Friday, February 29, 2008

Lazy Leap Day (Black History Month Recap)

"Call poison control
If you get bit by a spider
But check that it's covered
By your health-care provider."

Ooops ... that's not actually the "Leap Day Anthem," but rather that catchy verse which we remember fondly from amateur rappers, Michael Scott and Dwight K. Schrute, in "Lazy Scranton."

Those are definitely words to live by (solid advice for sure) -- especially as we teter on the threshold between this one-extra-day-in-Februruary-every-4-years thing and the death trap which is Mad Marchness.

When the week began, it didn't seem like (on paper) it would be much of a final week of Feb.
But, then, Steeler Nation was rocked by Myron Cope's death.
And then, perennial All-Pro Alan Faneca became the richest offensive lineman in football by signing with the Jets.

Some of us feel as though Pittsburgh has endured bigger losses -- and, well ... neither of those factors can be incorporated into a Black History Month celebration.

A lot of us approached Black History Month '08 with a great deal of caution, given that we were asked to bounce back quickly from the death of the pill-poppin' Heath Ledger 10 days before the historic month began.

Of course, Black History Month '08 trumped Black History Month '07, which was one of the worst Black History Months ever considering how the black community was dealt several major setbacks, beginning with the euthanization of the people's champion (he'll live forever in your heart as a racehorse known as "Barbaro") and continuing its downward spiral with the death of Vickie Lynn Hogan (you knew her as "the pill-poppin', no-talent named Anna Nicole Smith") and the shooting spree initiated by Adam Jones (you call him "Pacman") on Black Thanksgiving Weekend (you know it as "the NBA All-Star Weekend").

Now that ya mention it, Black History Month '06 kinda sucked, too, since all anybody wanted to talk about was that retarded (or spastic or whatever) kid from Rochester, NY who sank all of those 3-pointers in that publicity stunt -- a far cry from the best-n'-baddest Black History Month ever -- Black History Month '05 -- when that Korean kid was named Super Bowl MVP.

The reason that Black History Month '08 will remain so permanent in America's collective memory is because this was the month when Bob Knight quit on the O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock Division b-ball team early in the month -- explaining, sort of, that he was "tired" -- and then decided that he, apparently, isn't too tired to offer America some tired b-ball analysis.

Awesome isn't the word ("mega-awesome" is) that best describes yesterday's announcement from Disneyland-TV that "The General" is scheduled to be an in-studio host for the NCAA postseason, beginning with conference tournament action on Mar. 12.

"General" seems to be a fitting nickname, given that Big Bob will likely offer commentary which is vague, trite and "general" ... a perfect complement to the meaningless words and useless information offered up by Digger Phelps.

It's a real coup for Disneyland Sports on the final day of Black History Month -- giving this nation another Whitey who, when ya get right down to it, hasn't done jack (yawn) in basketball in more than 15 years.

Seriously ... is Hubert Davis the only black man in America that the Winter X Games Network feels is qualified to discuss college roundball?

Was there really no other alternative than to give America an old buzzard who, at any minute, could burst into a dissertation about that amazing 1967 team at Army?

With Knight, all we're gettin' is a cruder version of Lee Corso -- or, if you prefer, a Lee Corso who drops f-bombs with furious regularity.

Look, no one's sayin' that EspyTime Theater needs to recruit 1990 Final Four MOP Anderson Hunt (besides, Greg Anthony from those Runnin' Rebs teams has already earned his stripes as an NBA analyst), but, c'mon ... there has to be ONE African-American who's played in the past 10 years who'd enjoy puttin' on the suit, sittin' in the studio and breakin' down college b-ball.

It makes ya wonder if some sort of "Rooney Rule" should some into play here -- and that means thinking outside the box, beyond the Len Elmores and Clark Kelloggs who played college ball 25-30 years ago.

Without a doubt, it would be a lot more enjoyable watching/listening to what an African-American named Duany Duany has to say about life (fleeing war-torn clutches of the Sudan when he was 4) and b-ball (considering that, before he was a respectable player for Wisconsin's Final Four team of '00, he was twice the player at Bloomington North High that a waste-of-space named Patrick Knight was before him).

Scoonie Penn, what about you?

God Shammgod ... you out there?

Wait! What about Adriana Monsalves? The other morning, she was allowed her one minute of overnight ESPN Deportes airtime and, god-freakin'-shammgod, the way she looked in that pink blouse was enough to stop traffic.

For weeks.

Instead, America will get an eyeful of Knight's awful collection of lame-ass sweaters (that is, unless he's fixin' to wear the black sweater where the O'Reilly Auto Parts logo dwarfs the "TT" logo).

It's a shame, really ... 'cuz when Notre Dumb's Kyle McAlarney follows up a 30-point, 9-of-11 on 3-balls effort vs. Sorrycuse from five days ago with a 3-of-14, 1-of-8 on 3-balls (7 pts.) effort (as he did last night), the Bob Knight who might've once told a gunner, "You're fucking killing this team with those fucking horseshit shots which are out of your fucking range. Why don't you find a goddamn shot which you can hit more than 38 percent of the goddamn time?" will now inform America that, "Notre Dumb needs Kyle McAlarney to shoot better."

Zzzzzzzzzz ...

Digger will nod approvingly (mostly because his testicles were chopped off by opposing coaches and force-fed to him regularly in the '70s and '80s).

America cannot/should not take seriously the word of somebody who thinks/believes that Pat Knight is better qualified as a head coach than Patrick Knight's step-mom.

Remember: Knight '08, according to the quote attributed to him, said that "ESPN has done a lot for college basketball" -- yet, early-90's Knight said that ESPN was the problem with college basketball because highlights of dunks, dunks, dunks and dunks don't reveal the importance of a screen, the pick-n'-roll, the backdoor pass, the all-important block-out when the shot goes up ...

HALT! Years of contradictions and flip-flops are wiped clean once Dickie V. shows up and offers his two cents, telling America that Robert Montgomery Knight is "super! scintillating! sensational!"

However, the only way a lot of us Americans who care about the sport (which is why we no longer watch the sport) will tune in to see Knight is if he does a re-imagined version of his interview with Playboy from '01.

Maybe if we get a "Playboy Interview: The Muscial" wherein Knight sings his famous quotes in a falsetto voice.

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 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!"

"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."

"This is fucking bullshit! I don't want to hear another fucking word."

The Next Atta will find this very entertaining ... as he nods approvingly, biding his time and triangulating which college football stadium to crash his highjacked jumbo jet into on a crisp autumn afternoon when College GameDay's Jerk Jerkstreit tells America why it should feel the way he does.

Uh oh ... did somebody say that Knight will make his debut on Mar. 12?

Phew ... that was a close one.

Mar. 12 is the season premiere of "Top Chef: Chicago" on Bravo, which, if it's anything like "Top Chef: Miami" from last season, it'll be a real blockbuster.

America achieves greater enlightenment from a cooking show than it does from Knight, who is all sizzle and no steak.

That's right, Atta Jr., your hijacked jumbo jet cannot stop America when it is ignoring Knight in favor of those who are puttin' on a show with a meat cleaver and a paring knife!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Greatest Game in the History of 2/23/08 ... Ever!

Most Americans have the same basic concerns:

1) The price of a barrel of crude oil eclipsing $100
2) Marginalization
3) Skyrocketing mortgage rates
4) Depletion of the ozone layer
5) Who's batting leading off and who's in the cleanup spot for the Dept. of Homeland Security's softball team
6) A McDonald's McSkillet Burrito which isn't served hot
7) LCD vs. plasma and/or 1080i vs. 720p.
8) Overhyped basketball games which don't live up to the hype.

There's not much that America can do about those first seven concerns (that's the job of Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room"), but the event which just took place in Memphis, well ... let's just say that the battle waged inside the FedEx Forum S was epic (or Biblical ... the only thing better would've been if FedEx had sanctioned a UFC match between UPS and DHL ... ).

Indeed, the stakes were high ... the intrigue level was exceptional ... the electricity was palpable ... it was REALLY happening!
Mempiss vs. TennisSea in the Game of the Millennium!

There was Priscilla!
And Penny!
And -- get this! -- Peyton!
Priscilla, Penny AND Peyton!

We were wondering what had happened to Peyton -- after all, America hadn't heard from him since we last saw him in the luxury box at the Super Bowl (hey, he HAD to show up tonight because he's probably still good-naturedly bitter about the Memphisians, the Memphites, the Memphistonians and the Memphisese constantly taunting him re: that 21-17 loss to Memphis that he QB'ed at the Liberty Bowl back during his senior season of '96 ...).

Sadly, here's who America DIDN'T see during the celebrity red-carpet pre-party:
Neither Bill Laurie nor Johnny Neumann.

Since Disneyland Sports (ESPN/ABC) believes that college basketball was invented in 1984 (a few years before college football was born in 1988, according to Jerk Jerkstreit), few Americans remember that Bill Laurie was the point guard on that '73 Memphis State team which lost in the NCAA championship game to FUCLA -- only thing is, once Bill Laurie made millions of $$$ breeding horses, the Missouri native donated $10 million to the football program at Mizzou, not Memphis, his alma mater.

And Johnny Neumann?
Well, for those of us who don't fit into the Disneyland/Dickie V. paradigm of bam! pow! gee whiz! for a simple layup, Johnny Neumann was the hotshot from Memphis' Overton High who opted NOT to attend Ol' State U., instead choosing to play for Ole Miss whereupon he averaged 40.1 PPG for the '70-'71 Rebs in his only season of college ball before returning home to play for the Memphis Tams of the ABA.

Some of us have that Johnny Neumann/ABA card sittin' 'round this place somewhere (just sayin' "Memphis Tams" is amusing ... almost as much fun as sayin' "candied yams" ...), so pardon us if we don't bow in reverance every frickin' time Joey Dorsey grabs a frickin' rebound ... because Johnny Neumann was a player.

For the record, Joey Dorsey, notwithstanding the intricate quilt of braidwork on his head, is a powerful rebounder who couldn't score even if the arena was emptied out and the only defender in the building was the guy working the extra-wide dust mop.

(For those of you who don't meet Disneyland Sports' 18-to-34 demographic -- like, let's say you're older than 50 and you like ballers who can actually ball -- Joey Dorsey has the body of Spencer Haywood and the ball skillz of Susan Hayward)

Once it became apparent that Johnny Neumann would not be tossing out the ceremonial first pitch tonight, some Americans made the ceremonial gesture of hittin' the MUTE button (thus complying with the Anti-Vitale Doctrine that somebody intelligent drew up years ago ... hence, every time that we estimated that Egghead was screaming his trademark, "Super! Scintillating! Sensational!" we overrided the cliche with the truth and offered our very own "Silly! Sloppy! Super-Ordinary!" ... a real nice, down-home interactive way to watch any ballgame).

No, seriously ... all kidding aside, the 3-ball free-for-all went about as predictably as could be expected (which is to say that lotsa kids who couldn't hit a "trifecter," as Egghead sez, were, ummm ... shootin' trifecters).

And, even though we've been led to believe that the big squid, Calimari, has "revived" the Memphis program, most Americans remain skeptical that the big squid can actually coach.
He's not big on instruction ... and he doesn't seem interested in discipline.

This makes for a team which is comparable to watching a herd of cockroaches scatter once the kitchen light goes on ("wow! the athleticism!").

The math isn't very complicated:
At the 8:53 mark of the first half, the Tigers were 8 of 15 on 3-balls and 1 of 3 on two-pointers.
Then, Calimari got cute -- figuring that his team should run a well-tuned halfcourt offense which would result in quality 2-point looks.
Except that, aside from Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose, the freshman, Calimari is quite limited in what his team "can" and "should" run (nobody ever knows what to expect from Antonio Andeerson and Andre Allen).

Since his team isn't comfortable with the stodgy, let's-look-for-2 offense ... and since the lads were knockin' down treys, why not go with it?
Keep poppin' threes -- only do so without the bricklayin' Willie Kemp (7 of 32 on 3-balls -- 21 percent -- in his previous 13 games before tonight) or the clank-riffic Doneal Mack (12 of 44 on 3-balls -- 27 percent -- in his previous 9 games before tonight).

Here's a secret: Although Kemp and Mack (a combined 0 of 8 "from distance") can take the 3, they cannot make the 3.
Unless the laws of nature are repealed.

But, wait ... Loftie The Softie wasn't exactly doin' a bang-up job of shooting his vintage, fallaway 3-balls for UT (he missed all 4), was he?
Thankk god that Jordan Howell came off the bench and flashed that type of senior leadership which kept the Vols from coming unglued.

Howell attempted one 3-ball trick shot in the first half -- yet, with the way that Jordie was trying to untangle his feet to get behind the line for an unmakeable 20-footer (they call it "a stepback three") from the left wing rather than shooting the makeable 14- or 15-footer, most of America was yelling, "Clank!" as the ball was leaving his hand (a shot which, of course ... clanked).

As for Howell's 3-ball attempt in the second half, it was a brilliant billiards shot -- if he was trying for a combination bank shot off of the far rail where the 7-ball kisses the 9-ball.

In his past 10 games, Howell has drained 7 of his 35 threes (20 percent) -- leaving America to ask, "Was this REALLY the same Jordan Howell who drilled 2 of 4 threes against the Arkansas-Monticello Weevils three-and-a-half months ago?"

Here's the deal: When Jordie's cuttin' down the nets at [insert name of this year's site for the Final Four ... probably some domed, football stadium such as the Superdome, the Alamodome, the Kingdome, the Carrier Dome, the Hoosier Dome, Wembley Stadium ... ], he'll have the last laugh when we who criticize his shot selection creep back into the woodwork (what ever the F "woodwork" is).

Until then, however, these No. 1 vs. No. 2, 3-ball fiestas don't matter much nowadays because, as America has come to learn, college b-ball halfcourt offenses are predicated on lots of standing around, horrid spacing, ridiculous passes, feeble screens and the 3-balls shot with too much time remaining on the shot clock (unless it's a desperation trifecter when the shot clock has clicked down to :00).

The sport is unwatchable -- unless you're watching a game from 1993 or earlier on ESPN Classic).
Or unless you're watching purely for the mockery and ridicule value.

Most of us armchair sports enthusiasts enjoy college football or baseball or hockey or those lumberjack games or Ninja Warrior or cliffdiving from Acapulco because -- let's say it together -- those are athletic feats which we cannot do.
That's the beauty of those sports ... we can't do 'em, but we appreciate and respect the athletes who have mastered those disciplines.

Which is exactly why we mock and ridicule college b-ball -- because we can (and we have) airballed a 3 ... gunned a pass over a teammate's head ... set a timid screen and then rolled clumsily out of it before mishandling the give-n'-go pass we were hoping for ...

What we, the members of the La-Z-Boy Republic don't appreciate/respect is kids going to school for free and wearing the varsity tank tops while the most-talented b-ballers on that campus are probably playin' intramural ball.
At least in the intramural games, we might see some "structure."
And, of course ... there's always that finance major frickin' drainin' threes from wayyyy downtown.
We all remember that street-baller/gym rat who was money from 20 ...

Scholarship b-ball players are mighty ordinary -- which is what you'd expect from kids taking their cues from coaches who aren't so much "flawed" as they are psychopathic hyprocrites or hypocritical pyschopaths, take yer pick.
Coaches such as Calimari and Pitino with their French-cuff dress shirts and their cuff links glistening from those French cuffs as they wave their arms and provide less drama than melodrama, seriously ... what's the point?

Maryland's Gary Williams isn't unlike Calimari and Pitino with the fancy Frech cuffs w/ cuff links, 'cept what sets Gare apart is the fact that he's one of college b-ball's all-time, heavy-duty legends of perspiration.
What sense does it make to get decked out in a $1,500 suit with a $100 dress shirt with French cuffs and a $150 necktie when those threads will be drenched with sweat by night's end? (Note: Calimari and Pitino wear the $2,000 suits with the $250 neckties because, hey ... they're L'oreal and they're worth it).

