Thursday, March 29, 2007
And based on what these opponents have offered this season (Wuss Virginia = wayyyyy too many brickified 3-balls ... Clumsy = a handsome 17-0 record which was compiled by, ummm ... wait, how'd Clumsy get to 17-0, anyway?), it would've been a mistake to settle in with the NIT from MSG on RD.
NIT = National Invitational Tournament ...
MSG = Madison Square Garden ...
RD = "Regular-definition" ...
Right ... as if America needs to see WVU's 7-foot skinhead, Jamie Smalligan (#43, just in case you lost your roster), acting all gangly and skinheadish in his black socks and black sneakers in hi-def ...
Not when NBC has five episodes of "The Office" slated for 5 of the 6 half-hour slots during the network's 8-11 p.m. platter.
Face it, Roundball Rodney ... five episodes of "The Office" vs. five b-ballers from any team ... that's a 5-on-5 that the shot-brickers and the stepping-on-the-baseliners simply cannot win.
Especially not when Jim is borrowing a mini-van to drive Dwight to the hospital and he has to repeatedly spray water from the spray bottle he found to keep Dwight and Michael in check.
Y'see, college b-ball is only funny when WVU is goin' 9 of 42 "from beyond the arc" (as what transpired against Pitt earlier this year). And, it's only entertaining when WVU is goin' 7 of 31 "from distance" (as what happened against Lousyville last month).
Most of us realize that the only thing more-annoying than the NIT championship is the WOMEN'S NIT championship, but not everyone knows that, yes ... it's fun to call 'em "Wuss" Virginia ... or West Vagina ... or even "the West Virginia Meltdowneers" -- but, it's never cool to shake n' bake all three and call 'em "the Wuss Vagina Meltdowneers."
And, we'd never do what ESPN did earlier this year and offer any facetime to that bozo with the navy blue sweatshirt which read: WEST (in yellow, block letters), FUCKING (in white, block letters) and VIRGINIA (in yellow, block letters).
Look ... even if everyone is calling coach John Beilein "the second coming" or "the new messiah," let's all realize that Coach never told his team -- when it was going 9 of 41 on 3-balls vs. Pitt -- "hey, fellas, howzabout making some of those 3's?"
Beilein's been ridin' that 3-ball train for three seasons now (Gansey! Pittsnogle! Beilein, Jr.!) ... which is why he won the junior-college trophy tonight.
Seriously ... how difficult is it to coach a team which misses 32 of 41 three-balls?
What is the X-and-O strategy involved there?
Aunt Trudi can knock down 9 of 41 treys.
In fact, most of us have seen her drain 17 of 41.
But, let's give credit where credit is due -- Beilein IS the head coach of the 66th best-program in America (depending on how you feel about the Niagara-Florida A&M "play-in" game for the undisputed, 64th-best team in America title).
Most of us, though, don't believe that Beilein can out-coach Dwight Schrute.
And, we aren't bored enough to find out ...
Monday, March 26, 2007
"Well ... DIDJA?"
Ya didn't, didja?
As the kids today often say, "No, yu ditt-INT!"
That was the coolest thing about what Boise State did to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl nearly three full months ago.
The memory of it gives ya either goosebumps (if that term isn't too girlie) or a woody (if that term isn't too graphic).
Either way, let's agree that the combo platter of the hook-and-latter, the WR/HB-option pass on 4th down and the clinching Statue of Liberty 2-pointer definitely trumps these dog days of March when Dickie V is stating the obvious (such as some player is having trouble with his trifecter) or Lavin is being obtuse or obscure with some reference to the diagonal passing vs. the 1-3-1 zone.
What made Boise State a goosebump/woody manifestation was that it was a case of a David slaying Godzilla with actual brainpower and athleticism, rather than an outcome getting tossed onto the pile of "Games Which Somebody Choked Away."
Not that Boise State didn't try -- particularly with 1:02 to play in regulation when Oklahoma DB Marcus Walker scored that INT TD on a ball thrown right to him on an obvious miscommunication by Jared Zabransky and receiver ... a damn shame, too, because Marcus Walker had gotten his ass torched on the game's first TD, a 49-yard TD bomb from Zabransky to Drisan James.
It didn't seem like justice that a mediocre DB such as Walker would be 1:02 from celebrating and talkin' smack about "You know wee's Number One ..." -- especially when the most-deserving DB-to-be-celebratin' shoulda been Marty Tadman, first for making the goal-line INT in the second quarter (when Paul Thompson had a man wiiiiiiiiide open and badly underthrew him) and then for making a smart read, jumping a route, making the pick and breezing 27 yds for an INT TD to put the Broncos ahead, 28-10, midway through the third quarter.
See? That's the impact that Boise State had on America -- even in the depth of b-ball season, we can talk about that Boise State outcome, all day every day.
And, why not? It was the single-greatest ending to any game (in any sport) in '07 -- because one team TOOK the game while that team's opponent realized that it couldn't do a damn thing about it.
(Well, actually, on the game's final TD -- on the WR/HB option play -- Oklahoma LB Zach Latimer could've done a better job making sure that TE Derek Schouman didn't work his way through traffic and into the clear ... by the time that Latimer realized that he need to play the pass instead of the run, he'd lost a step-and-a-half ... and that was enough for Schouman to gain a bit of separation ... and America thanks you for getting suckered, Zach Latimer, because it made the subsequent Statue of Liberty play that much sweeter and meaningful)
The '07 3-Ball Free-For-All, ummmm, errrr ... sure ... UCLA's 24 turnovers in that "dominant" performance vs. Kansas (which was a reported 14 of 33 on dunks and layups) ... yes, that definitely made male genitals do "the turtle" and perform the full recoil into the region at the base of the tummy.
For those of interested in some X's and O's to counteract the ZZZZZZZZ's, this tournament ain't happenin' ... UCLA's "incredible" defense (wink, wink) notwithstanding.
The most-common mistake made during the weekend in which the Sweet Sucksteen (or whatever Hollywoodland calls it nowadays) is paired down to the Fantastic Four (or whatever Hollywoodland calls it nowadays) is that the 12 games of that weekend were epic and that the upcoming three games (semis and final) will be somehow Biblical.
Part of college basketball's allure of years past was the smaller schools (such as Boise State, which, somehow, doesn't get labelled as a "mid-major" in football) or the lesser-known superstars showcasing some dazzling talents/teamwork on the grand stage vs. a more-established program.
Y'know ... in a life-like, David vs. Godzilla scenario.
It was pretty cool when Sports Illustrated made Larry Bird a coverboy before the '78-'79 season (when he was posing with those two Indiana State cheerleaders in full "Shhhhhh!" pose) -- and then Larry Legend and the Sycamores (a mid-major before there were mid-majors) advanced to the national title game.
Larry Legend was Larry Legend because there was something legendary about him.
A program such as George Mason '05-'06 was the so-called Cinderella story last season, but then performed like Cindy Relish in the Final Four (also, Billy Packer was correct when he insisted on Selection Sunday that Mason didn't belong, despite the love affair which America would eventually have with Mason after not giving a crap about the program before ... or since).
Villanova in '85 was much like Boise State '07 ... using an actual strategy to win the biggest game of the season -- but, we're not likely to see another scenario like that again.
Definitely not from a mid-major, so sit the hell down and shut the hell up, Southern Illinois and Butler.
Seton Hall's run in '89 was compelling ... and, if not for some ungodly jump-shooting by Glen Rice and an iffy foul call that sent Remedial Robinson to the free-throw line ... P.J. Carlesimo's team would've had a title.
Utah in '98 ... same deal ... great run after the Keith Van Horn days.
College B-Ball Gameday would be a lot more interesting (not to mention honest) if the rodeo clown from the Holiday Inn Express commercial was sitting in for Vitale and telling us that "Crusher here has an extra deltoid muscle and that gives him exponentially-greater bucking propulsion, so you lean back and hold on ..."
Except ... HE'S NOT REALLY A RODEO CLOWN!!!
He's with the birthday party!
Speaking of clowns who are with the birthday party and not the rodeo, Lavin's axle-greased hair got torched by Jay Bilas on espn.com when Jay (rightly so) acknowledged that the greatest difference in UCLA now and UCLA "then" (under Coach Axle Grease) is "the level of discipline and toughness under (Ben) Howland is on a much higher plane than it was before his arrival."
Bilas -- the only Espy Network part-timer who has a clue -- definitely took a swipe at Lavin (inadvertently?) with a pro-Howland stance.
(Hot tip: Steve Lavin doesn't really know college basketball, but he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night)
As per the brackets of those of us who spend most of our days polishing our King of Brackets crowns from 1997 and 2006, it wasn't too difficult to predict 3 of the final 4 (w/ Fla. d. Georgeclown in the championship).
