Texas strikes out

Nolan Ryan would have been right had home had he been on his ranch in Texas watching the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

WHIFF. WHIFF. WHIFF. WHIFF. WHIFF.

Texas had five entries in the tournament. By 9 p.m. Central tonight, all five were making plans to return to the the place where everything is bigger, but not always better.

We’ll excuse Texas Southern and Stephen F. Austin. They were going up against the Pac-12, which isn’t the best conference this season, but it is a major conference, one where the basketball budget at Arizona and Utah, the teams which vanquished TSU and SFA, respectively, is far larger than the entire athletic budget at the smaller Texas schools.

The big boys from the big state fared no better.

The losses by Baylor, Texas and SMU reminded us once again that Texas is a FOOTBALL state first and foremost. If there is a second sport, it’s BASEBALL, not basketball. And women’s basketball has been more successful on the national stage than men’s basketball in the Lone Star State, as evidenced by undefeated national title runs by Texas in 1986 and Baylor in 2012.

Texas’ loss is forgivable. Butler is a good team which knows how to win at this time of the year. The Longhorns were too inconsistent to go very far, and they were exposed by the boys from Indianapolis.

SMU lost to a UCLA team the vast majority of experts claimed had no business being in the tournament. Committee 1, “experts” 0. Now the Bruins are heavy favorites to reach the Sweet 16, since they get UAB in the next round.

Baylor. Wow.

Scott Drew must have taken the PhD course from Art Briles in how to blow big leads. A little more than two months after the Bears football team blew a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter of the Cotton Bowl to Michigan State and lost 42-41, the Baylor roundballers lost a 12-point lead in less than two minutes to a less than stellar Georgia State team which scored a whopping 38 points in the Sun Belt Conference tournament championship game. THIRTY EIGHT POINTS in a game with a 35-second shot clock. Villanova and Georgetown went way over that in the last major college game played without a shot clock, the 1985 championship game won by the Wildcats 66-64.

Then again, where Baylor is now is light years from where it was 10 years ago, when it came within a whisker of the NCAA Death Penalty following the cover-up in the murder of Patrick Denehey by teammate Carlton Dotson. Coach Dave Bliss committed egregious violations and also covered up the murder, which led to a 10 year show-cause penalty, essentially blackballing him from coaching at another NCAA school. The Bears were banned from playing non-conference games in 2005-06, the first time such a harsh penalty had ever been handed down.

I don’t think many will care much about college basketball in Texas for much longer. Spring football at the colleges is well underway, and the large high schools will hold their own spring drills in April and May.

About David

I am a sportswriter for a group of weekly newspapers in small towns across northern Kansas. I grew up in New Orleans, went to college at LSU and wandered in the wilderness until Hurricane Katrina finally put me on the path to my current job.

Posted on March 19, 2015, in College Basketball and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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