Saturday, March 27, 2010
I've been thinking about things lately. Don't believe me? Put this in your pipe and smoke it:
How in God's name did Alabama-Huntsville become a college hockey power? Did you realize they competed in college hockey's Elite Eight over the weekend? Wouldn't this be like New Hampshire A & T becoming a baseball heavyweight?
I have a problem with one of the more memorable scenes from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and I need to bring it to your attention: "Adams, Adamle, Adamowski, Adamson, Adler, Anderson, Bueller, Bueller, Bueller...."
Now, I get going overboard with all the names at the start of the alphabet, but if you're going to include five last names before Anderson, how in the hell can you justify zero names between Anderson and Bueller? It's an impossibility. You mean to tell me that that class shouldn't have included an Atkinson, Baxter, Benson or Bishop before Bueller? Wacky high school comedy or not, this has always driven me crazy.
Been paying attention to that woman giant, Brittney Griner, lately? I sure have. Her games are appointment television. She blocks a bunch of shots without jumping and struts around with an annoying swagger that suggests she's done something impressive. Let me ruin the fun for you: She hasn't. She's just really goddamn tall. Anyway...
Over the weekend she threw up a stat line we may never see again (unless she does it again this tournament): 27 points, 10 blocks...7 rebounds! Does it even seem possible to block that many shots and only come away with 7 rebounds? That particular game featured (an appropriate term for the women's game) 78 missed field goal attempts and 11 free throws. Step it up, Griner!
Speaking of the women's game, Mo Egger echoed everything I wanted to say about Xavier's choke job on Monday, and he wasn't remotely out of line. I wish he would have added this: Women should not be allowed to play basketball. Exhibit A for my argument is Xavier's multiple blown layups at the end of the Stanford game.
Tennis, soccer, volleyball and swimming? Go for it, ladies. I'll even watch on occasion and keep my obnoxious remarks to a relative minimum. But, basketball as a legitimate form of entertainment? Please. I watch women's hoops for the same reason I watch Red Dawn: Both are unintentionally hilarious.
Professional basketball is covered by TNT better than any sport is covered by any other network. Fact. Yet I can't stop shaking my head at TNT's bone-headed decision to put EJ, Kenny and Chuck in the booth for last Thursday's Bulls-Heat game. Aside from opening night, the playoffs and maybe Martin Luther King Day, this was TNT's biggest night of the year, and a golden opportunity to highlight the comedic talents of America's greatest studio show.
And I doubt anyone watched.
There are only two Thursdays every year when even hardcore NBA fans don't care about the NBA: The first day of the NCAA tournament and the Sweet 16. That's it, that's the list. I'm not a clever television critic, but I would give TNT two emphatic thumbs down for this move.
It's probably been seven or eight years since I considered anyone other than Tom Izzo the best college coach alive (really, who else makes it in the discussion?). Anyway, I'm not shattering the Earth with this proclamation (although I think most would find a way to disagree with me), but I find it interesting that Tom Izzo -- undeniable greatness and all -- remains underrated. Even after this past weekend, when the world seems to be lining up to fellate him, Izzo isn't appreciated in the manner he deserves.
Unless Michigan State wins it all, Tom Izzo will once again drift into relative obscurity.
Let's play a game: Quick, name all the outstanding NBA players Tom Izzo's produced...
Ten more seconds...
Come up with any? If you answered Zach Randolph, you'd receive partial credit (he played one year for Izzo and averaged 10.8 ppg). After that you're looking at two years of Jason Richardson (only one of which where he really made an impact) and a solid four-year career of Morris Peterson.
And after that?
Eh. You're looking at a few Charlie Bells and Shannon Browns and guys who never made an impact at the next level. Since the end of the 90's (when Izzo finally got things rolling at MSU), Michigan State has only put nine players in the NBA and those nine players have combined for one All Star game (Randolph, this year). By contrast, Fresno State's put twelve players in the NBA since the start of the century. Twelve! Fresno State!
Which confirms the following: (1.) Tom Izzo's not the best recruiter on the planet. (2.) Tom Izzo's the best coach on the planet. Undeniably.
Every year at this time I rail against basketball's flopping epidemic and the nature of taking charges. I won't waste your time linking to all of my past columns where I frustratingly wrote (at length) about the absurdity of taking charges. But I will reiterate my main theme: Taking a charge -- which most of the time means standing in place and falling backwards after minimal contact -- is the least natural basketball move a player can make (other than maybe taking a pee while shooting a free throw, or whatever). Trust me, I've been playing ball for 23 years now (often times against current and former college players), and it's never once crossed my mind to stand in front of someone and fall down just to gain a possession. Basketball is all about instincts, and taking a charge is anything but instinctive.
It's also the reason Baylor isn't in the Final Four. For anyone who saw 7'1, 270-lb. Brian Zoubek stand under the rim with his arms straight up as Baylor forward Quincy Acy came storming down the baseline, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Baylor had a two-point lead and a shit ton of momentum before a 7'1 behemoth -- again, standing under the rim -- decided not to challenge a shot, but to fall down because an opponent touched his hip. Zoubek got the call, Baylor relented the lead on the next possession, Duke snatched momentum and won the game.
The charging/flopping epidemic gets worse every year, and it's standing in the way of making basketball the perfect product.
Evan Turner wasn't a unanimous AP first team All American; he missed by one vote. I'd like to deliver a face punch to the jag-off who voted five (or maybe more) players over Turner. Remember, basketball All American teams don't require voters to select a conventional lineup of two guards, two forwards and a center. It's simply a vote for the five best guys in the sport. That means that some asshole out there thought Evan Turner wasn't one of the five best players of the 2009-2010 college basketball season. I'm not making that up. Whoever excluded Evan Turner from his (or her) first-team ballot shouldn't be allowed to cover the sport for a living.
Women's shot clocks are thirty seconds; men's are thirty-five. Can somebody please explain this to me? Aside from the flopping epidemic, college basketball's biggest problem is widespread offensive ineptness. Regardless of how hard-fought some of these tournament games have been, a 55-53 slugfest is still endlessly boring.
The game needs to be sped up, scoring needs to increase and the game's magnificent athletes need to be uncaged. Because there is no reason West Virginia, a team graced with a multitude of thoroughbreds, should struggle so much on the offensive end. Which reminds me...
Three games remaining until a champion is crowned. Three boring games. I'm pulling hard for Huggs and everything, but West Virginia plays an ugly brand of basketball. Duke and Michigan State? Not a single next-level player on the roster. And while Butler's Gordon Hayward has the most potential of any Final Four participant, he doesn't often assert himself, and he's still flanked by typical Butler players. Prepare yourself for the worst Final Four since (at least) 2000.
Don't get me wrong, a Butler-Duke title contest would be positively riveting on the David-Goliath scale (an obscure Biblical reference), but the actual game play might put you to sleep.
It appears Kevin Durant is now being called "Durantula." No, really. I'd love to make fun of this, but I'm afraid I'm in the minority here. I have trouble understanding this, but losers everywhere love making up nicknames for established young stars. I can't imagine another trend being more nerdy. I really really hate it. Don't get me wrong, I love nicknames (and especially nickname origins), but only when they come about in a natural fashion (typically in one's youth); they should never be forced. I feel very strongly about this.
Two quick nickname/new media stories that left me scratching my head and contemplating suicide:
1. During a recent Grizzlies-Wizards game (don't ask), the Grizzlies announcers repeatedly called current Wizards guard (and former Grizzly), Mike Miller, "MM33." That's the dumbest goddamn nickname I've ever heard. MM33! No wait...
Could anything be more ridiculous? It's really hard to say and it was obviously an attempt by a nerdy white announcer to create a cool nickname. Not happening. That will never be cool. Not in my lifetime, holmes.
2. Watched NBA Fastbreak for about ten seconds last week before the studio host (maybe Kevin Connors or Robert Flores, not sure) called a triple double a "trip-dub." Did the studio analyst, Jalen Rose, call him out for this? Of course not; he's not exactly a burgeoning broadcasting talent. Without hesitation I changed the channel and threw my remote control 600 MPH into the couch cushions.
Yes, I desperately wanted to be a credible media member for several years, but I was being blocked by dickheads who thought it was cool (or at least acceptable) to say things like "MM33" and "trip-dub." This is a massive effing problem, and it keeps me up on more nights than I'd like admit.
I blame Stuart Scott and Chris Berman.
Finally, we have Huggs. I won't waste your time explaing my embarrassing affinity for the man, but it goes pretty deep (forgive me, he came to town when I was just 9-years-old). Plus, I've written about him several times and I'm not sure what else I have to add. The list of people I can't discuss rationally is pretty short: Marty Brennaman, Nick Van Exel, Bob Huggins, Howard Stern and that's about it. And Larry David, Tony Kornheiser, David Simon, Barry Larkin, Edinson Volquez, Troy Smith, Antoine Winfield, David Boston and Mike Martz probably make the cut, as well. Okay, maybe my list isn't so short, but Coach Higgs is definitely on top.
Do I consider him a god? Do I make excuses for his past failures? Would I lay down in traffic for the guy? Yep. Yep. Yep. I can't help it, he was responsible for so many great moments in my childhood that I'd root for him if he were fighting my Aunt Bunny in a steel cage death match.
Before I post a few tear-jerking videos, allow me one improbably sentence to illustrate how much of a Huggins fan I was: I used to record his postgame radio shows on a cassette tape.
That's how much I loved Higgy, and I won't apologize for it. As Christopher Moltisanti once spoke of Tony Soprano, "I'd follow that man into hell."
I woke up on Monday in search of...something on YouTube. Can't remember what. Somehow, with fate intervening (or whatever), I quickly stumbled upon two Bearcats season-recap videos from the glorious Final Four season of 1992. Against all odds, I didn't cry. But I was damn close.
(Lengthy Reds preview coming before Monday morning.)
-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)
Posted by Twin Killing dot Com at 7:55 PM