Still, we wish that there was a Boise State-type scenario unfolding.
Without it, though, we'll rewind to what we talked about yesterday ... Georgeclown radio announcer Rich Chvotkin and his legendary call at the end of his team's win over UNC.
The local radio gods (Czabe and Andy) on "The Sports Reporters" on WTEM 980-AM replayed it and Chvotkin yelled, "Hoyas win!" 17 times in succession.
Rich almost lost his breath at Hoyas Win! #8 (and at Hoyas Win! #12, he almost ran outta gas)
Lucky for Rich, it was because of a clear-cut traveling violation by Jeff Green on the game-winning shot against Vandy on Fri. nite that Rich had the opportunity to yell "Hoyas win!" 17 times in succession on Sunday.
Honestly ... that's not very original (not to mention professional).
Chvotkin coulda gotten a little more creative and screamed, "This is a two microphone game, America! There's the microphone into which I'm yelling -- and there's the microphone growing inside my pants!"
For the rest of us though, this tourney is a half-a-crayon affair.
Inversion alert, indeed ...
Sunday, March 25, 2007
It doesn't really hit home 'til you add up the damage, the carnage and the wreckage ... that during the final 12:23 of regulation and the five minutes of OT in the regional final against Georgeclown, the Tar Eels missed 23 of 26 shots (including clank jobs on 14 of 15 three-pointers).
What a clinic we saw.
Green missed with 10:40 to play ... Wright missed at 9:59 ... Thompson scored on a tip-in with 9:56 to play, putting the Eels up, 73-65 ... then, with a 10-point lead, Green figured he'd play hero ... he missed a 3-ball at 9:24 ... he missed another 3-ball with 6:31 to play ... Wright missed at 6:20 ... Hansbrough missed at 5:52 ... Ellington missed a 3-ball at 5:18 ... Lawson missed a 3-ball at 4:43 ... Terry missed a 3-ball at 3:03 ... Hansbrough scored a layup at 1:41 to put UNC up, 81-78 ... Hansbrough missed at :48 ... and then, after Coach had tabbed him as the Final-Shot Hero, Ellington received the inbounds pass and, after taking TWO wide side-steps (which, by the way, kids, WAS an unwhistled traveling violation), bricked a 3-ball with 5 seconds to play.
In overtime, Hansbrough and Wright missed shots ... Terry missed a tip-in and a 3-ball before missing again ... Ellington missed a 3-ball ... Green missed a 3-ball at 1:07 and then missed another 3-ball at :49 ... Terry missed a 3 at :36 ... Hansbrough missed two FT at :32 ... Lawson missed a 3-ball at :26 ... Ellington missed a 3-ball at :12 ... Lawson MADE a 3 with 7.4 seconds to play ... Terry missed a 3-ball ...
And, the sum of this madness in March was Georgeclown's radio play-by-play guy of 31 years -- Rich Chvotkin -- yelling into the mike, "Hoyas win!" something like a dozen times (probably more after hearing a radio re-cap of that moment during the late-evening).
Now that you've seen what 3 of 26 looks like, here's what "Hoyas win!" a dozen times looks like:
"Hoyas win! Hoyas win! Hoyas win! Hoyas win! Hoyas win! Hoyas win! Hoyas win! Hoyas win! Hoyas win! Hoyas win! Hoyas win! Hoyas win!"
When you hear a radio call such as that, it seems as though it may be some wigged-out ranting from one batshit crazy mofo -- that is, until you realize that Chvotkin, when he isn't working as Hoyas announcer, he's working at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington (no lie).
A lot of us still contend that he's whack.
But, that's not really the issue, is it? Nor is it that Georgeclown survived to play Sunday only because summm-budddd-deee forgot to whistle a travel against Jeff Green on that game-winner vs. Vandy on Fri. nite.
No, this is about ROY Hibbert, not ROY Williams, goin' to the Final Four (as some -- actually, many -- of us predicted).
As it turns out, most of America's pre-tourney Final Four looks like three-fourths the actual Final Four -- that's how predictable this tournament has been.
Most of us saw right through Roy Williams' fantastic suntan and those distinguished eyeglasses he wears until he removes them during timeouts to bark at his lads.
Apparently, he didn't bark loudly enough at Danny Green to stop missing 3-balls when the team is up 10 in regulation or down 10 in OT.
If only Roy had spent the final 30 minutes of last night watching the first 15 minutes of SNL -- and jotted down Peyton Manning's approach to dealing with kids in a United Way parody, a ticket to the Final Four might've been in the offing.
"Get your head out of your ass! You suck!" (Addresses entire team) "Let's go, let's go, get back in here. Let's go. (Looks at Danny Green) "Except you. I can't even look at you. You know what? Go sit in the Port-O-Let for 20 minutes. That's right. Just stay in there!"
Moments later, when Danny Green opens the Port-O-Let door ever-so-slightly ... "WHY IS THE DOOR OPEN?! Close the door! Stay in there!"
Just lookit the raw data.
Roy's fancy-schmancy eyeglasses, apparently, were smudged and, therefore, he didn't notice that, during UNC's first five games of February, Danny Green was 0 of 9 on 3-balls.
After sinking 2 of 3 threes vs. NC State, Danny Green spent the next month (9 games) going 1 of 11 on 3-balls.
Since Roy uses his glasses only to see where he's rolling out the basketballs during practice (to the players which Doherty didn't recruit), he never saw that Danny Green is not (and, likely, never will be) a jump shooter with the range-limit of 15 or 16 feet.
Roy Williams allowed a player who'd made only 3 of 23 threes since the beginning of Feb. to take a 3 in, what was, at the time, the biggest game of the year.
Why didn't Roy have J-Mac flown in from Rochester for a guest appearance as a 3-ball specialist?
Wasn't there a fan who was the winner of a "Go, Eels!" costume competition who could've marched out there and, while Danny Green was in the Port-O-Let (with the door CLOSED), buried those 3-balls?
Roy-Boy The Hoya Toy paid the price for his folly. In the end, he removed his wire-rimmed glasses and allowed tears to trickle down his April-thru-September/been-playin'-36-at-Pinehurst suntanned cheeks.
It woulda been fun if he'd spent the postgame show today sayin' somethin' relevant, such as, "I couldn't give a shit about North Carolina right now" (as he did following the '03 championship game).
Or if he quipped that he hadn't seen such a sorry display of shooting since the night when his ol' Jaywalks ballclub lost by 3 points in the biggest game of the year by missing 16 of 20 threes, by missing 18 of 30 free throws and by committing 18 turnovers.
Naw ... the coach (who many think stole Huckleberry Hound's voice while others argue that his voice was shoplifted from Deputy Dog) warbled that "some of my detractors or fans of the other team say they can't wait to watch Roy cry at the end of the game, but no sucker's ever been tough enough to say it to my face."
Easy does it, Dep.
Here's your huckleberry right here:
" ... the Tar Heels have every element you could want: size, speed, shooters, passers, rebounders, insane depth, quality coaching. At times, they also have the focus of a kindergarten class and the killer instinct of a Greenpeace group ..."
That's what espn.com's Pat Forde wrote at the outset of the tourney. Forde accidentally/intentionally described Roy as a "quality coach," but then chided UNC's "mental makeup" and "manhood" -- which would seem to be the elements of what a "quality coach" provides.
In essence, Forde wrote that "Williams is a quality husband -- when he's not out boozing and chasin' 'tang 'til 4 in the morning."
It's almost as if Forde wrote that "Williams is a quality dad -- when he's not punching his kids in the face" or that "Williams is a quality citizen -- when he's not ordering a recruiter to put $20,000 in the account of a prospect's mom."
We're starting to get the feeling that Roy Williams has killed a snitch.
Whether he has killed a snitch or not killed a snitch, you know what he means.
The thing is, it's the children who suffer -- and, thankfully, we have Pat Forde available to tell us, "Kids, don't go out and buy that Roy Williams poster for your bedroom wall."
And, kids ... remember what the other State of North Carolina coach said, "Don't give up ... don't EVER give up. And, if you can, hug that junkie named Chris Washburn and that illiterate named Charles Shackleford and embrace 0.000 graduation rates."
What a lot of people don't realize in this mixed-up Coach K/Roy Willams/Valvano world that the best b-ball coach in the state of North Carolina during the past 35 years is Bill Foster, the man who led Duke to the '78 championship game.
No one wants to acknowledge that -- or to reconcile in his/her mind that maybe Roy Willams simply isn't the man to save baby penguin from the giant, deadly boulder.
That's Mittens' job.
"If Roy Willams chooses to save the baby Eels based on his beliefs -- and Roy Willams' beliefs are not in his direct control, does Roy Willams have free will?"
Maraka wants to know.
