the start. While we're at it, let's just give the Yankees the World Series title every year before the season starts.

Without scrappy underdogs, the NCAA tourney would be dull dull dull.


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