We're Not Just Kids, To Say the Least

You wouldn’t know it from our first chunk of posts, but Plissken is also a college basketball blog. As much as we both love the NBA, college ball provides its own pleasures, and the viewing experiences differ wildly.

To give just one example, in college, a physically limited player can make himself a pretty damn good player (sometimes even an All-American) through hard work and the development of an impressive skill set. Fans don’t just tolerate these players—they become fan favorites. This relationship between player and fan works because (1) the player’s physical limitations suggest that these moments are his last as a golden boy and (2) the physical issues bring up the possibility that the fan, with a little more effort, could have turned into something approaching a collegiate star. (There are obviously many other reasons, but let’s leave those for another time.) Simply put, there is a finality to the actions of the college star (and I use that term with an emphasis on “college”) that the rare NBA-bound player will not experience until his last years in the league, and this observation becomes more compelling to the fan because he sees something of himself (however small, it will be something more than he will see in the superhuman athlete).

In the NBA, that less athletic, skill-dependent player is either terrible or, best case scenario, someone like Brad Miller, and no one wants to see Brad Miller when impossibly talented guys like Tracy McGrady and Kobe Bryant square off against each other almost nightly.

I don’t mean to suggest that the NCAA game is psychologically richer than the NBA game. In reality, both are deep enough for such a comparison to seem arbitrary and inconsequential. College ball is generally considered purer (for its proponents) or inferior—relating to quality and storylines—(for its detractors), but I think those distinctions miss the point. There are certainly many, many differences between college and pro basketball, but that doesn’t make the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball any less worthy of consideration as something more than a game than the NBA.

With that in mind, Carter and I will do our best to focus on the conceptual nature of the college game in our posts, although we will still tackle nuts-and-bolts issues. College basketball analysis too often focuses on RPI and preseason exempt tournaments when real analysis of the role of a student section stays unpublished. (Note: As much as we love him, Andy Katz’s annual list of the five-best student sections does not count.)

Due to our living situation and allegiances, a healthy portion of our NCAA posts will deal with the Pac-10, which also happens to be the early favorite for “Best Conference in the Country” next season. Expect a primer on the aesthetic experiences of following and watching every Pac-10 program within the next day or two.

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