Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Billy Packer Douchebag Festival Begins...

...and it's not yet even Selection Sunday.

For those of you who have forgotten, Mr. Packer is the 137 year-old (approximate) curmudgeon who does color commentary on CBS. He's joined by "King of the WASPs" Jim Nantz in what can only be described as a soul-sucking unholy allegiance of hatred, oldness, and bad punnery. You might remember him from such idiotic comments as:

  • "He was just going for the ball...Jim, if anything, that was probably Hansbrough's fault for going after Henderson's elbow with his face ..." - Packer on Herderson's assault and battery of Hansborough (though he did have the decency to point out that "The game is over, scorewise," reminding us gamblers that Duke still had a chance to cover the spread)
  • "I don't see how you let in a George Mason and leave out a Maryland." - Packer on Selection Sunday 2006, lamenting the rejection of a 7-9 ACC team for a mid-major. When not annoying the public at large, Packer does ACC games for local affiliates. Oh, and GMU went to the Final Four.
  • "He's a tough monkey." - Packer describing Allen Iverson, circa 1996.
  • "I never wanted Billy inbounding the ball, because he would try to throw it to himself." - Packer's coach at Wake Forest
And the list goes on today, as Packer takes a shot at the impending inclusion of more mid-majors in this year's tournament (in USA Today):
CBS analyst Billy Packer, who will call his 33rd Final Four, doesn't like what he sees as change in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Now, he says, there will be 50 tournament teams "that can beat any other team on a one-game basis," up from maybe four teams in that category a decade ago. But isn't that more entertaining? Sure, Packer says: "If you're a sports fan, this is far more exciting."

But, Packer says, "If you're a technical nerd, like I'm considered by some people, there are all kinds of flaws." Like the college tournament, he says, having been infected by And1, referring to the shoe sponsor whose tournaments spawned ESPN's TV series. "That's summer-league guys showboating," he says. "It's like the NBA All-Star Game. I call that And1. It's not basketball."

The new rule forcing players to go to college for a year before turning pro has created "a problem much bigger than anybody in position of control is admitting." Players who should go straight from prep games to the pros should just do it, he says.

I'm sorry, but enough is enough. Why in the name of all that is holy does CBS subject us to this never-ending douchebaggery? I know Billy probably knew Dr. James Naismith in college, but the "And 1" game? So what exactly IS basketball, Mr. Packer? It's not as if basketball players started running the fast break and wearing baggy shorts overnight, after all. The obvious response to Packer can't be done any better than it was on Run Up the Score, and I'm not going to try to reinvent the wheel. But there are three other obvious flaws in Packer's idiocy that must be tackled:

First, exactly what is the correlation between the rise of mid-major programs and "And 1" basketball? When you think up-tempo, "showboating" basketball, the names that immediately come to mind are Rock Chalk, Ohio State, UNC (to a ridiculous degree), and (maybe) Arizona. Can anyone name one single mid-major team which "showboats" like any of those teams? If anything, Packer should be praising the mid-majors as the triumph of experience and fundamental basketball over McDonald's All-American recruiting, not trashing it as the cause of all the (non-existent) problems he has with the game today.

Second, and this is almost indisputable, but the immediate jump of top players from prep ball to the pros is exactly the reason the mid-majors are winning. A group of seven upperclassmen, who have played together for 2-3 years, can overcome the five best freshmen in the country on a given night. If those freshmen still played as juniors, the same could not be said. It's not just mid-majors, but senior-laden mid-majors, who are making it into the dance. George Mason and Wichita are perfect examples from last year, and Southern Illinois and Butler are great ones from this year.

Third, what exactly makes a major conference? Is there any discernable difference between the Big East and the Mo Valley, other than tradition? Look at the numbers:
  • There are exactly the same number of state schools in each conference (6), even though the MVC has six fewer members
  • Average enrollment is skewed by South Florida, Rutgers, Cincinatti, and Pitt, but the Big East leads (21,110 vs. 12,476); that number was much closer in the original Big East (17,670 vs. 12,746), as South Florida and Cinci move that number up.
  • Average attendance is tighter (10,585 vs. 9,478). In the interest of fairness, that number has moved slightly closer since the exodus/expansion; South Florida plays in an elementary school gym with 37 seats, though they sell out almost all of the time.
  • The Big East has D-1 football, but barely; eight teams don't play. None of the Valley teams play D-1, but that's reallty only three more basketball-only members than the Big East.
  • The "tradition" of the Big East, ironically, is in schools that weren't, until recently, members of the conference (Louisville and Cincinatti have won the most championshipsand appeared in the most Final Fours; UConn is the only original member to have ever won more than once).
So where's the marked difference in size that entitles the Big East to Packer's praises? The play is probably better (mostly due to the "And 1" recruits at those schools), but, as we all saw last year (and this year - just ask Syracuse/LSU/the entire state of Iowa), not that much better. So what's the basis of this David vs. Goliath thing? Why does Packer lament at-large bids in the Colonial, the Valley, or the WAC when asking for more from the Big East or ACC? (By the way, the ACC is even smaller in average enrollment than the Big East, but at least they have some good football, and nobody can deny the tradition of Tobacco Road.)

The lesson, as always: Billy Packer is a turd sandwich.


Irish Hawk said...

The thing Packer must not understand is while the rule forces Prep Stars to go to college for one year it doesn't limit their time in college at only one year. The best part about the rule is that players who thought they were good enough for the NBA (like Rush did before he went to KU) find out they need much more work in college and go on to play another year or two. This helps the college game AND the prep star develop.

I think after this rule has been in place a couple of years we will find that the number of kids leaving after freshman year is less than the number of kids who used to declare after high school. That is just my guess. After all, there are only so many Durants, Odens, and LeBrons.

Run Up The Score! said...

Don't blame me, I voted for Giant Douche.

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