Getting the new year started (yeah it’s 3 weeks in, SO WHAT) with The Association Report: First Edition.
While there may not be an NBA team here in St. Louis, the fans here definitely have something to cheer for. Three Missouri collegiate teams are playing some real good basketball.
You can definitely check out the hometown Billikens, who are currently undefeated in Atlantic-10 play and ranked in the Top 25 in the country. The Billikens are trying to prove to not only St. Louis, but to the rest of the country that this team is not a fluke after last season’s great success. A matter of fact, dating back to the 2011-2012 season, the Billikens are an astonishing 71-17 overall with a conference record of 29-7 (as of this blog date), 1 conference championship (also regular season title) and 2 straight NCAA tournament appearances. The play of Jordair Jett and Dwayne Evans indicate that this team could surprise people in the tourney. Definitely no fluke here.
Just a ways down Interstate 70 are the Mizzou Tigers, who currently sitting at 14-3 overall; you can overlook the 2-2 mark in conference play right now because it’s early. To me, it looks like an entirely different Tigers team. This team is led by three transfers in Jordan Clarkson, Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown. The good thing about this team, they can all shoot the rock, and they look at bit bigger than past Missouri teams, especially in the backcourt. My biggest hope is that they can get some in-state recruits. That has been Mizzou’s biggest heel. Many top recruits in the state go on to bigger programs and play. Current NBA players David Lee, Otto Porter and Bradley Beal come to mind about those that were not heavily recruited enough by Mizzou. Send the house to these guys, especially if they fit what’s best for the school. But if it the transfers are what’s getting the job done, use that ploy as well. It really looks like Frank Haith knows what he’s doing, and is the right man for this job.
Not to forget, the Washington University Bears. Yes, that’s right. The Washington University Bears. This Division III powerhouse is 9-0 at home, with an 11-2 record and ranked 7th in the nation. I remember seeing the school on CBS for the Division III National Championship a few years back, apparently those coaches know what it takes to make a champion having won it, twice. Had to show love to these guys as well.
If college isn’t your sport than there are at least four other NBA teams that one fan can cheer for…whether it’s the Bulls, Thunder, Grizzlies or Pacers. Speaking of the Pacers, I had a feeling this team would be successful…but not THIS successful. Indiana currently sits at #1 overall in the NBA with a 32-7 record, with a home mark of 21-1. Of course, their biggest challenge is knocking off the defending champion…the Miami Heat.
Speaking of the Heat, recently LeBron James mentioned about that he’s “upset” about not taking as many shots as Kevin Durant. I have come to dislike LeBron again for his constant flopping (aka LeBroning) and getting away with lots of calls (most superstars get calls anyway). But besides that, his game is fine and he doesn’t need adjustments. Period. This guy can shoot 10-15 times a game and still score 20-30 points a game. The reason? He gets to the stripe. He shoots a lot of free throws and that can definitely add up. Plus, he can do this with ease. With a reliable post game, he can be even deadlier. He can be motivated by what Durant is doing, but he doesn’t need to. That’s the journalist in me and not the fan.