The University of Pittsburgh men’s’ basketball squad continues to surprise, even amaze some of the preseason skeptics including, yours truly. Before it is all over, I may have to buy some Dr. Scholl’s foot powder and mix it with a little Pepsi to make a special mouthwash to get the toe jam taste from my mouth. In regard to my preseason prognostications concerning Pitt, I was dead wrong.
With all of the new blood this year I thought, (like a lot of other “band waggoners”) that the “newbies” stepping on the court to compete for the Panthers in 2010 would just be plasma in the water for the flesh eating Big East Conference. But hold up, instead of playing the role of the victim being bitten in the neck at the stroke of midnight by the vampires, the Panthers seem to be the ones jumping out of the coffins at the crack of dusk, seeking new and unsuspecting victims to satisfy their insatiable taste for victory. All of the big boys in the Big East, Syracuse, “G-Town,” UConn and “Nova” the ones that thought they had graduated from knickerbockers to trousers are finding out the hard way that when they enter the “Pete” to compete against the Panthers, maybe the equipment fellows should stash a few Pampers for the young bucks and a couple of Depends for a few of the coaches…just in case.
Pitt won its seventh straight home game against a team ranked in the top five, defeating Villanova 70-65 despite shooting an atrocious 20-57 (.351) from the field as well as 4-12 (.333) from outside the arc. But there is a glaring flaw that the 2010 Pittsburgh squad displays. No team can play up or down according to what they perceive the level of talent that any given opponent on any given day may possess.They cannot be more or less focused depending on who they are playing.
Now let’s get to the ratings system. It is difficult for me to understand how these experts come up with their rankings. Where do these “geniuses” get this stuff from? Pitt is tied for third in the Big East with West Virginia with a 10-4 Big East Conference record. As of the writing of this column, Pitt had an overall record of 21-6, while WVU had a record of 21-5, yet WVU was ranked #8 in the country while the Panthers were pegged at #21. Da math seems a bit shady to me or could it be that their calculators might be in need new batteries? But the ranking could turn out to be a positive because the lower the ranking, the lower the pressure meter. The only negative about that scenario is Pitt might be a 4th or 5th seed for the first round of the NCAA tournament which might not bode well for such a young group of players.
Melanin on Ice
Black mystery month is almost over with but the whining and crying about the lack of representation of Black athletes at the 2010 Winter Olympics is becoming, nauseating and sickening. First and foremost whatever sport that any athlete decides to compete in must always originate from the desire of the heart, not to fulfill some perverted quota or to satisfy the right wing radicalism of some misguided group. On the last go round of his victory American speed skater Shani Davis sped across the finish line to victory winning an Olympic Gold medal in the 1,000-meter speed skating event. Davis is the first skater to win this event twice at the Winter Games. Not the first African-American skater but the first skater, period. “That race depleted me 100 percent,” he said. “I never want to leave anything on the track.” Well if he left anything I’m sure the amount was miniscule at best. “Those last 200, 300 meters were very difficult. I was just trying to carry my speed. I could feel it leaving me. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, just as long as you get across the line as quick as you could.”
What mattered was that Shani Davis pursued excellence not because of his skin color but because of the fire and desire in his heart. Davis had this to say. “When you’re a world champion or an Olympic champion, you get this little thing on your back called a target,” Davis said. “To go out there and win the 1,000 meters twice is truly amazing.”
Why don’t more Russians, Czechs and Germans win the 100 meters, fastest man in the world championships at the summer games more often? Why aren’t more White athletes flying through the air dunking basketballs in the NBA? Why aren’t more European-American athletes catching lofty passes and running “hula option left” sweeps from the backfields of the NFL doing “stinky butt” dances after scoring touchdowns?
We must strive for excellence as human beings in whatever vocations that we choose because as long as we continue to be part of the teams that vocalize and dwell on color then the rest of the world will never silence their vocal chords and will never cease singing songs with melodies of color.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org Bruce can also be heard exclusively on PressPass airing on www.blogtalkradio. Thursdays 6-7PM. Join him and sports columnist John Harris by calling: 347.826.9355.)