Speaking of L'oreal ... yes, we the people believe that "jet black" is Mike Krzyzewski's natural hair color. Gentlemen in their 60s oftentimes have hair which is shoe-polish black.
The Disneyland Sports Empire informs us that Shuhsheffskee is the greatest coach of all time, so what reason would we have to dispute whether the legend combs his hair every morning with a Sharpie, a Magic Marker and Indian ink?

Calimari, that noted clotheshorse and user of hair gels, can tell ya when and where he bought those Italian loafers (and how much he paid), but he can't do the 'rithmetic when it comes to his team.
That's because Calimari is the kid on the cover of "Johnny Can't Read."

Let's face it, Calimari was just as annoying but a lot less dangerous back in the days when he was holding court during the postgame press conference and John Chaney came bustin' in, roarin', "I'll kill ya! I'll kill ya!" as he was being restrained.

Now, THAT was b-ball ... back in the day.
Back when John C. of UMess and John C. of Temple had graduation rates hovering around 13-17 percent.
We don't know if Ramon Rivas was a thug -- but the fact that he looked like one and kinda played like one is why we loved him.
Uh oh ... Mark Macon is spottin' up from 23 and preppin' to airball a trifecter ...

Nowadays, Calimari gets his kicks by lettin' his cuff links "coach up" Los Tigres -- and, nutin' sez that louder than lettin' Antonio Anderson take that running one-hander in the lane for the potential game-winner ... a shot which kinda/sorta/not-really grazed the rim (maybe).

Keep yer chin up, Tone -- 'cuz we're gonna need ya to doink that same shot during the Midwest Regional.

Sure ... Memphis missed all 12 of their 3-balls during the final 28:53 (due, in no small part, to guys whose range is 15 feet shootin' 20-footers ... that's you, Doneal Mack).
And, the Tigers were dreadful (again) from the line.

It's not really Doneal Mack's fault that he tried to play hero and wanted to win the game all by his bad self ... just as Robert Dozier wasn't to blame when he grabbed that offensive rebound in the closing moments and was tackled by teammate Joey Dorsey which resulted in a costly (and needless) traveling violation.

Coach's hair looked nice tonight, no?

And, if Memphis is missin' threes, it's because the Tigers are "struggling to find their rhythm" -- not because a 20-footer is out of their range.
And, if Joey Dorsey and his intricate quilt of braidwork opts to shoot only 33 percent from the foul line, well ... maybe it's because Tennessee plays great free-throw defense.

Still, it kinda makes ya scratch yer noggin every time Memphis calls a timeout and ya see Rod Strickland in his $2,000 suit on the Tigers bench.
Kinda makes ya wonder how that headcase has impacted the lives of the varsity b-ballers (that is, aside from teaching the lads all the necessary shortcuts).

New rule: Next time there's a No. 1 vs. No. 2, that'll be the cue to take an extended No. 2 in the men's room.
Once that task is complete, the TV clicker will click its way over to something a little more interesting -- something along the lines of that recent episode of "Sunset Tan" wherein BOTH of the Olly Girls were fired.

That's right ... the same episode wherein Ania (who's not running from her past as a Swedish porn star, wink wink) and Nick (who is not at all gay, nudge nudge) were having relaitionship problems.

It's so sad that the untalented Olly Girls have no real skillz, but that they have more skillz than 92 percent of the college backcourts in America.

Again, do the math, America: If college basketball is NOT a big bowl of fecal matter (some would say "pile of shit"), then why does the Disneyland Sports Channel have "The Waste Management Postgame Report" on Saturdays?

Do a Number Two ...
Then shoot the 3 ...

Simple math ...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mempiss-TennisSea Pree

Even though everybody is a little gun shy about classifying Memphis vs. Tennessee as "The Game of the Century" (probably because it's still too early in this century to be making such classifications ... and maybe because UNC-Duke last month was the de facto "Game of the Year"), the entire nation is, at least, buzzin' 'bout tomorrow night's epic Number One / Number Two, 3-Ball, Free-For-All between Calimari's sharpshootin' assassins and the Black Pearl's band of cutthroats.

Since some of us simply cannot sit idly by and wait for Digger or Hubert or Jay to inform us that "the key to victory for Team X (Memphis or Tennessee) rests with hitting the outside shots to open up the inside game" or "the key to victory for Team Y (Memphis or Tennessee) is solid low-post play to open up the perimeter game," we can address the subtle nuances (and some of the subtitled annoyances) right here.

To be perfectly honest, just thinkin' 'bout a coaching matchup between No. 1-ranked CALIMARI and the No. 2-ranked BLACK PEARL gives one goose bumps ... especially when we rewind a little more than 10 years ago to when Calimari oversaw a (probably not very) squeaky-clean, No. 1-ranked program at UMess or when we dial it back 20 years to when the Black Pearl was an assistant at Stanford for that weird-looking, semi-man named Dr. Tom Davis and, upon orders from Dr. Tom, Pearl allegedly (according to one of the star players) distributed the per diem (read: meal money) based on players' performances (which is an NCAA rules violation, shhhhhhhh!).

Good stuff from total class acts, although some of us feel a little sheepish about the fact that we can name all five starters from Calimari's U-Mess team (Camby, Travieso, Padilla, Dingle, Bright), although we're chagrined that we can't remember Travieso's first name -- and we can't recall if it was Dana Dingle or Donta Bright who had those four kids by four different women.

It's all water under the bridge now ... that is, now that Calimari and the Black Pearl are at the top of the heap ... perhaps an unusual metaphor, given that "heap" oftentimes conjures up images of rubbish or compost.

To say that college b-ball is garbage (shhhhhhhh!) would be to ignore how Calimari and the Black Pearl have built these programs from the ground up, albeit Pearl is doing his building with several of Buzz Peterson's recruits.

Still, many of us remember the hurt (or the indifference) we felt last year when the '06-'07 season came crashing to an end for both Memphis and Tennessee in the same extended weekend ... in the Alamodome at the hands of Ohio State.

That UT loss to OSU lingered a little longer, considering the how the Vols blew that 20-point lead ... a meltdown which achieved finality when Ramar Smith grabbed Mike Conley, Jr.'s missed free throw with six seconds to play and, trailing by one point, decided to play hero by goin' coast to coast and rather than driving the lane and dishing to a teammate who'd drained four of five 3-balls (hint, hint: JaJuan Smith or Ryan Childress), Ramar had his potential game-winning layup blocked by Greg Oden's elbow.

Or Oden's tricep.

Or Oden's armpit (we can't remember which ... jeez, he was just standin' there and Ramar put a scoop shot into the big guy's body ... Al McGuire would've said it was foolish for the little PT boat to take on the big aircraft carrier, but, alas ...).

The expression on the face of the Black Pearl at the end of that game was not unlike the words which ended the suicide note left by Lt. Matthew Andrew Markinson when he wrote: "And, the truth is, your son is dead for only one reason. I wasn't strong enough to stop it."

The Black Pearl wasn't strong enough to prevent the death of the Vols, but tomorrow night represents a fresh start (for his team killed all over again ... life/death is kinda funny like that).

The tricky part about tomorrow night's blockbuster inside the FedEx Forum is that many of us aren't sure which teams we'll see.

Will it be the Vols who, four nights after hanging 100 points on the two-time defending national champion Florida Gators, squeaked past LSU, 47-45, in a game in which UT was 5 of 20 on 3-balls and 4 of 15 from the foul line? (That win was salvaged when JaJuan Smith made that layup in the final seconds after he stole the ball from five indecisive LSU players who were indecisively looking indecisive in hopes of indecisively goin' to an indecisive OT period)

On the flip side of the coin, a great many of us are wondering if we'll see the Memphis team which began this month by grinding out a 70-64 win over UTEP ... a contest in which the Tigers sank 1 of 17 3-balls and only 21 of 41 foul shots (in fairly-typical fashion ... which is why we're outraged when we hear/read about the Tigers' quest for "perfection" when, in fact, they are a very marginal team which just so happens to be undefeated ... in fact, the '73 Tigers -- back when we used to call it "Memphis State" -- or the '85 Tigers were a lot more perfect than the '08 Tigers ... ).

