Ignoring the Facts

I honestly wonder how some people get thrust into certain positions where they are able to write missives read by the masses and are lauded as being a quality journalist. I get this feeling about once a week concerning CBS Sportsline's Gregg Doyel but I also realize Doyel is a troll and rabble rouser of the first order who intentionally pushes buttons just to see his hit meter climb. Another such individual is Dan Shanoff who writes a daily article on ESPN.com called The Daily Quickie. The Quickie is a run down of major sports news stories for the day and includes interesting tidbits. It is a mixture of opinion and news which often times runs amok of the facts as he did this morning with this section:

Mark it down: College hoops' game of the year will be Dec. 23 in Gainesville when champ Florida hosts Ohio State's "Thad Five."

The game, nearly finalized (as reported in the Gainesville Sun), would match college hoops' two most intriguing lineups in 15 years:

The best starting five since Duke's defending champs in '91-92 versus the best freshman class since Michigan's Fab Five in '91-92.

(I've already e-mailed my father-in-law to claim one of his Florida season tickets, right behind the opponents' bench. Dickie V, turn and wave!)

That game will cap a fantastic week: Arguably, the second-most intriguing game of the season will be on Dec. 21 at Madison Square Garden, when Duke and Gonzaga play for the first time.

I scarcely know where to begin to parse the numerous errors made here.

First of all, true to his schitck, Shanoff loves to prods these "best since blah blah blah" lines. Arguing that the incoming Ohio State freshman class is the best collection of talent since the Michigan "Fab 5" is fraught with inconsistencies since (1) The OSU five has yet to play a game and (2) You imply every major recruiting coup pulled by any coach in the past 15 years is less than this group. The other problem is that if you adhere to the high school player rankings the OSU class is not even the best class this year. According to Scout.com the highest ranked class this year belongs to North Carolina who has six Top 100 recruits and three from the top ten including the #1 point guard, shooting guard, and power forward. And even if I you put very little stock in the rankings, common sense dictates that the two classes are comparable on paper which also renders the declaration invalid. In fact, many people regarded the current graduating Duke class as being one of the best recruiting classes in the past 15 years and they actually have some results to show for it.

As for the assertion that Florida has the best starting five since the repeat champions from 1991-1992, that again is a unfound assertion. Now, one thing is clear, this point it completely arguable from any number of angles since there is no on paper rankings we can draw from like we did with the high school class. That being said, I would argue that the following teams had a equal if not better starting five. The 1993 UNC and Michigan, 1996 Kentucky, 1998 UNC, 1999 Duke, 2001 Duke, 2004 UConn, 2005 UNC and Illinois, and 2006 Duke which had two All Americans could also be considered in this group. The 1993 Michigan team also proves a utter contradiction on the part of Shanoff he asserts that the OSU Five is the best since the Michigan Five. If the Fab Five is the best recruiting class until this coming season, then how can you not acknowledge them as one of better starting five players since in 1992-93 they were coming off a runner up finish to...the Duke team which you say is the gold standards for five best starters. The answer is you cannot make blanket statements about how this team or that team is the best since 1992 if all of the empirical evidence(which includes the 1999 Duke and 2005 Illinois teams winning 37 games, as well as the fact the other schools listed also won titles in the years mentioned).

Of course it does not end there. Aside from the drooling Shanoff does over Florida-OSU potential matchup as being the best game on the schedule, he goes on to say the second most intriguing game on the schedule is Duke playing Gonzaga in New York. Did Adam Morrison return to Gonzaga? Has JJ Redick been granted a fifth year by the NCAA? Then how, pray tell, can you call this matchup intriguing when it is coming the year after the scoring duel between Morrison and Redick. And if that was not bad enough guess who is coming to Chapel Hill on November 29, 2006 as part of the ACC/Big 10 Challenge? Ohio State. How can you reasonable argue that Gonzaga-Duke is a more interesting matchup than OSU bring the second ranked recruiting class to face the top ranked recruiting class along with all of the stellar players both teams already have on campus like Tyler Hansbrough? In fact this game may be a more compelling game than the Buckeyes visiting Gainesville because I would argue that the sheer combined talent level between OSU and UNC probably exceed that of OSU and UF.

Now I am not one to launch into a diatribe about the media conspiring to ignore UNC nor am I going to delve into the world of Duke bias(which is clearly illustrated here). This piece by Shanoff is devoid of a sensible grasp of the fact and riddled with more blustering hype than it is actual journalistic depth. I will probably watch OSU and UF play just to see if both teams are as good as advertised and I do agree it is a key game to watch. The fatal flaw of ignoring the OSU-UNC game and then calling the Gonzaga-Duke game second in interest behind the OSU-UF matchup is downright stupidity.

Author's Note: In the May 3rd Daily Quicked Shanoff made brief mention of the OSU-UNC game on the side column in which he said:

The gem of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule released yesterday was Ohio St. (featuring frosh "Thad 5") vs. UNC and super soph Tyler Hansbrough.

A long way from the almost apolectic frenzy he seems to be having over the OSU-UF game.

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