Friday, March 28, 2008

Sweet 16 Villanova: Where's All the Love?

Villanova University, who defied the odds this year to make the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, faces off tonite with the number one seed in their bracket, the storied Kansas Jay Hawks.

In the days since last weekends games, I've heard some talk on the radio and have seen some internet chatter featuring some significant scheudenfreude towards the Wildcats coming from those in the St. Joe's community and vice versa.

Now, I love me some scheudenfreude. Nothing makes me happier than when the Lakers or the Celtics have a losing season. I hate all of the NFC East teams. I almost hate Mets fans as much as I hate the actual Mets themselves (smarmy fucks). The Rangers, Devils, Isles, and Pens? Hate'em. This sort of hatred is part and parcel to being a Philly fan and, on some level, tied to geography and history.

But rooting AGAINST another Big 5 school just because your favorite Big 5 school is out of the NCAA tournament? Don't get it. At least, not anymore.

And it's not like I don't have a little credibility here. Take the St. Joe's-Villanova rivalry. I did go to St. Joe's (before transferring elsewhere), so I definitely get the rivalry. I've been to SJU/Villanova games, albeit this was back before St. Joe's had a national reputation (during the end of the Jimmy Boyle era). When I went to the games, Villanova was about 3 years removed from their NCAA title and Rollie Massimino was busily trying to extract his team from it's Big 5 city series obligations so the Villanova program could go "big time" with the context of the Big East conference.

I remember hating Villanova and it's students at that time because, by eschewing the Big 5 in favor of Big East play, they were pretty much telling the Big 5 they were too good for City Series play anymore. By the way, for background purposes, I believe the Big 5 is probably the coolest thing in all of college sports. It's an interconference super-conference based on regional rivalries. If you can think of something like that in all of Division I college sports, please bring it to my attention.

So with that information in mind, you can see that yes, at one time, Villanova was well-worthy of true scheudenfreude status from St. Joe's, Temple, LaSalle, and Penn folks (yes, you too, Drexel). Villanova was telling all of us they were too good for us.

Well, not anymore. Especially since Jay Wright took over Villanova.

Jay Wright has stood by the Big 5 affiliation pretty much since he took over the program. Not to the extent that Phil Martelli does, by having St. Joes' Big 5 home games at the Palestra, but he's done a magnificent job of putting more emphasis back on City Series play. He's a Council Rock High kid, so Wright definitely understands the importance of the Philadelphia college basketball scene and the Big 5.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not asking you to go out and buy Villanova gear or to memorize the Villanova fight song (which, if you know the words, is annoyingly catchy....check it out here).

All I'm asking is that you don't openly root for Kansas out of Big 5 scheudenfreude and to root for Villanova in a detached, dignified way.

That is, unless, you have Kansas in your bracket pools.

Newsflash! Bobby Knight is a Dick!

Speaking of college basketball coaches, 950 WPEN had Bobby Knight on a couple of days ago to talk about some of the Sweet 16 games this weekend. Jack McCafferey, the longtime Delco writer, was sitting in for Jody Mac and attempted to conduct the interview with a man, who, it seemed like couldn't be bothered to talk to a lowly radio guy. The interview itself was a complete train wreck; Knight gave Jack nothing during the interview and eventually, abruptly, cut the interview off.

Now, Bobby Knight may have been a great basketball coach, but his dealings with McCafferey in this interview illustrates my biggest problem with Knight. Bobby Knight is incapable of seperating how he deals with his kids versus how he deals with his peers. He treats both other adults and his kids the same way; like shit. And I never really had a problem with how he treated his players. That to me was always a case of "buyer beware" knew that Knight was medieval in his tactics with his players, so if you went there and didn't like how Knight did things, well, you got no sympathy from me.

But adults that needed to deal with Knight on a daily basis were subjected to the same condescending bullshit that he gives the teenagers he instructs on the basketball court and no one should have to deal with someone like that in a professional setting.

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