In the end, Maraka and Mittens won't be in their balloon with Roy Willams and singing, "We're flying, estamos volando!" -- because Roy's gotta go get his suntan in order (rather than telling Danny Green to stop shooting the F'in 3-ball).
In other news, the coach with Eddie Munster's hairline had his house in order against Oregano.
"Can you help me decide if Robert Blake is innocent?"
That, too was kind of a shit game as well, given that it was a showcase for ugly Nike apparel, a 5-foot-6 guard who didn't quite sink 8 of 12 threes as he did Friday night (in fact, TheGuyWeDon'tAnythingAboutAsideFromTheFactThatHe's5-Foot-6 was 0 of 8 on 3-balls until the game's final seconds ... and, by the way, Porter was 2 of 13 on TWO-POINT shots in the regional ... which doesn't do much to shake his tag as a one-dimensional player, considering that he's a 90 percent foul shooter who could do himself a big-time favor by taking his opponents off the dribble ... alas, if only Little Tajuan had a quality coach who was as quality as Roy Williams ... ).
So, yeah ... the only thing that saved Sunday was the fact that we had "Why is the door open?! Close the door! Stay in there!" to round out Saturday and we had Maraka ("We're flying, estamos volando!") to ring in Sunday.
Now is the time to click off b-ball for another week, just to avoid hearing what a phenomenal coach Ben Howland is.
His team gakked in the first round of the Pac-10 tourney, got itself an easy regional close to home (or didja forget that god-awful ugly squeaker/stinker vs. Indiana), then saw its killer D get shredded by the Jaywalks, who opted to miss repeatedly from inside three feet.
"I couldn't give a shit about North Carolina right now ..."
Saturday, March 24, 2007
UNC-USC on CBS -- or Miss USA on NBC.
"Which will build more character while creating lasting memories?" seemed to be the question with which our conscience and our intelligence grappled.
Miss USA on NBC or USC misses on CBS?
All of it in Samsung mid-def clarity!
Chicks in bikinis -- or Billy Packer continuing to rant about "dribble penetration"?
Thanks for sealing the deal, Bill.
Whether you're pro-UNC, pro-USC or pro-USA, the outcomes were virtually guaranteed to be fairly predictable.
We KNEW that after a blonde-bimbo junkie ("allegedly") was last year's Miss USA champ, Trump would attempt to balance out the universe by ordering that a light-skinned black chick from Tennessee (Rachel Smith) would be the winner.
It's all part of "the rotation," all window-dressing aside.
Who pays the price? In this case, the drop-dead, jaw-dropping, visually-masterful Miss Rhode Island, Danielle Lacourse.
It's a guarantee that University of Rhode Island b-ballers Joe Mbang and Parfait Bitee -- a pair of Cameroonistas who, back in the homeland, had only previously read boxscores from the Miss Yaounde Pageant -- were probably watching, nodding in agreement and saying something to the effect of "roll over Zimbabwe and tell the Congo the news."
Okay ... before we get ahead of ourselves and ponder what it would be like to Mbang the Mbejeeezus outta THAT, let's remember that The Donald's message to America is that he does not want us to objectify women.
Unless that woman is Marla Maples (laugh track).
No one really knows if, when crunch-time arrived and the two finalists -- Rayche and Dani -- were seen standing nervously face-to-face while clasping hands as the final verdict was about to be read, was Trump's way of playing God as viewers hoped, begged, wagered and predicted that the two would embrace and furnish a lip-lock of epic, maybe even "Biblical," proportion.
"God ... if you really do exist, can You make me the meat in that Rachel/Danielle sandwich?" seemed to be the question with which our conscience and our intelligence grappled.
Is that dribble penetration -- or are ya just glad to have this pageant reach its climax?
Even though the Miss USA pageant can't hold a candle to the Miss Teen USA or the Miss Universe pageants (or, for that matter, Miss Nude America), it's more safe and more sane than "Packer's Theory of Dribble Penetration."
Also, everybody knows that THE fan-fave of such pageants during the past year was that little, roley-pole bundle of sunshine named Olive Hoover, not the boozed-up, coked-out ("allegedly") Tara Conner.
Make no mistake, Abigail Breslin got jobbed during the Oscar-night pageant.
Hey, look ... we all know that these events are what made the USA numero uno (events which highlight the allure of the rack and the caboose) ... and, yes, they are mindless good fun.
Still ... what was with Miss Montana winning "Miss Congeniality" and Miss Alabama taking "Miss Photogenic"?
Was not The Donald enough of a visionary to create a real-world category, such as "Miss Most-Likely To Have Nachos BellGrande Eaten Off Of Her Inner Thigh"?
The dubiousness of such competitions runs pretty high when the co-hosts are Nancy O'Dell and some Brit-Aussie/whatever named Tim Vincent.
Nobody really knows what a Tim Vincent is, aside from the fact that his accent indicates that the bloke is "non-USA."
Dude coulda scored some major emcee brownie points if he'd quipped about "the carpet not matching the curtains."
'Cuz that's what we Yanks do in the USA, ya bloody, incompetent sod ...
Another thing we Yanks like to do is dream about taking Danielle Lacourse to a college b-ball game and hearing her whisper, "That guy doesn't look as though he can consistently knock down the 12- to 15-foot J, so why is he spotting up from 19-9?"
The dream continues with Danielle's nude-up meter overheating when our wry response is, "This is how it works, Dani. The 3-point line is like a beautiful woman. Most fellas obsess with it, but when they cozy up to it, they get all clumsy and awkward ... and then they end up firing blanks and making a big, sticky mess."
OK ... so what about the story of USC vs. UNC -- wherein one team shot its proverbial wad in an indiscriminate manner?
If nothing else, at least, on the flight home to South Central, Troy's Boyz can share a lifetime of memories about how, when Wes Miller was on the floor, they didn't exploit the untalented kid's inability to do anything other than heave off-target shots from 24 feet.
That's what's great about the USA -- coaching legends such as Digger n' Dickie V. n' Lavin making excuses for Tim Floyd, who coaches at a university wherein all the great b-ball glory belongs to Cheryl Miller and Lisa Leslie.
(And it ain't gonna change when that beauty queen, O.J. Mayo, suits up)
It's up to 'SC fans to determine if this flop vs. the very-beatable UNC-Chapel Hill was worse than 5 years ago when that vastly-talented team led by Sam Clancy exited the tourney at the hands of UNC-Wilmington, highlighted by Somebody Named Stuart Hare knifing between three Trojans and throwing down a vicious, two-handed dunk, complete with the hanging on the rim and the pulling up of the knees to the elbows as all the kids do nowadays.
Yes ... Sam Clancy was extremely photogenic as he watched Somebody Named Stuart Hare posterizing him.
What the USA doesn't know yet is how photogenically correct and congenial Roy Williams will be in his suit, his eyeglasses, his suntan and his Southern twang when he accepts his First Runner-Up (or Second Runner-Up or Third Runner-Up or Fourth Runner-Up) trophy.
It matters not because even though Wes Miller is the nicest team manager who ever forsaked handing out towels and water bottles during timeouts, he's a dreadful b-baller who has a lot of years of rec-league frustration ahead.
But, just wait'll he shows the fellas at the rec center his 2004-05 national championship ring.
Then again, maybe he won't -- just to avoid the barbs of the other naked guys in the locker room.
"They give ya one of these for handing out towels and water bottles? What do they give Roy Williams' secretary -- sapphires and emeralds?"
But, sometimes all the gal wants is a pearl necklace.
Which is where Nancy O'Dell comes in.
With her unmatching cuffs n' collar.
Which means that only one question remains: Who wins the race to Playboy's centerfold pages -- Danielle or Dannielynn?
Either way, they'll each make their mamas proud.
The madness marches on -- the only downside being when those of us who were like Tara Conner last year (a bracket champion, just w/o all the cocaine and mashing with other chicks) have to pass our crown on to the winner which The Donald deems worthy ...
Friday, March 23, 2007
"Weirdest subplot of the 2007 tournament: An inordinate number of African-born players with African names that torture every play-by-play announcer. With the exception of BYU and Belmont, it seems like every team's had one so far. I mention this because UNLV has a starting forward named Xrwtysgsgj Mndgagagagbke."
Any time we read the words "weirdest" and "inordinate number" as they apply to Africa, we can't help but wonder if maybe Simmons is one of those inordinate number of Jews who had his Yiddish surname (Goldberg or Rosenberg or Goldstein or Rosenstein) de-Hebrewized to "Simmons" (a la Russian-Jew actor Kirk Douglas, born as "Issur Danielovitch") -- because how else to rationalize UNLV forward Gaston Essengue (from Cameroon) singled out as "Xrwtysgsgj Mndgagagagbke"?
