Sunday, March 6, 2011

Julius Erving

There is a reason for why I haven't written in almost a month. It's not that there hasn't been lots to write about, because there has been. (Quick review: Carmelo Anthony goes to the Knicks, Blake Griffin dunks over a car, Trevor Bayne wins Daytona 500, baseball is in full swing, no NFL lockout....yet, tOSU wins Big Ten). I had plenty of choices. No, the reason I haven't written is because, after my last post, I told myself I would go out on a limb and write about something other than college basketball. Obviously, I've had plenty to chose from. I couldn't do it. I can't write an (interesting) post about NBA trades or NFL drama, my post on the Daytona would have been something along the lines of, "He turned left faster than everyone else", and I can't force myself to watch a full game of baseball; I prefer the ESPN highlights. So I've finally given in and have resigned myself to writing another post on college basketball. This could be a very dull blog after March. I'm not going to write about tOSU winning, though. There's someone far more controversial and interesting out there right now and his name is Brandon Davies.

A little backstory for anyone who doesn't already know where this is going. Brandon Davies was, until recently, the sophomore forward for the Brigham Young Cougars men's basketball team. He was the leading rebounder, averaging 6.2 per game, and the team's third highest scorer, with 11.1 ppg. At the beginning of the season, BYU caught the media's attention because of their senior guard, Jimmer Fredette, who averages 27.9 points a game and shoots 40% from beyond the arc. By playing (and winning) a decent non-conference schedule and beating then #6 (now #4) San Diego State on January 26th, BYU ended the month of February 27-2, 13-1 in the Mountain West, and ranked #3 in the polls, poised for a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Then Brandon Davies was suspended for the remainder of the season for breaking the Honor Code. He had sex with his girlfriend.

BYU is a Mormon school with a strict Honor Code. When you agree to attend BYU, you agree to that Honor Code, which includes promising to "live a virtuous and chaste life". He didn't. After his suspension, the Cougars lost to New Mexico for the second time this season and then beat Wyoming. They are still ranked #3 and while the Cougars can definitely still make a run in the tournament, this is definitely not a small challenge to overcome. Davies has the ability to score anywhere from 6 to 20 points a game, he started 24 of 27 games, he's had two double-doubles this season, and BYU was already short-handed after an injury to Chris Collinsworth earlier this season. Davies was the main player for Fredette and the team's second highest scorer, Jackson Emery, to feed to, as well as the main distraction that freed up said players on the outside. This will a be a huge hurdle for a team that fell in the 2nd round of the tournament last year and, despite 24 tournament appearances, has never reached the Final Four.

This is where the controversy comes in. College students have sex. College sports players have sex. College sports players do things much worse than have consensual sex with their significant others and are not kicked off their sports teams. Case in point: Davies' girlfriend is a volleyball player for Arizona State and she still plays, even though she slept with her boyfriend. A recent study done by CBS and Sports Illustrated revealed that of the 2,837 players that made up the 2010 pre-season top 25 football polls, 7% had criminal records, including actual sex offenses. (Here's a link to the results of the study, if you're interested.) Players are paid, breaking NCAA rules, and are forgiven and allowed to continue playing (I really can't go many posts without mentioning Cam Newton). So should Brandon Davies, who did nothing illegal or dangerous, get suspended, when so many others commit worse crimes and get away with it?

The answer: yes. With all the aforementioned scandals and lack of discipline in college sports right now, BYU should be praised for their ruling. Brandon Davies agreed to that Honor Code. If he didn't want to follow it, he could have attended any other school in the nation. But he chose BYU. And by choosing BYU, he chose to not have sex. Although that might not appear to be a huge misdemeanor when compared to what other student athletes get away with, he's breaking the rules nonetheless. And while other schools allow their players to get away with the crimes without punishment in order to keep their chances of success alive, the BYU administration upheld their values, jeopardizing one of the best seasons in school history. They're setting an example. They're sticking to their morals. Kudos to them.

What's even better? After their victory over Wyoming on the 5th, securing them the Mountain West title, they allowed Davies onto the floor to cut a piece of the net for himself. Because he is just a kid. And, compared to a lot of other kids out there, he's a really good kid who deserves a second chance. One question left: how the hell did the school find out?

Today's post is in honor of number 6, Julius Erving. He was born on February 22, 1950 (my birthday, just 43 years early), played basketball for Massachusetts Amherst and was selected as the 12th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. He played in the NBA for 17 years and is considered one of the best dunkers of all time. Recently, there has been some discussion about switching the NBA's logo depicting Jerry West to feature an Erving dunk, but it doesn't seem likely to happen. He was nicknamed "Dr. J", which influenced the nicknames of both Boston Celtics' Glenn "Doc" Rivers (he had a poster of Erving in his Marquette dorm room) and rapper Dr. Dre and the real name of Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers.

Here's something not to watch: The ESPN documentary on the scUM's "Fab Five". For those of you who don't know, the "Fab Five" was the nickname for five players in Michigan's 1991 recruiting class (Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson). The five supposedly revolutionized the game of basketball. They never won a championship, though they came close and might have if Chris Webber hadn't called a timeout against UNC in 1993 when they had none remaining, resulting in a technical foul. What they did make popular was trash talking, shaved heads, baggy shorts, black shoes, and high black socks. More often than not, they're associated with the University of Michigan basketball scandal, where scUM booster Ed Martin gave Chris Webber roughly $280,000 in a span of five years. Three other players not from the Fab Five were involved, as was the coach, Steve Fisher (currently the coach of San Diego State. Michigan fired him). The University of Michigan ended up vacating every game in the 1992-93 season as well as 1995-96 through 1997-98, which included the 1992 and 1993 Final Fours, the 1997 NIT title, and the 1998 Big Ten Championship. I'm not sure what exactly the documentary is going to focus on. Yay for cheating!

Live long and prosper,
The Sports Nerd

1 comment:

  1. Erin,

    Great commentary as always. Something other than college basketball that I find interesting to talk about this time of year is the NFL draft. It always amazes me how many late round picks end up being great professionally and how many first round and even first overall picks end up being complete flops. People have always talked about the NFL and the NCAA as being different types of football, but with the exception of a few penalty technicalities and the fact that the option and more unorthodox offensive plays are usually useless against the faster, more disciplined defenses (except when the Steelers used it against the Packers in the Super Bowl :/), I have a tough time seeing exactly how this works. Is it simply that players mature at different times in their lives? I don't quite get it.