Don't Pass Judgment on Big 10 Tourney Yet

Article excerpt

Byline: Bob Logan

The curtain is up, but the jury is still out on the first Big Ten basketball tournament.

Jumping to conclusions after Thursday's lackluster opening session in the United Center would be both unfair and premature. I won't rush to judgment, because I have a long-standing mixture of respect and affection for the Big Ten.

Yes, the quality of Big Ten basketball is down this season. That was especially evident on the first day of the tournament, when the conference bottom-feeders milled around in three uninspiring, uneventful games.

Yes, I still think staging this tournament was a mistake. This conference isn't so cash-strapped that it's a choice between the postseason court or bankruptcy court.

Yes, if it grows into a huge artistic and financial success over the years, I'll admit I was wrong. I just don't believe it will ever become the kind of social and cultural event, conducted with almost religious fervor, that the Atlantic Coast Conference tourney has grown into all across the South.

The Midwest way of life is different, especially when it comes to sports. Just read the newspapers in Southeast Conference territory for the month leading up to football recruit signing day, and you'll know what I mean.

Mostly, I'd prefer the Big Ten to say, "No, we don't need another set of quasi-pro playoffs to rival the NCAA Tournament overkill. Our conference basketball schedule produces five, and sometimes six, NCAA contenders every year, so why try to force-feed another one into the picture?"

That's wishful thinking on my part. Unlike Bob Knight, I can deal with the way things have to be done differently now. If the Big Ten tourney turns out to be a flop, I won't claim I was right all along.

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Now to deal with something that disturbs me far more than the Knightly crisis. …