Friday, April 04, 2008

Live Blog From (Or Re:) The NCAA B-Ball Semis

THIS IS THE MAGICAL TIME OF THE SPORTS YEAR when the Disneyland Sports enterprise known as ESPN slaps America upside the head with it's mission statement:

"We could provide more basketball highlights and offer more profiles of actual basketball players, but wouldn't you rather see Digger's necktie/highlighter-pen combo or Bobby's sweater/polo-shirt combo or Dickie V.'s egghead informing you that Team A has to shoot better, Team B needs to rebound better, Team X needs to D up, Team Y needs to stop turning the ball over (as Jay Bilas warms up, off-camera, with the newsflash that Team Z has 'great length')?"

Yup ... it's a mindset which reinforces the ideal that ESPN enjoys talking about the abstract concept of basketball inside a vacuum as opposed to real-world tangibles such as the people involved in the outcomes of that sport (which is why -- "shhhhhhhhh!" -- nobody is allowed to ask His Majesty, Bobby, about Indiana's new head coach hire or how a program such as O'Reilly Auto Parts-Lubbock Division will bounce back from a crushing, 44-point, ass-kicking against Texas A&M followed shortly thereafter by a colossal, 58-point, evisceration-and-emasculation at the hands of Kansas).

Let's face it: Bobby was a lot more fun wayyyy back in Jan. 2008 when he brought that baby out as a prop for a press conference (America STILL doesn't know if that was Pat's toddler, Tim's infant or maybe a tot which was borrowed from a booster).

Now that ya mention it ... how the hell does Bilas know about a certain team's "length" -- usually that's the type of intel that a reporter can obtain only if he/she lingers a little too long in the locker-room shower area and begins cataloging "length, width and depth."

On the other hand, what didja expect from Digger's necktie/highlighter pen combo -- that he'd actually talk to an modern-day athlete such as a Kevin Love or a Psycho T or a Derrick Rose?

It's so much easier to edit these pre- and post-game pressers into a 15-second byte and push those opinions/thoughts in front of a convoy of six or seven 18-wheelers (let's mix it up today and table the sooo overplayed "thrown under the bus" colloquialism).

Anyway, we're not allowed to hear from Brandon Rush because Bobby's sweater/polo-shirt needs to debate Digger's necktie/highlighter pen combo re: Team A's shooting ability, Team B's rebounding ability, Team X's defensive strategy (zone or man?) and Team Y's penchant for turnovers.

Bilas, who we've been led to believe that because of his law degree, he's somehow higher on the food chain than Lavin's 100 lbs. of hair gel (but is he? IS HE?) will be here in a minute to discuss "length."

It was bad enough when America was gettin' too much Joe Lunardi in its diet, yet, here we are again, learning as little about playoff basketball from these knucklehead as we would be if we were relying on the inside scoop from either "Good Housekeeping" and/ore Reynolds Wolf, the guy who does the weather on Headline News.

The problem with stirring up a magical elixir of "infotainment" nowadays is that those doin' the mixin' are forgettin' that the formula calls for equal parts "information" and "entertainment" -- which is what we'd have if only they'd listened to us and opted for the knowledgable Dr. Jerry Punch and THE drop-deadliest-beautiful of the lovelies in sports broadcasting, Adriana Monsalves.

(Listen to her say "Zaragosa" sometime ... it's to die for ...")

It makes ya scratch yer head -- especially when ya do a double-take and see that the Moto X Games Channel actually sent TWO Game-Day-type hosts to San Antonio.

Apparently, making innocuous statements and lobbing softball questions to Bobby's sweater, Digger's tie and Dickie's egghead is too strenuous for Rece Davis, therefore, John Anderson was brought in.

This waste of America's taxpayer dollars is egregious.

The irony, though, is that when packaging the NCAA women's playoffs, ESPN actually has a clue.

The on-site host is Trey Wingo and the opinion-givers are NOT a group of dinosaurs who wish to discuss Army's 1967 squad or the Davidson team from 1968.

Instead, our experts are Kara Lawson and Stacey Dales -- one black and one white and, together, a duo which played at the highest level of that sport.

They're not perfect, nor bias-free, but it's a strong mix with commentary which is cogent and relevant (even if the women's game equation remains: Five or six excellent programs and an Arizona State/Georgia Tech non-conference matchup in any December which would make any fan cringe, thanks to the exceptionally high level of subpar skills combined with inferior aptitude ... it's a nice intramural matchup, but a scholarship sport? Doin' a bang-up job, Title IX!) .

As long as we're paying our respects to guys who died years ago (Knight, Phelps, Vitale), maybe this is the time to eulogize the more-recent death of Hubert Davis.

Hubert Davis was a regular on the GameDay set for the entire season -- until his job was handed to the white-haired, loudmouthed myth (thankfully, Karen finally clipped/trimmed Bobby's eyebrows ... it was so discouraging/disturbing to see Bobby's face being not camera-friendly simply because his eyebrows were a mishmash of unorganization in which some of the hairs were playing zone while the others were playing man D during another 19-13 or 17-14 or 20-16 season which didn't amount to anything and which nobody cared about ... ).

It stands to reason that Hubert Davis received his postseason ban, presumably, because he's a black man who was NOT a member of Army's 1966 team or Army's 1970 squad -- and, therefore, all he can talk about is his personal stake in the most-recent times in which UNC played Kansas in the national semifinals ... in 1991 and 1993.

Most of us remember how Hubert Davis busted his ass in that '91 UNC-KU national semi, scoring 25 points on 9 of 16 shooting (5-5 FT), but it was his teammates -- Rick Fox (5 of 22), Pete Chilcutt (2 of 8) and King Rice (1 of 6) -- who succumbed to the Jaywalks' incredible shooting from the floor (40%) and from the line (21 of 36).

Two years later, we all remember where we were an what we were doing when we forgot to watch UNC avenge that loss, as Donald Williams (25 points) and Eric Montross (23 points) sank the Jaywalks and Roy Williams.

If only Henrik Rodl could've done more for UNC.

[Editor's note: UNC's George Lynch and KU's Adonis Jordan squared off against each other in those '91 and '93 semifinal games ... and they each scored in double figures in those contests ... only thing is, America is always going to remember them for their work one year later, in '94, in the motion-picture blockbuster "Blue Chips" -- Lynch teaming with "Mr. 5-of-22" Rick Fox and KU's Rex Walters on the Texas Western team while Jordan collaborated with Rocky Top legend Allan Houston and Wake's Rodney Rogers for the Coast team which proved most formidable for Pete Bell and his Western University blue chippers.]

However, Hubert Davis is forbidden from talking about those memories from '91 or non-memories from '93 because ESPN wants to maintain the Caucasian integrity of its studio -- and this is the postseason, which is the time for over-analysis.

Although it's never meaty stuff such as: Was Henrik Rodl the first player with an umlat over the "O" in his last name to appear in a national semifinal?

We all know that the only player to perform during a Final Four weekend with TWO umlats in his name was when Utah's Hanno Mottola did so exactly 10 years ago (for that Majerus-led Utes team which didn't have Keith Van Horn, but received quality efforts from Andre Miller, Michael Doleac and the doubly-umlatted Mottola).

[Footnote: Remember how, not long after Dean Smith won that national championship in '93, when we learned that he'd signed the two top recruits in the nation -- Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace -- we figured he'd win at least two of the next three national championships? Then, when Coach Smith signed Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison, we thought that it was curtains for the rest of the basketball world ... but maybe Stackhouse and Wallace didn't mesh with Serge Zwikker and Dante Calabria the way we all assumed they would ... and maybe Ed Cota, Shammond Williams, Mahktar Ndiaye and Ademola Okulaja weren't the right supporting cast for Carter and Jamison, it's hard to say ... anyway, thank goodness for the new-school, "One-And-Done" formula, wherein star freshmen can treat the college game like their own NBA minor-league system ... ]

As long as this sector of the blogsphere -- the region known as "La-Z-Boy Junction" -- deems it necessary to address umlats over "O's," it seems like it might be worth exploring the numeral which most-closely resembles an "O."

We believe that this numeral to be a zero (0).

Now, exactly how nutty is this Zero Factor in this national semifinal twinbill?

It's UCLA's Russell Westbrook (#0) vs. Memphis' Shawn Taggart (#0) -- and, if Kansas' Darrell Arthur (#00) survives, we'll have a #00 vs. a #0 in the title game (although we don't know if the reason that #00 Arthur won't be mixing it up with a #00 for UNC is because nobody's explained to us if the #00 which Montross wore was unofficially retired in Chapel Hill -- sorta like the way that every time we see Brandon Rush wearing #25 for the Jaywalks, we wonder if KU assistant coach Danny Manning actually gave Rush his blessing to wear the same #25 that he wore while leading KU to the title over OU (it still sticks in our craw that two schools which are the "University of ..." go by KU and OU) back in 1988.

Sorting out the player names n' numbers is very important -- particularly for those who walk around the campus in Westwood, CA wearing their #41 DRAGOVIC basketball jerseys, lookin' to rumble with those who walk around campus wearing their #96 DRAGOVIC football jerseys.

One day, there will be peace between those who worship Nikola Dragovic (the 6-foot-8, 215-lb. Bruin sophomore pre-business/econ. major who was born on Dec. 20, 1987 in Podgarica, Serbia-Montenegro to Vitomar & Svetlana) and those who idolize Nikola Dragovic (the 6-foot-3, 256-lb. Bruin senior political science major who was born on June 9, 1985 in Vista, Calif. to Zeljko & Adriana).

Creating greater awareness and understanding between these factions of Nikola Dragovic followers and Nikola Dragovic admirers (understandably, neither Nikola Dragovic nor Nikola Dragovic is willing to go down in history as "the other Nikola Dragovic") is our primary mission.

After all, it wasn't so long before the football Nikola Dragovic/b-ball Nikola Dragovic mix-up that the Westwood campus was engulfed in controversy and confusion re: Karim Abdul-Jabbar and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Seems as though Kareem, who spent his entire UCLA career known as Lew Alcindor, was bothered by the fact that the football player named Sharmon Shah who arrived at UCLA, chose to change his name to "Karim Abdul-Jabbar" -- which might mean something bold, prolific and spiritual in Muslim such as "peaceful warrior" while the name "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar" means something entirely different, such as "warrior of peace" or something like that.

Nikola Dragovic and Nikola Dragovic find this very confusing.

Some of us have chosen to abide by the name which appears on our birth certificate: "The Outlaw Josey Wales."

Unfortunately, most of us are forced to get our Nikola Dragovic/Nikola Dragovic and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar/Karim Abdul Jabbar intel on the black market, mostly because ESPN's college basketball coverage is a lot like its college football coverage -- adhering to a mission statement of: "Let's talk ABOUT the players without actually talking TO the players."

Thank you, blogsphere, for providing options and open-mindedness.

This might be a fun national semifinals/championship weekend after all.

As long as nobody points out that THREE Adidas teams reached the Final Four with only one Nike team qualifying and causes us to wonder if Adidas would bother to rebutt those super-lame Nike TV ads.

"Our better is better than your better, although your $100 weak-ass sneaker is louder than our $50 quality shoe -- and your sweaty and dirty Indonesian sweatshops in which 12-year-old kids work for 27 cents a day are sweatier and dirtier than our air-conditioned Chinese manufacturing centers which don't exploit underaged workers ..."

No comments: