With the NC-Double-Eh season fast approaching, the most anticipated of the Canadian freshmen will soon begin their next step. Both Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson will be headlining the many players this year that will look to put a bigger stamp for Canada on the collective basketball map but should we believe the press clippings? The Can Ball Report takes a look at the potential powder keg that the two newest Lone Star Longhorns have had created for them by the media hype machine ...
Welcome Fall!!! And with the welcoming of Fall means the return of the NC-Double-Eh season!
Now with the start of the season fast approaching, it means a few things: one, I’ll be a lot busier than I am right now; two, there will be tough decisions ahead for me like watch this last west coast game or get some sleep before work; and three, catching the Canadian boys blow up south of the border.
Now like you, I’m very eager to see the impact that the 86 men at the Division 1 level will have (forgive me. I haven’t gone through the D2 schools yet). There are some very noteworthy guys making return engagements this season and will be major impact guys for their teams. Think guys like Andrew Nicholson at St. Bonaventure, Jared Mintz at Lafayette and Marc Trasolini in the post or guys like Kris Josephat the ‘Cuse, Harouna Mutombo at Western Carolina and Devoe Joseph at Minnesota on the wing. All these guys will likely have great seasons and continue to increase the profile of their team's as well as Canadian in the roundball world. But despite their credentials, some of with include multiple conference honors, all eyes for the Canadian basketball fan this NC-Double-Eh season will largely be on Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson.
Now I’m not going to lie, I’m one of those people. I’m not ashamed to admit it. But I think my eyes will be on Cory and Tristan for another reason all together and I'll explain but first I’ll start off with the inciting incident that led to this post.
Being that I work in an environment where I both actively and passively save children’s lives daily, I rarely get the chance to venture onto the internet for any meaningful amount of time. My Blackberry comes in handy for this reason. Now I happened to peer at Twitter on said Blackberry and noticed a kind word from one very good sports writer (and dare I say colleague Mr. Grange), thanking me for a link that I had posted about Tristan and Cory. But it wasn’t so much the reTweet that stirred me, it was the comment before the link – "The hype machine is rolling for Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph at Texas …"
Hype machine? Really? Those two words got me to thinking. Could he be right?
In this unprecedented time in Canadian basketball history, we are witnessing a pivotal moment. There are lots of very capable players and of the players currently playing in the NC-Double-Eh, the dynamic duo of Thompson and Joseph are the ones leading the charge of a wave of talent that Canada has never seen.
You would have to think really hard find a time with you had any Canuck, let alone more than one, had enough anticipation surrounding them to warrant any attention on anything but a local scale. Even when players like Jamaal Magloire and Denham Brown were being recruited by UConn and Kentucky, do any of you old enough to fondly recall that recall the fanfare? I lived through it and I can say with confidence, no. Even with Brown having played in the Jordan Classic with Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudamire, Andre Iguodala and Jarrett Jack he wasn’t the "star" player that either Joseph or Thompson are heading into college. The Longhorn tandem has reached the highest levels at arguably the more competitive time in high school basketball in the US and have earned the labels "stars".
So what’s my point? My point is that Michael Grange has a point.
Both Cory and Tristan are phenomenal players. Both are instant impact type of guys, period. If there were at any other school, they would still have the same media attention. But it’s this media hype (and it can be evenly divided into the US and Canadian sides) that has most Canadian basketball eyes trained on them and trained pretty hard. There are such high collective hopes that basketball fans have in them, particularly Canadian ones. These are the guys that people are banking on as the key people in the future of Canadian basketball. They have the skills and natural talent to definitely make a season worth remembering.
But what if they don’t have a good season? Or worse, what if they tank? What it will people think or say of them then? And that is why I’m watching them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater by any means. I want to see Joseph and Thompson blow up too. I truly believe that these are two players that will go on to be pros in the League some day. I’m just waiting to see reactions from the "fans" that have jumped on the bandwagon if something were to go awry. The hype machine that Mr. Grange has alluded to definitely began long before last week so the anticipation has been steadily growing for several years now. These people, and there will be a lot, will tell you to high hell that they are going to the NBA right now and I’m sure that if they aren't as successful as everyone expects/hopes/thinks they will be the same ones that tell you that Cory and Tristan weren't anything from the start. That is what the hype machine can do. The advent of instant information on many platforms has created a larger than life image of these two young men that they may have trouble living up to.
Will averaging 20 points and rebounds a game be enough for Tristan? Will nightly 18 points and 9 assists games be enough for Cory? Will leading the Longhorns to the Sweet Sixteen be enough? Will failing to start from day one be enough to have the image come crashing down? These are among the many legit questions that you can ask yourself about Thompson and Joseph.
When does watching these two players be less about the future and more about these young men playing the game that we as fans love at a high level?
For me, a season of watching them will be a true joy. Two Canadians that will likely have major roles on a high major basketball team that will likely be in the NCAA Tournament come March will be something to behold. But I’ve always tempered my expectations, especially when it comes to "the next greatest player." I’m reluctant to call them the next best players to come out of Canada, at least for right now, and I’ll reserve judgment on that title until later this season. In the meantime, I’ll let the hype machine do the talking and will be eagerly waiting the "I told you so" from it, either way that the ball bounces for these two Texas stunners.