While baseball gears up for the playoffs and football is finding it’s stride, we are getting close to the third major sport in the United States to start back, basketball. The NBA preseason has began but unless you care about the NBA pretty hardcore, odds are you will skip the preseason games. At least with NFL preseason you get to see fringe guys going all out to make the team.
Not really sure if that happens in the NBA as much as it is a way for them to practice flopping and begging the officials for a foul if someone looks at them sideways. Hey, if you cannot tell, not a big fan of the NBA like I used to be.
What do I love, though, is college and high school basketball. Last year was a great year for basketball in the area, really. We had a girls team come close to winning a State title, a boys team that nearly made it to State and some excitement around the Buena Vista programs with new head coaches.
And, of course, we have the bigger colleges in the state who are looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament after a down year for the three big ones (Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa, sorry Drake.)
The hoops in Iowa, in my mind, rank among anywhere else in the country. Our D1 colleges may not be blue bloods but they are always entertaining and we have some hidden gem high school players that populate our smaller colleges. I usually try to keep up with what our athletes are doing at the collegiate level regardless of sport.
While I won’t predict every school because it’s a bit too soon in the high school case with the season not getting underway for a month and a half or so, but I will offer some collegiate thoughts.
The Iowa Hawkeyes really underperformed for their talent level last year. They really enjoyed playing offense but defense was a completely optional concept to the ‘Hawks. The Hawkeyes really should have been in the NCAA Tournament, but defense is so important in the game of basketball.
They bring back a handful of key players from last year, in fact, I don’t think they miss anyone of note from last year. If they commit to defense, they should be able to get back to the big dance in March. If not, well, there is always the NIT waiting for them.
Iowa State suffered a rash of injuries last year and only lost one player of note from last year’s down season. Much like Iowa, if they’re able to stay healthy and play some defense, making the tournament is a good hope.
The Cyclones saw their best player test the NBA waters and their best big man go through rehab, but both should excel this season. The two biggest schools in the state being successful is always a good thing for basketball.
Northern Iowa and Drake should be middle of the road this year in the Missouri Valley Conference. Both teams seem to vary quite a bit year by year.
Outside of football, basketball is the ultimate team sport that requires everyone to work together with a common goal in mind. Even in the star centered NBA, the teams that play together even with an All-Star line up every night (Golden State what’s up) play together like a well oiled machine.
You see it in every ESPN 30 for 30 special regarding a team special in basketball or football. The team needs to play together and I think that’s what is so great about basketball. The group of five players on the court working together for that common goal.
The super team concept, regardless of how you or I feel about it, has been proven to work when everyone works together. When they don’t work together, much like the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, it crashes and burns.
I look forward to basketball this year as I do every season. I hope the area high school teams, our colleges and everyone does well this year.