Monday, March 24, 2008

Tuco's Warning: "When You Have To Shoot ... Shoot"

That was one helluva ballgame -- only we don't know how it ended.

Which is OK -- 'cuz we're told that life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey -- even if that odyssey involves the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network broadcasting (as Sun. transitioned to Mon.) a Big East Tournament game from sometime in '91 or '92.

In summary, all we remember is that Alonzo Mourning ended regulation with 29 points, 14 rebounds and 7 blocked shots -- and Boston College had a kid who was as dark as coffee named "Kevin HROBOWSKI."

Funny ... he didn't look Polish.

(Apparently, Kevin Hrobowski was a decent player as a prep in the Detroit Metro area almost 20 years ago ... but, he still didn't look Polish -- which is probably the same as saying that Shaquille O'Neal and Ed O'Bannon never looked very Irish ... Bottom line: The only thing more bizarre than a super-dark kid named Kevin Hrobowski would've been if he was just as dark and his name had been Mustafa Abdul-Horowitz ...)

Anyway, it's more enlightening to discuss Georgeclown b-ball from the previous century -- such as when Kevin Hrobowski threw down that one-hand, slam tip-in -- than to evaluate what happened to the Hoya-Saxons in Raleigh yesterday.

First of all, none of us smokers in the La-Z-Boy Corridor can remember the last time we fired up a Raleigh Filter King for our smoking pleasure.

We're not even sure where (or if) we can can still buy 'em.

Secondly, Davidson College was unconstitutionally granted the privilege, as a No. 10 seed, of playing at a site which was a 2-hour busride from home.

That was a failing of "the committee."

And there should be sanctions.

As per failings which pertained to Georgeclown, true ... 20 turnovers were damaging.

And, going 8 of 17 from the line was quite detrimental.

But, when ya shoot 63 percent to your opponent's 38 percent, it shouldn't add up to a 74-70 loss.

Well, actually ... maybe it can (and does) ... when your coach is John Thompson, that fabulous G-Clown coach from the '80s and '90s who runs a puppet dictatorship through his puppet-son, JT3.

Another bad omen: When Sports Illustrated puts one of your extremely ordinary players (DeJuan Summers) on the cover of the annual S.I. March Madness issue (which, in the past few years, has featured a montage of ballplayers from the 65 tourney schools without so prominently featuring a pose of the player who is probably the fourth most-important player on a team which only had "darkhorse" chances at best of getting Cindy Relish horizontal).

For those of us in the La-Z-Boy Corridor who departed our La-Z-Boy long enough to honor Christ and the Resurrection yesterday, we didn't bother with much more than 3.7 minutes of the Georgeclown fiasco.

One day later, though ... there's so much pain and anguish in "the District."

On top of that ... there's despair.

And, as much as America loves those warm-n'-fuzzy tales of heroism and courage from NCAA playoffs ("this is what it's ALL about ... NoName Joe, shooting 1 of 8 from the floor, tossin' a 27-footer outta his ass at the buzzer! now, that's bravery, America!"), it wouldn't be such a bad thing for America if those limp dicks at the ESPN b-ball roundtable became a little more pro-active in playin' the blame game.

True ... we all know that the Disneyland Sports Network lost creative control of the project once Bob Knight was allowed to come onto the set to smooch the night away with Dickie V. and Digger -- rather than the obvious choice of pairing the smartest, most-professional guy at that network (Dr. Jerry Punch) with the foxiest (Adriana Monsalves of ESPN Deported).

(Note: The B.S. which flies around and the non-stop, Knight ass-kissing has America wondering how long it'll be before Lee Corso walks onto the set and says, "I used to coach at Indiana with Bob Knight and lemme tell ya something ...")

Hey ... it's the kids who are gettin' ripped off when America is denied a Dr. Jerry Punch/Adriana Monsalves pairing.

Ennn-neee-wayyyy ... as America spends this Monday getting all whimsical about molding Dell Curry's kid into the next American idol, those of us who realize that college basketball was invented before the mid-'80s (when the NCAA playoff field expanded to 64 teams and when the 3-point stripe was added) are never going to rank Curry's exploits above the accomplishments of Davidson's Mike Maloy in the 1969 NCAA playoffs.

Maloy blistered Villanova for 31 points and 17 rebounds and followed that up with 35 points (13-13 FT) and 12 rebounds against St. John's.

