Friday, March 14, 2008

Above the fold - Stupidity reigns in the fishwraps

Stupidity reigns in the Detroit newspapers. Today is no exception...

At Mlive, Steve Grinczel makes possibly the dumbest statement I've ever seen in print or on the web.

If Michigan State could guarantee it would win the Big Ten Tournament by agreeing to take a loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament would you take it?

I think if I'm the Spartans I would.

On second thought, I have to say that is the dumbest statement I've ever seen in print or on the web.

Winning a made for TV event, one that doesn't mean much of anything in the big scheme of things (Does anyone remember who won it last season? Or even care?), is more important that a long run in the only tournament anyone with 2 functioning brain cells cares about? If there is someone out there who ranks conference tournament titles over NCAA Sweet 16, Elite 8 or Final Four runs, I've yet to meet them. Well, until now.

Conference tournaments do little more than line the pockets of the big time colleges with cash. Lots and lots of TV network cash. Having a banner in the rafters saying you won a made for TV tournament means jack shit. It doesn't prove you are the best team, just one that is hot at the right time. If anything, winning the regular season title is the true measure of a team, not winning 3 meaningless games when you are already assured a NCAA seeding.

For all the talk of how "important" conference tournaments are, the only one that EVER carried that sort of import was the ACC's. (Grinczel does mention this) Even then, in my mind, giving the conference tournament winner the automatic bid to the NCAA's was, and still is, silly.

Back in the day, some very good regular season champs were kept out of the NCAA's thanks to the ACC's asinine rules. But back then, only 1 team would get in, thus the importance of winning the ACC tournament. Today, the winning the ACC tournament still holds some cache', but not nearly as much as it did 30 years ago.

So to claim winning an overblown Big 10 tournament title should be the Spartans' priority, when Tom Izzo's program is actually measured by their performance in the big dance, is flabbergastingly stupid.

Later in the article, Grinczel tries to back away from his stupidity...somewhat.

winning the BTT gives them a better chance of making a decent run in the NCAAs because it would uncover the resolve they've heretofore demonstrated on precious few occasions.

He plays the overdone "it'll show they have heart" card. Please. I HATE the use of that cliche', as he's essentially saying the Spartans lack heart, they don't have the "grit" (Another overused cliche') to win. It's ridiculous to make such a claim about any person or team from afar, and even more so about 18-21 year old kids.

I have to say it again, as it cannot be reinforced enough. Grinczel's stand was dumbest I've ever seen a writer take in print or on the web.

Not that the Freep's Drew Sharp is far behind Grinzel in hackery, as the hit man takes another swipe at Michigan and the Big 10 today.

Where else but the Big Ten could a team go scoreless for 10 minutes -- and still maintain a double-digit lead?

I'm sure I've seen the Pistons do something similar during their lock down defense days under Larry Brown. Just sayin'.

"It's a sign of progress," Michigan coach John Beilein implored.

It's a sign that there was no discernible difference in the garbage stockpiled at the bottom of the conference standings this season.

I think it's more of a sign, at least when it comes to Michigan, that Tommy Amaker left Beilein with a roster absolutely barren of Big 10 caliber any talent, save for Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims. God forbid Amaker recruit a couple of players who could nail an open jumper.

More than anything, it shows just how badly the university administration allowed the basketball program to atrophy. John Beilein walked into a buzz saw of suck at Michigan, and it's going to take time and patience for him to lead Wolverines basketball to respectability.

But Sharp doesn't take any of that into account, just that Michigan didn't play up to his high standards. (I had to stifle a laugh there. Sharp and high standards? Is that an oxymoron? Or just moronic?)

As bad as they were, Iowa proved far worse.

And that's progress?

In Michigan's case, YES!

The dumbass seems to be forgetting one thing. The Wolverines WON THE GAME! I don't care if it was uglier than watching 40-somethings play a half court game at the Y. They won a game in the Big 10 tournament, something Amaker was rarely able to accomplish. For that matter, you could see the Wolverines improve as the season went on, something Amaker was NEVER able to accomplish.

Sharp also felt the need to give Beilein a timetable for extracting Michigan from the morass...

If Beilein cannot break U-M's more than decade-long NCAA tournament drought within his first three years, then he becomes as much a failure as Amaker.

No one will be as big a failure as Tommy Amaker. No one. But I will admit that Michigan claiming a NCAA berth by 2010 sounds reasonable. Going by Beilein's track record as a head coach, I don't think it's too much to ask.

But it's insulting to compare Beilein, who's done more with less than damn near every coach in America over his career, to Amaker. Amaker has coasted on his Duke and and Coach Kzerfgjerski ties for years. He has major conference programs (Seton Hall and Michigan) handed to him, and did zip with the opportunities.

On the other hand, Beilein had to work his way up from being a high school and community college coach, while making his won name and developing his own system along the way. He's 10x the coach Amaker can ever hope to be. But try telling that to hacks like Sharp and Rob Parker, who were Amaker apologists.

Sharp appears to favor style points in winning, and doesn't think much of the win.

When you've won as infrequently as U-M this season, you accept any victory regardless of its grotesque appearance. But quite frankly, there's little valor in the wretched getting the better of one of their fellow cellar-dwellers.

But isn't a win a win? Even if it's ugly as all Hell? It is in everyone's world but Sharp's. There will be a W in the record books, there won't be any qualifiers attached. You ever see "Ugly W" instead of "W" in the standings? Me neither.

Michigan ended up losing to Wisconsin today, scoring only 34 points, ending their season. Though Sharp may not agree (In my mind, that's a good thing), but despite some of the disappointing losses, for the first time in years, I actually feel better about the Wolverines' future in hoops.

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