Monday, December 20, 2004

Random Musings

Well, a few brief basketball musings as I take my lunch break and wait for a meeting to begin:

1) Well, I guess Rick Majerus isn’t going to USC after all, meaning that my original prediction that he would stay put at ESPN (this assumes, of course, that they’ll take him back, which is a pretty safe assumption) is now turning out to be true. Honestly, when I made that prediction, it seemed pretty clear that Majerus was going, but it just didn’t add up in my head when I thought about it logically. Good to know that Majerus is thinking like me, now. I think this will be a positive choice for him, and I know it will be a positive choice for viewers like me who enjoy his witty banter.

2) In all of the hoopla surrounding the Marquette game, I forgot to point out the return of the most ridiculous halftime game of all time. The premise of the game? A Marquette student must sink 2 out of 3 half court shots for a $10,000.00 credit towards Marquette tuition. Oh, and the 3 shots are from different spots, meaning you can’t just take the easy way out and take 3 strait shots from center court—you have to take one from the left side and one from the right. Couldn’t we just parade some student out to half court and give them the Marquette prize pack and let them sit back down quickly? Either that or the marketing department should just pony up the extra $100 for better insurance coverage on the game, rather than making it the most impossible game of all time. Maybe next year they’ll have a game that requires contestants to drop-kick 10 balls in a row through the hoop from half-court. The lack of suspense would still be there, but at least that would be funny to watch. And one last thought—if some lucky student ever did hit 2 of 3 half court shots, they would get less than half of one year’s tuition ($21,550) at Marquette. Somehow, a super-human shooting display like that seems worthy of at least the entire year’s tuition, if not a semester’s worth of books, as well.

3) I’ve got a few outlying conspiracy theories going on with regard to basketball, and the next three points are about those. First, last week my friend T.J. emailed me a story about the transfer of Mohamed Abukar, a forward for Florida. You can check it out here. After you do, here’s my reaction, which I sent to T.J. on Friday:

What I find most interesting about this article is that this guy is leaving Florida after originally committing to Georgia. Georgia, as we know, was really, really dirty. Florida, as we know, is widely believed to be very dirty. Donovan's comments about how something like this is almost always related to playing time strikes me as a comment designed to brush this off as if it's no big deal. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks there's something much bigger going on down in Florida. We may not know of it for awhile, and it has probably already been going on for awhile, but it's something big.

So that’s the first theory out there. Keep your eye on Florida going forward. Hopefully I’m just crazy.

4) I was watching North Carolina play on Sunday afternoon, and for some reason my mind wandered to the 1993 national championship game between North Carolina and Michigan. You know, the one where Chris Weber called the timeout. As you’ll recall, before the infamous timeout, the referees missed an obvious traveling violation by Weber. My question is, did Weber knowingly call the timeout with an intent to get a technical foul? Knowing what we do now about the ethical transgressions of Michigan (and Weber in particular) during that time period, is it possible that Weber was in on some sort of bigger gambling scheme or something? I mean, he catches an inbounds pass, and fails to dribble before he starts running, a bizarre error to see at that juncture of the game. Then, after the refs fail to call him on it, he has to make another mistake to turn the ball over to UNC. He realizes that another glaring physical error would look suspicious, so he decides to call a timeout that he knows his team does not have so that UNC can waltz away with the game. I don’t know—maybe this has already been discussed to death by people more into this than I, and maybe this theory doesn’t work for some reason that only gamblers would understand, but it still seems odd to me that Weber could screw up that badly two times during the most important final minute of his life.

5) As a general rule, I don’t consider the NBA to be basketball, per se, but since guys who once played basketball often go on to the NBA to earn a living, it is a basketball-related product. So then, have you noticed the NBA schedule on Christmas day? Miami and the L.A. Lakers play. This I get—some marketing guy knew that Shaq-Kobe would bring big numbers, and rightly chose to schedule the showdown on a big day. The other game is more curious: Detroit at Indiana. Interesting. It’s probably not a game that I’d want to watch, prior to the near-riot in Detroit earlier this year, but now it seems like a pretty interesting sub-plot. Pretty convenient to have for one of the Christmas day games. Could the riot be a publicity stunt, created for big Christmas day ratings?

That’s it for now. Oh, and I realize that that last theory is full of holes and likely bears no basis in reality, but you can’t help but think that the NBA really lucked out to have that game scheduled for Christmas day. That’s probably the only good thing to come of it, though.


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