Thursday, December 28, 2006

Nighty-Night, Knight

When they convene for the 5-year reunion of "The Clumsiest NCAA Tournament Finalist Ever" sometime this coming April (four months from now), a fairly educated guess is that someone in that gathering of Dane Fife, Jared Jefferies, Tom Coverdale, Jeffrey Newton, Jarrad Odle, A.J. Moye, Kyle Hornsby -- the Sensational Seven who led Indiana to the title-game berth against Maryland in '02 -- will remark, "Sure, Coach Davis led us to the championship game, but it was Coach Knight who recruited us to IU and showed us that the keys to victory are here ... here ... and here ..."

Later, America will learn that when Dane Fife said "here," he first pointed to his head.
When he said "here" the second time, he pointed to his chest.
And when he said "here" the third time, he was pointing to his crotch.
Rock on, Dane-gerous Dane Fife.

Meanwhile, what America wondered last night was whether the guy who was transformed by Bob Knight from a little Dane-tee boy to a Dane-gerous, b-ballin', throat-slashin' machine was watchin' Knight's O'Reilly Auto Parts University Red Raiders attempting to make history against UNLV on ESPN2 (in the house that O'Reilly Auto Parts Built).

Or was the Dane-iac watching perfectly-good college football action (i.e. Cal vs. A&M) on the World's Strongest Man Network (provided that the TV's MUTE function was activated so that Herb Kirkstreit's endless stream of refutability was quieted)?
(Footnote: It was good for a chuckle when "the crawl" at the bottom of the screen on the Espy Awards Channel kept showing a final score from earlier last night ... "Texas A&M 101, Grambling 27" ... that game, by the way, was 65-13 at the half)

Well, the Americans -- one-half, pro-Knight loyalists and one-half, anti-Knight extremists, 95 percent O'Reilly Auto Parts enthusiasts -- were pissed off (or elated) that the O'Reilly Auto Parts University Red Raiders went down against the Runnin' Rebs, thus, keeping the giant #880 cake (out of which Lou Henson will pop) in the cooler for another few days.

For the pro-"he's a molder of young men" crew, it was heartwrenching to see the expression of 2011-2012 Red Raider head coach Patrick Knight shift from nonplussed to unfazed as the O'Reilly Auto Parts University's comeback from a 19-point deficit fell short.

For the pro-"he's a dinosaur and a hyprocrite" contingent, the sight of the Runnin' Rebs building that 19-point lead behind the likes of Lon Kruger's kid, somebody named Curtis Terry and the unstoppable inside presence of Gaston Essengue, well ... it was something to relish.

So explained the pro-Knighters: "It's a young team and without Coach, they'd probably finish with eight or nine wins tops, blah blah blah ..."
Prompting a rebuttal from the anti-Knightistas: "Shouldn't a legendary coach get more out of mediocre talent? Ya call that a motion offense?"

Somehow, we get the feeling that Nancy Knight -- who was watching her sons Patrick and Timothy (seated at the end of the scorer's table next to the O'Reilly Auto Parts University bench) -- clicked off the TV early in the second half.

Nancy, Bob's first wife, was there for something like 300-400 of those 879 wins -- and, no doubt, she'd seen enough.

Also not watching: Damon Bailey (THE whipping boy of all of Knight's all-star whipping boys) ... Charlie Miller and Andrae Patterson ... and, not even if there was a big-screen, plasma TV in Heaven ... Jason Collier, God rest his soul.

Rooting whole-heartedly in absentia were Knight pals Tates Locke (who had a few personal problems which, umm ... led to a little problem with some big-time cheating at Clemson) and Norm Ellenberger (a dirty, dirty coach who had a little problem with running a New Mexico program into the ground until "presto!" ... he ended up as a Knight assistant).

Just a guess, but, sure, what the heck -- Neil Reed probably WAS watching, just so he could sing along with each UNLV basket.

"You can kiss my lilywhite ass, you insecure, worthless, warming-the-bench-for-Ohio-State, watching-Jerry Lucas-in-the-shower pile of sh*t!"

What really wounds many of us Americans is NOT knowing whether Tark The Shark will be flown in for the New Year's Day bonanza against New Mexico. Most of us Americans have already (in our minds) had our secretaries send Bob a quickie memo: "I've got the Outback Bowl at 11, the Cotton Bowl at 11:30 and the Capital One Bowl and Gator Bowl both kickin' off at 1. You're on your own, Sarge. P.S. -- Most of us don't see ya winning that game, anyway."

