Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Wazzu Flag (On A "No Charlie" Saturday)

College GameDay blew it.
The setting couldn't have been more ideal.
Agreed: It is odd how EspyTime Theater's College GameDay for b-ball is in something like its fourth show of its first season ... trying to replicate the success of the College GameDay phenomenon for college football which EspyTime has used to rule this nation with an iron fist for something like the past 14 or 15 years.
By "rule this nation," I'm talking about the days before the show became a vehicle for the USC Trojans.

Anyway, as the basketball triumvirate of Rece, Digger & Bilas was in Spokane on Saturday making another futile attempt to capture the nation's imagination the way that Fowler, Corso and Herb Kirkstreit have (before they became mouthpieces for the USC Trojans), it dawned on me what was missing.
The Wazzu flag.
Look ... the only reason why I tuned in for college football's Game Day in '05 was just to see the maroon flag with the Washington State Cougars logo waving in the background (not to hear 15 weeks of Fowler & Co. map out the logistics of "Can Texas beat 'SC?").

By my as-official-as-it-gets count, that flag with the WSU logo shaped to look like a cougar was present for EVERY GameDay show.
Whether they were "on campus" in South Bend or Austin or State College, PA or camped out next to the L.A. Coliseum, that daggone flag was flapping back n' forth in the background.
That's right ... Fowler would be telling me why USC was unbeatable and one of the cameras would pan the crowd - - and there was that flag.
Herb Kirkstreit would be telling me why USC ranks as one of the greatest teams of the past 247 years - - and "heads up!" There it is! The WSU Cougar flag!
Corso would be telling me why Reggie Bush is the greatest player of all-time ever in the history of the universe (I'm talkin' all-time ... "ever!") - - and that damn Wazzu flag showed up in the background.

I don't know the whys or the wherefores -- and maybe it's better that way, just to keep a little bit of mystery in my life. I didn't need to know how that flag got there every week and I didn't need an up-close-and-personal on the network of masterminds who were behind the harmless-yet-original prank.
Naturally, when the b-ball GameDay'ers were inside "The Kennel" in Spokane, well ... the simple logic was that Spokane, Washington is practically Pullman, Washington, so keep your eyes peeled, everybody, because that flag WILL make an appearance.
All we got was Digger with that damn highlighter pen which matches his necktie.
Which, as we've learned, is mindless schtick to replace substance.

I needed that Wazzu flag to divert my attention to the fact that college basketball "break down" shows are sad, sorry affairs. Seriously, every b-ball game basically revolves around four issues -- and four issues only.
1) D up 2) Hit the boards 3) Take care of the ball 4) Hope/Pray/Wish/Pretend that any one of your so-called five or six "perimeter" players can drain more than 38 percent of his 3-balls.
Notice how I didn't mention "post play/attacking the paint" or "transition offense/transition defense."
Show me a game where those are factors.
It's not happ'nin'.
Which is why college b-ball is mostly banned from my household.

But, that doesn't keep me from enthusiastically engaging in one of my favorite hobbies -- scanning the college b-ball boxscores to see who sucks the worst when shootin' the rock.
To of my personal favorites this year are UCLA's Arron Afflalo and Michael Roll. What sets these teammates apart is that when one of them is having a bad Saturday, the other one picks up the slumping guy by having a WORSE Saturday.
And, believe me, these guys hate Saturday b-ball more than I do.

Ever since the calendar flipped from '05 to '06, Afflalo has turned Saturdays into his own personal black Sabbath.
Including games when he was 4-of-11 and 4-of-10 marksmanship on 3-balls, Afflalo is only 10 of 47 (21 percent) when hoisting the 20-footers in Saturday games.
Vitale or Digger would have you believe that Afflalo maybe has trouble "getting into the flow" or "establishing a rhythm" when the real-world answer is, "Dude can't drain a 3-ball because 19 feet, 9 inches is kinda sorta totally out of his range."
Wipe that smirk off your face, Michael Roll.
Since going 5 of 6 on 3-balls in a loss to U-Dub on Sat., Jan. 14, RarelyOnARoll has spent the past four Saturdays going 0 of 6 ... 0 of 3 ... 1 of 3 ... and 0 of 2 on 3-balls.
1 of 14 is, ummmm ... better than 0 of 14.
Take it to the bank: A 3-pt. FG % of 7 percent.
Oh, excuse me -- 7.14285 percent.
And, if next Saturday, Roll gets on a roll and misses 12 of 13 threes, his Saturday percentage will jump UP UP UP from 7.14285 to 7.4074.

This is how my Saturdays go when I don't have college football to cuddle with. I embark on fact-finding missions which, in the end, have the medicore getting steamrolled by their own mediocrity.
Maybe I'm just lonely without Charlie Whitehurst here for the third Saturday in a row.
Two Saturdays ago, the Clemson-QB-preparing-for-the-NFL knocked our socks off when he went 5 for 5 while engineering that TD drive in the Senior Bowl.
Didja see that TD pass to Joe Klopfenstein? As far as TD passes to Joe Klopfenstein are concerned, I can't recall a better one.

Last Sat., Charlie and I met up again when he was in that EspyTime college skillz competition. Charlie was the leader in the QB Scramble (obstacle course) event -- that is, until Vince Young set foot on the field and put the ball in the net from 40 yards and finished the course by rocketing his short pass through the hole which the other QBs turned into a clank job.
Seeing Charlie lose like that wasn't so bad because InVinceAble was money. It's just that EspyTime's Erin Andrews had to talk to the winner and, well ... Charlie wasn't the winner.
Then again, Anyone who gets a microphone shoved in his face by Erin Andrews is the real winner.
She is soooooo under-utilized by EspyTime.

Notwithstanding her loveliness-blending-with-total-professionalism, a Saturday without The Charlie Whitehurst Bonding Experience leaves me feeling a sense of estrangement. It reminds me of what Red said after Andy left Shawshank, y'know ... the bit about "some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. But, still, the place that you live in is that much more drab and empty now that they're gone.
"I guess I just miss my friend."

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