Friday, March 31, 2006

The Wrong Sampson

Two months ago – when Indiana University head basketball coach Mike Davis was acting sullen and wounded for the umpteenth time and was seen/heard dejectedly announcing that he would not be returning to coach the Hoosiers in ’06-’07 – I blogged that it wasn’t a big deal because, well … he was only my third-favorite Mike Davis, anyway.
And that’s only because I couldn't think of a fourth or fifth Mike Davis to rank ahead of him.

Now, the university which hired the Wrong Mike Davis slipped up again by using two wrongs to try to make a right by naming the Wrong Sampson as its new head coach.
While you’re thinking, “He’s going to say ‘Ralph Sampson’,” guess again.
Actually, I was hoping that they’d go with the Native American actor Will Sampson.

If you think that Will Sampson doesn’t know basketball, then you definitely didn’t appreciate Will Sampson as the large American Indian "chief" in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Chief appeared to be a quick study under the tutelege of Murphy (Nicholson). I appreciated Mac’s coaching style because he didn’t get himself all caught up in coach-speak/studio-analyst verbiage, such as calling guys who stand taller than 6-foot-5 “bigs” or “length.”
“Chief can cause problems for the bigs … he shoots well over length …"

To this day, every time I watch the patients vs. the orderlies game and when I see McMurphy inbound the ball to Martini (DeVito) who hot-potatoes a one-timer into the chain-link fence. jeez ... to this day, I still lose it.

I can watch that scene sometimes 10 times in a row and when I hear McMurphy with that high-pitched voice yellin’ at Martini, gosh … it takes me back all the way to Feb. 2006 when Gary Willams’ Terrapins would routinely have 20 turnovers in a game.
Martini wasn’t on scholarship, however.
Why did the Terps have to chuck all of those passes off of the chain-link fence inside Coach Gare’s soul?

Wait … suddenly, I’ve shifted to my favorite “Cuckoo’s Nest” b-ball scene and, ummm ... it doesn’t pertain to Will Sampson.
Hey, Will Sampson wasn’t too shabby in “Orca.”

Just as most Americans have a favorite Will Sampson movie, they, too, have a favorite Kelvin Sampson moment.
Atop that list, for most people, is when Kel-Samp “guided” Oklahoma to the Final Four berth in ’02 against Indiana. Kel-Samp had four players in his regular rotation who were 80 percent foul shooters (Hollis Price = 84 percent; Aaron McGhee = 82 percent; Jason Detrick = 81 percent; Ebi Ere = 80 percent), so Kel-Samp ingrained in his players’ minds the value of getting to the line.

The 3-point line.

OU shot 2 of 18 “from distance,” mostly because Oklahoma’s supposedly “better athletes” couldn’t slash and cut to the basket against IU’s household names of Dane Fife, Tom Coverdale and Jarrad Odle and draw some fouls.
For the record, IU finished that game with five offensive rebounds and zero zero zero second-chance points.

So, Kel-Samp is probably the best choice for IU, given the way that he helped get the Hustlin’ Hooters to the ’02 championship game.
It’ll be a preview of coming attractions.
There'll be many more national championship games which go through IU.

Wait … I think I heard Bilas say yesterday that Perry Mason reaching the Final Four is the greatest upset in the history of college basketball, somehow forgetting the scrappy (but untalented) Hooters team which I just mentioned.
Either way, amen, Brother Bilas! Your brain was NOT contaminated one bit by years n’ years of ingesting the cryptosporidium in the Palo Verdes drinking water when you were growing up.

Without a doubt, I’d rank Perry Mason reaching the Final Four right up there with 2006’s greatest upsets of all-time in ’06 – but I’d be remiss to rank it ahead of the Steelers as a No. 6 seed (a SIX seed!) reaching the Super Bowl by beating three AFC teams which had appeared in 10 (TEN!) Super Bowls.

Not to open Pandora’s Box, but the fine print here reads as follows: The Murderers’ Row of opponents which Perry Mason had to defeat was about as murderous as a kitten lapping from a saucer of milk.
Michigan State? Look ... Sparty was going to lose their first-rounder to Perry Mason or the ’73 Montreal Expos or a Pop Warner team.
That’s not to say that Sparty was gutless, well …actually, it is.

And, when Perry Mason rallied from that 16-2 deficit against “defending champion” North Carolina, that was Roy Williams being Roy Williams. He was seen kicking a chair and barking at David Noel for too much posing after making a J.
That, of course, was a precursor to the postgame press conference where he informed America how much he loves his guys, sniff, sob …

What I always love is how Roy Williams' teams spend so much time sharing with America their meltdowns and imploding nature.
UNC staked itself to that 16-2 lead with some delicious passing and real hard work in the frontcourt. Then, it was time to start chucking some 3’s and hoping that Tyler Hansbrough could score 33 or 41 points.
Maybe instead of theatrics, Roy Williams could’ve called timeout after Marcus Ginyard hoisted up that brick of a 3 in the first half and chided Ginyard for A) Being a 25 percent 3-point shooter who is under strict orders not to shoot a 3 unless the team is up by 25 or 30 and B) For being someone named "Ginyard" who is disgracing Phil Ford’s jersey #1.

That’s the thing about Roy Williams’ teams … they don’t always adjust very well and they really don’t always show improvement as the season progresses.
In his defense, Roy Willams is a genius at winning national championships with kids recruited by Matt Doherty.
Against Mason, UNC didn't get to the foul line until 7:47 remained in the game.
That's all about coaching.

Every time I see Roy Willams lettin’ another winnable game slip away, I think to myself, “Cowher would have this one in his hip pocket right about now.”
After all, the man beat three AFC opponents which had appeared in 10 Super Bowls.
As a No. 6 seed!
Triple exclamation-point, baby!

I missed just about all of the Mason-UConn game, but heard some of it on Westwood One Radio. I understand that the game was well-played and might’ve been the greatest NCAA game ever played.
Ever!
On that day!
Between those teams!
Of all-time!

Look … I’m never gonna discredit Mason because it is the Patriots' defeat of UConn which has me in prime position to rake in unspeakable riches in the coveted PTT pool.
Then again, I don’t really view Mason as “knocking off” UConn … I saw it more as UConn’s bad-ass-icity doing them in.
Nice ‘tude.
Watch out, NBA! Here come Josh Boone and Hilton Armstrong to jazz up the Association with their 5.3 PPG!
Of all-time!
Ever!

To wrap it up, I heard Bob Ryan on Tony Kornhusker’s show two days ago offer this direct, exact quote: “I think every coach in America would trade his roster for Calhoun’s …maybe not the kids involved, but the talent.”
I love that quote.
It’s my all-time favorite quote of all-time ever.
And I have no clue what it means.

Luckily, neither does Bob Ryan.

Ryan, like a lot of Americans, tosses around the word “talent” as if it’s some sort of intangible “thing” just floating around in outer space.
I suppose B-Ry was trying to say that UConn has “ability,” but maybe a bunch of bad attitudes.
That’s only a guess, though.

Well, now I’ve gotta get back to addressing the important issues facing America – such as how a Native American such as Kel-Samp feels about trading in his Oklahoma crimson-and-cream for Indiana cream-and-crimson …


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