Dick Vitale coming back to Allen Fieldhouse

Opinion

Dick Vitale has not yet shown his face in Allen Fieldhouse this season.  ESPN has instead chosen to saddle fans with the substandard color commentary of Bobby Knight during the nationally televised games.  Knight appeared drunk in the first game that ESPN aired, seemingly seeing double, while adding both Marquise and Maurice Morris to the Jayhawks backcourt during the USC game.  Albeit, Knight was slightly better when KU played Baylor, at least he could tell Brady Morningstar and Tyrell Reed apart, but I suspect that was either because he was afraid of the consequences of drinking in Waco, or he just couldn’t find a bar.

So, how will fans react to Vitale’s presence this year?  In the past, he has been overwhelming supported and welcomed, despite the fact that when he talks about how great of a basketball venue Allen Fieldhouse is, he always manages to mention Cameron Arena and Duke within a sentence or two.  Prior to this year, that has always been excused to a certain extent, because Vitale was universally recognized as the preeminent expert in college basketball.  With his increasing trend towards senility, and the growing inaccuracies of his predictions, that is no longer the case.

Vitale did try to shore up his Jayhawk support last week when he named Bill Self his mid-season Coach of the Year, but many will say that is just to cover up his gross underestimation of this year’s Kansas team.  Regardless, it no doubt comes off as a too little, too late for the aging commentator.

Before the season even started, the regard in which Kansas was held by Vitale and ESPN was alarmingly diminished from a season before.  The Jayhawks were picked to finish fifth in the Big 12, despite dominating the conference for the better part of this century, as well as the last.  The departures of Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry in one year was just too much for the Jayhawks to overcome.  This would be a rebuilding year, and that was that.

Conversely, Kansas State had become the darlings of the Big 12. Vitale expected the Wildcats to top Texas, Baylor and Mizzou for the conference championship, and make a serious run at the NCAA title.  The Wildcats were coming off the best season in school history with an Elite Eight finish, and would surely build on that success.  According to Vitale, Jacob Pullen would be a “dominator” this season, not having to share the ball with Dennis Clemente.

Fast forward through half a season, and it appears that Vitale couldn’t have been more wrong about the state of basketball in the State of Kansas.  Kansas State is currently on the bubble for the NIT, and Pullen has already unambiguously stated that he won’t play in it, even if the Wildcats manage to sneak in.  The Jayhawks, meanwhile, have lost only once all season.  While they refuse to make excuses for the Texas game, it was obvious that the team just ran out of gas in the second half of that game, after many of the players had stayed up all night consoling Thomas Robinson.

While it will no doubt be a relief for television viewers, tired of Knight’s endless commentary about how a player should have used a shot-fake, it will be interesting to see how the on-hand crowd receives Vitale this season.  It’s anybody’s guess at this point, but I suspect that there will be more than a few less than complimentary Dickie V signs.

UPDATE:

Dickie V responds directly:

Topics: Allen Fieldhouse, Big 12 Conference, Cole Aldrich, Dick Vitale, ESPN, Jacob Pullen, Kansas, Sherron Collins

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  • Gavin

    Kansas has never had a bigger fan than whom, exactly? Bigger than Dickie V? I beg to differ. I want KU to win every game in every sport it plays ever. Vitale, if he is a fan at all, can’t say that and he probably shouldn’t profess to be a fan at all.

    If, however, he is saying that our my friend Allen Fieldmouse, well, okay then.

  • http://www.allenfieldmouse.com Allen Fieldmouse

    While we all cheer for the women’s field hockey team, I’m not sure that the Phi Kap intramural team counts for much.
    Unsure of the intent and.or meaning of the last sentence, though.

  • Gavin

    I was merely saying that if Vitale said that the ‘Mouse was the biggest KU fan, I’d buy that. It takes a lot of fanhood to start a blog devoted to the ‘hawks.

  • Bryan

    Vitale rocks! Give the guy a break. I am a little concerned that the past tense, “HAD” is in all caps. Maybe you turned him off of KU basketball. Or maybe the end is near.

  • dave

    I’d take Knight’s inaccuracies over Vitale’s manic shrieking any day. Vitale is annoying to the point that I won’t even be able to watch the game.

    And KU “ran out of gas” against UT? LOL Even as a KU fan, it was obvious that KU was thoroughly outplayed for 30 minutes of that game. And that after barely beating 6 teams against whom they should have had solid wins. Your summary of KU’s season seems a bit overblown, to say the least.

    • http://www.allenfieldmouse.com Allen Fieldmouse

      Dave, you’re right about the simplistic analysis. This article was meant more to be a dig at ESPN for making us listen to Bobby Knight talk about bartenders making doughnuts, than anything else.

      Dickie V will be a welcome diversion to most of us, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore his perceived slights against the Jayhawks, as illegitimate as they may be. Vitale brings energy to the game, while Bobby Knight is droll, repetitive, and inaccurate. I would be less critical of Knight if he showed some of the fire he did at Indiana. I don’t think he should throw chairs or anything, but maybe showing half the personality that KSU’s Frank Martin does would be a nice change. This is college basketball, not a socio-economics class.

      • dave

        Points well taken. About Vitale, I can understand why you and others would prefer him to Knight. As for me, Vitale makes me want to drive railroad spikes into my ears, and being set on fire would be preferable to listening to him for 2 hours! :)

        As for the analysis, if the point is that KU is having a much better season than predicted, and KSU is having a much worse season than predicted, I couldn’t agree more. It’s just that living near and working in Nebraska, I have a short fuse when it comes to fans subjectively making their team out to be significantly better than it is, and that was my initial impression of your analysis. My apologies for jumping to conclusions ;)

  • http://www.allenfieldmouse.com Allen Fieldmouse

    Posted today by Dick Vitale:

    Before the season started, I ranked Kansas lower in the Big 12. I thought Kansas State was the team to beat coming off of last year’s solid performance. Yet it has become frustration city for Martin, whose team missed multiple layups inside on Saturday. Martin told our Erin Andrews that his team didn’t make a layup for four weeks!

    Well, my friends, I have learned my lesson — the Big 12 championship goes through Lawrence. I know some folks in Austin may have something to say about that, especially since the Longhorns snapped Kansas’ 69-game home win streak, but the Jayhawks are a legitimate national championship contender.

    Remember, this program lost three players to the NBA — Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry — yet they have remained top-five all season long. That is why Bill Self was my midseason Coach of the Year leader.

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