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Hoopaholics Gazette: Looking Back/ Looking Ahead

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Oh my, 2021 is so close now, I can almost smell the fresh air.

Of course, the new year won’t really begin until the morning of January 20, but just the psychological relief of the calendar flipping at midnight tonight is welcome.

As Seger said, turn the page.

* * * * *

We’ve all got our own this-couldn’t-have-happened-in-any-other annum moment. Here’s mine when it comes to hoops.

I’ve mentioned that Wildcat Willie is the only ardent Big Blue supporter among my coterie of close hoops crazed pals. We all need at least one, right? He’s the fellow I’ve referenced regarding the Rex Chapman game. How, flush with victory, he turned into and a bulging eyeball, projectile spitting, venom spewing Ralph Steadman caricature.

Such a gracious winner!!!

He was among us in our email thread, after the Cards escape over Arch Rival last Saturday.

During which exchange, he revealed that he found himself rooting for the team in white.

Such was the dumbfounding nature of this admission, Dough inquired if he’d suffered some sort of brain trauma, suggesting an immediate call to EMS, and a trip to ER for an MRI.

It might have been Coach Cal showing up in an untuckit. It might have been WW’s dislike for the one and done protocols in place in the Bluegrass. ???

I asked if he intended to continue the journey on the sunny side of the street?

He demurred.

* * * * *

One question before I share some thoughts about this fitfully evolving college basketball season.

So pleased am I that there are actually hoops encounters to watch, I have been gorging myself, and haven’t really paid attention to the end of the football season.

I must pose this query. Is there a CFP this year?

I checked all the sports sites. Nothing about if and when schools are playing? Which four teams made the cut?

ESPN, where one can usually watch the playdowns, usually heralds the event. But, as much as I’ve tuned in to the World Wide Leader, nuttin’.

Have seen neither a promo or commercial. Nor a mention during talk shows.

Odd?

Help me out in the Comments section, if you have any info.

No hoops games of consequence on New Year’s Day.

* * * * *

Of course, the basketball wags, contemplating the season so far have been extolling the virtues of Gonzaga. A team, even in these early stages of the season, proving it might have a legit chance of keeping Quinn Buckner’s bottle of champagne corked.

They scored 98 — Ninety Eight! — on UVa, beating the Cavaliers by 23. On top of Ws over Kansas, West Virginia, Auburn, and Iowa.

My pal, Mr. Bunny, remains a skeptic.

Not I. They might not win the natty, but they sure look like the team to beat right now.

Let’s get that Baylor battle rescheduled. Gonzaga’s league tilts will be walkovers.

* * * * *

Too many in the hoops universe are spending too much time, wringing their hands over the mediocrity, abject horrid performances of perennials Kentucky, Michigan State, and, to be oh so sure, Duke.

While, for the most part, ignoring some fascinating early season successes.

Like Rutgers. Which is 7-1, and knotted for second at 3-1 in the B10, easily this season’s toughest and deepest league. Ron Harper Jr. is a BAD baller. My favorite Scarlet Knight is all-over-the-hardwood Paul Mulcahy from Bayonne.

Now, if he’d just go Slick Watts with that headband, and wear it a jaunty angle. But, ya know, he’s a blue collar, do the dirty work guy, so that ain’t gonna happen.

Brad Brownell might finally have raised Clemson to the next level. The Tigers are 7-1 and kept Florida State measured the whole way in their last outing.

Georgia Tech is but 5-3, but worthy of mention. If only because they’re one of the squads that have “upset” the Wildcats. In their victory over the Tar Heels the other evening, they played with confidence and aplomb.

I’d forgotten about that Jose Alvarado kid. Didn’t he run circles around the Cards once?

L’il Ricky may have his best team at Minnesota. 9-1, the only L to tough Illinois.

What those three outfits have in common, other than just really playing well so far, are big men, who can dominate underneath in different ways.

Northwestern may also be Dance worthy. Always a story.

I haven’t seen Tennessee play. But they haven’t lost, and the Vols defensive numbers are boffo. #2 in defensive efficiency according to stats guru Ken Pomeroy, behind only Texas Tech.

* * * * *

It’s going to be a great day, when we don’t have to make talk of how strong is the commentary of women doing men’s games. But we’re not quite there yet.

Doris Burke is not alone.

So, I’m going to mention two, who have caught my attention — again — for their incisive, knowing commentary this season.

Debbie Antonelli.

Lisa Byington.

The former doing color, the latter, as a sideline reporter, but really good, informed, and no nonsense, calling play by play.

Love that we’re hoopin’ it up.

— c d kaplan