At least, we're guessing that it was Essengue who was singled out as Simmons tried to get cute and smart-alecky by using Xrwtysgsgj Mndgagagagbke as code for something that he felt was more intelligent than merely referring to Essengue as "Spearchucker Jones," the name of the black dude played by Fred "The Hammer" Williamson in the original "M*A*S*H*"?
On the other hand, Simmy might've been re-visiting the struggle he had in last year's tourney when he couldn't figure out the proper pronunciation for UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (who, like Essengue, is a Cameroonian).
Since UCLA advanced all the way to the title game, the "weirdness" was prolonged for Simmons.
Sad, but true: Some people will never embrace our African-born b/ballers until those b/ballers embrace quality American surnames such as "Washington" or "Jefferson" ... last names which white people no longer own.
Look ... everybody knows that, aside from Ohhh-LYE-juh-won, Ohhh-luhh-wuhh-KONN-dee and Mohhhh-TOMMM-bohhh, it's football, not basketball, which has provided the most-prolific African names --> i.e. "Tshmanga Biakabutuku" ... "Adewale Ogunleye" ... "Nnamdi Ashmouga" ... "Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila" ... and, a personal fave, "Ifeanyi Uwaezuoke."
Football's proud African-American legacy began with migrants from Nigeria -- first w/ Clemson PKs Obed Ariri and Donald Igwebuikwe before the emergence of pioneer RB Christian Okoye.
The melody of Okoye notwithstanding, it remains more fun to sing a few choruses of "igg ... wayy ... bee ... kay" or "bee-yaw-kuh-boo-too-kuh.
As Okoye became the first Nigerian to win an NFL rushing title (two RBs from Zaire -- Biakabutuka, with his Americanized first name "Tim," and Amos Zereoue never quite achieved that level of pro fame), ultimate b/ball glory eluded Olajuwon in college (thanks, Lorenzo Charles) until he won back-to-back NBA titles.
Leave it to the nation of Senegal to give us African glory almost a full decade ago when Souleymane Wane helped UConn to the national championship one season after Makhtar N'Diaye (after transferring from Michigan) helped UNC to the Final Four.
Is Soulemane Wane a weird name to pronounce? Do Boubacar Aw or Longar Longar or Duany Duany or Luol Deng or Yinka Dare or Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje deserve to be shunned/mocked because Jews named either "fine-STINE" or "fine-STEEN" or Levine-As-"Levin" or Levine-As-Luh-VEEN" cannot pronounce their names?
That's mean ... and un-neighborly ... then again, Olbermann used to pull this shit on the EspyChannel routinely and repeatedly.
This all might've been prevented if the Triangular Trade which we read about in junior-high history class had NOT been: The NCAA/NBA/NFL (molasses) --> West Indies |||| West Indies (rum) --> Africa |||| Africa (great-great-great grandfathers of Longar Longar and Duany Duany) --> the NCAA/NBA/NFL and, instead, been a paradigm of: maple syrup from Vermont to Mexico |||| tequila from Mexico to Russia |||| Russian mail-order brides and/or Nikolai Khabibulin's goaltending skills to the Cradle of Freedom.
Alas ... it wasn't to be ...
Now that it's too late, the solution seems to be that Cameroon needs to get busy populating some national championship rosters -- lest they be ridiculed as wacky Africans w/ wacky African names.
A Nigerian such as Oregon's Churchill Odia isn't on Simmons' shit list because his first name is the same as a British prime minister whom Simmons has heard of (although nobody's sure if Churchill Odia's Duck teammate, Chamberlain Oguchi, got his Nigerian name ... from British prime minister Neville Chamberlain and a Japanese guy named "Oguchi"??? ... it's complicated ... definitely moreso than what's going on at Maryland with Nigerian confusion re: current Terp Ekene Ibekwe and ex-Terp Obinna Ekezie ... ).
Ibekwe? Igwebuike? Where does it all end? We could ask Makhtar N'Diaye of the '97-'98 UNC Tar Heels -- or we could ask Senegalese soccer star Mahktar N'Diaye of the Scottish Premier League's Rangers.
Apparently, "Makhtar N'Diaye" is a common name in Senegal ... although it might sound better if if "Makhtar" was switched to "Connor" or "Jared" or "Tyson" or "Bryce."
Not that it'll matter tonight when Gaston Essengue (L) and Churchill Odia (R) engage in a spearfight for African supremacy in an NCAA regional semifinal between the Runnin' Rebs and the Ducks.
It's a matchup which might upset a non-b/baller such as Simmy and his white-hooded feelings toward Xrwtysgsgj Mndgagagagbke -- but, it'll make Shaka Zulu proud.
Up next: Simmons explores why Shaquille O'Neal and Ed O'Bannon never embraced their Irish ancestry ...
Monday, March 19, 2007
This week on "When Animals Attack!" ... a Dolphin and a Bengal exchanged blows inside, near or around a casino -- and like the song by Jim Croce, Joey Porter looked like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone.
Badder than ol' King Kong?
Meaner than a junkyard dog?
Not likely (although we'll continue to bump into stories about what a classic bad-ass he is) ...
Anyway, from the very split-second that J-Peazy was released by Pittsburgh, everybody and his brindle-coloured pit bull was lining up to berate the Steelers for saying goodbye to the (air-quotes here -->) "leadership" which #55 provided.
It wasn't unlike when Milhouse's dad, Kirk Van Houten, was let go by the cracker factory -- and Kirk moaned to his boss that, after all those years, all he was getting was a "goodbye" and "good luck."
Kirk's boss: "I don't remember saying, 'Good luck.' "
See? This is why some of us warned America not to burn the #55 KOLB jersey and the #55 OLSAVSKY jersey hanging in the closet behind the #55 PORTER jersey.
You were warned, America.
Anyway, Joe will be taking his #55 'tude to south F-L-A where he can infuse the Dolphins with some of that "leadership."
With the addition of Porter, Miami's defense will have THREE leaders (including DE Jason Taylor and LB Zach Thomas), so the prospect of that trio LEADING the team to a 19-0 record, capped by a 53-0 Super Bowl victory, looks very promising.
(Note: The 318% of the daily-recommended amount of leadership which Taylor, Thomas and Porter provide will offset the 0.452% of leadership which new coach, Cardboard-Cutout Cameron, offers ... )
"Leadership" ... it's one of those constantly-misused sports buzzwords, a la "courage."
"He had the courage to take that jumper with the score, 71-58." He's a real leader ..."
It was only a few days ago when Sports Illustrated's football feature writer, Michael Silver, went as far as to imply that Joey Porter's "leadership" is irreplacable in Steel Town.
It's not worth re-hashing the Silver story here because, well ... it wasn't very compelling and it wasn't very convincing.
The gist is that the Steelers' brass perhaps believes that Porter's status as an elite player is over, so it's not worth keeping around #55 as an alleged leader.
As we're well aware, the Steelers have done this before -- and they'll do it again.
But, given the Steelers' track record and Porter's, it's difficult to side with the player.
On the flip side, it's difficult to ascertain if it was a "lack of leadership" which caused the defending Super Bowl champs to commit turnovers at an alarming rate in '06.
For example, if Fast Willie had a role model such as The Bus available last season, he would've saved his fumbles for a critical juncture in a playoff game vs. the Colts, rather than wasting fumbles during the regular season.
If The Bus had stuck around, he'd've told Big Ben not to get on his motocycle, but rather to "grab a bus" to get downtown.
And, if The Bus had been there for the two humiliations vs. the Ravens (27-0 and 31-7), the outcomes might've been vastly different.
Like, say, 24-3 and 30-10.
That's how leadership works.
According to some meatheads ...
Or did Baltimore win those contests vs. its rival because the Ravens have the leadership of God's Linebacker barking, "What time is it?! (Answer: "Game time, woof woof woof!!")???
"Leadership" -- and that alone -- is what got Phil Rizzuto to the Hall of Fame, despite the fact that he was a so-so Yankee shortstop and a horrifically-ill-prepared broadcaster.
Yet, the Scooter was a leader because of the manner in which he coaxed DiMaggio and Mantle into hitting all those homers and Whitey Ford into pitching all of those shutouts.
That's what the Steelers will miss most from Porter -- not the way that he was a leader by taking a bullet in the buttocks during the offseason, but more about the way in which he got himself tossed out of that game (before it started) when he and William Green of the Browns mixed it up re: manhood issues not related to who was better at Crazy Eights or Hearts.
"I be slappin' the Queen o' Spades on yo' ass! You're mine, dawg! Queen o' Spades, mutha f---a, Queen o' Spades!"
Yeah ... that'll be missed.
Joe can take his bullets in the arse and casino fist-o-cuffs to Miami.
"I don't remember saying 'good luck' ..."
Sometimes, though (actually ... "always") somebody can be a leader by "making plays" or by understanding "assignment football."
If Steeler CBs Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden -- make that "the exploitable Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden" -- need Joey Porter's so-called leadership to help prevent Ocho Cinco from blowing past them for a 37-yard gain, this team's in a world of hurt.
All the barkin' n' woofin' n' Vegas roughhousin' is one thing -- but a player can become a quiet leader by making play after play after play.
Tagging a "mutha f---a" onto the end of each sentence in between plays doth not a leader make.
No one's sayin' Mike Silver's historical awareness dates back to 1982 (well, actually ... we are), but, if "leadership" is such a big deal, how come the K.C. Chiefs of the late-'60s/early-'70s didn't win five or six Super Bowls?
That defense was frickin' loaded with performers ... Hall of Famer Buck Buchanan and Willie Lanier ... studs such as Emmitt Thomas and Curley Culp ... a handful of other reliable performers ... and then, an offense w/ a Hall of Fame QB (Len Dawson), a dazzling WR (Otis Taylor) and quality performers throughout.
It might be fun to see a pencilneck like Silver telling Buck Buchanan that his team lacked "leadership" or "heart" -- but, Junious died wayyyyy too young at age 51 almost 15 years ago.
"Curley Culp, get in here! Mike Silver just called you gutless. How do you feel about that? Anyway, he's hiding behind that slot machine ..."
Sunday, March 18, 2007
The first weekend of NCAA Tournament action is in the books -- and most of America was already sleepytime when the final seconds ticked off (only moments ago) of the final game of the "intoxicating," 4-day, 3-Ball Free-For-All.
What we're referring to here -- three clicks shy of the Sunday-midnight-Monday neutral zone -- is the final play of the NCAA women's playoff game on The Deuce which ended when that chick from Nebraska looked as though she was tossing a grenade ... her at-the-buzzer heave glancing off the top of the backboard, thus preserving a 64-61 victory for Dawn Staley's Temple Owls squad.
This is not a typo: There must've been anywhere from 52-73 fans inside N.C. State's arena when that grenade-toss hit the top of the backboard -- which, when you look at it, wasn't all that bad, considering that if that grenade had detonated, the body-count (i.e. "collateral damage") would have been minimal.
While we could make a quick get-away by stating that the only difference between chicks b-ball and a bucket of (shit) is -- you guessed it -- "the bucket," it is not our place to insult the innocent bucket in such a manner.
"Bucket" ... it's an interesting metaphor for basketball, is it not?
Tennessee's chicks had many buckets during a 34-0 run in its victory tonight.
34 unanswered points.
Well, ours is not to question the shitty-osity of chicks hoops -- not when UT-Knoxville's men are carving out so many special memories ... mostly with a roster full of players who wear their headbands in such a uniquely-peculiar-but-delightful manner (i.e., askew ... mid-crown vs. mid-forehead ... but never two headbands criss-crossing in a head-wound-survivor motif).
Vol headbands aside, some of us definitely had our hearts set on a title-game showdown between Winthrop and Duke (since these teams were placed on opposite sides of the bracket, the title game was the only place where the Thorpies and the Dukies were going to settle their hardwood differences).
Sadly, Winthrop and Duke both bowed out during this opening weekend -- and out the window went our opportunity to re-connect with Winthorpe choking Billy Ray as we sang along to the gagging, semi-muffled cries of, "It was the Dukes! It was the Dukes!"
'Tis justice: The memory of Louis WINTHORPE teaming with Billy Ray Valentine and Ophelia to take down Randolph and Mortimer DUKE, highlighted by Randolph falling to the ground while clutching his chest and Mortimer calming the alarmed onlookers by offering an enraged outburst of "Fuck him!"
One can't help but think that Louis' pep talk to Billy Ray was the catalyst in this final outcome.
"Think big, think positive. Never show any signs of weakness. Always go for the throat. Buy low, sell high. Fear ... that's the other guy's problem.
"Nothing you have ever experienced can prepare you for the unbridled carnage you're about to witness. The Super Bowl ... the World Series ... they don't know what pressure is. In this building, it's either kill or be killed. You make no friends in the pits and you take no prisoners ..."
It was an impassioned speech, but the memory of it creates some inner-conflict since Dan Aykroyd said it to Eddie Murphy as the two walked along the sidewalk outside the World Trade Center.
Winthrop and Duke could've avenged those deaths, alas ... one day Madison Square Garden (home of the NIT and the Preseason NIT) will become yet another NYC flattened landmark for movie lore after Atta Jr. takes care of it.
The politics of a global bracket aside (who is the international No. 1 seed nowadays? North Korea? MS-13? ESPN?), there was a vast array of incredibly-medicore b-ball being played under the CBS big-top.
A lot of people watched it.
And, a lot of us occupied our time in other ways (mostly by lamenting that there was no World Baseball Classic to take our mind off of marginally-talented, college students with a jump-shot limit which does not exceed 15-17 feet spotting up from 19-feet, 9-inches and chucking the pumpkin at the peach basket).
Or by aiming that grenade for the top of the backboard.
The televised practice of this "art" is akin to us pitching to TV execs our brainstorm of a round-robin tournament which features some of the world's top furniture-polish huffers and aerosol inhalerists.
Notice how we said "world's top," thereby allowing our competition to appeal to an international audience -- just so the world has a huffer to embrace the way that it does Kobayashi in those competitive eating exhibitions.
Whereas this year we "coulda" had Winthorpe vs. "It was the Dukes! It was the Dukes!" -- much like last year's Brad./Pitt. matchup -- it seems as though the action every season has us rewinding to dialogue from a movie which we enjoy as much as the wife enjoys Winthorpe vs. Duke.
JOSEY WALES: "You a bounty hunter?"
Bounty Hunter: "A man's got to make a livin'."
JOSEY WALES (snarling): "Dyin' ain't much of a livin', boy!"
Dyin' AIN'T much of as livin' (it doesn't pay jack, by the way) -- but, by the same token, dyin' is what happens to 48 teams every year during the first weekend of this not-as-prestigious-as-it-used-to-be tourney.
We needn't explore the complete and total meltdowns of teams which uglied themselves right outta the field (and into a 5- to 10-year ban from further tourney participation, if there was any justice) -- b-ball waste cases such as Stanford and Long Beach State, along with new members such as Indiana and O'Reilly Auto Parts and Michigan State.
Don't misinterpret the signs -- after all, this is not a referendum on the merit of the program which Jim BOREheim is running at Sillycuse or the myth that John Beilein can actually coach his Wuss Virginia players into doing anything other than attempting 3's which they have no business taking.
Boreheim and Beilein ... pass the biscuits, please.
What we do know after this first full weekend is that March Mildness STILL cannot touch the college football bowl season, so the Majerusists and Kelloggites can shelve that romantic angle or the scientific, chalktalk.
College football rules the landscape -- a notion which was cemented by that Fiesta Bowl finish which STILL has America buzzing.
There isn't a coach in the college b-ball world who would have the guts to call a hook-n'-ladder play on 4th down, to design a WR-turned-HB-option pass on 4th down or to dial into a Statue of Liberty play on a 2-pt.er to pull a game out of the fire.
Boise State's Chris Petersen is going to be our Coach of the Year long after 2007 has passed.
Roy Williams? He'll take the safe way out every time.
At least, that's what ESPN.com's Pat Forde strongly implied last week re: the UNC bench boss -- although Forde did so in a poorly-disguised manner ... using the ol' "UNC has quality coaching" tag before spilling the beans about how "in disarray" the team often looks.
It's like informing America that Tyler Hansbrough is a tough kid ... tough in a talented-version-of-Joe-Wolf sense, but maybe not as tough as ol' #00, Eric Montross.
Still, ya gotta love the way that gods such as Williams and Pitino coach up the wardrobe, be it choosing between the Armani suit or the Bill Blass.
Pitino ... he's always the cat's meow when he wearing his $500 cuff links.
Because cuff links and b-ball go together like beef n' chocolate.
That much was evident at the end of the Lousyville-Texas A&M game when freshman superstar Edgar Sosa -- who'd been 15 of 15 from the foul line -- gakked both FTs with less than a minute to play and Lousyville trailing, 70-69.
That was a tough break for the youngster -- but then when Texas A&M missed two FTs which woulda made for either a 71-69 or 72-69 lead with 29 seconds to play, Sosa had what they call "new life."
Pitino, master strategist and cuff link-wearer that he is, devised the perfect play -- Sosa walking the ball upcourt w/ a dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble ... timeout w/ :16 to play ... inbounds to Sosa for the dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, half-assed move to his right and the straight-away, fall-away, 22-footer w/ :10 to play.
After Acie Law sank those two FTs, Sosa had another 3-ball chance to tie, but missed at the final horn.
Before the final minute, Sosa had been 7 of 7 from the floor, 15 of 15 from the line.
If only he'd had a backcourt mate named "Dr. Dunkenstein" (Darrell Griffith) ... But, let's give credit where credit is due -- Pitino's cuff links coached one of the best games of their cuff-linked life.
Sosa? Well, as they say, "he's only going to get better" ... which is NOT the empty, vapid Dickie V expression it might seem to be. Either way, your heart truly aches for a kid like that -- almost as much as it does for Notre Shame's Colin Falls.
The kid was out there, bustin' his hump for the Farting Irish as his teammates were flagellatin' against Winthorpe, falling behind, 54-34, before taking a late lead (63-62) and then losing, 70-64.
Falls was 2 of 10 on 3-balls -- and his running mate, Russell Carter, was 0 of 6 -- a continuation of the Big Least semifinal vs. Georgeclown when the Irish went 0 of 10 on 3-balls during that game's final 15 minutes.
In that game, Carter hit a 3-ball in the first two minutes of the second half (making him 5 of 7 "from distance" at that point). However, Carter missed his final five 3-balls in that game and then really seemed to find his rhythm vs. Winthorpe.
All told, it was an 0-of-11 period of heartbreak for a kid who probably shouldn't be messin' with the 3-ball to begin with.
Colin Falls? Well, aside from the fact that once NC State was denied an NCAA berth and had to settle for the NIT (thus flat-out robbing America of a priceless Colin Falls-vs.-Courtney Fells showcase), Colin Falls had an incredible season.
Falls was 25 of 44 for 61 points in a 112-82 Mideast Regional win over Ohio; went 22 of 35 for 52 points in a 109-99, Mideast semifinal loss to Kentucky (which got 44 from Dan Issel); and then scored 45 (on 21 of 39 shooting) in a 121-106 loss to Iowa in##))(*HALT!
Seems as though a mischievous leprechaun substituted our "Colin Falls Is A Sack of S---" notes for "Austin Carr Was A Frickin' B-Ball God" notes from the 1970 tourney.
Look ... no one's sayin' that Austin Carr was a better Golden Domer than Colin Falls. No ... we're saying that Austin Carr was 15, maybe 20 times better than that current stiff who shows America little more than a propensity for camping along the 3-point stripe, for rarely passing (to anyone else in scoring position), for avoiding dribble-drives to the rack (though he's an 80 percent foul shooter), for getting nowhere near a rebound, for refusing to acknowledge the set-a-pick function and for playing mediocre defense.
Other than that, Colin Falls and Austin Carr are practically identical twins.
However, Carr > Carter.
Reminder: If there'd've been a 3-point line back in '70, Austin Carr would've treated it differently than Colin Falls does nowadays (who acts as though he's a puppy wearing an Invisible Fence collar). If only this nation could one day pass legislation which would retroactively adjust Austin Carr's numbers to account for all of the 3-pointers which he was unconstitutionally denied ...
The next time most of us see Colin Falls with a basketball-like sphere in his hands, it'll be when he's clutching one of those mini-b-balls during his 23rd-place finish in a local-pub Pop-A-Shot tournament.
That's the magic of the 3-ball -- it resurrected interest in the game, just like Mark McGwire made us believe in baseball heroes once again.
Sadly, the Maryland Terrapins could not bottle this magic. When "Garyland" had a shot to hurt Butler at the buzzer, Coach Williams diagrammed the wrong play completely.
Coach shoulda called on the 13th man on the bench ... Jason McAlpin, the kid who won our hearts when he nailed two 3's in the final minute of the 101-50 win over UMKC and who missed the 3 in the final seconds of the 31-point rout of winless Iona.
McAlpin is definitely the guy you'd want strokin' it with the game on the line because, hey ... if it wasn't for the Jason McAlpin version of Jason McElwain, Garyland would've beaten UMKC by merely a 95-50 score, instead of 101-50.
Think about that over yer Scotch n' soda, Gare.
If he's good enough to bomb away during the final minute against UKMC and Iona, then why isn't he good enough to take the shot against Butthole?
Does Jason McAlpin's college coach has as little faith (read: "none") have as little faith (read: "none") as Jason McElwain's high school coach had in him?
However, when it comes to vintage matchups and "old school" blockbusters, UCLA vs. Indiana provided THE showcase of The First Weekend.
Maybe it wasn't quite like UCLA-Indiana in the '76 Final Four when Tom Abernethy shut down Richard Washington (holding him without a shot for 25 minutes) while sinking 7 of his 8 shots in IU's 65-51 win over the defending national champs ... and maybe it wasn't like the '85 NIT championship game when Reggie Miller smoked IU ... and maybe it wasn't like the '92 regional final game when UCLA's superior talent of Ed O'Bannon and Don MacLean got worked by Calbert Cheaney and and Damon Bailey and Eric Anderson and Alan Henderson and Matt Nover ...
But, this one was one for the ages -- particularly when Indiana went the final 13:13 of the first half by scoring only two baskets (down, 20-13 at intermission) and and then scoring no points in the first 3:17 of the second half (that's TWO baskets in a span of 16:30).
Well, once the pregame Wheaties kicked it, all hell broke loose.
In the span of 3:28, Lance Stemler hit two 3-balls and Roderick Wilmont hit one ... Stemler sank two FTs and Earl Calloway scored a bucket and the Hurryin' Hooters had tied Underachievement, 49-49, with 1:01 to play.
It was pleasing to see Lance Stemler dish out some frontier justice in a manner which Jarrad Odle could not in the '02 NCAA Tournament championship game (0 of 4 from the floor, 0 of 3 from the line).
Lance Stemler -- sort of -- avenged the death of Jarrad Odle, the operative term here is "sort of," considering that IU finished 17 of 52 from the field, 10 of 21 from the line, 15-0 at home and 6-11 on the road.
Speaking of 6-11, those were Wilmont's numbers when it came to shooting 3-balls in the first-rounder vs. the Zags.
Roddy went 0 of 3 vs. UCLA ... another sad tale of a 15-foot-limit guy attempting to hit from 19-9.
Maybe next time he spots up, he should scooch back another five or six feet.
The Hooters HAD to roll over vs. the Bruins to keep alive America's dreams for a UCLA-USC title game (which is where this tourney seems headed, whether America wants to admit it or not).
Here's yer proof: SoCal U. followed up 70-17 and 50-14 blowouts of Arkansas on the football field by "Routin' The Razorbacks" in the first round before roughing up Texas in "The Vince Young Payback Game."
Git the F outta the way, Hogs n' 'Horns -- the Boys From Troy are on a mission to give the 'SC a b-ball identity that, up until now, consisted of: A) Cheryl Miller B) Lisa Leslie C) The McGee twin who married Darryl Strawberry D) The Disappearance of Harold Miner E) National championships which went up in smoke 20 years ago when freshmen Bo Kimble, Hank Gathers and Tom Lewis transferred out because they wanted to play for Stan Morrison, not George Raveling F) Fond memories of our own childhood when Don Carfino and Biff Burrell were workin' some backcourt magic in the Southland while, in a nearby locale in the L.A. basin, Sam Gilbert's $$$ was bankrolling another nat'l title for The Grand Wizard (shhhhhhhh ... Wooden is 95 years old and he's so polite and elderly and wonderful ...).
If nuthin' else, it might be worth it if Congress could enact necessary legislation which would ban forever the comparison between Tenn. '07 and UNLV '77 just because UT's 121-86 W over CSULB tied the record of most points in a first-round NCAA game, originally established by the Hardway Eight in that 121-95 win over USF in that '77 first-rounder.
It's bad enough that anyone would make the parallel between this UT fluke and that UNLV b-ball stud show -- a team which would've scored 176 points vs. USF if the 3-point line had existed then -- but, when this Planet paid homage to the Hardway Eight the other day, we meant to include the name of Jackie Robinson, but, then ... we didn't (for whatever reasons).
Jackie Robinson was a star for the '75-'76 UNLV Rebs, a player who would've been among the top two or three best players on the '76-'77 squad, but an injury sidelined him for the entire season.
Some people might argue that "eight is enough" -- and that a ninth player would have disrupted the balance of this delicate eco-system. Others might argue that we're spending too much time talking about players from 30 years ago.
Oh, so we're 'sposed to talk about the current UNLV squad, with it's ugly-ass uniforms and it's ugly-ass father-son combo of Lon Kruger and Kevin Kruger and how they don't stand up to Tark The Shark and Baby Shark (Jerry and Danny)?
THIS Rebel team, however, DOES have Wendell White -- which takes us back to the movie theme which began this entry.
Capt. Smith: "You've been a bit of a puzzlement to me lately, Wendell. You haven't seemed like your old, cruel self."
Indeed ... this is what happens when Dudley Smith's drug ring goes bad, once Meeks and Stensland start thinking on their own instead of merely taking orders.
