Thursday, February 12, 2009

Daring Columnist Believes Tradition More Important To Winning Than Scoring More Points Than The Other Team

I really shouldn't read anything on MLive before I go to work, because it throws me off all day when I inevitably read something stupid. However, yesterday morning I ended up taking a look at their section on Wolverines Sports, and under the basic articles on the basketball team's loss to MSU was an article by one Howie Beardsley of the Grand Rapids Press. Per our policy of not rewarding anything this stupid with extra page-views, I won't be providing a link.


Promising beginning...

It made no difference Tuesday night which team had the most All-Big Ten performers...

And now you've lost me. This might be some sort of record. While something like "number of All-Big Ten performers" isn't a perfect measure of team quality, it does give you some indication of how good a team is, and being good at basketball almost assuredly helps you win basketball games. It is exceptionally unhelpful to your thesis when the team with more (likely) All-Big Ten performers won the damn game.

The difference in ninth-ranked Michigan State's 54-42 win against a desperate (in terms of a possible NCAA tournament bid) Michigan team came down to tradition, past success and a little bit of basketball mystique.

Congratulations, that is remarkably dumb. You don't get extra points because of the Final Fours you've been to in past years, and "basketball mystique" won't earn you another trip to the foul line. Michigan State won because they have two viable big men and we're playing with a 6'4" power forward. They out-rebounded the Wolverines, played stifling defense, and when Michigan got an open look at a 3 they couldn't knock them down consistently. Not one item on that list has anything to do with program history. But maybe I'm wrong; maybe Tom Izzo agrees with Howie's thesis.

"We did a good job out of our timeouts. We ran good stuff,'' MSU coach Tom Izzo said.

Clearly the man feels that the reason they had success out of timeouts has nothing to do with him being a fantastic basketball coach. The plays came out of thin air, brought into being by the spirits of Mateen Cleaves and Shawn Respert.

Michigan's poor play wasn't so much going against the ninth-rated team in the country as much as it was playing against the tradition of MSU.

This argument is so astonishingly stupid that I question any editor who let it in the paper. This is why your medium is dying, choked off because people have outlets that believe that the players on the floor and the coaches on the sidelines have far more to do with winning than mythical ghosts or "tradition". Do you think that Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims were in any way intimidated by the number of NCAA appearances the MSU program has racked up? Did Delvon Roe grow another inch when he put on that Spartan jersey?

The closest Beardsley could possibly come to a coherent argument would be to argue that past success and tradition helped them get the recruits who actually played the basketball game, but he goes nowhere near that argument. He includes this quote from Delvon Roe because it mentions the T word:

"I'm going to keep working toward it to keep helping this program be a tradition-rich one."

Swish! thinks Beardsley, while I roll my eyes. So the guy mentioned "tradition." Who cares? Winning the game is a method of furthering that tradition, not a result of it. It's not even post hoc, it's pre hoc.

Any argument that tradition or past success or "mystique" has anything to do with winning in college athletics is inherently flawed. Just ask 2007 Notre Dame or 2008 Michigan football, and Kentucky isn't exactly rolling through the SEC these days. Recruiting and coaching are the lifeblood of collegiate sports. Michigan State won because they have a loaded roster of better players, a coach who could use them effectively in a well-designed system, and were a little luckier. End of story.

Finally, Beardsley's headline writer isn't even trying. "Spartans' Tradition Trumps Michigan's Inexperience". Really? This is what you're going to go with? Shouldn't both sides of that headline be something equally valuable, with the latter specific to Michigan? Choose one: Home Court Advantage. System. Grit. FREEEE PIZZZAAAA!!!!

PS: DeShawn Sims was a beast in that losing effort. Too bad the supporting cast couldn't get Michigan the victory.

1 comment:

susieandrew said...

I'm thinking this Beardsley fella spent a lot of time with one David Mayo, if you know what I mean...