Basketball is not just a fun game for college kids to play in their free time. It can also teach valuable life lessons to both players and fans. For instance, after I first saw Syracuse guard Eric Devendorf, I learned large, visible tattoos create an indelible first impression. This was an important lesson, as I was on the verge of getting a large basketball inked on my right bicep. Here are a few more lessons gleaned from this college basketball season.
Every New Yorker knows this one, but Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy didn't received the memo. Kennedy was arrested in Cincinnati on Thursday morning for punching a cab driver and calling him "bin Laden" and shouting other racial insults. Kennedy, for his part, vehemently denies the charges, which arose after the cab driver refused to let four people into the back seat because there weren't enough seat belts. The judicial system will decide whether or not Kennedy's guilty, but one thing is for sure, some sort of argument took place between Kennedy and the cabbie, and now the basketball coach is in a very embarrassing position. Don't mess with cab drivers. They're either crazy or innocent, and either way, you lose.
On Thursday night, Tyler Hansbrough became North Carolina's all-time leading scorer, surpassing Phil Ford's 2,290 career point mark. Ford's record had stood unchallenged for 30 years at a school that's churned out some of the best players in the country. So how did Hansbrough do what Michael Jordan, Antawn Jamison and Rashad McCants could not? Very simple, he went to college for four years. Hansbrough could have easily jumped to the NBA last season, but choose to return to Chapel Hill, and now he's made history and will get his degree. So be cool and stay in school.
Last season was a disappointing one for Indiana University in so many ways. Despite starting out 17-1, a recruiting scandal rid the team of coach Kelvin Sampson and the Hoosiers meekly bowed out of both the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments in the first round. Now former star Eric Gordon is blaming drugs for Indiana's poor play. Gordon believes drug use by certain Indiana players caused a rift on the team. "It was the guys that were doing drugs that were separate," Gordon told The Indianapolis Star. College kids and their wacky drugs. When will they learn? Drugs might seem hip, but they don't win you basketball games.
I was in a bar the other day and the Jimmy V speech was on TV with no sound, but I still cried when Valvano said his now-famous words. I cried because it's true. Bad things happen, people screw up, but you can't give up. Neither Gonzaga center Josh Heytvelt nor Notre Dame guard Kyle McAlarney gave up when they made mistakes, and now look at them -- studs, both of them. Heytvelt was caught with marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms and McAlarney was caught with marijuana. They were both suspended from their teams for the season. But while they were down, they weren't out. They both eventually returned to their respective teams and are playing well this season. Heytvelt is averaging 15.7 ppg for the eighth-ranked Bulldogs and McAlarney is dropping 18.6 ppg for the 12th-ranked Fighting Irish.
Loyola (Md.) coach Jimmy Patsos was so intent on shutting down Stephen Curry when his Greyhounds played Davidson that he lost sight of the ultimate goal -- to win the basketball game. Patsos had his players double team Curry for the entire game, holding the All-America guard scoreless, but leaving only three players to guard the other four Wildcats. With a man advantage for the entire game, Davidson blew out Loyola by 30 and Patsos helped put a modern spin on the phrase "Pyrrhic victory."
Gambling has no place in basketball, not even as a joke. Arizona forward Jamelle Horne learned this lesson when he was forced to apologize for making a gambling reference after the Wildcats beat San Diego State 69-56. Horne, who is from the San Diego area, joked in a post-game interview that he and some SDSU players "even had a little wager on the game. So I'll be going out to dinner, and my dinner will be paid for." He would later apologize, claiming that no wager took place. "I understand that sports and gambling do not mix," Horne said. I bet you do.
Villanova coach Jay Wright is widely considered the best-dressed coach in college basketball, and this season it seems that his stylishness has rubbed off on his team's play. The Wildcats are 10-1, having recently beaten two cross-town rivals, St. Joe's and La Salle. When a man dressed in a dapper suit tells you what to do, you do it and you do it well.
And lastly, if there's one lesson to take from college basketball, it's this: Shoot hoops, not guns. Kansas freshman forward Markieff Morris recently discovered the importance of this lesson when he agreed to perform 20 hours of community service for shooting a woman with an air rifle.
Momma, don't let your kids grow up to be point guards. Send all comments to Jacob.Osterhout@gmail.com.