Saturday, March 22, 2008

Looks Like Duke's No Longer No. 1

Georgetown took care of that today with a remarkable effort in the second half, holding the top-ranked team in the nation -- which was averaging 17 goals/game -- to only a pair of tallies in the third quarter and fourth periods.

The home crowd had to be a little nervous when the Hoyas' 3-0 lead was erased by a couple of breathtaking goals by Max Quinzani, who, according to one of our announcers on the local ABC affiliate, was omitted from the preseason All-America team because he's, in the minds of people who vote on such matters, too much of a hot dog.

It seems so petty, given that Quinzani has great quicks, his pivoting and spin moves are first-rate and he knows how to finish WAIT A SEC, WHAT IF AMERICA WANTS to discuss Duke basketball instead of Duke lacrosse?

That's easy ... Duke basketball = black socks and black shoes to match the black road jerseys, which is perfect, given that black is one of the school colors about as much as black is Coach ShuhShefSkee's real hair color.

Oh ... and the Dookie b-ballers often attempt jump shots which are wayyyyyyy outta their range because Mighty Mike feels disinclined to inform them with an F-bomb-laced outburst that those shots are wayyyyyy outta their range.

That's pretty much it in a nutshell -- unless America wants to add to it with what took place today against Wuss Virginia in what amounted to the Duke Obituary for '07-'08.

Some of us were scribbling down some notes in order to do one of those running-blogs/game-diaries which all the kids seem to enjoy nowadays.

Alas, the play-by-play of Craig Bolerjack and the commentary of Bob Wenzel (a 293-year-old, ex-Knight assistant) were annoying -- therefore, we stuck to our Contract With God that no b-ball game shall receive more than 5-10 minutes of serious consideration in the La-Z-Boy Inner Sanctum.

(Sidebar: Since that Georgetown-Duke lacrosse match began at 11:00 in D.C. and since Coach Mike's game in D.C. didn't tip off 'til 2:10, ya gotta wonder if when Chef had finished applying the black grease paint to his hair in his hotel bathroom he made his way out to the Verizon Center a little bit early so that he could grab a refreshment -- fresh fruit, maybe some juice and a Danish -- before plopping down to watch the first quarter in the press lounge on the local D.C.-ABC affiliate and maybe lend the type of vocal support for Dookie LAX that he didn't show for Dookie LAX in the wake of the rape allegations two years ago ... that is, unless he believes Max Quinzani is a rapist, who knows?)

Because we're only human in La-Z-Boy Nation, we followed up the Hoyas' 11-7 win over Dookie LAX by watching bits n' pieces of Dookie b-ball (once the game became tolerable with the "mute" function keeping Bolerjack and Wenzel at bay).

The Dookies are a laugh-a-minute, thrill ride ... the way the kids pull up for 23-foot trifecters and attempt shots which are 10 feet beyond their range with plenty of time left on the shot clock.

"You can't teach that ... "

Anyway, everybody knows by now that Dr. Shef has enjoyed far better "coaching" success when he has a roster full of future NBA types (and not a group of ex-McDonald's All-Americans ... and, "shhhhhh ..." please nobody mention Pete Gaudet's 3-12 record when he filled in for Mighty Mike's injured back during the '95 season ... ).

"SHHHH, Part II" involves the coach that Mike tangled with today ... Huggy Bear -- the immortal whose teams at Cinshitnati amassed that impressive graduation rate when as they were winning all of those national championship trophies.

Huggy had an interesting quote following today's triumph over the Dookies -- and it involved one of the heroes of the La-Z-Boy Realm.

"Jamie (Smalligan) texted me last night and said, 'Coach, it's a better matchup if I don't start.' How many teams have a guy like that? He's a senior, a guy who said basically, 'Coach, I know it's a bad matchup for me' and he's started every game of the year."

That's a fascinating anecdote ... one worth exploring.

"A bad matchup?" (And, here comes the punchline, America): "A bad matchup sounds like the relationship between Bob's players and the classroom!" (laugh track).

Except, of course, for Alex Ruoff (a Beilein recruit, not a Huggins recruit, mind you ...).

Huggy probably didn't realize how weak he made our 7-foot hero, Jamie Smalligan, appear with that text message -- unless, of course, Coach was shielding his player from a bloodthirsty media ... unwilling to reveal to America that the insta-msg. actually read:

"Cch ... im lnly, nrvs & ful of inr-cnflct & slf-dbt ... y u wnt hug me? ... itz dook ... im so vry frghtnd."

