Getting into the local spirit

Published 10:44 am Friday, November 15, 2013

As someone whose favorite sport is football, specifically college football, the other sports often do not compare as far as placement on my radar, especially when football season is still ongoing.

To me, it is really the only sport where the regular season has meaning. Not that it’s perfect. But in baseball, the season has so many games that I always start off caring in April, forget about it from June to August, and then remember it again to some degree in September, depending on the teams still in it.

In basketball, especially the NBA, they don’t even start playing real defense until near the postseason.

But to help get myself into the culture of the area and in particular The Tidewater News office, I watched the Kansas vs. Duke game Tuesday evening after sending the newspaper off.

Now, of course, this isn’t the typical game that one would see during non-conference play. For the most part, at least where I come from in the SEC, it’s the time of the year where teams are basically just trying to avoid an ugly loss that will surely haunt them down the road, as it often does for Ole Miss.

But back to Kansas vs. Duke, there are usually tournaments and special games at the beginning to celebrate NCAA men’s tip off, and these games are always special.

A game that billed two superstar freshmen, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, it didn’t disappoint.

My girlfriend goes to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill graduate school, and Ryan Outlaw at the office is a big UNC fan, so there was some inner conflict on who to root for.

For one, Wiggins had snubbed UNC to go to Kansas, and then there was Duke, UNC’s rival.

That night, despite it being the dark side, I was rooting for Duke, who came up short, so perhaps my rooting for the enemy was a good thing for my UNC friends.

Where they didn’t come up short, however, was the freshman showdown. Of course, it’s only a one game sample size, but Parker looked better than the player hyped as the next LeBron James.

At 6’8 and 235 pounds, he was effective at the 3, 4 and 5 positions. Not only was he more effective at creating his own shots in the interior, he also was 5-7 from three point land. I thought Wiggins was more effective in transition than in creating his own shots, at least in this small sample size.

Parker also had an impressive block in transition on Frank Mason, who’s from Petersburg.

One game certainly does not tell the whole story on the two super freshmen, but it at least showcases that perhaps Wiggins being the No. 1 NBA pick isn’t certain.

Regardless, watching two top five basketball programs slug it out in Chicago has me pretty excited about the coming season. And I’d put that game up there with some of the football games that happened this past week as far as pure entertainment value. My only wish is that we had finished the newspaper early enough that I could have caught the Kentucky game.

Despite the loss to No. 2 Michigan State, the word is that they are pretty good, that Ole Miss doesn’t have a shot at defending its SEC Championship.

All I can say to that is they call it March Madness for a reason. Here’s to the chaos that is college basketball season.

CAIN MADDEN is the managing editor of The Tidewater News. He can be reached at 562-3187 or by email at