We defintely saw the conflict in Wendell "Bud" White once he crossed that threshhold from "bending" the rules to "breaking" them.
It all began so well-intentioned.
Ofcr. White (holding up his badge): "L.A.P.D., shitbird. Get the fuck out of here before I call your wife to come pick you up."
What's NOT to like about Wendell White? The modern-day one goes by the nickname "The Bull" -- however, most of us will always opt for Bud over The Bull.
Ofcr White: "You touch her again and I'll have 'em send ya back to Quentin on a kiddie-raper beef. Y'know what they do to kiddie rapers in Quentin?"
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Anyway, it's not the decision of this tribunal, but rather America's choice/right to determine who has the better bod -- Joe Lunardi or Lumpy Rutherford.
Sayeth Nick Bakay: "Advantage? Puuuuuushhhh."
Not everybody in America is old enough to remember Wally Cleaver and his pal, Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford -- but, for those who do, nobody will ever forget how well Wally shot the rock (back in the days when "shootin' the rock" meant chest-passes and set-shots accomplished while wearing the traditional, black, canvas Chuck Taylors).
So, here we are on the eve of March Mildness and, for those of us who were grand sweepstakes winners last year (when we astutely selected FLA to beat UCLA) in a 100-plus-participant field of cut-throats in this nation's most-respected pool, our stomachs are the intestinal equivalent of an eight-car pileup.
That's because we've seen our own deaths.
And the coroner's report is all but a formality -- a 73rd-place finish for the "defending champion."
But, that's more game than Joe Lunardi, who makes us wanna bolo-punch our neighbors and loved ones by showing up everywhere BEFORE the tourney until he disappears to the safety of the condo he shares either with his mom or those two, male "buds" from college.
At least after Lumpy Lunardi pulls his vanishing act, we have the legendary Jim Boeheim and Dickie Vee to explain the game of basketball's inner-workings.
After the selection committee "snubbed" his Big Least Tied-For-Fifth-Place Orange Assassins, Boeheim spent Monday and yesterday informing America of the crime which was visited upon his Sorrycuse B-Ball gym dandies.
That Boeheim ... he's one lovable scamp, isn't he?
Y'see, when the BLF (Boeheim Lovability Factor) yields to the BAP (Boeheim Annoyance Paradigm), it's not that difficult to empathize with the man's profound frustration. It's easy to see how his inner-rage (which he expresses in a calm, whiny manner) reached this boiling point ever since recruiting warlord Bernie Fine failed to lasso another 'Melo to bring another nat'l title to The 'Cuse.
Now, Jimmy Bee's quick-fix solution is to expand the field from 64 to 128 or 256 or 512, even though only 300-something teams play "Division I" b-ball.
Citing the college football, bowl-game structure and the 60 of 119 D-I teams which "qualify" for bowls, Jim wants b-ball to get away from the problematic contricts of taxation without representation
The Boeheim Tournament Solution is to mirror college football's 50 percent range -- meaning that we need a playoff with 168 of the 336 college b-ball schools which "claim" to be "Division I."
Some might claim that Jim's philosophy is founded on the principles of specious reasoning and circular logic. In truth, though, it comes from Jim's lack of enlightenment, a short-term memory and a failure to view long-term logistical nightmares.
Jim is opposed to only 19.34 percent (65 of 336 teams) representation in the postseason, yet he might be failing to acknowledge that The MLB sends only 26.67 of its teams to the playoffs.
162 hard-fought, grueling days of baseball fought out in the heartland of America ... and all Dusty Baker (the black Jim Boeheim) got for his 103-59 season of 1993 was empty platitudes.
(Fun fact: 103-59 is better than 10-6 and a tied-for-fifth-place in the Big Least during a season in which a team plays one road game during the first two months of that season)
When Boeheim was a little kid listening to ballgames on the Philco, pro/college basketball, pro-college football and The MLB allowed only playoff teams to advance to the playoffs -- dismissing fifth-place Big Least teams which played all their Nov. and Dec. games at home as "cat piss."
On a happier note, if God decides to ever expand the field from 65 to 168, the can of worms will be officially opened.
Black-top, pick-up teams will be petitioning (and winning) for inclusion into the field and then those black-top, pick-up teams will be facing (and beating) Michigan State in a play-in game ... and then when they finally win it all and hoist the championship trophy, lawsuits will ensue re: whether said trophy shall become property of the trophy case at the rec center where the boys normally play of if said trophy is property of the back seat of Larry's metallic-blue Subaru since that's where said trophy currently rests.
Think it through, Jim.
Bernie does the "recruiting" ... you do the "coaching."
And, for god's sake ... think of the children.
Luckily, God's probably not going to tamper with the sovereignty of the tourney because, well, if He did, the Kentucky Derby would be open to rhinos and go-carts, et cetera, et cetera ...
Well, that's the fun part of having ambassadors for the sport -- the fact that there's always a big "ASS" in the middle of the word ambASSador.
But, what of Boehiem's contemporaries and disciples?
Yup ... "the committee" preferred a Big XII Conference also-ran (O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock Campus) and its Head Coach Designate (a cardboard cut-out named Pat Knight) over Boeheim's Battalion of Orange Marauders.
What's unfortunate about the O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock Campus playoff scenario is that the KnightRaiders had careless losses at Baylor and Missouri and home defeats to Nebraska and K-State (after winning by 10 in Manhattan earlier).
If O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock Campus had turned those four L's into W's, Head Coach Designate's papa would be heading into the tourney with 894 career wins instead of 890.
What better retirement gift for The Mis-Named GENERAL than for the KnightRaiders to go 6-0, win the national championship and send Bob off to his favorite fishing hole with 900 career victories?
Now, with nuthin' to play for, we can probably expect O'Reilly Auto Parts to lose in the first round against NAPA Auto Parts ... meaning that the Head Coach Designate will continue to wear his paper "trainee" hat for at least seven more years until Bob reaches 1,000 career wins (with seven first-round NCAA tournament losses tacked on for good measure).
Bob used to be a lot more fun when he was a bitter, unemployed coach driving to Akron to see his Head Case Designate son.
His exact words, as he banged on the stering wheel, went something like: "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 goddamn 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!"
Again ... this proves the flaw in the Boeheim Resolution. If we expand the field to 168 teams, a head coach from Quinnipiac or (insert name of junior college here) might "go off" because his team underachieved or didn't play smart.
When we reserve the tourney for Bob, the mike remains a sanctuary for contradictory remarks and empty rants which have us smiling and saying, "That coach from Quinnipiac was a dick, but what Bob said about the F-ing stepfather being an F-ing goshdarn F-ing (jerk) and how he F-ing lied and lied and lied and how it affected his F-ing life and how his F-ing heart was ripped out, man ... that moved me, dude."
Remember, kids: Boeheim's the lovable scamp -- Knight's just a rascal.
Well, that Boeheim protege likes to do the coaching thing in his $1,500 suit, his $550 necktie, his $630 cuff links and his $755 dress shoes.
Not Bruno Magli's, though.
O.J. called those "ugly-ass."
Lucky for Slick Rick, he probably won't get any Stanford Cardinal blood on the dress shoes which were paid for by the sweat of his Lousyville Cardinals.
The Cardinals will bury the Cardinal in what#####????? Stanford got in?
That's a lovely university sprawled across a few hundred acres of farmland along the foothills of the San Francisco peninsula (and some of us resided right next door and enjoyed the wilderness and plethora of hiking trails), but, Jiminy F-ing Christmas, someone hand us a steering wheel so that we can pound on it and drop the F-bomb repeatedly while asking, "What the F did Stanford do to deserve a berth?"
The lack of credentials for Stanford is one of the many subplots as we we head into tomorrow's shindig.
Of course, last night's "play-in" game was, ummmm ... "play-in-credible."
Niagara's a cute story if you happen to know a pair of sweethearts who met there almost 30 years ago (as some of us do) ... or if your wife's dad used to broadcaast Purple Eagles games 35-40 years ago (as some of our wives' dads did) ... or if your handsome pup -- The Outlaw Josey Wales -- was born less than two miles from the Falls a little more than 4.5 years ago (as some of our dogs were) ... or if you still like shopping at the Niagara Falls outlet mall (next door to the torn-down high school, La Salle, of ex-MLB'er Rick Manning, who is not to be confused with current-NFL'er Ricky Manning, Jr.) ... where were we?
Right ... after you've logged a 10-hour day, and you're preppin' for the treacherous 3.5-mile commute home, maybe you don't wanna hear the radio broadcast of the Niagara-Florida A&M game as you put the key into the car's ignition.
On the other hand, maybe Niagara is this year's George Mason.
Or maybe George Washington is this year's George Mason.
Or maybe Georgeclown is this year's George Mason.
