Monday, March 20, 2006

Weekend Annoyances

As always, the first weekend of the tournament (and the finals of the high school tournament) was phenomenal. I’ve got plenty to talk about from the past weekend, and despite the state of Wisconsin being done with college basketball for the year, I had an overwhelmingly good time. No weekend is perfect, though, and so before I get to all of the fun stuff that went on, I’d like to start off the week by discussing the handful of things that annoyed me this weekend. In the grand scheme of things, these are all minor annoyances, but they’re all worth noting, if only to prove that even the best weekend of the year can be improved. So today I’m breaking out my angry side, but don’t worry–happy Chris will be back tomorrow to talk more about the good things that he saw over the weekend. But for now, here’s the list of things that bothered me:

1) I’m annoyed that the TV viewing experience for the first couple of rounds was, as always, good, but could have been a lot better. I knew things were going to be less than perfect when I fired up the chain of televisions in my living room on Thursday night, and the game on the high definition CBS channel was not in high definition. Rumor has it that because Time Warner was offering extra games on their free multi-cast, they were unable to provide the main game in high definition. I suppose if I had to choose between one or the other, I’d have taken the multi-cast, as well, but it was still a bit disappointing to miss out on the HD experience, seeing as this exact weekend weighed heavily on my mind when deciding whether or not to buy an HDTV. I guess it just would have been nice to have some warning about this one.

2) Further annoying about the television experience was that the switching between games that CBS does when something gets exciting, combined with other factors that I probably don’t know about, made the multi-cast of all the games less than worthwhile. I’m not sure that there was any point during Thursday and Friday’s action that you were able to see every game at once. Two moments from Thursday night sum this up best. First, there was one point where all but one of the CBS feeds were showing UCLA blowing out Belmont while other viable games were going on. Second, my friends and I were interested in checking out the Gonzaga vs. Xavier game when it started, but despite Gonzaga being ESPN’s late-night workhorse this year, the game was nowhere to be found for the first ten minutes. So the multi-cast, while a great idea in theory, and somewhat of an improvement over getting one standard game, was not all that it should have been. Looks like I might have to start thinking about DirectTV for next year.

3) I’m annoyed that Racine St. Catherine’s won the state division three title over Westby by a score of 68-29, apparently the largest margin of victory ever in a state title game. Maybe Westby had an off day, and maybe Racine St. Catherine’s had a great day, but this has to add fuel to concerns about private schools dominating the smaller-school divisions of high school basketball in Wisconsin. I can’t imagine anyone being happy about this game. Westby lost by an embarrassing margin, and probably shouldn’t have had to play a team as high powered as St. Catherine’s in division three. And if I had to guess, I’d tend to think that St. Catherine’s would have preferred to at least play up at division two (as they did last year before their enrollment dropped) and face some better competition. The common thought is that public school proponents are bitter about the current situation because public schools can’t seem to win state titles, but my sense from talking to various people is that there are plenty of private school people out there that are similarly peeved by their inability to play the level of opponent that they are worthy of. I’ll be interested to see if this game leads to any changes in how private schools are dealt with. It’s undoubtedly a tough issue to resolve.

4) It’s a minor annoyance, but I’m also annoyed at my neighbor for leaving a package that came in the mail for me on either Friday or Saturday at the bottom of my back stairs. I rarely use my back stairs, and had it not been for some late-Sunday re-organization of my storage space in the basement, I would have never seen that my replica Kevin Pittsnogle jersey had arrived. Luckily, West Virginia has advanced to next weekend, and I’ll have time to cheer appropriately.

5) I’m annoyed that when I went down to the UWM bookstore to look for Panther gear in a move to preempt the Panther-mania that happened last year, I found the bookstore closed for spring break. Sure, there was a t-shirt stand in the basement, but the variety there was not anywhere what it would have been if the actual store had been open. You’d think some more suitable provisions would have been made, given the excitement that ensued after last year’s tournament wins.

6) The Wisconsin-Arizona game was thoroughly annoying. Enough said.

7) I’m annoyed that Oshkosh West won the state division one title. I’m not annoyed at Oshkosh West, per se, because they’re undoubtedly deserving of the title and still have the best fans that I’ve ever seen. No, I’m annoyed because this means that I have to shut up about Milwaukee teams and their superiority for another year. And while you can kind of accept that Milwaukee is playing second fiddle to Madison, the second-largest city in the state, Oshkosh is a tougher pill to swallow. Even if they play great basketball there.

8) I’m annoyed with myself for how my brackets have gone. First off, my master bracket predicted Montana winning its first round game, and Georgetown upsetting Ohio State. I lacked the courage to follow through with these picks when it came time to enter pools, though. My bigger annoyance, though, is that after a stellar first couple of days (indeed, I’m sitting in the #1 spot in both of the pools that I entered), Sunday afternoon’s games proved that the guy who wins the first weekend usually doesn’t end up winning the entire pool. I lost two of my Final Four picks in Pitt and North Carolina, both to mid-major opponents. Had I lost Pitt and UNC to Kansas and Michigan State, respectively, I would have been prepared for that. But to lose two of your Final Four teams via losses to Bradley and George Mason? That’s like being sucker punched in the gut by your best friend.

9) My pathetic Sony DVD recorder is annoying me to no end, due to its constant messages that it can’t play or record DVDs because they’re dirty. This wouldn’t be annoying, were it not for the fact that most of the time when I get this message, it is with a brand new DVD. So, I’m having some difficulty recording games for the archives. Let this be a lesson to you–buying "refurbished" items at the Sony outlet may not always be the wisest move.

10) I'm annoyed that an NBA game ran long again on Sunday night, and as a result, I'm sitting here wondering who got cut in the final 8 minutes of Knight School, which were cut off by my DVR.

Back tomorrow with some sunnier thoughts. I swear to you–most of the weekend was really, really good.


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