The following year, Mike Maloy and Davidson (coached by Terry Holland after Lefty Drizzle left to take the Maryland job) were bounced in the first round of the NCAA playoffs by a little powerhouse from Olean, NY -- St. Bonaventure, led by the mighty (and incomparable) Bob Lanier of Bennett High in Buffalo (28 points, 15 rebounds).

Hence, when somebody at the workplace water cooler starts hittin' us with Curry being the quickest trigger east of the Mississippi, we yawn ... and then we shrug ... and then we ask, "Does that look like Austin Carr to you? Get back to me when he's goin' off like Austin Carr, okee-doke?" [Austin Carr in the '70 NCAA playoffs: 61 points (on 25 of 44 shooting) in a 112-82 win over Ohio; 52 points (on 22 of 35 shooting) in a 109-99 loss to Kentucky (a game in which Dan Issel racked up 44 on 17 of 28 shooting].

(Sidebar: To refute the assertion that "they didn't play defense back then," we're cool. The modern-day counter-argument is "players today have three offensive moves: cross-over dribble off one's own knee in traffic; 3-ball from 22 feet which travels either 20 feet or 25 feet; the off-balance, 13-footer ...")

Curry's got some skillz ... he has some ups ... some quicks ... however, he didn't blow the roof off of the gymnasium with some extraterrestrial Austin Carr-like shooting exhibition. He was barely hovering around the 50 percent range, so it's not as though he was lights out.

Kids ... he's a bit of a gunner.

Which is OK, given the proper context. Better to have Kid Curry shootin' the 3-ball than Option B.

Yet, the only reason that Davidson is the newest sweetheart making a push to be crowned "Miss George Mason 2008" ... is because John Thompson hasn't performed adequately as the Hoyas' coach-in-absentia (through his JT3 puppet).

This isn't THAT much of a surprise, given that Thompson assembled that '88 Olympic team with all those shooting guards (how ya doin', Hersey Hawkins, Bimbo Coles and Jeff Grayer?) while forgetting about maybe including a point guard.

Think about it ... when JT3 needs to scrounge up some strategy or b-ball know-how, he's not reading from text furnished by Dean Smith or Nolan Richardson.

When Sonny needs an opinion, he gets one from Daddy.

Which means that Daddy is STILL runnin' the show -- even if he no longer engages in the recruiting process or menial administrative endeavors.

It's STILL his program.

Which is precisely why the focus of "What Went Wrong With G-Clown?" centered on some ticky-tack fouls which were whistled against Roy Hibbert.

Papa didn't pound into Sonny's head that since most referees never played a post-up position in their lives, they don't know how to ref the give n' take of jostling for position in the low post.

And, since Roy Hibbert has extremely fewer offensive moves than, say, 'Zo or Patrick or Dikembe or Othella Harrington, well ... that's why he took only 3 shots (and, oddly enough, made all 3).

Nobody -- 'cept Dr. Jerry Punch and Adriana Monsalves -- noticed that it was G-Clown's offense, not its defense (of Curry) which led to its ultimate demise.

The thing is, G-Clown had won when the offense wasn't funneled through Hibbert -- as was demonstrated in the Big East tourney first-rounder against Villanova when the Hoyas knocked down 17 of 28 three-balls as Hibbert fouled out while going 0 of 2 from the floor.

Since those Disneyland Channel schlubs are looking for faux-courage and pseudo-bravery -- and because JT3 can never be criticized because he's JT3 and he's courageous and brave), the reason for Georgeclown's defeat might get lost in the shuffle.

The Hoyas took only 41 shots.


They sank 26 baskets.

Thus ends the "what-went-wrong?" analysis ...

Heck, only two nights earlier, Oregano attempted 38 three-pointers (29 of 'em didn't go in) while losing to Miss. State and Clumsy shot 33 trifecters (24 of 'em were bricks) while blowing that huge lead vs. Villanova.

Unlike those two teams, G-Clown WAS hitting its shots (when the Hoyas weren't overpassing and overdribbling and, subsequently, committing turnovers).

For those who watched, the pro-Hoya contingent HAD to be hoping that there'd be a re-enactment of that scene in "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" when that one-armed outlaw who Tuco had shot up earlier busted in and interrupted Tuco enjoying a bubble bath.

The scruffy guy with one arm bored us all with how he learned to shoot with his opposite hand ever since Tuco had wounded him and caused his shooting arm to be amputated, blah blah blah ...

Tuco was not impressed.

Which is why his pistol blasted away from under the bubbles, delivering the fatal shots -- to which Tuco arose from the tub and, with the soapy suds still clinging to his naked body, informed the slain stranger, "When you have to shoot ... shoot. Don't talk."

