A Valentine’s Day love ballad for the ignorant

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I thought I would get an early start on my day-long celebration of commercialism and over-the-top flattery.

This year, though, times were tough, so instead of going to the grocery store and spending my dimes on a glittery Hallmark card, I decided there was no better way to honor those who deserve a little extra love than with a nice spotlight.

There are a lot of deserving candidates who could use some care and compassion right now.

And no, I’m not talking about you, Everson Griffen and Mitch Mustain.

No, this year, the roses and chocolates go to an especially unsavory cast of characters, who, in the words of Bon Jovi, “just want to be loved.”

This toast is for college basketball’s cavalcade of quitters.

(Cue the music to Bud Light’s “Real American Heroes.”)

Today, I salute you, Mr. My-Minutes-Have-Been-Cut-So-It’s-Time-To-Quit-And-Transfer guy.

That’s right, Larry Drew II of UNC, Bryce Jones of USC, Devoe Joseph of Minnesota and Gary Franklin of Cal — this is for you.

PTPer used to stand for Primetime Player.

But we all know you love yourself and your minutes more than you love the team, so the acronym has been fittingly changed to playing time pouter.

When the going got tough in your relationship with coaches, who, by the way, have accumulated three national championships and almost 2,000 wins among them, you ignorantly got up and bailed.

I get it.

As the big man on campus, you expect to be treated well from day one.

It’s nice to be coddled and fawned over by the local media and even Division I coaches around the state when you’re a recruit, but once you enter college, it’s time to grow up.

Regardless of what you were told during recruiting trips, a starting spot is not earned based on past merit or scrapbooks full of amateur accomplishments.

When you average 25 minutes a game as a starting guard at Cal, you can’t shoot less than 30 percent from the floor through 13 games, Mr. Franklin. Especially when you are trying to share the backcourt with 2010 California Gatorade Player of the Year Allen Crabbe, who, during that same 13-game span, averaged more points per game on higher field-goal and three-point percentages.

As for you, Mr. Jones, whether it was an alleged fight in practice or the emergence of junior guard Jio Fontan that did you in, maturity is shown by what you do when the odds are stacked against you.

Even with all the athleticism in the world, there are no excuses for the disappearing acts that began before the Fordham transfer was cleared to play. Not to mention a disastrous assist-to-turnover ratio that fell below one.

It’s sad when this saga of missteps makes a Christina Aguilera anthem blunder look like a tale of character, but in the case of Mr. Joseph and his on-again, off-again battles with Minnesota’s coach Tubby Smith, there is nothing beautiful about this situation no matter what they say.

After being suspended for the team’s first six games, Joseph’s emergence was the only thing more surprising in Minneapolis than an old, domed stadium caving in during a snow storm.

With Joseph’s poise and a knack for being clutch in late-game situations, Gopher fans believed a Big Ten regular season championship could be on the horizon for the first time since 1982.

So much for that.

When the ball dropped to ring in 2011, Mr. Joseph dropped his own proverbial ball when he opened his mouth to teammates about wanting to transfer.

Of course, he no longer is with the team, and they seem to be doing fine without his services, currently sitting at No. 25 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll.

They say a seasoned point guard in college is like a fine bottle of wine — with age, they are a lot more enjoyable to coach. To be blunt, Drew is no Pinot Noir or Merlot.

He might be a junior and the son of current Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew, but the apple falls far from the tree in this basketball family.

Don’t tell Drew II this, but he isn’t exactly in the mold of Roy Williams’ other UNC products, Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton.

In more than 25 minutes per game the last two seasons, Drew II averaged six points and five assists per game, all while shooting less than 30 percent from beyond the three-point arc.

Not to mention, since he was replaced in the starting lineup five games ago by freshman Kendall Marshall, the Tar Heels haven’t lost and are ranked in the top 25.

Here’s to hoping that after his college career concludes, the Encino-native finds a suitor in the NBDL.

So, to you, Mr. My-Minutes-Got-Cut-So-Now-It’s-Time-To-Quit-And-Transfer guy, my hope is that as you sit on your couch of loneliness and despair this Valentine’s Day, you will look deeper than the jelly-filled substance in your chocolate truffles.

My hope is that you learn that to be loved, sometimes you have to show you’re worthy of being loved first.

“For The Love Of The Game” runs Wednesdays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or e-mail Dave at dulberg@usc.edu.

1 reply
  1. Shotgun Spratling
    Shotgun Spratling says:

    Three of the four guys you mention are from California. Another pair of California guys you also could include are the Wear twins, who abruptly left North Carolina immediately after the season last year to transfer to UCLA.

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