Regardless of the dynamic between Huggy and Too Tall Smalligan, our 7-foot hero played like a 7-foot-7 warrior when we looked up from what we were doing during his 4 minutes of game action in the first half and forced 7-foot-1 Brian Zoubek to alter his shot.

In the world of 7-foot-white-boy-vs.-7-foot-white-boy, yeah ... that's "a rejection" (like flyswattin' a shot 14 rows deep into the courtside seats).

Wuss Virginia deserves much credit for avenging the death of its football program when that team was so very close to a national championship.

These good vibrations were so good that Huggy opted to allow Jonnie West some P.T. in a game which wasn't a 33-point blowout.

The name "Jonnie West" should remind us all of how much fun we had watching"Jonny Quest" on TV or watching Jerry West on TV or listening to DEVO on the hi-fi sing about "After the teardrops / Jonee jumped in his Datsun / Drove out on the expressway / Went head-on into a semi / His guitar's all that's left now / He made her cry / Now she calls his name / Jonee, you're too blame / Come back, Jonee ..."

The sad part about that is not so much the imagery of Jonee (not Jonnie) in his Datsun going head-on into a semi, but, rather the fact that this classic was on DEVO's debut album right around the time that Jerry West was turnin' 40 ... which was scarcely more than 10 years before his son-who's-young-enough-to-be-his-grandson was born in either '88 or '89.

Notwithstanding DEVO and Datsuns, the Meltdowneers are now scheduled to meet the Mouseketeers in the Swede 16 next weekend.

With Huggy's text-msg. intuition runnin' the show, anything's possible.

SADLY, VENGEANCE DOES ALWAYS COME TO THOSE WHO SEEK TO AVENGE ... as a b-baller from Senegal named Chinemelu Elonu learned today.

When he was a tyke growing up in Senegal, Chinemelu Elonu probably watched the '98 Cotton Bowl and vowed that one day, he could lead a perennial underdog such as Texas A&M to a victory over a perennial superpower such as UCLA.

Alas, there can be a disconnect when it's a traditional football school (Texas A&M) vs. a traditional basketball school (UCLA) and the sport of choice is not intramural softball.

More to the point, Chinemelu Elonu cannot be held responsible for the fact that we all liked this A&M roundball team a lot better last year when its fate was in the hands of Acie Law, IV and the charismatic Lithuanian, Antanas Kavaliauskas.

(Update: Bob Knight-recruit Esmir Rizvic just text-messaged Bob Knight-recruit Damir Suljagic something about Antanas Kavaliauskas getting preferential treatment in the U.S. because he was a Lithuanian who chose A&M instead of a Croat or Serb who chose to play ball for O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock Division)

Speaking of Knight (who was noticably absent from the studio today, Damir Suljagic's insta-msg. to Esmir Rizvic was: "Maybe he's tired and he asked not to be waked from his nappy-nap."), the General's "sleeper" to win it all (the Powerful Pitt Panther Powerhouse Paw Patrol) had the plug pulled on its season because Mich. St.'s Drew Neitzel decided to go 5-of-8 "from distance" instead of going 2-of-11 (which, for all we know, he's already scheduled as his Swede 16 shooting performance).

Either Tom Izzo is a master at relations between "bigs" with Eastern European roots (Goran Suton) and African heritage (Idong Ibok) -- something which never added up to anything special in College Station TX with the aforementioned Kavaliauskas and Elonu -- or maybe ... just maybe ... Bob Knight forgot to check his notes (which would clump him together with Dickie V. and Digger as guys who spout about anything/everything w/o actually having any data nearby).

Rather than wasting America's time with "melancholy" (the 1950s term for "fricking B.S."), Bob could've spent more than 6.3 minutes watching Pitt and then goin' ga-ga with a pronouncement which was so blatantly a smokescreen for his anti-Izzo-ism and his anti-Calipari-ism (two young coaches which were Pitt's roadblocks to the Final Four).

As America knows, Pitt's win over Duke earl;ier this season left the Panthers with an 11-0 record -- only, injuries and some mediocrity spelled an 8-8 record in the team's next 16 games.

In those 8 losses, however, starting guard Ronald Ramon went ice cold, sinking only 2 of 29 three-balls.

Today, he was 0-4 "from distance" (1 of 5 on 2-pt.ers) -- so, whether it's fair or not, the Panthers' offensive woes when they're losing generally went through Ronald Ramon (which isn't a huge surprise, given that he camps on that 3-point stripe as much as any one-dimensional, 3-point-stripe camper in the nation).

But, Bobby's Sweater, Digger's Ties and Dickie's Egghead are not allowed to say one negative word re: college players ("they're not pros, we must protect the children ... think of the children!"), hence, when Team A struggles to get quality shots, it's because Team B is "mixing up its defenses."