For the record, Memphis has spent this month shooting 28 percent from 3-point range and 58 percent from the line.

"The truth is ... no one is strong enough to stop it."

Just ask SMU's Senegalese Sensations -- Papa Dia and Bamba Fall.

Lord knows they tried, but they weren't strong enough in a 77-49 loss.

The truth is, Joey Dorsey -- and the intricate quilt-pattern of braidwork on Joey Dorsey's head -- are too much for teams which don't have Papa Dia and Bamba Fall.

Against Papa Dia and Bamba Fall, Joey Dorsey's intricate quilt-pattern braidwork had 14 points and 10 rebounds -- which many people view as a better all-around effort than what J.D. did against Tulsa (19 rebounds, 2 pts.) and vs. Houston (22 rebounds, 6 pts.).

Joey Dorsey has the Ben Wallace/Dennis Rodman mad-skillz-set (meaning: the funky 'doo, the ability to grab 30 rebounds and score zero points), but will it be enough?

Like Memphis, UT's most-recognizable star is the guy who, like Dorsey, has no forseeable NBA future -- howyadoin', Chris Lofton!

"The truth is," .... Lofton is "SOFT"ton ... he's a semi-legit, 3-ball maker (although, at 6-foot-1, check out how many times he shoots the fallaway 3), but he's obviously too small or too timid to develop more of a game or else he'd be slashing to the basketball or cutting off a screen to shake a defender.

Softie is a career 83 percent free-throw shooter, yet he hardly ever shoots more than two per game.

Hmmmm ... if only he had a coach who could teach him the value of getting his 83 percent foul-shootin' ass to the line (wait a sec! There IS a b-ball coach on campus who CAN impart that wisdom upon a young ballplayer ... alas, her name is "Coach Summitt" and she is the Alpha Coach in Knoxville ... and that's the way it's always gonna be, which is why a script "SUMMITT" appears in huge letters on the court inside Thompson-Boling Arena -- which means that the big gym will never be called "the PearlDome" or "The Oyster" ... y'know, as in "inside an oyster, there's a pearl," ha ha ... ).

It's this simple: Unless Softie tops last year's effort against Memphis (34 pts.) by goin' off for 40 or 42, this matchup might very well end up resembling the last time America had a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showcase showdown.

Yup ... we have to dial it all the wayyyyyy back to Feb. 25, 2007 when the Blackeyes of Ohio State tangled with the Badgered of Wuss-con-sucks in that controversial matchup (controversial in the sense that Ohio State was No. 1 and Wussconsucks was No. 2 in the ESPN/USA Today poll while, in the AP poll, Wussconsucks was No. 1 and OSU was No. 2 ... ).

America had better keep its fingers crossed that what transpires in the FedEx Forum is half as good as what we saw in Value City Arena ... when OSU-Columbus and UW-Madison combined to shoot 38 percent from the floor (39 of 102), 29 percent from beyond the arc (9 of 31) and 53 percent from the line (10 of 19).

Approximately 93.8 percent of America puked after that one.

Which is EXACTLY why America needs to glam up these trivial Mem-Tenn showcases which give us nuthin' more than Chris Douglas-Roberts vs. Tyler Smith (ugh ... sigh ...).

Most of us are hankerin' for something more along the lines of an alumni 2-on-2 whereby the Tigers' Larry Kenon and Larry Finch (heroes of the '73 national finalist team) will take on the Vols' Bernard King and Ernie Grunfeld (the last set of teammates in NCAA Div. I history to average 25 PPG in the same season).

Sounds delicious ... Larry & Larry vs. the Ernie & Bernie Show.

That was always the thing about Larry Kenon ... always overshadowed. Even though he had 34 points and 20 rebounds in the '73 Midwest semi win over the South Carolina team which featured Alex English, Brian Winters, Mike Dunleavy's old man and Kevin Joyce -- and even though Larry Kenon had 28 points and 22 boards in the Final Four victory over the Providence team which featured Ernie DiGregorio, Kevin Stacom and Marvin Barnes, it seems as though Larry Kenon was always second fiddle to Larry Finch at Memphis and to Dr. J when the two led the Nets to the ABA title in '74 and then to San Antonio teammates Artis Gilmore, George Gervin and James Silas during those ABA-to-NBA days ...

Damn straight. Gettin' caught up in a daydream about the b-ball stylings of a Larry Kenon from 30 years ago always takes precedence over the reality that two, possibly three, current Tigers probably couldn't beat the 55-year-old Larry Kenon in a game of H-O-R-S-E.

Five shots ... and it's "Goodbye, Joey Dorsey ... and good luck to you and your intricate quilt-pattern braidwork ..."

Friday, February 15, 2008

18 (or 22) Questions Patrick Didn't Ask Patrick

When we Americans learned sometime 'round midday that Pat Knight would appear on "The Dan Patrick Show" on their neighborhood Fox Sports Radio affiliate, most of us scrambled to find something on which to take notes ... a Steno pad, the back of an envelope or a Ziggy cube of sticky notes.

Unfortunately, Dee Pee lacked the huevos to ask the new O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock Division b-ball head coach anything substantive which might've created a greater understanding between America's youth (read: "potential recruits") and the rising star of the coaching profession.

Although none of us was expecting anything insightful from the Patrick-on-Patrick fireside chat, we figured that the 8-minute B.S. session might offer something more than, "Did Dad prefer 'Gunsmoke' or 'Bonanza' -- or was he more into 'The Big Valley'?"

Alas, when a vanilla, sports-media personality (Dan Patrick) is unable to break free from his vanilla, sports-media shackles, America's youth (read: "potential recruits") is deprived of valuable information re: the program which Bob Knight is currently running in absentia.

However, it was comforting to learn about the close ties that Pat has to Sean Sutton, the offspring of a codger who tried his damndest to ruin the Kentucky program (the same crusty jackass who ended his probably-dirty Okie State career with the admission that he had a weakness for booze and pills which were sometimes ingested in unspecified combinations).

America also learned -- once Pat spilled the beans -- that, "back in the day," Papa conferred often with that unpunished outlaw, Bill Freider ... the super-sized weasel who attempted to ruin programs at Michigan AND Arizona State.

Good stuff. Such admissions from Sonny leave Americans thinkin' that if Knight Jr. was asked about Knight Sr.'s opinion of John Wayne Gacy, the answer would be, "Dad says that the guy was active in the community ... really loved kids ... "

So, what does Dad think of Jeffrey Dahmer?

"I don't think he could of played for my dad. He definitely never could've handled starting ..."

Look ... it's not Dan Patrick's fault. Since he has a degree in Weak Schtick, it's not his place to offer something which resembles journalism. Besides, he HAS to get all kissy-face with the son of a fellow Ohioan because he's just as scared of Knight Sr. as the rest of the squids who work at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal or those who worked at the ol' Bloomington Herald-Telephone.

In case there comes a day (say, oh ... Judgment Day) when that incestual coaching duo ever decides to come clean and face the music, America needs to prepare itself (just in case Dee Pee ain't around to lob b-ball-sized softballs at Knight, Sr. & Jr.).

The "meatier" questions are worth asking.

Such as:

1) "Since Daddy had as much impact with basketball at a football school as an economist would teaching the Nikei Index to villagers within the Uruguayan jungle, what's your master plan in elevating the O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock Division b-ball program from a level of irrelevance to some level of viability?"

2) "Do you ever chuckle when you consider that you could go 3-26 and you're basically untouchable, in terms of getting fired, because, if the administration axes you, Daddy won't donate another $1 mil to the campus library?"

3) "Didja know that some people would call that 'extortion'?"

4) "How many of your Range Rover players do you estimate have admitted, in private, that the old man is a pussy for quittin' with a dozen games to play in the season?"

5) "When Dad wore that referee-striped shirt while appearing on Leno's show the other night, was that part of the 'I'm Too Tired To Coach Anymore' campaign?"

6) "Is this the type of schtick that America has to tolerate to for the next 12 to 15 years?"

7) "Does Dad keep his stale TV persona in the same suitcase in which he keeps the stale gameplan that he'll give you for tomorrow night's ballgame?"

8) "What's the time frame on Dad taking the next opening in the MAC, either at Toledo or Ball State?"

9) "Let's say he does take a job at Toledo ... would you then bolt the O'Reilly Auto Parts B-Ball Project in Lubbock -- citing fatigue and exhaustion as the reasons -- and then grab a seat next to Dad on the Toledo bench?"

10) "Did it bother you that when you, Dad and Karen were driving to a restaurant that you were only the third-best coach in the car?"

11) "Do you disagree with those who claim that your step-mom did a better job of teaching the matchup zone to high school girls than you ever did teaching it to Division I men?"

12) "Level with us ... couldn't Karen go 15-13 with this team?"

13) "How come you never talk openly about you mom, Nancy, and her value when you were a tot during Dad's 32-0 season of '76?"

14) "When Mom used to spend those afternoons walking lap after lap inside Assembly Hall ... and when people said she was nuts for fanatically defending her Duke Rice Diet ... did you defend her as passionately as you might've for Papa?"

15) "Are you willing to admit that Quinn Buckner has always been a surrogate mom to you?"

16) "Are you willing to talk about that amazing year of your life when you were an Akron Zips assistant coach?"

17) "Didja ever notice how you were like Dwight Schrute in the sense that you told everybody how you were the 'assistant head coach' when, in fact, everybody saw you as the 'assistant TO the head coach'?"

18) "Isn't it cool how you'll never need to list the Akron gig on a resume because when it comes to listing 'previous jobs,' your list begins and ends with, 'Was seen seated next to Bob Knight' -- just as when it comes to listing 'qualifications,' all you'll ever need to state is, 'Was seen seated next to Bob Knight.'?"

19) "How does O'Reilly Auto Parts view itself in the cosmos of Napas and Meinekes and Kragens and Auto Zones?"

20) "Remember right about the time you were a senior at Indiana when Dad, like Steve Spurrier, was totally getting into that Sun Tzu 'Art of War' bullshit which seemed so trendy at the time? Are you open to the teachings of Sun Tzu -- or do you adhere to what John Lennon said when he sang, 'But if ya go carryin' pictures of Chairman Mao / You ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow'?"

21) "Instead of publicly admitting to a friendship with Sean Sutton -- who, to a lot of us, embodies one half of a modern-day Ray Meyer/Joey Meyer dynamic -- shouldn't you be striving more for a Dick Bennett/Tony Bennett connection, given that they are the father/son duo who are winning where it is impossible to win?"

22) "Whose kid was that, anyway -- yours or Tim's -- when Dad exploited that toddler during that postgame press conference last month?"

23) "Did anyone have the balls to tell Grandpa that his grandson is a human being and not actually a press-conference prop?"

24) "Should Lubbock feel sad that Grandpa Knight's grandkid won't be a freshman walk-on in 2024 or a graduate assistant coach in 2029?"

25) "Should America be on alert for that kid/press-conference prop walking on at Toledo in 2024 and then becoming a Toledo graduate assistant in 2029?"

26) "Is there a place in Lubbock where you can go to decompress after Red Rover games which can compare to the Big Wheel in Bloomington where Dad went after Big Ten slugfests?"

27) "Do you have it taped to the bathroom mirror where it reads, 'I will respond in the manner in which Dad says I should and, when America wants my opinion, I'll make sure Dad gives me one.'?"

28) "Do you have a sign above the exit to the locker room, a la Notre Dame's 'Play Like A Champion Today,' which reads, 'Yield Not To Treason; Submit Not To Tyranny'?"

29) "What are your plans for Tyler Hoffmeister? The guy won that 'Knight School' contest and then he plays a total of only 10 minutes in four blowouts last year and gets only 13 minutes in three blowouts this year and ... wait, are you saying that he can't get any P.T. because he reminds you too much of yourself with the exception that he has a left hand and you never did and that, no matter what Dad taught him about hard work and perserverance, the job will always go to the guy whose Daddy bankrolls his boy's mediocrity and %%%%{{{\\\// GOSH ... we could do this ALL night long ...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Knickerbeagle Rocks MSG!

The walking, talking, two-headed disaster known as Dolan & Isiah which rules Madison Square Garden needs to face facts:

The only way to blow the roof off of a sold-out MSG is to pull the plug on the Knicks' season (immediately!) and preempt the remaining games with what we saw tonight -- Uno The Beagle struttin' his stuff and winning Best In Show.

Talk about the embodiment of "GOD" spelled backwards ...

It seems abundantly clear that the only way that the NBA team which occupies MSG could equal or surpass the buzz of tonight would be if someone somewhere passed a law whereupon the name "Knickerbockers" was changed to "Knickerbeagles."

Bottom line: The Big Apple hasn't been this overwhelmed by a four-legged creature since that time when the Cloverfield monster destroyed three-quarters of the city.

Still, the Westminster Kennel Club owes the Free World an explanation as to why it took 516 years for its judges to come to their senses and offer some long-overdue respect and admiration for the second-best breed in the universe (behind the Golden, of course).

Swear to god ("d-o-g" spelled backwards) ... it (apparently) was no misprint that "no beagle had won the Hound group since 1939."
What was the problem then?
Administrative error?

There was no disputing Uno's unassailable status as the People's Puppy; the crowd went nuts every time that rascal was anywhere near the main action ... which was somewhat reminiscent of the early '70s when Hawthorne Wingo would wow the MSG crowd.

So many Americans sweated out that final 20 minutes of the Best In Show judging on the USA Network -- particularly since two of those seven finalists were a pair of iguanas-adorned-with-cotton-balls known as the standard poodle and the toy poodle.

Nobody has ever sufficiently explained why it is necessary to groom such a slightly-less-than-medicore breed of dog (the poodle) in such a manner so as to give the impression of what an iguana looks like when dressed in poofy cotton.

The beagle, meanwhile, is your typical, everyday cutey-pie who enjoys playing, socializing, receiving tummy-rubs and, if trained to do so, can sniff out drugs, snakes or explosives.

Fun ... and functional (depending how one feels about the beagle's bark -- or "bay" -- which can make ya mental). Folks who are pro-poodle usually try to argue the merits of their breed, but, c'mon ...

No, seriously ... the toy poodle's name was "Vikki."
"Vikki" is not (never has been, never will be) an acceptable doggie name.
"Vicki" was the name of the best-lookin' chick in our algebra class (however, "Vickie" was the hottie who sat in the back of 5th period Social Studies ... although nobody is naming little girls "Vicki" any more, opting instead for "Brittany" and "Cassidy" and "Britney" and "Chelsea" and "Brittinnee" -- not unlike the way that guys' names have shifted from "Gary" and "Scott" to "Chase" and "Tanner" and "Cassidy").

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, only a mere moments before the final decision was made, Vikki's coat (which spends more time in the salon than in the real world) was receiving a frenzied combing from her handler.
Which was for naught.
Because Uno is a champion's champion.

As for the standard poodle, Remy -- apparently, he was so named for the cognac, Remy Martin.
How aristocratic.
(Insert here your favorite line from any of the neurotics portrayed in the movie "Best In Show" ... )

America is well aware that cognac doesn't go well with a club sandwich and a side of steak-cut fries -- but, by the same token, America wouldn't mind seeing Uno, in his first act as King of the Canines, ordering Vikki and Remy to spend the night inside the boa constrictor exhibit at the reptile house at the nearby Bronx Zoo.

If it's true what David Duchovny's voice has told us about how "Dogs rule," then, what the heck ... let Uno make the rules.

Then again, it's humans who possess the cruelty to feed a poodle to a boa constrictor (which is why it seems ludicrous to have humans running the planet ... humans who affix 34 or 35 cotton balls to the feet, the hindquarters, the tail and the head of an iguana and call it "a poodle").

It's a form of mutilation which is in direct conflict with God's law and the Law of The Jungle ... which won't matter much in the Year 5528 when Earth is merely a burned-out lump of coal in the solar system and Jupiter's colonists chuckle while referring to this dead planet as "LoserTown" or "Idiotville."

