Archive for NCAA

Wise to Play it Safe?

Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , on September 3, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

Sorry for the delay in getting a new post.  Nate E is currently suffering in New Zealand, and I was temping the wrath of Gustav by spending Labor Day weekend in the Florida panhandle.  So let’s see, what did we miss since our last post? Oh yeah, a lot. 

The wait for football is finally over and the opening weekend didn’t disappoint.  We had our share of upsets, downsets, and Div 1AA teams having the pleasure of being humiliated on national TV.  Gotta love it. 

All of the top 5 teams pretty much demolished their opponents, but the closest of those games was Georgia vs Georgia Southern, with the Bulldogs winning by a “mere” 24 points.  After taking a 38-0 lead, Head Coach Mark Richt pulled his starters, which was a wise move in  my humble opinion.  You don’t want to lose your premier players in a game you already know you’re going to win. As it was they still lost Jeff Owens, which is big.  It was only after the Dawgs started making substitutions that Georgia Southern managed to score 21 points.  But when you look at the box scores at the end of the day, it looks like a number 1 Georgia team had more trouble with their inferior opponent than the other Top 5 teams did.  And that probably factored in why USC leap-frogged them into the number 1 ranking yesterday.

So my question for the day is this: should a team pull their starters in a game they’re assured of winning, or should they keep them in to make the win as convincing as possible?  I think it’s a tough call actually. I’m sure most of the coaches probably did that this weekend. I didn’t get to see most of the games, so I can’t say for sure.  But in Georgia’s case, the final score could have played a role in the change in rankings.  So is it worth it?

I think so.  You don’t want to risk losing the whole season in order to run up the score on a game you’ve already won.  I’m not saying Georgia should still be number 1.  USC is obviously stacked, as are all of the teams in the Top 5.  Any one of them has a strong case for a top ranking.  I’m just saying that when all is said and done, what they need to do to stay in the running for the national championship is beat the many tough teams they’ve got on their schedule, not beat Georgia Southern 50-0. 

And they’ll need their best players to do that.

What’s in a Number?

Posted in 1 with tags , , on July 23, 2008 by nathanjzacharias

I heard on the radio the other day that the University of Texas will retire Kevin Durant’s number during the 2008-2009 season. 

Huh?

I realize Durant practically needed another dorm room just to store all of the awards he won in his first year at Texas.  However, the problem I see with this is that his first year was also his last.  He played one season there.  I’m not questioning his ongoing loyalty to the school or even the impact of his season.  But I believe retiring the jersey of a player who was there for one season is excessive. 

At Duke, you have to play all four years to even be considered to have your number retired.  I realize that Texas is not Duke when it comes to titles and tournament success.  So their definition of impact is going to be different.  But I still agree with Duke’s philosophy – a player must show long term commitment to a school in order to have their number retired. 

Looking on the professional level, the Yankees have the most retired numbers of any Major League Baseball franchise with 15.  At first, that may sound like a lot, but when you think of all the historic players that have played for that franchise, it’s not many. 

In the Braves case, they had several players who had a tremendous impact on the team’s success during the run of 14 straight division titles.  Fred McGriff, David Justice, Ron Gant, Otis Nixon, Deion Sanders, Ryan Klesko, Steve Avery, and Javy Lopez, to name just a few.  But I don’t believe any of them will have their number retired with the team.  I don’t think it’s even a given that Maddux will get the honor, despite having won 194 games with the team. 

Why? Because it’s not about numbers alone.  There are only three who I believe will most assuredly see their number honored: John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Chipper Jones.  Not because of just their stats.  But because of the intangible contributions they have made to the history of the franchise.  To the fans, they’re not just great players that helped start or maintain winning seasons.  There’s a deeper connection there – they are automatically associated with the Braves.  They are the faces of an entire era, not just one great playoff run.  What they have meant to the team apart from numbers will likely never be equalled. 

Durant is a great talent, and he deserves the accolades he received for his season at Texas.  But I don’t believe one terrific season should earn a player one of the greatest honors.  Perhaps I’m being overly harsh, but to me the purpose of retiring a jersey is to recognize someone who meant more to your program than most other players.  To me, I believe a certain amount of dedication through time must be demonstrated.  To me it means he gave just as much to team as the team gave to him.