That Tuco ... what a rascal.

Then again, when it came to shooting advice, the partner-in-crime (the quiet, cigar-chomping stranger) of one Tuco Benedeto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez (known as "The Rat") probably had the most-apt line:

"Hmmmmmm ... if we cut down my percentage, it's liable to interfere with my aim."

Fact: Even though that wisdom is 45 years old, it still rings true today.

And, when JT3 examines the raw data (with Dad), the numbers will be frightening.

During a 3:52 span of the first half (from the 6:56 mark of the first half 'til 3:04 remained until intermission), Georgeclown sank all six of its shots -- two baskets by Vernon Macklin, two by Chris Wright (playing for Hibbert) and 3-balls from Jessie Sapp and Austin Freeman.

Then, in the first 2:04 following intermission, G-Clown made all three of its shots -- including trifecters from Jonathan Wallace and Summers for a 46-29 lead.

That's when JT3 got all conservative (on orders from Dad) ... or flashed back to the Princeton method of 54 passes before each shot.

It can be argued that it is difficult to play with a 17-point lead, although such arguments are usually made by teams which know only how to turn a 17-point lead into a 4-point advantage rather than turning a 17-point lead into a 28-point rout.

And, it can be argued that G-Clown's offense suffered appreciably w/o the now-in-the-NBA skillz of Jeff Green, a player whose versatility was invaluable.

Then again, in the season-ending loss in the Final Four to Ohio State last year, JT3's inability to "make adjustments" sealed his fate -- and, in that case, it was The Coach Who We're Not 'Sposed To Say Bad Things About and his inability to maximize the scoring of his top scorer.

Remember that? Against Ohio State, Green didn't attempt his first shot until 3:10 remained in the first half and he didn't attempt a shot in the second half until 6:10 remained -- meaning that the Green attempted only three shots in the game's first 28:50.

That was partly due to Green being too passive and not getting into "the flow" -- but, it was also JT3's typical approach of "Getting the ball in the hands of my top scorers? No .. 'cuz they'd be expecting that."

So, from 17:56 (when Summers sank that 3) 'til there was 8:28 remaining in the game, G-Clown attempted only six shots.

That's 9:28 of dysfunction ...

9:28 of "workin' some clock" ...

9:28 of falling to get angry and failing to keep attacking ...

9:28 of allowing Davidson to climb back into the game so that the Wildcats could keep alive the dream of winning the swimsuit competition and one day wear the "Miss George Mason 2008" sash ...

9:28 of time to think about the '82 championship game when JT3's daddy ordered Ewing to block/goaltend all of UNC's shots early in the game ... to intimidate the Tar Heels (who didn't look all that scared when Worthy and Perkins were flyin' to the basket later for windmill dunks) ...

Basically, JT3 violated one of the most-sacred tenets of the blacktop -- keep feeding the hot hand.

He gave us the prevent defense of b-ball.

We've come to learn that when a team turns the ball over 20 times, it's very likely that most of those miscues will lead directly to points, via baskets in transition or fouls as a team scrambles to retreat on D.

There is no correlation between missed 3-balls and points for the other team, provided that the team missing the 3's isn't being completely absurd and arbitrary.

Instead of tossin' the ball to the other team, G-Clown should've spent that time chuckin' the ball at the rim (except for Ewing's kid and Doc Rivers' kid ... that would not've been pretty).

What's the worst that could've happened?

What happened to "Ya can't score if ya don't shoot?"

Instead, America is singing "The Ballad of Stephen Curry."

Because he had the courage to shoot the ball.

41 shots ... 10 of 18 on 3-balls ... the Hoyas stopped themselves.

It doesn't take a Dr. Jerry Punch or an Adriana Monsalves to see that even if G-Clown had attempted 16 threes in the final 3:00 and sank only 4 -- even without getting a single offensive rebound for a second shot, that's 12 more points and an overall game percentage from 3-land of an acceptable 41 percent (14 of 34).

Even Digger knows that this is not fuzzy math.

To be sure, it was not "a special defense" devised by America's newest supergenius, Bob McKillop (whoever he is ... that is, besides a guy who has a roster filled with a couple of Quebeckites, one of the the two dudes named "Boris" in these playoffs and -- oh, how adorable -- his own son, one of those marginally-talented son-of-the-head-coach kids who is allowed to wander into game action when Davidson is moppin' the floor with The Citadel or the Furman Palladins).

41 shots, Americans.

You'll take more shots than that tonight in your rec-league game at the Y ...

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