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 ...

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