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After watching the CBS Selection
Sunday telecast, I turned to ESPN's 30 for 30 documentary, Requiem for the Big East, and took an
enlightening journey down memory lane.During the show I was able to reminisce my teenage years when college
basketball was in its prime and 4 year letterman like Patrick Ewing, Chris
Mullin and Rony Seikaly were cult heroes. The stars stayed in school at least
three years and you knew if your favorite team had a phenomenal freshman, your
team was going to be good for the next three years!
Now elite programs scour prep schools for the next '1 and done' player that will keep them
relative and competitive.Every summer
the competition becomes who can deliver the top recruiting class, which all but
guarantees the coaching staff two extra years on their contracts.
Since the Fab Five
of Michigan, only Kentucky has been able to develop a championship cohort of
dominant freshmen and have created a program standard that has been elusive to
duplicate in subsequent seasons.
The dependency on freshmen by top programs who normally go
through a steep learning curve to adjust to the pace of men's college
basketball, have unwittingly opened the door for mid-major schools with veteran
players to seriously compete in the Tournament.Teams like Butler, VCU and Wichita State have grown to become formidable
opponents for Duke, Syracuse, Michigan State and Kentucky.
This Thursday, powerhouse Duke will play Mercer in a game
summed up as David and Goliath. Duke, with 4 underclassmen in their starting
lineup, that includes projected '1 and
done' freshman sensation Jabari Parker, will face the only all senior lineup in the entire
68 team field.
Mercer will be led by their brilliant lead guard Langston
Hall, whose experience with his fellow senior starters will prove to be the 'slingshot'
needed to knock out Goliath.And as
individually talented as Duke's underclassmen are, this game will once again
prove that "Experience Matters".