Before 5528 rolls around, however, no one should be surprised if, in the near future, a baby goat wearing a burlap sack wins the "non-sporting" group in the WKC show in MSG in NYC.

Hopefully, it'll never come to that -- and maybe the best way to bridge the gap between this man-vs.-canine misunderstanding is to arrange for a meeting between the toy poodle and a certain currently-incarcerated NFL quarterback.
The tiny white dog and the talented black QB ... with the banner headline blaring: "VIKKI VISITS VICK!"

Strange as it may sound, the football metaphor definitely works. In fact, what transpired tonight paralleled Super Sunday on many levels.
Follow along:
The allegedly-"pretty" Vikki -- with her 108 best-in-show victories -- was akin to the New England Patriots and their pretty-boy QB, Tom Brady, putting their 18-0 record on the line against the regular-guy sensibilities of the New York Giants.

Again ... there's that New York angle.

Hey ... none of us has the inkling of going door to door and surveying Americans as to whether they are more anti-poodle/anti-Brady than they are pro-beagle/pro-Giants, yet, Uno's victory seems to signify that common sense CAN triumph.

The highly-beatable unbeatens CAN be defeated (which serves as some powerful vindication for Attucker, the energetic sweetheart of a beagle who, during Puppy Bowl IV on Super Sunday, CLEARLY outclassed Abigail, the Parson terrier, the so-called "Most Valuable Puppy").

And, maybe Uno's victory can open some doors for other breeds in a competition which, for much of its 100-some-odd years of existence, has favored the terriers.

Twelve times during the first 30 "Best in Show" competitions (1907-1937), fox terriers were the overall winners. Scottish terriers have won six Best in Shows ... Airedale terriers and Sealyham terriers have won four times each (one of Uno's fellow finalists was a Sealyham).

We've had West Highland terrier victories in 1942 and 1962 ... the Welsh terrier victory in 1944 ... the Bedlington terrier who won in 1948 (y'know ... the breed which looks like a little lamb) ... not to mention Best in Show wins for the Lakeland terrier (1968, 1976), the Skye terrier (1969), the Yorkshire terrier (1978), the Norwich terrier (1994, 1998), the Kerry Blue terrier (2003) and the Terrier Which Doesn't Look Like A Terrier, "Rufus" ... the rough-n'-tumble little Bull terrier with the football-shaped noggin who won our hearts two years ago.

Damn you, terriers (except for you, Rufus ... oh, and you, too, all you psycho Boston terriers who've never won and all you nut job Jack Russell terriers who've never won the grand prize).

Uno's victory has some of us dreaming of the day when a Golden Retriever will take top honors for the first time ever. That breed has its work cut out for it, considering that its three chief traits -- handsome, smart and sweet -- doesn't exactly fit the mold of the other so-called "champion" breeds (i.e. dogs which are not real-world compliant ... dogs which have an agenda ... ).

Hard to believe that a Golden has as many Best in Show ribbons as the Sloughi and the Azawakh combined.
For chrissakes, the Golden has as many First Prizes as the Billy, the breed of dog named after the Chateau de Billy in Poitou ... the breed which is actually a combination of three now-extinct breeds, the Ceris, the Larrye and the Mountaimboeuf.

Can we get a ruling? (That is, a ruling from somebody other than you, Mr. Know-It-All, Herb Kirkstreit).

The peanut-butter-coloured Golden which runs this outfit -- "The Colonel" -- is sick to death of Jerk Jerkstreit gettin on ESPN and askin' the tired, rhetorical question, "Is Uno the best champion of all-time?"

Not until he tosses out the ceremonial first pitch at either the Daytona 500 or the NBA All-Star Game this weekend, he ain't.

And, until Uno orders his handlers to convince those geniuses at Fathead that an UNO Fathead would have a positive impact on profit margins, we'll reserve judgment.

Besides, we're saving our best rush-to-judgment impulses for the next big event on our dance card:
Clemens vs. McNamee.

Clemens vs. McNamee, Clemens vs. McNamee, Clemens vs. McNamee, Clements vs. Macrame, Clements vs. Macrame, Clements likes to macrame, Clements likes to macrame, Clements likes to macrame ...

Monday, February 04, 2008

"Dad Got Me This Swell Job"

Indeed ... O'Reilly Auto Parts lost a legendary member of the family today when the regional manager of the Lubbock Division abruptly resigned.

The reason given for the resignation of the regional manager of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Empire-Lubbock Division was that "Daddy's tired."


Is that "tired" as in "showing symptoms of mental exhaustion and emotional fatigue" -- or "tired" as in "tired of being mediocre" ... or "tired of being perceived as mediocre"?

Or "tired" as in "sick and tired of being sick and tired all the time"?

(Simply typing those tiring paragraphs makes one tired ... and hungry -- and that's "hungry" as in "craving some Campbell's Chunky Fully-Loaded ... either that or a Manwich")

Either way, the thing that Dwight Schrute needs to remember is that Pat Knight was not "the assistant regional manager" of O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock Division.

He was "the assistant to the regional manager."

There's a huge difference.

Not that it matters now.

So, somebody with a spotty assistant coaching record is the new big kahuna of b-ball operations at a football school -- and, if Pat Knight is the chip off the ol' block that we think he is, the Rough Riders (or whatever they call that team) are all squared-away for as many 15-13 seasons (w/ either a first-round, Big 12 tourney exit, a first-round, NCAA tourney exit -- or both) as A.D. Gerald Myers can stomach.

"It's a football school, everybody" -- which is what we were all saying from the minute that Papa Knight took that job and used his forefingers-shaped-as-pistols to shoot those imaginary six-shooters into the air during that press conference when the exiled Indiana coach was introduced as the new Red Rovers coach.

No word yet as to whether Sonny will ditch his T.G.I.Friday's look -- sweater vest/polo shirt combo ("hey, kid ... we need more tartar sauce for our fried clams and can the Mrs. get a refill on that iced tea?") -- in favor of some snazzy O'Reilly Auto Parts apparel (long-sleeved mock T and plaid sportcoat combo or a v-neck sweater with the "O''Reilly" logo which dwarfs the interlocking "TT" insignia?).

During the next five seasons (as long as Myers decides that 15-13 seasons are an acceptable "bridge" between football seasons), it'll be interesting to see which puppeteer -- Daddy or O'Reilly Auto Parts -- has greater influence on the string-pulling of what we can now call "The PupPAT."

Notwithstanding the fascinating paradigm, this transition from Knight, Sr. to Knight, Jr. is the exact reason why a lot of Americans have shunned O'Reilly Auto Parts in favor of Kragen or Napa or Meineke or Auto Zone -- because O'Reilly isn't visionary enough to see that maybe there's an up-n'-coming coach in this big, vast land of auto-parts consumers ... a no-name, by most standards, who has paid his dues and is maybe five or six times more qualified to run the TTU program than the relative stiff whose only real visability during his TTU career was the role he played as a cardboard-cutout in the "Knight School" series on the Disneyland Sports Channel a few years ago.

That's the bottom line: Bobby Knight cares so much about "the team" that he gave the head coaching job to the same kid who used to steal a spot on the Indiana varsity from a kid who was probably more-deserving.

What message does that send to America's children? Knight's always positioned himself as a champion for "workin' our asses off is gonna make us better than our opposition at the end of the day" -- however, once that mission statement got doused (not with the sweat of that hard labor but) with the urine of the head honcho, somebody with the "proper" bloodlines got the job.

That's in Chapter 3, Verse 12 in the Bobby Knight Book of Contradictions.

For many Lubbockians, the fact that Texas Tech is a football school and not an O'Reilly Auto Parts Basketball Funhouse means that Bob bailing on the team with a dozen or so games will not register, in those people's minds, a "way to tough it out, Knight" on their radars.

To those people, the only landmark victories of note during Knight's stint were the memorable occasions when A) The Red Rovers came back from a 38-7 deficit midway through the third quarter against Minnesota and won, 44-41, in overtime in the '06 Insight Bowl which nobody watched ('cuz it was on the NFL Network) and B) The Red Rovers rallying from a 28-14 deficit in the final four minutes to beat Virginia, 31-28, in the most-recent Gator Bowl which nobody watched last month (because America was clicking back-n'-forth between the second half of the Cotton Bowl and the first half of the Capital One Bowl).

Hard to believe that Bob would walk away from all those good vibes and from a university which, during his stint in Lubbock, produced household names such as Kliff Kingsbury, B.J. Symons and Sonny Cumbie.

Oddly enough, it is Sonny Cumbie who fills up an arena the way that Knight used to (only Sonny does it as an Arena Football League superhero).

Sonny Cumbie has definitely earned his place in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Athletic Ring of Honor (if such a thing exists) -- although it's up to the O'Reilly board of directors to determine Bob's place in the Lubbock cosmos, given that "resignation" is nuthin' but a fancy, clinical term for "quittin'."

And, it's up to The PupPAT to decide if he wants to embrace Daddy's legacy or distance himself from it.

After all, he could create an identity for himself other than the guy who rode the bench for Daddy and averaged 2.4 PPG as a "player" (as well as moving the needle on the charisma meter past "zero") by doing something unique, creative and groundbreaking -- and not the crude schtick which marked Daddy's IU career, such as destroying the sno-cone machine in a rage or, on a few occasions, forcing the players (because he was pissed at them) to dress in the hallway while permitting the team managers to get changed in the locker room.

Maybe the PupPAT could separate himself from Papa by wearing an O'Reilly Auto Parts baseball cap (or an O'Reilly Auto Parts floppy hat, like the ones you get at the ballpark during those promo giveaways) during TTU ballgames.

Think about that. "Pat The Hat" -- the only coach in D-I b-ball with the cajones to wear a lid while coaching.

It's not as crazy as it sounds.

Moreover, it's the only chance that the Man In The Hat ... the PupPAT ... has to elevate TTU above middle-of-the-pack status, not to mention getting a leg up on that waste-of-space who coaches Oklahoma State ... Sean Sutton (another tribesman in the Big 12's pro-active "nepotism-in-action" campaign).

Meanwhile, over in Waco (a tumbleweed Texas outpost nearly as desolate and unappealing as Lubbock), a Baylor program which was dead as a doornail (literally) is enjoying a resurrection under a fresh-faced kid named Scott Drew (the son of a respected coach who actually got his job by "leaving the nest").

It's almost beyond belief what Drew has accomplished in such a short time ... gettin' Baylor (Baby Knight's first opponent) to an almost-historic level while The General and his T.G.I.Friday's son were molding slightly-less-than-marginal ballplayers into barely-above-adequate ballplayers.

As we all know, many (but not all) of the problems at Baylor stemmed from one of Knight's cronies (Dave Bliss) losing what they call "institutional control of the program" -- ending his career in embarrassing and humilating fashion following the murder of Patrick Dennehy.

In the days/weeks ahead, we'll hear quite a bit of babble and blather from Knight and Knight super-supporters who will blah-blah-blah about Bob's integrity and loyalty and accountability (Digger Phelps would punch his aunt in the head to ensure that he's the loudest voice in that group).

These testimonials should provide some amusing material for those of us who haven't overlooked Bob's friendship with Bliss, not to mention past alliances with Tates Locke and Norm Ellenberger (two of the '70s dirtiest cheaters ... gentlemen who didn't really INTEND to run dirty programs, it's just that they were swept away in the undertow of unfortunate circumstances and blah blah blah blah blah ...).

Papa Knight is likely to remain on the warpath (and, if he provides some laughs ... bonus!) when he hits America with his mega-tough-guy schtick of "I-don't-give-a-sh**-about-those-motherf**ers-who've-never-met-me-and-think-I'm-an-a**hole."

Bob will tell us that he doesn't need to defend himself to anybody.

Then, he'll go ahead and do it anyway.

The goal of Bob's media circus will be to divert attention from his untalented son, who, by the end of this month, probably will have opted against wearing a sombrero or a fedora during games (that is, unless the Red Rover guy who rides that horse onto the field before Red Rover football games lends him that snazzy, Zorro-like hat ...).

America has been through this whole routine (read: tired schtick) before ... we're supposed to forgive the F-bombs because Bob REALLY cares about the kids .... we're supposed to forget the jerk-off, jackass behavior because he donated $1 to the campus library ... we're supposed to go along with the contradictions because his boys were recruited properly and, more than likely, will receive a diploma from the university ...

However, one-half of America will respond with (in terms that Bob can identify with): "So F-ing what ... "

The other half of America -- led by mega-dork, turbo-kiss-asses such as Disneyland Basketball's Digger and Dickie V. -- will paint the portrait of Bob as a legendary legend of legendary status.

As a backdrop, ESPN will offer video imagery from the Knight Library ... all of those unforgettable scenes from his 28 years at Indiana interspersed with a black-n'-white snapshot or two of his days at Army (even though the only images available from his six-plus seasons in Lubbock are of him seated on the Rough Rider bench as he wore his black sweater with the O'Reilly Auto Parts logo dwarfing the "TT" logo, not to mention the scenes of Bob standing with his hands in the pockets of his slacks as the O'Reilly Auto Parts logo on his black sweater dwarfs the "TT" logo ... ).

What we won't get is that classic moment when Knight appeared on "Larry King Live" several years ago ... and Larry showed America the footage of Knight slamming his paw -- one of the two paws which spent A LOT of time riding the bench at Ohio State 35 years earlier -- up against Neil Reed's trachea and Larry asking, point-blank, "What was that?" ... and all Knight could come up with was, "I don't know."

Hopefully, Bob isn't too tired/fatigued/exhausted to dig up some new material 'cuz that was a mighty dumb answer.

Bob, it seems, wasn't too tired/fatigued/exhausted to travel to South Williamsport, PA last Aug. to waste our time occupying ESPN air-time with his "connection" to the Lubbock Little Leaguers ... and he wasn't too tired/fatigued/exhausted shortly after that trip to sign a 3-year contract extension ... but, now, it seems, he's too tired/fatigued/exhausted to get his point across about the fundamentals of winning b-ball to those O'Reilly Auto Parts b-ballers.

Fatigue/exhaustion is funny that way ...

Which leaves it up to the fresh face and young brain of Pat to pull off what Mike Davis did at IU in the springtime of '02 -- take a bunch of rag-tag lowlifes which "The Genral" (wink wink) recruited and turn 'em into a veritable, lean, mean, b-ball killin' machine which wins the NCAA Southeast Regional and comes oh-so-close to winning a national championship.

You're on alert, America: The O'Reilly Auto Parts' Cinderella story could be coming to an NCAA Regional near you during March Madness of '09 or '10.

Or not.

Until then, those of us who were once grabbed brusquely about the shoulders by Knight following that win over Ohio State in Jan. '96 (and who are married to an IU undergrad who has dozens upon dozens of classic, behind-the-scenes stories from Knight, '84 thru the '87 national championship run) have only one place to turn to refute the nonsense of the weeks ahead.

We will seek refuge in the Playboy interview from '01 ... and Bob's pre-O'Reilly Auto Parts car trip to Akron to watch Junior work his magic as a Zips asst. coach.

The exchange between Knight (who was driving) and Playboy writer Lawrence Grobel (who occupied the passenger seat) wasn't quite the confrontation that America might've compared favorably with Lt. Kaffee and Col. Nathan R. Jessep ("Did you order the Code Red?" ... "YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT I DID!!!"), but it came damn close.

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 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!"

Grobel: "OK ..."

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."

Grobel: "Please, Coach ..."

KNIGHT: "This is fucking bullshit! I don't want to hear another fucking word."

Vintage Bobby ... tellin' his side of the story in Playboy ("what? Penthouse didn't return your call soon enough?")

In case Bob forgot, in that issue of Playboy -- which, by the way, isn't the magazine of virtue that, say, "Field & Stream" might be -- the centerfold was Miriam Gonzalez ... and, not only was she was typically smokin' hot, but she has the same birthday as this sports reporter (ret.).

