The Hype Machine: Believe it or not?
Originally Published: November 18, 2011By Myron Medcalf | ESPN.com
Well, that didn't take long.Just days after UCLA's presumed resurgence was set to begin, the Bruins' bandwagon drove into a ditch. Vanderbilt, Pitt and West Virginia were victimized by a gang of mid-majors playing for keeps. And conversations about Coach K's status as the "greatest ever" commenced after win No. 903. Although the season is just over a week old, the Hype Machine is revved up:
• Vandy and Pitt losing to smaller schools prove that they were overrated in the preseason
AP Photo/Mark HumphreyIs it fair to call the preseason No. 7 Commodores overrated after just one loss?
DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE: Pittsburgh (No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' preseason poll) and Vanderbilt (No. 7) earned their lofty preseason rankings. Vandy boasts a roster with three NBA prospects (Festus Ezeli, Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins) and all five starters from last season are back. For Pitt, Ashton Gibbs, a Big East player of the year candidate who returned for his senior season, joins several role players from last season and freshman Khem Birch, a McDonald's All-American, on a Panthers team that was viewed as one of Jamie Dixon's most talented squads before the season started. There just weren't many reasons to keep either squad out of the top 10, despite their early exits from last season's NCAA tournament. They brought back experience and star power, a rarity in the upper echelon of the college basketball landscape. You can't knock voters for where they ranked them before the season started. • For UCLA, things will get worse before they get better
BELIEVE THE HYPE: I talked to Middle Tennessee State coach Kermit Davis following his team's 20-point win over the Bruins on Tuesday -- UCLA's second consecutive double-digit loss (UCLA lost to Loyola Marymount in the season opener). As he prepared for the game, Davis saw the Bruins' weaknesses where others saw strengths. UCLA boasts one of the biggest frontcourts in America with Joshua Smith, David and Travis Wear, Anthony Stover and Reeves Nelson. But that size left the Bruins vulnerable on defense. They struggled to contain MTSU's perimeter shooting. The Blue Raiders made their first nine 3s. And they weren't fast enough to stick with Middle Tennessee in transition. "UCLA is not a team, with their size, that's going to be able to press you late," Davis said. "UCLA is really, really big. We've got some really athletic 4s and 5s. We thought that we could make UCLA chase our ball screen action." The Bruins are in a guard-heavy league. The Pac-12's contenders -- Arizona, Washington and Cal -- are led by talented backcourts. So it looks like UCLA will encounter a variety of mismatches in league play. Their numbers are embarrassing. The Bruins are shooting 17 percent from the 3-point the line and 39 percent from the field. The Reeves Nelson drama hasn't helped. And with pending matchups in the brutal Maui Invitational, along with Texas coming to town, UCLA might hit a few more potholes before the start of Pac-12 play. • Mike Krzyzewski is the greatest coach of all-time
BELIEVE THE HYPE: It's not just 903 (wins, No. 1 all-time). Or 11 (Final Four appearances). It's not even four (NCAA titles).
The key number is 32. That's how many seasons Krzyzewski has been the head coach at Duke. In 32 years, the game has endured multiple evolutions with new rules, changes in recruiting and the introduction of the one-and-done era. And he's weathered all of them. He won his first title in 1991. He won his most recent one in 2010. If program allegiances were stripped from the psyche for a moment, most folks connected to the game would acknowledge Coach K's status as the greatest men's college basketball coach of all time. He has the numbers, consistency and durability to warrant that crown. His mentor, Bobby Knight, and other legends, such as North Carolina's Dean Smith and UCLA's John Wooden, are in the small pool of coaches in consideration for that title. Even some of his contemporaries who are still coaching -- Roy Williams, Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim among them -- belong in the conversation. And young leaders like Brad Stevens and Jamie Dixon might catch him one day. But if success is the main criteria, then Coach K deserves the "greatest of all time" tag. And not just because of his most recent accomplishment. • The NCAA should ban on-court decals
Lance King/Getty ImagesMike Krzyzewski has the most wins of any men's college coach. But is he the best ever?
BELIEVE THE HYPE: Tom Izzo was livid when freshman Branden Dawson injured his knee after slipping on a decal during the Carrier Classic. Dawson wasn't seriously injured, but he could have been. Why wait until a player suffers a severe injury before doing something about it? There has to be another way to display the names and logos of the companies paying for the exposure. And the NCAA has to find that solution now. I suggest a complete ban. Programs pay men and women to wipe up wet spots so players avoid spills. They pay trainers, too. They want to prevent injuries. So let's get rid of these logos that incite them. They're not worth it. • The mid-majors that pulled off upsets should be nationally ranked
BELIEVE THE HYPE: Cleveland State traveled to the home floor of the seventh-ranked program in America on Sunday. But its Anderson Silva-like beatdown of Vanderbilt didn't sway enough voters to put the Vikings in the latest national polls. And that's a shame. And it'll be a shame if Long Beach State fails to crack the top 25, too, following its victory at No. 9 Pitt on Wednesday (assuming the 49ers get past San Diego State on Saturday). The two teams beat top-10 squads on the road. At this juncture, they deserve credit for the victories and the national ranking that will add further validation to those wins.
Myron Medcalf covers college basketball for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MedcalfbyESPN
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