Random Rumblings - 4/5/13

I can't remember a Final Four week quite like this. Normally we spend the entire week breaking down the games and learning the stories of the players, or if you follow the sport hearing the same stories you've heard all year be told all over again. This week the talk about the games had been at a minimum thanks to two bombshell stories in college hoops.

Mike Rice out at Rutgers

The video of now former Rutgers coach Mike Rice throwing basketballs at his players and verbally abusing them is horrifying on many levels. Let's strip away the context for a moment. What on earth possesses you to think that's an acceptable way to treat another human being? Sports are emotional and when the testosterone gets flowing, there's no limit to stupidity however that's no excuse for how he acted. Add back in the context that a college coach should be a leader of young men and a positive influence and it becomes more disgusting.

A name that's not being brought up in this situation is Tyler Clementi. "Who?" you ask. Clementi was the gay Rutgers student who committed suicide after being bullied. This was a chance for Rutgers to prove they're serious about anti-bullying and anti-homophobic words and actions and they screwed the pooch royally by not firing Rice immediately the first time around. The fact that it took for the video becoming public for Rice to lose his job more than justifies everyone involved in that initial decision being shown the door with him.

For more reaction on the Rice situation here's CitrusTV's Kevin Barry and Chris Lewis from Atlanta:

Pac-12 Officiating

The other controversy is over Pac-12 supervisor of officials Ed Rush making comments that potentially changed Arizona's season. Rush told officials that if they T'd up Wildcats coach Sean Miller, they'd be rewarded. He said he was joking. Many in the room said they didn't think he was. What Rush doesn't seem to understand is that perception is reality and there's no doubt his words effected the officials on the court who must stay in his good graces to get the best games. By many accounts Rush is a bully. Also worth noting:

Rush resigned but I don't think this story is over yet.

The Injury

Everyone now knows who Kevin Ware is, the Louisville guard suffered a gruesome broken leg against Duke. A few things.

1) The replay shouldn't be shown on television ever. There's zero reason to show it. I'm one of those people who gets queazy and squeamish with injuries like that and I saw it live. I was petrified of going on the internet all week for fear someone would post it. There's no reason to show it at all. If someone wants to see it for whatever reason they can find it online. Simply saying "his leg snapped" is enough for the story.

2) For as bad as this injury looked, it's actually "not that bad" when you look at the long term prognosis. Easy for me to say. Doctors say Ware's injury (a compound fracture) should heal completely somewhere between 6 months and a year. Since it was a clean break (actually breaks), they stick a rod in his leg and reset the bone. It heals back and he rehabs and he goes. There's no lingering effects unlike when you're talking about ligaments and such in the joints.

3) Louisville is making shirts for this weekend at the players request to honor Ware. They are selling them. This is making a lot of people mad. I'm not one of them. The university waived all royalties which I actually think was too much. Louisville is paying Ware's medical bills so if they make a little coin off the injury then fine. Adidas is making the shirts so they deserve to get their cut just like any other shirt. In fact this isn't unprecedented territory as similar campaigns have been done for Adidas pro athletes Derrick Rose and Robert Griffin III. The only B.S. part of this to me is that Ware won't make anything and can't thanks to the NCAA. If I was a Cardinal fan, I'd want to buy this shirt so I have zero problem with its existence. It's just a shame that Ware won't see a cut of it directly.

4) By Louisville waiving the royalty, they are acknowledging the shirt is in honor of Ware. This likely will show up in the O'Bannon vs NCAA lawsuit about the NCAA benefitting of using player likenesses to make money. It should. Amateurism is a sham. The system is dying. Hopefully it kicks the bucket soon.

5) For more on how Louisville has handled the Ware injury, here's Kevin Barry in Atlanta:

Can we just play ball?

Based on all of what's above, you'd think this would be about all the superflous crap that's happened this week and has distracted and detracted from the games. It's not. It's about my experience at the Thunder/Spurs game Thursday night.

From the opening tap to the final buzzer, with the exception of free throws, there was noise in that arena. I'm not talking about the tremendous fans who love their team with a fierce loyalty like few fanbases in the NBA. No, I'm talking about the constant sound effects, manufactured cheers and music that were literally non-stop during the game. It was almost unbearable. You know what makes the "de-fense" chant cool? When it happens organically. When the home team needs a big stop and the crowd unites as one to root on their team. You know when it's not cool? Every single possession.

I don't know who decided in the course of NBA history that a giving a soundboard to someone and saying "if this isn't playing sound, you're fired" was a good idea, but that person isn't my favorite. You know what sounds I want to hear at a basketball game? The ball. Sneakers. Players. Coaches. Fans. That's about it. Notice how referees are not included.

Sunday night is ladies night

I've told you all year how great the UConn vs Notre Dame rivalry is and they play again for a fourth time in the Final Four Sunday night. This is your final reminder to watch it. 8:30 est on ESPN.