Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pete Thamel Spreads Misinformation

Just have to give a quick shout-out to my beloved Binghamton Bearcats basketball program, which landed itself as the lead story in the Sunday fricken' Times. Shady recruits, suspect academic records, reducing standards, crime, more crime, no apologies from the arrogant head coach. Hey, who's on top of the America East?

If you follow the Bearcats, there is nothing new here, and it is hardly a comprehensive article. Kevin Broadus takes on the high risk, high reward guys with mixed success. The article gives him no credit for the successes. Plus, the angle is flat out ridiculous. The move to Division I was never in question before Broadus. Binghamton has one of the best facilities for a mid-major in the country, and the basketball program is massively popular in town. The conversation should have been limited to Broadus and the shift in the program since he was hired. The scope was too broad, and it led Pete Thamel to depict a situation that does not exist. There will generally always be a level of dissent when a program moves to Division I, but the writer pretends such dissent is prevalent or even existent at Binghamton.

Tell me, what school doesn't have a professor who isn't happy with the work ethic of an athlete or two? Thamel emphasizes that anecdotally mentions that the team has a top 20% GPA among Division I programs.

Look, Broadus has taken on a lot of guys who have made and continue to make mistakes. And guys he didn't take on have also made mistakes. But to pretend there are regrets about the move to Division I? On whose part? One guy who focuses only on the basketball program? You know what other teams moved up to Division I? Every varsity team at the school! The move has been a positive for the entire community.

Does the university's Athletic Department need reform? Is it babying a coach and standing by idly as he and his players embarrass the school? Yeah. But Thamel throws anything and everything negative about the school's basketball program against the wall in the hopes that it will stick (Broadus shoved a UAlbany assistant coach?) and pretends there is reason to regret Binghamton's rise to Division I.

The article, incidentally, only discusses basketball, and only discusses changes undergone in the last two years. So the basketball program needs reform. Great. Thamel's attempt to extend the story beyond that much is pathetic, and makes the story unfocused. He should have charged the basketball program as having a dangerous culture and paid more attention to Alvin's lack of punishment, or Minja's assault, or even bringing in guys with attitude problems in general. I wouldn't have agreed with it (at all, really), but the article would have at least had a valid scope and a foundation for its argument. Pete probably didn't spend a minute watching the Bearcats play at the Events Center, but maybe he can catch them when they win the conference tournament at Albany. I wonder if he'll be disgusted by their criminally good full-court press.

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