Hoop Dreams: Now Comes The Hard Part

Posted On Thursday, January 23, 2014

I’m done. I’ve tried but I just can’t take it anymore. What am I talking about? My bad...I’m talking about Uconn basketball. See, I’ve been a fan of Uconn for the past 15 years. My love for Uconn sparked back in the ’99 Championship game against Duke. That year, Duke was the ish. They hadn’t lost a game. The looked unstoppable. It was to the point they were calling the tourney the “Duke Invitational.” By the way, did I say I HATE Duke? Hate them like I hate root canals. Hate them like I hate the way hip hop looks right now. Hate them like I hate all of the violence going on in my hometown of Philly. Yup…I hate them THAT MUCH! So ya’ll could only imagine how hype I was when Uconn pulled off the underdog victory (I’ve ALWAYS had a thing for the underdog) and won Calhoun his first chip. And since these were the dudes who made sure satan (oh yeah, I think Coach K is satan…it’s no coincidence the name of their team is the Blue Devils) didn’t get to rule the basketball world for the next year, I felt indebted to them, so Calhoun was my guy and Uconn was my squad and I’ve been rocking the blue and white ever since.

I’ve rocked with them through the ’04 chip, in ‘06 when we lost to George Mason in the Final Four (I honestly think this was the loss that hurt the most cause I KNEW we were gonna DESTROY Mason and win our 3rd chip), in 2008 when AJ Price got hurt in the tourney (ANOTHER year I KNEW we were gonna win the chip) and of course that BEAUTIFUL season I simply refer to it as the “Kemba Walker” year where he dropped 130 points in 5 games and we won 11 games in a row to win our 3rd chip. It’s funny cause while I’m writing this it’s crazy seeing the rich basketball history that we’ve got. Which makes it even harder to say…that I just can’t rock with them no mo'.

Now, of course I’m always gonna root for Uconn…hell, I got entirely TOO much Uconn gear to just throw these dudes out the window but I just can’t go all in with them like that. To be honest, I had a feeling this time was coming as soon as Coach Calhoun retired. See, to me college basketball is ALL about the coach in my eyes. Why? Because the coach dictates what kind of kids they recruit and the way they play as a squad. Waaaaay back in the day when I used to watch college hoops as background music, I liked Georgia Tech cause under Bobby Cremins it was point guard u down there with Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury running the show. But after Cremins left, Georgia Tech has NEVER been the same. Even when we (yeah, I still claim Uconn…always will) beat them for the chip in ’04 under Paul Hewitt it was no longer point guard U and THAT’S the ONLY reason why I liked Tech in the first place. Same thing with Arizona. I became a fan of the Wildcats the year they won the chip in ’97 (a #4 ranked team beating ALL of the #1’s…ya’ll already know how I feel about underdog teams) because they became the new point guard U with Bibby, Damon and Salim Stoudamire, Jason Gardner and Mustafa Shakur (who's from the crib) running the point but the caliber of guards in general that have played for the red/white can’t be touched in my eyes by any other school. But I KNEW as soon as Lute took that leave of absence back in ’07 and Kevin O’Neil took over I could see the whole run and gun offense that I LOVED…was out the window because remember, the way the squad plays is a reflection of the head coach. So when Lute flat out retired, I had to fall back from Zona cause all of the reasons I loved them, were now gone. And since I had already been through this kind of breakup, I was worried it was about to be history repeated with Uconn.

I remember asking some of my dudes who are hoops heads, should I just dead Uconn since Ollie took over and everybody told me to hold fast and give dude a chance. And to be honest, I think Ollie did a damn good job last year…but it’s just not the same. Nowadays, it actually hurts to watch Uconn play cause at times we look flat out horrible. While I heard mumblings from a rack of folk that Shabazz Napier is a flat out stud, I think Napier is a good player, AT BEST…but FAR from great. But in this dude’s mind, he honestly thinks he’s Kemba Walker…and he’s SO far from Kemba it’s CRAZY! I don’t know how Kevin Ollie even coaches this kid cause I’m always looking for something to grab and throw at the TV when he takes his dumb ass “I think I’m Tracy McGrady” shots so how Ollie is able to not run out on the court and snuff Napier for some of those shots is beyond me! After about the first 5 games of this year’s season, I just wanted it to be over so Napier could graduate and get the hell outta Storres! Now, some cats are probably saying “but dude is Uconn’s best player” and you’re right, he is. But I’d rather have Boatright running the point getting other players involved playing GOOD basketball even if that means we lose more games but at least I’d be seeing a better basketball product versus seeing Napier jacking up 3’s from damn near half court AND still losing to the likes of Houston and SMU. Hell, if we were still in the old school Big East and not this wack AAC, we’d be getting destroyed, man handled and beat down  by the likes of Pitt and Cuse. But then it hit me last week, it’s not just Napier. It’s also not seeing Calhoun on the sidelines. It’s not seeing a team play Coach Calhoun basketball. Which shouldn’t be a surprise to me cause it’s now Coach Ollie’s team and that’s just another reason I can’t rock with ‘em no more.

Now comes the hard part….who am I gonna root for now? For me, picking a college team is like finding a cool married couple to hangout with. It’s like both husbands have to get along, both wives have to get a long, now the husbands and wives BOTH have to get along together and to top it off, the kids gotta play well together. Now, if you’re not married what I just typed may seem kinda easy but let me tell you, having 3 different kind of folk ALL be able to get along is no easy task and it’s the same with finding a new squad to rock with. First, I gotta like the coach, then I gotta like the kind of players he recruits (I like coach’s who come to the hood to recruit kids), then I gotta like the team’s style of play…so let’s just say it takes A LOT for me to go all in with you. So, now the search process begins. Well, I’ve always been a fan of Nova cause they’re from the crib plus Jay Wright kinda was running a point guard u style up there but for some reason, I can’t go all in with Nova. I’ve always like Georgetown from the Iverson days and since I live in the DMV now that would make sense but again, when I did like G'town that was under old school John Thompson, not John Thompson III and I can’t go all in with that dude on the sidelines. I could rock with Kentucky cause I REALLY like Calipiri but #1, it would be TOO easy to jump on the Kentucky bandwagon and #2, his whole one and done recruitment philosophy makes it hard to REALLY go all in with Kentucky. But then I realized there is one team I’ve always rocked with on the low, and that was the Kansas Jayhawks. I always liked Bill Self and the way his squads play. He recruits from the hood (see, the Morris Twins from the crib, Tyshawn Taylor outta BK and Josh Shelby from the Westside of B’more), I LOVE the college atmosphere of Allen Fieldhouse and Self is young enough that he shouldn’t be retiring anytime soon so I should be good to go with the Jayhawks right? And trust, I know some cats are gonna be like "you just jumping on the Wiggins and Embiid bandwagon but come on...Wiggins hasn't played like the next LeBron yet (and there's a possibility he never will...at least for us) and Embiid is probably gonna be swayz after this season, so there ain't no bandwagon jumping over this way. My ONLY beef with Kansas is they’re an adidas squad and not Nike cause I can’t front, over the last 2 seasons of Uconn hoops, one of the few things I LOVED about Napier was seeing what J’s he was wearing but with everything else the Jayhawks are gonna be giving me as a squad, I guess I gotta go back to ’87 and break out Run’s and D's “Raising Hell” and start blasting “My Adidas!”

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