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Tuesday, September 23, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 3/28/2013

Barkley still not willing to face facts

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Chico, please … let’s review the facts.

The Big Ten has four teams among the final 16 in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. That’s 25 percent of the field, one-quarter, perhaps even one out of every four.

That’s pretty good, especially for such an overrated conference.

Let’s be clear. I’m not a Charles Barkley hater. I loved the way he played the game and his gig as a studio analyst is one of the best reasons to watch NBA telecasts. He’s informative and entertaining, albeit occasionally over the top.

But he has been overexposed, and thus exposed, as an NCAA talking head.

It is obvious this isn’t Chuck’s bailiwick, yet there he is, all day, all night, at every break along the way.

On the night of Selection Sunday, he bared his teeth at seven Big Ten teams making the tournament field and called the league overrated. He has repeated it during every waking moment since. Heck, he may be saying it in his sleep, too.

When Ohio State won Sunday, instead of relishing Aaron Craft’s cold-blooded, game-winning 3-point shot, Barkley went on a rant about Craft drawing a charge on what should have been ruled a blocking foul on a crucial late-game possession by Iowa State.

By most definitions it was a charge against Will Clyburn of the Cyclones.

But there is a little arc inside the paint that rules-makers like to call the “restricted zone,” and any contact inside or on the arc is automatically a foul on the defensive player.

Why? Don’t ask me.

I have watched the same replay in slow motion 20 times and I wouldn’t bet my firstborn, who I rather like, on whether Craft’s heel was hovering over or safely removed from the line.

I think I know, but the point is the baseline official is watching the ball, the players, positioning, arms, bodies, and, yes, feet. And in real time, full speed, bang-bang as they say about a call at home plate. It was a play in a constantly moving game that was a matter of inches, maybe less. Sometimes they see it and get it right; sometimes they don’t.

Barkley treated it as part of the Big Ten conspiracy, as if it cost Iowa State the win. It was a rotten call made by a scoundrel. Challenged by one or two of his set mates, he responded with, “Chico, please,” before finishing up his shouting match. I think that’s what he said. Chuck sometimes mumbles when he’s running low on wind.

Anyway, I like Charles. But Big Ten fans have just about heard enough. His diatribe on the block-charge call went on too long, just as his smack-down of the league has passed its expiration date.

Barkley’s other memorable moment was an interview with Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield, when he asked, “Where in the hell is Florida Gulf Coast at?”

Geez, Chuck, I don’t know, maybe northern Ohio, up near Lake Erie?

Anyway, whether or not Barkley will get around to admitting it later this week, the Big Ten continues to prove, as it did all season long, that it’s awfully good.

No league has more teams still dancing. The APR-rich Mountain West is history. The Big 12 and SEC have the same number of teams in the Sweet 16 as the A-10, Missouri Valley, and Atlantic Sun.

The Big Ten overrated?

Chico, please.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398. 



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