Georgeclown is a bit of a puzzlement because one never knows how good of a coach John Thompson III (JT3) is because his papa has been known to sit behind Sonny and bark at officials.
On the other hand, if you've heard Papa Thompson's radio show, it's difficult to image how much of that barking is discernible.
Coach has a rough time with "enunciation."
Georgeclown's most-recent "interesting" game was the Big Least tourney semifinal squeaker which the Hoyasexuals won over Notre Shame in which 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert did basically nada.
Hibbert missed badly on his first shot attempt, dunked twice midday through the first half and then didn't attempt another shot until scoring with 1:59 to play to put the Hoyas ahead, 80-78 (the deciding points would eventually come on a Jeff Green basket with :14 to play, which snapped an 82-82 tie).
Sure, Roy was saddled with some foul trouble, but to not attempt a single shot in 26 minutes of elapsed playing time?
JT3's gotta tell his boyz to stop acting as though Roy Hibbert is Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje or Boubacar Aw.
Green and the other bigs got the job done, though, for a team which gave the eventual-champion Gators their toughest tourney test (a 57-53 verdict) last year.
G'clown, though, was stymied by what stymies a lot of teams which are prone to being stymied -- crappy from beyond the arc (5 of 21) and weak at the foul line (only 8 FT attempted).
Nip n' tuck all the way ... the Hoyas led, 53-52 on a bucket by Ashanti Cook with 1:42 to play, but FLA always has somebody comin' through in the clutch, right?
Corey Brewer's bucket and FT w/ :28 to play was the back-breaker -- and then it was Darrel Owens takin' a 3 (1 of 5 on 3-balls to that point) and -- naturally -- clanking it with :07 to play.
Coaches, fans, alumni. etc ... everybody loves it when the guy who's 1 of 5 from "distance" upchucks the game-winner inside of 10 seconds to play (even though a university administrator is more qualified to hit that shot).
So, it looks as though G'Clown is the only thing keeping Florida from goin back-to-back. A lot of people shy away from the "repeat" factor, citing failures by every team since Shuhsheffsky State in '91 and '92.
That angle is a little misleading, given that R-Kinsaw went to back-to-back finals in '94 and '95 (beating Shuhsheffsky; losing to Cameron Dollar) and Can'tucky went to three title games in a row ('96-win; '97-loss in OT; '98-win).
Sometimes, talent really does prevail.
And, Florida has oodles of it.
Alas, if only Sorrycuse and Lousyville could square off in an unforgettable Sweet 16 showcase wherein the teams combine to go 13 of 41 from "distance" and 23 of 38 from the foul stripe.
Certainly some other teams will provide us with stats which are equally magical.
Some people think that Winthrop might be the ultimate darkhorse -- and, apparently, we're supposed to be all impressed by the Thorpies' 28-4 record which includes road losses against North Carolina (by 7), Maryland (by 11), Wisconsin (by 3) and Texas A&M (by 20).
Some of us, though, remain highly skeptical of a team which spent Feb. playing a pair of 19-loss teams and a 22-loss opponent and who beat a team called "Limestone" in early-Dec.
"How'd ya end up playing Limestone?"
"Because Formica Tech wasn't available ..."
"What's up with beating 8-22 Charleston Southern three times by an average of 29 points?"
"Because it would've looked bad if we'd put 'em on the schedule FIVE times ..."
We need to tell the Thorpies to get off our cloud.
Mellencamp sez, "This is ourrrrrrrrrrrr kunt-treeeeeee ..."
Yup .. it's gonna suck hearing Mellencamp during every frickin' commercial break.
If only Cadillac, not Chevy, was an official sponsor.
Many of us are pleased as punch to see/hear the latest TV ads for Caddy and recognize the song "Start!" by The Jam as the background music.
"... and what you give is what you GET!"
Let's all agree on that as this postseason is on our doorstep -- A PLAYOFF SYSTEM SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK.
If we always lived our lives with the "we need a playoff!" stimuli, then we'd have to say that "But I'm Different Now" is a better track than "Start!" on The Jam's epic 1980 "Sound Affects" LP -- and then we'd need to stage some sort of playoff to determine if that group's "Setting Sons" LP is superior to "All Mod Cons" for the right to face The Police in the quarterfinals of three-man bands.
But, that's what happens when coaches do not post the battlecry on the chalkboard:
"Yield not to treason; submit not to tyranny ..."
Monday, March 12, 2007
And if Jim Halpern can drain some threes.
Pam Beesly? She can coach us up any day ...
Jeez, it's fun to get all Vitalish/Kelloggish and use the terms "physicality" and "low block" in the opening sentence, isn't it? The only way to top that would be to fire up the ol' standby ... "the entry pass."
Soon enough, though, the talentless DiGiorno Pizza pitchman will be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame -- which'll have those of us who care about America wondering why Atta didn't crash his hijacked jumbo jet into the Hall in Springfield, Mass.
Again ... this pertains to we, the Americans who care about America.
"It's not delivery. It's DiGiono, digiackass!"
As we count down the days 'til the Basketball Hall of Fame loses all credibiity w/ the induction of Dickie V. (hopefully, Vitale won't take a page from the Lasorda Playbook of no-talent "ambassadors" who allow a gal who is not his "spouse" to put her XXXXX on his XXXXX and then describe the incident in a diary genre for release at a later date) ... wait, where were we?
Right ... the crazy, mixed-up world of college b-ball -- for some, a sanctuary wherein a Jim Boeheim is a Hall of Famer and Joe Lunardi is considered a messiah because a he can fill out a bracket without gettin' all distracted by the "Kick Me" sign which someone stuck on his back.
An informal Haystack poll indicates that most of America prefers bracketizationism to bracketologisticism.
One day, though, college basketball will get it right and make the regular season mean something by providing greater rewards for the 31 conference champions.
Perennial fifth-placers such as Jimmy Boeheim, well ... he can spoon with that Hall of Fame plaque that is one-half Bernie Fine's.
A cursory glance at this year's pairings has the usual potholes. The Florida Gators are not only a safe bet, but a smart one (just as some of us knew last year when we foresaw their triumph over UCLA in the championship game and raked in some $$$).
Another sure bet: The NCAA tournament's a lot more enjoyable once we remember that it's less-viable than real tournaments, such as, say, the Coaches vs. Cancer Bonanza or the Maui Invitational (note: basketball coaches STILL have not found a cure for cancer ... bastards).
Everybody knows that A PLAYOFF SYSTEM SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK in America, but, since Americans are resillient (but not gullible ... never gullible!), they play along with Joe Lunardi as he plays with himself.
Ummmm ... and his bracket.
The best aspect to all of this glitter and glitz of a playoff system which simply does not work is that many coaches will come under intense scrutiny from fans, alums, boosters, administrators, bus drivers and, most of all, espn.com's Pat Forde.
Now, while most of us will sit down with our piece of notebook paper folded longways down the middle with the "Pro" column on the left side and the "Con" column on the right side as we're compiling our homemade portfolio of Roy Williams' coaching career, Forde went ahead and (subliminally) informed America that Roy Williams is the shits.
Check out today's on-line offering from Forde:
" ... the Tar Heels have every element you could want: size, speed, shooters, passers, rebounders, insane depth, quality coaching. At times, they also have the focus of a kindergarten class and the killer instinct of a Greenpeace group ..."
About Memphis, Forde wrote: "... you have to question how tourney tough (Memphis) players are. You do not have to question the Tigers' talent, depth, scoring power and coaching."
See? That's the oldest J-school trick in the book ... call a politician "a great statesman" and then laundry-list his office's abuse of power.
According to Pat, Williams is a quality coach -- who cannot control his kindergarteners and pussies.
According to Pat Forde.
He'll "pat" ya on the back while he's plunging in the dagger.
Oldest trick in the book.
Remember, according to Pat Forde, UNC's players have super-human superpowers, but a "quality coach" who cannot manage his team's "focus" and "toughness."
America to Pat Forde: "Step off, Pat!"
Roy Williams did swell job winning a national championship with Matt Doherty's recruits (the ones who quit on Matt Doherty, but who responded to Roy Williams' quality coaching).
Look ... the only time that EspyTime Theater has come through in the clutch during the '06-'07 b-ball season is when it aired the Maggie Dixon retrospective.
The coach of Army's Lady Cadets died almost a year ago (4/6/06 ... at age 28), so maybe we should all take a step back from Rick Pitino's $1,200 suits, Bob Knight's O'Reilly Auto Parts sweaters and Dick Vitale's abundant lack of ability to remember the words on Maggie's headstone:
"SO GOOD, SO WISE, SO YOUNG"
We now return you to Dickie V at your local Hooters, yelling Hall of Famously, "Awwwww-summmm, bayyyy-beeee."