Bob's so classically classic -- which is the Y2K way of saying that he's a man's man, a coach's coach and a hypocrite's hypocrite.

And, he's the only American we know (figuratively ... because nobody knows him literally) who can get away with adding profanity to "The Star-Spangled Banner" (y'know ... the song about the rockets' red glare and the F-bombs bursting in air ...).

In the month or so remaining in the O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock Division season, America will NOT be deprived of the man who bailed on the O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock Division b-ball program.

How so? Well, every time somebody asks The PupPAT how he feels about this or that -- or what his reacton is to various outcomes -- we can simply translate every single answer in very basic terms.

"I feel how Pa tells me to feel ..."

"My reaction is what Pa tells me it is ..."

That is, until the fatigue sets in ...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

PUPPY BOWL IV: What, No Flea-Flicker?

That was probably the only football-related/canine-oriented pun which Harry Kalas DIDN'T use during his almost three hours of narration for this, the fourth edition of puppy playtime mayhem.

Oddly enough, despite some corny lines from the script which Animal Planet gave Kalas (along with his own improvisation, we reckon) ... and notwithstanding some unusual questionable choices for the music soundtrack and the slightly-uneven deployment of fake crowd noise (not to mention our referee -- a.k.a. "SuperDork" -- stopping play by calling "Time OUST!"), most of America will be nodding in agreement that Puppy Bowl IV was our best Puppy Bowl to date, flea-flicker or no.

Still, it pains us to ask the obvious question after hearing David Duchovny's voice during any of those approximately 837 Pedigree Adoption Drive commercials:
"Did Echo find a loving home?"
(Said the Mrs.: "Echo's dead.")

The Mrs. might've been confusing Echo for one of the pit bulls at the Vick Compound in Virginia.

Nevertheless, Echo has a face that would melt the coldest and unyieldingest of hearts -- although the Mrs. was practically breathless with the cute-n'-cuddlyness of those three Corgis, particularly the Corgi named "Cornelius" who was playin' watchdog by the water dish at the 5-yard line ... offering a "back off, Jack!" bark every time that the black-hooded, pesky-and-perky Parson terrier (a variation on the popular "Jack Russell" terrier) Abigail encroached.

That might've been the only other major qualm with today's 4-legged showcase -- that Abigail ran off with the Most Valuable Puppy award in the on-line voting.

Abigail was an attention-getter, no doubt, albeit, quite possibly, for all the wrong reasons.
It was reminiscent of last year when Indianapolis Colt center Jeff Saturday played the best game and his Super Bowl XLI MVP award was mistakenly given to the more-popular Peyton Manning.

While Abigail had a lot going for her, she did not remain within herself and did not allow the game to come to her.
Her sprints were random and frenetic ... she was out of position more than once ... and all of that splashing at the water dish was completely unnecessary, not to mention psychotic.

Abigail gave all the appearances that she hadn't received much coaching, taking the element of "wreckless abandon" a little too far.

Not unlike a puppy version of Bill Romanowski.

Oftentimes, Abigail would grab a toy (although, admittedly, America laughed every time she picked up the toy referee) and dart about the field ... as though she'd been fed a lot of amphetamines (or puppy uppers).

It was as if she'd sneaked into Bill Romanowski's stash of pills.

Anyway, the smarter MVP vote would've been for Attucker the beagle, despite the silly name.
Attucker played under control, carried out his assignments and, overall, exhibited smarter, more-disciplined play (usually while rolling around on the Puppy Bowl logo at midfield and wrestling with one of those feisty Beagle/Pinscher mixes).

Overall, what we saw out there today during the initial broadcast (and/or during the replays at 6:00, 9:00 and midnight -- hell, yes, some of us watched it more than once ...) was several quality one-on-one skirmishes and no mention of Cover 2 -- a defensive philosophy which nobody really understands or explains very well.

And, if America was impressed by the intensity and focus of Bingo and Daisy, it should be pointed that that they are two Amstaff/Ambulls (American Staffordshire terrier/American pit bull mixes) from the same litter, though they didn't look much like brother and sister.

Even so, both had plenty of upside.

Regrettably, Bruin -- the 14-week-old, 44-lb. Malamute -- did not receive nearly enough playing time.
Ditto for Colt, the Bernese mountain dog, and Dixie, the Golden.
Bruin had a real Refrigerator Perry quality about him ... massive, yet fun-loving (although maybe possessing a higher I.Q. than the Fridge).

There's no escaping the inescapable truth: Any time there's a dozen or so pups inside a designated play area, the spectators win.
This is in direct conflict with the evil act of putting two pit bulls into a ring and wagering on the outcome.

Hence, what happens in these Puppy Bowls -- which coincides nicely with the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show which takes place the following week -- creates a positive vibe about dogs and responsible dog ownership.

America has gone through a brutal stretch since Puppy Bowl III, watching footage of pit bulls (when ESPN decided to exploit it) fighting 'til one dog was crippled or near death.
The details of what happened to those once-sweet pups before they arrived at the ring and after they exited the ring was almost as barbaric as what transpired inside the ring.

For those of us who, unlike our spouses, believe that Echo ISN'T dead, we were hoping to see Mike Vick serve his sentence inside a cinderblock cage with no toilet, so that he could eat his meals each day next to his puddles of urine and piles of feces.

Again ... that's a cinderblock cage with no toilet.
And no squeaky football toy ...

Thankfully, the Puppy Bowl was invented to stimulate our propensity for being pro-puppy -- although, we must confess that after spending three hours observing these wee pups, we feel as though we could improve the game ... y'know, such as eliminating the kitty-cat halftime and maybe granting eligibility for coyote pups which lack the resources to organize their own coyote leagues.

As puppy-lovin' know-it-alls, we've been known to second-guess the Rules Committee, protesting mildly when we see what we did today -- an orange-and-yellow, squeaky-toy porcupine on the field.
Initially, we found ourselves getting indignant and stating emphatically that there was no place in football for squeaky porcupines.
That is, until we saw how many pups ran right to the toy and enjoyed a hearty session of gnawing.

Son of a bitch ... the orange-and-yellow, squeaky porcupine earned its keep.
It should remain a fixture.

As the adorability and tummy-rubability grows each year, it's easy -- particularly when you live roughly 15 miles from the Animal Planet headquarters/stadium in Silver Spring -- to get all sentimental and promise the Mrs. that next year "we're gettin' tickets for the game!"
That is, until you realize that the only "fans" in attendance are faceless people painted on the walls.

OK ... then how did Bingo and his sister Daisy get to the stadium?
Summm-buddd-deee had to drive them ...

Anyway, the 5 1/2-year-old Golden -- Colonel Ka-Duffy -- who calls the shots at Planet Haystack ignores this Animal Planet showcase event each year because, as he's hinted, without actually saying it, that the game nowadays has changed on so many levels.
Which is why he interrupts our viewing by grabbing either his fuzzy hedgehog or the football w/ the tennis-ball-like, fuzzy shell and banging it up against Mommy or Daddy's leg.

Time for tug.

Actually, The Colonel might enjoy teasing Echo with the fuzzy football.
If only we knew if Echo was still alive (the Mrs. insists that he isn't ... what say you, Duchovny?).

To recap, Harry Kalas was a good sport to add his Hall of Fame voice to the event. He was given many more lines than in the previous three Puppy Bowls and we're certain that he was paid in either Milkbones or Marlboros, though we're not sure which).

Sadly, we have nowhere to turn for quality, game-related announcing for the next month (until the Big Dance arrives) -- and ESPN is attempting to be real coy about its surprise party for America by NOT disclosing in the promos for UNC-Duke three days from now that the primetime game will mark the return of Mega-Egghead Dick Vitale and his tired list of cliches.

There's a great many Americans whose reaction to this development was best demonstrated by what the lab-mix with the white racing stripe down her snout ("Mrs. Roper," they call her) did approx. 31 minutes before the end of Puppy Bowl IV.

Mrs. Roper squatted and plopped a little poopy on the 38-yard line.

Good call, you little bitch ... good call.

We'll second that motion on Weds. nite ...