Weekend Rewind: Big Ten's Court Storming Belittles Tradition-Rich Programs

Jonathan LintnerSenior Analyst IJanuary 18, 2010

Tubby Smith is a great guy and a great coach. Only thing is, this season he doesn’t have that great of a team.


But I guess someone forgot to tell that to Indiana fans, who stormed the court after the Hoosiers’ 71-68 overtime win against Smith’s Minnesota Golden Gophers. Because Indiana has a rich basketball tradition—five NCAA Titles—and while the current program isn’t where most pictured it when head coach Tom Crean took over, that’s no excuse to storm the court in Assembly Hall.


Really, there is no excuse.


And the same goes for Michigan, where students streamed onto the court following the Wolverines’ upset over Connecticut. Like Indiana, Michigan has some of that tradition, too (I’m talking about the 1989 championship—none of that probation stuff in the 1990s).


When Northwestern knocks off No. 6 Purdue—the same Northwestern that's never even known what it's like to play in the NCAA Tournament—let those fans storm the court, as they did this past weekend.


Storming the court isn't frowned upon because of the apparent safety risks; the people who do it know what could happen, and security let it happen at Big 10 Conference games three times in one weekend. It's the connotation carried with a postgame celebration such as Indiana and Michigan celebrated Sunday that should worry the high-paying boosters, season-ticket holders, and even regular-Joe fans.


And anyway, I find Sunday’s situation in the UConn-Michigan matchup just a bit funny. Mostly because the Huskies are one of the most disappointing teams this season and partly because Wolverines fans expected to be a top-15 team along with Connecticut heading into this season.


If Michigan abandons its tradition along with those expectations, consider rushing the court OK.




Upset Bids Over Texas, Kentucky Fall Just Short


For a few seconds, when Auburn had completed a 19-point comeback to tie visiting Kentucky at 60 apiece, the race for college basketball’s clear-cut No. 1 team in the country was thought to be over.


But it was later on Saturday that Texas, in its first week ranked No. 1, trailed Texas A&M in the final minute. At that point, Kentucky appeared to be the nation’s best team.


Another weekend of tight wins for the top teams later, the decision seems just as murky.


However, the point I made last week picked up more steam on Saturday. Texas has better wins than Kentucky, whose victories over North Carolina and Connecticut took a shot when the Tar Heels came up short to Georgia Tech and UConn let Michigan have its way.




Reynolds the sole pulse of one-loss Villanova


Not one Villanova Wildcats player topped 30 minutes played Saturday—not even Scottie Reynolds—against Georgetown, which had three plays on the court for at least 38 minutes. The game came down to the final minutes, but Villanova coach Jay Wright made a statement about his team's staying power and depth with a 10-man rotation.


But Reynolds made a statement to the rest of the Big East Conference, which now knows that when No. 1 isn't hitting his shots, Villanova no longer looks so special.


Reynolds scored 12 of Villanova's first 16 points, pushing his team to an early 15-point lead.


When Reynolds' efficiency was peaking, as it did at the beginning and end of Villanova's tilt with Georgetown, the Wildcats looked like the No. 4 team in the country. When Reynolds when cold, as he also did throughout the middle of the Louisville game last Monday, Villanova was done for.




Worth Mentioning


First...The battle for the regular-season Atlantic-10 crown should prove to be just as good as those of the power-six conferences. Temple shrugged off a drubbing to Kansas to open conference play perfect and Xavier handed Dayton an unexpected defeat at the Cintas Center. The Musketeers and Owls meet this week in Philadelphia to negotiate the title of A-10 frontrunner.


Second...Evan Turner is Ohio State's John Wall. With Turner, the Buckeye's look like a competent squad and play well as a unit regardless of their star's foul troubles or turnovers. Without Turner, Ohio State has looked completely lost. It's a good thing the Buckeyes got him back four weeks early, as they're now on their first two-game winning streak since knocking off Presbyterian and Delaware State in the middle of December.


Third...Much congratulations goes out to coach John Calipari and the University of Kentucky for raising over $1 million this past weekend through their Hoops for Haiti telethon. Donations are still being accepted through the Red Cross






West Virginia has a knack for making 10-point leads vanish in a single minute. The Mountaineers went to overtime with Seton Hall even though they were 10 with a minute to go and nearly upset Syracuse, losing 72-71 after trailing 65-55 with 1:25 to play.


Tennessee officially replaced former player Tyler Smith in a strong hold over Mississippi with Wayne Chism, who played 41 minutes and hit six straight free throws in overtime to ice a Volunteers' win.


Texas Tech used to be ranked—Kansas swears it. But the Jayhawks again received little fanfare over their 89-63 dismantling of the Red Raiders on Saturday.


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