In the SayNiceThingsThatLeaveNoHurtFeelings Bylaws, it states quite clearly that if Player X is completely mediocre -- and his coach isn't talented enough to lift medicore Player X's level to something above mediocrity, it's because Player X's opponent is a special individual.

Oldest frickin' trick in the book.

[Sidebar: There was a priceless moment during the college football bowl season on ESPN when Chris Fowler was babbling on about what a great recruiter new-UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel was ... until Craig James tersely blurted out, "Who isn't?" ++++ In the Winter X Games Network's realm of pom-pom waving for mediocrity intermingled with excruciating over-scrutinization of minutae (read: frickin' nitpickin'), it's amazing that Craig James' remark didn't get him fired on the spot]

All of this leads to why March Mixed-Upness hasn't really ever turned our crank here in the Fortress of La-Z-Boy Glory.

Not even when there were NCAA Pool championship riches sent here in '97 and '06.

To this day, nobody has adequately explained that unholy alliance between CBS and ESPN wherein America receives less than 30 seconds containing no more than three highlights of first- and second-round action.

But, we get Lavin's greasy hair and Digger's neckties (bonus in '08: "Bobby's sweaters!") sittin' 'round the studio, givin' their pitch to America ... "College b-ball is great, but watching us talk about it is even greater."

It really makes ya question the existence of God.

That aspect was driven home in the late stages of the Stanford-Marquette game when we were served images of everything from Robin and Brook Lopez's spooky-lookin' mama to Jim Harbaugh's sister (Tom Crean's wife) to Jerel McNeal doin' whatever it is he does when Dominic James isn't single-handedly winning ballgames for Marquette.

Hard to believe that it was almost exactly one full month ago when Reggie Rankin of Scouts, Inc. either accidentally or intentionally ingested wayyyy too much Crystal Drano and typed, "Junior point guard Dominic James can dominate a game in many ways."

America to Reggie Rankin: "Whatever that means ..." (since James is a 13 PPG and hits only 68% of his foul shots, etc ...).

Sure ... he had James had 10 assists today, but he was 4 of 16 from the floor, missed all three 3-balls and came up empty on four shots within a one-minute span in the final minute of regulation.

No one's sayin' that D.J. can't play.

We're sayin' that Dominic ain't dominatin' nobody no way, no how.

And, no one should allow McNeal off the hook, either.

While he knocked down three 3-balls in OT, McNeal was 1 of 8 "from distance" in regulation.

The antithesis of "Super! Scintillating! Sensational!" was "Silly! Sloppy! Subpar!"

On the other hand, Super-Marquette should go easy on Dwight Burke for his last-second D on Brook Lopez.

For one thing, Dwight Burke is probably not a defender on par with teammate Ousmane Barro (this transmission's second-fave Senegalista ... Chinemelu Elonu remains #1).

Secondly, Dwight Burke didn't have time to break down game tapes, mid-game, of Brook Lopez and how he would've responded to a player fronting him with some backside help.

Thirdly, Tom Crean simply didn't have 13 or 14 timeouts to spend teaching double-team D assignments to those two or three people inside the Honda Center who DIDN'T know where the ball was going for Stanford's final shot.

"Hmmmm ... is it going to Todd Lichti or Adam Keefe? And, if it DOES go to Lopez, ya think he'll spin or pivot to his right, y'know ... since he shoots right-handed and all?"

Watchin' Stanford when the Lopez boyz are gettin' bizz-zay is OK, but, it's bad for children to see Anthony Goods pretending to shoot a basketball.

And, what's the deal with Taj Finger?

THESE ARE QUESTIONS/PROBLEMS/ISSUES WHICH WE LIKELY WILL NOT ADDRESS tomorrow because, well ... it's Easter Sunday ... and we owe it to Jesus (or Yul Bryner).

We need to put away our "DUCK FUKE" t-shirt (it probably wouldn't be a bad idea if, as courtesy, a no-talent such as Dana Jacobson showed some Hebrew restraint and refrained, for once, from wearing her "Juck Fesus" t-shirt 'round Bristol).

Seriously ... lookit this schedule: Two No. 12s vs. two No. 13s? Even if you combined the rosters from ChevyNova and Burnt Siena and played 'em off against the rosters of the Toreros and the Hilltoppers, your matchup really wouldn't be much to write home about.

That's a nice intramural matchup.

Possibly a good rec-league showcase.

NCAA playoff hoops?

Yeah, right.

If you say so (wink, wink).

That sport died about the same time as the Datsun ...

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