Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Driving The Lane: No Star Power

A couple weeks ago, I went to get some food with my roommates at Late Nite Kitchen. On one of the TVs, there was a basketball game between the University of Texas and West Virginia University. Being a huge Longhorns fan (I’m not really sure why), I naturally started watching. For a good five-minute stretch in the game, I’m pretty sure neither team scored. To be honest, the game was pretty disgusting. Neither team could find the bottom of the net.

This made me think back to the good old days of Texas basketball. This was a time when the current second-greatest basketball player in the world was just starting to gain recognition. Kevin Durant, on his way to becoming the second pick in the 2007 NBA Draft (sorry Trail Blazer fans), was tearing up the college basketball landscape.

I remember a game that year against rival Texas A&M University and its star guard Acie Law. Unfortunately, Law’s NBA career has yet to amount to much, other than two decent years coming off the bench for the Hawks from 2007–09. But at the time, he was an absolute stud for the Aggies. I can safely say that this was the greatest college basketball game I ever watched. Law hit a game-tying 3-pointer over Durant’s out-stretched 7-foot-5 wingspan with just a second left in regulation. Luckily for me, the ‘Horns ended up outlasting the Aggies 98–96 in double overtime.

What made this game so great was the star power on both sides. It was Law versus Durant: Two great players trying to lead their respective schools to victory. Law led all scorers with 33 points. Durant added 30 of his own, along with a ridiculous 16 boards. It was so much fun watching these two young stars trying to one-up each other.

This is what was missing from the game I watched a couple weeks ago: Star power. Neither team had a Durant or a Law, and the game just didn’t have the same excitement.

This is what makes the NBA so great. Despite the league’s many faults, any game is watchable because every team has a star that is exciting to watch (okay, well maybe not the Bobcats). I’ll watch a Wizards/Hornets game just to see John Wall and Anthony Davis. This is what I feel is missing in college basketball this year: Stars.

There’s no Durant. There’s no Stephen Curry. There’s no Kemba Walker. Doug McDermott is a great young player for Creighton University, but he doesn’t have the scoring flare of Jimmer Fredette.

Erick Green of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University leads the nation is scoring at 25.3 points a game. That is the lowest total for a scoring leader in over ten years.

College basketball needs superstars to add intrigue to the sport. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there aren’t very good players in college basketball. But no one has really grabbed the headlines in a way that we’ve seen in past years.

But the season isn’t over yet, and maybe it’ll take the pressure of the March Madness tournament to really bring out a superstar. Maybe it’ll take a first-round upset to bring our attention to small-school stars such as Taylor Coppenrath back in 2005 when his University of Vermont Catamounts upset Syracuse University. Okay, you probably haven’t heard of Coppenrath, but I had to give a shout out to him because I once saw him in person in a small general store in his hometown of West Barnet, Vt.

But we all remember Davidson College’s improbable run in the 2008 tournament, led by the epic shooting of Curry. Writing this column has actually prompted me to watch YouTube videos of Curry’s ridiculous run. This is something that I recommend everyone do because I currently have goose bumps watching him draining three after three.

Well, I certainly do hope that the tournament brings out a star like this, because if not, the tournament will likely fall flat in terms of excitement.

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