By Jason Wojciechowski on March 13, 2006 at 3:25 AM
I've never been a fan of college sports. My excuse was always that it was too hard to follow the teams because there are so many of them, and no one will ever keep a player longer than four years (and most players aren't stars at the college level for more than two years).
Those things aren't any less true than they used to be, but catching a few games this weekend capping off Championship Week in college basketball has convinced me that this is something I've got to get into. The action was capped off for me by the Duke-Boston College game today, which was absolutely fantastic. JJ Redick was doing his thing, dropping threes from South Carolina, Josh McRoberts busted out in a huge way, Greg Paulous did his scrappy white guy thing and nearly started a riot, Al Skinner coached up a damn storm for BC, and Louis Hinnant, a 7 PPG scorer, had the game of his life, nearly carrying BC to victory with 20 on 7-9 shooting.
There was energy, there were guys diving all around the floor, huge shots, big misses, bad fouls, cool execution, poster-worthy dunks, nutty passes, and a half-court shot that came uncomfortably close at the end of the game.
Bomani Jones said it right on Page 2 this week. College basketball is fun because the players just aren't that good. In the NBA, the players are too smooth, the team defense too good, the offensive plays too crisp, the defensive rebounding too solid, the ball-handling too sure, the passing too on-target. Sure, there's energy. Sure, there are guys going to the floor. But it's different than in college, when every pass carries the possibility of a ball (or player) flying into the stands, when every layup could be blocked because the players just don't protect the ball that well, when every missed shot results in an 8-player scrum under the rim because no one's learned the fine art of boxing out.
And at the same time, if you watch the right teams, you can have your breath taken away by the individual skills of certain players. JJ Redick's 30-foot shooting stroke comes to mind. Adam Morrison doing his best Dirk Nowitzki impersonation. Rudy Gay's smooth all-around game.
I'm not giving up the NBA by any means. My enjoyment for the game may have risen to the level of "love" in the last few years, and the NBA is the best game in town, but I see no reason why I couldn't add the college game to my docket as well.
College football's a whole other story, though, so don't even bother asking me about that.