Sports department for the student run radio station 90.3 WRST at UW-Oshkosh
While many fans are ecstatic to have witnessed the return of the NBA last night I, on the other hand, have my sights set on a different return date of basketball. That being the return of the college ranks on November 8th. While I am disappointed seeing leaves fall silently and the temperature dwindling, the intensity of college basketball serves as a satisfying replacement. Include the numerous headlines that prelude to the season, the college basketball fan has a lot on their plate.
Let’s start with the commencement of the new conference alignment. With conferences continuing to expand markets as well as revenue, I can say this will not be the last time the fans will have to adjust to new conference foes. Along with the new alignment, comes the dismantling of previous conferences like the Big East, WAC, Missouri Valley, etc. As bitter as I may be about the greed of conference commissioners, I can’t help but get excited about the potential of a few new annual matchups.
Most notably in the ACC which has now staked the claim of becoming the NCAA’s premiere basketball conference. By adding the likes of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame with elite programs such as Duke and North Carolina, they have created a conference loaded with instant NBA talent, Hall of Fame coaches, and programs with rich championship history. To top it all off, Rick Pitino and his defending champion Louisville Cardinals are set to join the ACC in the 2014-2015 season. In an interview back in May, Coach Mike Krzyzewski stated: “I love what’s happening with our conference. We’re going to be a 10-bid conference. We’re going to be the best conference in the history of the game. It’s exciting to be part of that.” While his statement may be slightly ambitious, it gives testament to the high expectations of the new-look ACC. The league is definitely top-heavy, so it will be interesting how the likes of Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia, and NC State will compete with these powers.
Another one of the biggest shake ups is the arrival of the new Big East. The conference previously known for its deep talent looks to form a new identity, which is one that is expected to grow in the coming years. The Big East now consists of Marquette, Georgetown, DePaul, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova, and the newly acquired Butler, Creighton, and Xavier. It may lack the prestige that typically comes with the Big East name, but should have an opportunity to develop in the years to come. I think coach John Thompson III said it best when he says, “The perception has changed, but when you start playing games and winning games, that will change.” The Big East will have to start from the ground up to rebuild that previous glory. As for the remaining members of the old Big East, they hang on to form the newly established American Athletic Conference, or The American. The American, unlike the Big East, competes in the Football Bowl Subdivision and includes programs such as Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Temple, and UCF. Joining them are also Louisville, who move to the ACC next season and Rutgers who is set to join the Big Ten in 2014.
As always with a new season, the nation meets a new crop of talented freshman. These freshman may only grace the game of college basketball for a year before they are free of NCAA restrictions ($$$), but we get to witness their arrival nonetheless. I disagree with forcing these athletes to be students, but that is an argument for a different day. With so much hype surrounding this 2013 recruiting class is it fair to compare them to the NBA draft class of 2003? Of course not. Not even close. However, the talent that may enter next year’s draft has the potential to be something special when it’s all said and done. Here’s a quick look at a few freshman who look to make an immediate impact.
1) Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) – Easily the most highly touted recruit in the 2013 class and possibly in recent years. Wiggins hails from Canada and fans of bottom-level NBA teams are already licking their chops considering Wiggins is already projected to be selected first in next year’s NBA draft. Wiggins will be the star of a new-look Jayhawk roster, but don’t be surprised to hear a lot of Wayne Selden who also joins Wiggins as an incoming freshman.
2) Jabari Parker (Duke) – Once described by Sports Illustrated as the greatest high school basketball player since LeBron James, Jabari Parker enters his freshman season at Duke with ample expectations. He gives the Blue Devils something they haven’t had in years: an athletic player on the wing that can cause havoc on defenses. At 6’8 he has good body control and can knock down shots anywhere in the gym. Will have an immediate role on this year’s Duke team.
3) The recruits brought in by John Calipari: Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, James Young, Dakari Johnson (Kentucky) – Yes, coach Calipari was at it again with his recruiting. Once again bringing in some of the top recruits in the nation. Big man, Julius Randle, has the honor of brining in the most hype. Expect him to constantly be in the talk of the country’s best bigs.
4) Aaron Gordon (Arizona) – Perhaps one of my favorite freshmen entering the season. Gordon posses an impressive résumé winning two California Mr. Basketball awards, MVP of the 2013 McDonald’s All-American Game and was the MVP of the World Championships for USA basketball in the U19 level. The guy has talent and Arizona is a scary team in the Pac-12
5) Noah Vonleh (Indiana) – For a team looking to replace four starters from last season, the 6’9 Vonleh will step into a starting role for an Indiana team. The biggest advertised recruit of the Big Ten is going to be relied upon as Indiana deals with a new-look roster this season.
Excitement looms everywhere this college basketball season, and I’m excited to see it kick off on the 8th.
Tony Bettack, Sports Director 90.3 WRST (@tbettack10)
World of Sports
Fenway Park is sure to be electric tonight as the Red Sox have a chance to clinch a World Series title at home for the 1st time since Babe Ruth was listed on the roster. The Cardinals have different plans in mind. How about this World Series? A wildly entertaining matchup that has seen David Ortiz hit an absurd .733 (11-15) while the rest of the team is currently batting .151 (22-146). Ortiz has half of the Red Sox hits coming into game 6. Unreal. There is just a sense of enjoyment I get when I see big-time players step up in big-time games. Makes me wonder why I’m a Cowboys fan. Anyways, Michael Wacha who is 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA takes the mound. A 22 year-old kid facing elimination on baseball’s biggest stage, I don’t want to see this series end. You have got to believe that is has to go to a game 7, right? I hope so.