Back to Tarkanian for just a sec. He mentioned something interesting last week when interviewed during halftime of the Las Vegas Bowl -- and then he brought it up again last night when referring to the previous Knight vs. UNLV showdown.
Tark indicated that, in that 97-93 Indiana win over #1-ranked UNLV in the '87 Final Four, Gerald Paddio took a shot that would've put the Rebs ahead -- but "it was halfway down and popped out."

Ya gotta love Tark ... reminding America of the mediocrity that was Gerald Frickin' Paddio, one of the more-memorable, one-dimensional players of the Tark Era in Vegas (footnote: Paddio attended classes, wink wink).

It's a darn shame that Paddio didn't hit that shot, considering how consistent he'd been throughout that tourney.
That was the first year in which everybody was shooting' the 3 from 19'9" and Paddio took full advantage -- going 1 of 3 on 3-balls in the opening-round win over Idaho State ... sinking 2 of 10 in the second-rounder vs. K-State ... drilling 1 of 7 in the West Regional semifinal against Wyoming (and Fennis Dembo) ... and draining 4 of 11 in that West Regional final against Iowa in which Tark's sharks came back from a 58-42 halftime deficit against Dr. Tom Davis.

Hence, Paddio was shooting at a torrid 26 percent clip from the perimeter heading into that Final Four matchup in New Orleans, featuring the 37-1 Rebs and the 28-4 Hoosiers.

It wasn't Paddio who torched IU, though ... it was Freddie Banks (10 of 19 on 3-balls, 38 points) and some spirited inside play from Armon Gilliam (32 points, 10 boards), but, alas ... UNLV didn't win those 40 or 50 national championships because, ummmm ... "balance" was usually a problem.

Although Banks' backcourt mate Mark Wade had 19 assists in that game, he couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with his shot. Jarvis Basnight (exactly -- the "incomparable" Jarvis Basnight) would disappear for stretches at a time. And, Gary Graham and Eldridge Hudson off the bench were servicable, but not reliable.

So, IU went to the title game because Steve Alford scored 33 points and because Ricky Calloway (12 points, 6 boards), Daryl Thomas (6 pts., 4 rebs.) and Dean Garrett (16 pts., 11 rebs) were sturdy inside and because Keith Smart (14 points on 5 of 7 shooting) was versatile.

Also, Knight had the trusty combo off the bench -- Steve Eyl and Joe Hillman, who, in a combined 37 minutes of PT, sank 6 of 7 shots, collected 8 rebounds and dished out 5 assists to 3 turnovers.

How nice that America had THAT version of Knight vs. UNLV to provide warmth and security.
But, now that Knight's quest for #880 is set for New Year's Day, it presents a dilemma which goes beyond conflict and borders on infringement.
At least, Dickie Vee will be there to provide some skillful oral copulation ("That's 'The General,' bayyyy-beee! Robert Montgomery Knight, bayyyy-beeee!")

In the interim, some of us Americans will travel down a different, darker Memory Lane ... one which goes from Bloomington to Akron approx. 5-1/2 years ago ... with Knight behind the wheel and Playboy's Lawrence Grobel in the passenger seat.
It always brings a tear of joy to the corner of our eye.

KNIGHT (bangs the center of the steering wheel with his fist): "Jesus Christ! This is bullshit! I'm not here for a fucking inquisition! And if that's what this is, then get the fuck out and hitchhike back home! The fucking stepfather was a fucking gaoddamn fucking asshole from the word goddamn go. He fucking lied and he lied and he lied! Jesus Christ! I mean, this is my fucking life we're talking about! My fucking heart was ripped out by this goddamn bullshit!"
KNIGHT: "OK, my ass! It isn't OK! Goddamn it, I don't need this shit with 'Playboy' or anybody else! I'll drop you off in fucking Dayton and you can get home."
PLAYBOY: "Please, Coach ..."
KNIGHT: "This is fucking bullshit! I don't want to hear another fucking word."

That's a tough passage to type when your eyes are watering from laughing so hard.

Alas, so many Bobby Knights to remember ... not enough time to care about any of 'em any more ...

# # #

No comments: