Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Self-Reflexive Moment (And More Big Ten-ACC Challenge)

First off, I’d like to apologize to those of you who’ve been coming here awhile and expect something entertaining from me. Admittedly, I’ve been totally mailing it in for the past two updates (though thankfully, no one has called me out on this). I attribute this to a couple of things:

1) The lack of live basketball experiences of note has been tough for me to deal with. When I go to a live game, it’s easy writing. I get a couple of solid game points, make fun of someone’s name, and perhaps have a wacky mishap with condiments at the concession stand. The recap writes itself. Lately I’ve been relegated to lots of TV games, which typically aren’t as interesting an experience, since I’m sitting in a chair in my apartment trying to mock commentators.

2) I’ve had things going on. While I haven’t had anything earth shattering to do, I hung out with friends the first two nights of this week. That cuts into my limited game-watching and writing time, and I have less to work with. Not that I’m complaining–I’d rather keep my social life than be the greatest internet hobbyist writer ever.

3) I’ve been too guarded in my comments lately. The number of visitors to my site has skyrocketed in the last month. While I appreciate the fact that people are stopping by, I was definitely more bold in my comments when there were a maximum of 40 people per day viewing my ramblings. A non-offensive man by nature, I realize that I need to toe the line a bit more, and perhaps tell you when I see a bench full of high school basketball players checking out girls in the stands rather than watching their game (not that this has actually happened, but you know, hypothetically speaking...). So I’ll try to be more honest in my comments from here on out.

With that out of the way, let's get back on track with an update that's actually serviceable. On to my evening of basketball:

If Tuesday night taught me anything, it was that I need to focus my attention more, since it’s a lot more fun to watch one game with some intensity than it is to watch 5 games in a half-assed manner. Of course, that didn’t keep me from catching snippets of every game of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, part of the Gonzaga-Portland State game, and listening to portions of the Marquette-Nebraska game on the radio last night. But I keyed in on the marquee game tonight: Duke vs. Indiana. Here are the thoughts running through my head during that game:

1) Based on this year’s freshman class, the ACC is quickly becoming a the home of nerdy-looking white guys who can play some ball. Tuesday night we got a glimpse at Bobby Frasor and Tyler Hansbrough at North Carolina, and last night their bizarro Duke counterparts Greg Paulus and Josh McRoberts took the floor. All seem somewhat awkward-looking to me. I still remember the first time I saw McRoberts in an all-star game, and they were touting him as player of the year. My exact thought was "That guy?" I then figured that they were giving out some sort of scholar-athlete award, and the real athletes would be out later. It appears, though, that the nerdy guys are the future of the best conference in the land. Who’d have though it?

2) Early in the game Sean Kline took a nice charge on Sheldon Williams. I was ready to applaud the move, but then when Williams got tangled up a bit with him after the play while trying to catch his balance, Kline clamped his legs around Williams’ ankle. It was brief and no one appeared to notice this (I had to rewind a couple of times to confirm that I had actually seen this childish act), but it was a mildly obnoxious move on Kline’s part. To Williams credit, he got free, and nothing, aside from some later jostling, came of the incident.

3) What did ESPN know that we didn’t? Pretty much every basket that Marco Killingsworth scored seemed to merit an on-screen graphic to confirm his point total and shooting totals for the night. It wouldn’t have been weird if they’d started it when it was clear that he was having a stellar game, but this was going on from the time he had five points. If this was the NBA, I’d be complaining how everything was fixed and the media was building up a new superstar. Since it’s college, I know that ESPN was hoping to hype a new guy, and he just happened to come through perfectly for them.

4) I tend to like lots of buttons on my suits, but Mike Davis’ suit, combined with his navy blue shirt looked with white collar really dumb and uncomfortable. Davis looked more like he was wearing some sort of poorly crafted imitation Marine uniform, not an extremely nice suit for coaching basketball. Next time try to get something that doesn’t make you look so stiff, okay Mike?

5) Marco Killingsworth came out of the game at one point in the first half due to blood on his uniform. Obviously I’ve seen this scenario before, but I’ve never seen so many spots of blood on the uniform of a guy who’s not bleeding profusely. It was one of those deals where in addition to a spot on the front of his jersey, he had blood in the small of his back and other assorted areas. How did blood get to the small of Killingsworth’s back? That one’s probably confusing to the trainers. I know it’s confusing to me on rare occasions that I get something like pizza sauce on the back of my shirt while having dinner. I guess my scenario’s a bit better though, since I’m not bleeding–I’m apparently just reclining into slices of pizza.

6) Maybe the most fun play to watch in the entire game was the fastbreak by Indiana late in the second half where they finally took the lead from Duke. Duke’s Greg Paulus was back on defense in plenty of time, and probably could have taken a charge on the play, given the way that Klllingsworth was screaming down the lane. Of course, Paulus flinched at the end and got out of the way. While I’d normally call Paulus out for not setting up for the charge, Paulus may have extended his life with the play, since getting run over by Killingsworth on that play would probably have been life threatening. If the force of a big man hauling ass wouldn’t have killed Paulus, surely the Indiana crowd would have after the play. As we know, everyone hates it when Duke gets charge calls, and this was one time when such a call would have been particularly painful to accept for Hoosier fans.

7) Marco Killingsworth AND D.J. White, when he comes back from injury? Yes, I am officially scared of the Hoosier frontcourt.

8) Not sure how I missed it earlier, but add Duke and Michigan State to the list of schools with uniforms that Nike has ruined this year.

9) Normally, I must shamefully admit, I sort of get a kick out of Dick Vitale’s overblown announcer routine. But last night he made an utterly ridiculous statement at the end of the game when he noted that Indiana’s Assembly Hall should be re-named Robert Montgomery Knight Assembly Hall. Obviously there is some allure to Knight in Indiana, as he took the basketball program to heights that few programs in the country has ever seen. He undoubtedly is a great basketball mind, and has been very successful over the years. He was also fired by the university after a series of questionable incidents. I don’t see too many places going out of their way to name buildings after people that they fired, particularly when the firing came about as Knight’s did. If fans want to revere Knight, they’re certainly free to do so, but I think Indiana University would look about as foolish as possible if it was to name a building after a guy that it fired in shame only five years earlier.

And of course, some other random thoughts from the night of basketball monitoring:

1) Sometimes announcers beat fun facts into the ground. For example, as a Wisconsin fan, I’m tired of hearing how much Kammron Taylor resembles Chris Rock. However based on the couple of times that I’ve tuned into Iowa games over the last two years, the Taylor-Rock comparison is fresh material compared to the revelation that Adam Haluska is a great athlete and won roughly 49 state track titles in his senior year of high school. No one that’s ever seen an Iowa game before is ignorant of this fact, so could we just let it go?

2) Speaking of Haluska, I didn’t watch much of the Iowa-N.C. State game, but I did catch that sweet inbounds pass to himself off the back of a defender, leading to an easy lay-up. I haven’t seen that maneuver pulled since playing YMCA league as a kid.

3) Marquette lost at Nebraska last night, and I caught some of the radio broadcast, though not enough to really tell what went on, aside from the fact that the first half didn’t go so well for the Golden Eagles. Nebraska’s not a great loss by any means, but I’ll take it for what it is–part of a season of growth for the Golden Eagles. Remember, two years from now, things will be much different.

4) Remember my prediction that Minnesota would beat Maryland, based on my inverse Dan Monson theory? Well, despite the loss, I’m not backing off the theory, since Maryland didn’t really take over until the second half, after Monson had been ejected. Without Monson, the Gophers were doomed against the more talented Terps.

5) I’ve been thinking about my guess last week that there’s something more than illness going on with Northwestern’s Mike Thompson. On one hand, now that we’re a week and a half removed from my original guess, and Northwestern’s still saying that he’s just sick, there’s part of me that says Bill Carmody wouldn’t carry a lie this far. On the other hand, Thompson missed the trip to Virginia last night due to the illness, and his illness is closing in on two weeks. I can’t recall the last time I had a flu that hung on that long.

6) Let’s review my errors in my ACC-Big Ten Challenge predictions:

Wisconsin over Wake Forest
Let’s chalk this one up to me being a homer and underestimating Justin Gray.

Minnesota over Maryland
Already explained above. If Monson’s on the bench the whole time, the theory kicks in and I’m right.

Northwestern over Virginia
For me, picking Northwestern to win games is like getting back together with a girlfriend that you broke up with. You know it’s a bad idea, but there’s just something that sucks you back in and makes you believe it can work. Last night’s game was sort of like the one-month mark when you realize again why you broke up with her in the first place. So I’m off the Northwestern bandwagon again...until the Wildcats seduce me again.

Miami over Michigan
How was I supposed to know that Tommy Amacker could get his team to gel? He hasn’t exactly proven his abilities in the past several years.

That’s it for today. If you’re looking for something to do tonight, check out Racine St. Catherine’s at Milwaukee Pius tonight in what’s sure to be an excellent early-season high school match-up. I’d definitely be going, but instead, as always, Thursday night’s my bowling night, so I’m taking the night off from basketball (and probably going half-assed again on tomorrow’s update).


At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The uniforms that Michigan State and Duke (and some other schools) were wearing this week were made specifically for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. I'm pretty sure you won't be seeing them again, thankfully. I just didn't want you to think that my Spartans have decided to switch to jerseys that look like they're held together with duct tape.


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