Do you like the fast-paced and modern brand of basketball that teams like the NBA’s top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks employ?
Apparently, that’s what Stephen A. Smith prefers. The outspoken ESPN host lamented the newly-crowned NCAA champion Virginia Cavaliers as boring because Virginia plays the slowest pace in all of college basketball and wins by grinding their opponents out for 40 minutes rather than running them off the floor.
On both “First Take” and his own radio show, Smith loudly complained about what he perceived to be an “ugly” brand of basketball.
“Unfortunately, I expect a very ugly, low-scoring game that’s going to be in the 50s, maybe barely. I could see Texas Tech winning this somewhere along the lines of 55-51 to win the national title,” Smith noted.
“We’ve got Virginia going up against Texas Tech, which has the potential to be one of the ugliest national championship games we’ve ever seen. Ladies and gentlemen, do you understand that there are some people predicting both teams will score less than 50 points? Do you realize that?” Smith said. “Do you have any idea what awful basketball, way back in archaic times, this has the potential to take us? This has the potential to take us back to Dean Smith and his four corners, when there was no shot clock, when you could spend all day passing the ball and not shooting! This has the potential to be that! I’m prayerful that it won’t be, but it has the potential to be. I’m not looking forward to tonight’s national championship game at all.”
Much to Smith’s chagrin, not only did the Cavaliers win an 85-77 overtime ballgame against Texas Tech to claim the title Monday, they did so by scoring far more than 50 points.
Four times this season, Virginia scored 57 points or less in an entire game, including a Sweet 16 matchup against Oregon.
All four times, Virginia won, and they even had a game against Wisconsin (a 53-46 win on November 23) where the two teams on the floor didn’t even combine for 100 points.
In fact, the 85 points Virginia scored in the championship game was their second-highest scoring outing of the whole year, eclipsed only by a Cavaliers 100-64 victory over Marshall on New Year’s Eve.
If you like fast-paced basketball with lots of scoring, as Stephen A. Smith seems to, you could see how Virginia would be considered the most boring team in basketball.
And you know who doesn’t care a lick whether anyone likes it because they just won the national championship? You guessed it. The Virginia Cavaliers.
Virginia junior Ty Jerome told Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples, “I just feel so bad for Stephen A. Smith. He said he hated watching us. And he had to watch us every single round of the tournament. I feel so bad for him. It must have been so hard for him.”
Jerome, talking about the change in mood between the crushing disappointment of his sophomore season’s end and the pure elation of his junior year’s outcome, had more to say to SI.
“Forget last year, this is everything you dream of since you’re a little kid,” Jerome said after the win. “I’m not even thinking about UMBC right now. I’m just thinking this is a dream come true, and it’s even more than that because you never even imagine you’ll be able to spend a year with people you actually love, your teammates and your coaches. Not a lot of people get along like we do, so to share this moment with them is unbelievable.”
Virginia obviously doesn’t care if their style is dull. They care if, whether it’s 85-77 or 1 to nothing, they have more points than the other team at the end of the game.
Despite Smith’s incessant whining, the Cavaliers aren’t going anywhere. They’re early favorites to win the title in 2020 as well.
Virginia doesn’t care if you or Stephen A. Smith think they’re boring. Go watch the Milwaukee Bucks if you want bowling scores in basketball games. The Cavaliers care only if they win.
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