My Uninformed Thoughts
Well, we’re closing in on my last few updates for the season. With the end approaching I headed over to my friend Dez’s place on Saturday night, along with my friends Dave and The Franchise, to take in Final Four action. Below are the comments about the event. They’re not my best thoughts for a few reasons. First, whenever I get in a room that includes friends and Miller High Life, my attention to the game tends to lessen. Second, the UCLA-LSU game was flat-out painful (you’ll notice that I don’t comment on it at all). Finally, my background with regard to each of the Final Four teams was pretty weak. I hadn’t seen Florida until they ran UWM from the tournament during the first weekend, all I’ve known about LSU all year is that Glen Davis is awesome, and that they also have a great freshman, my exposure to UCLA consisted of me not thinking that they were all that great (which probably means that they’ll win the title tonight just to spite me) during a handful of Thursday late-night Fox Sports sessions, and I knew about as much about George Mason as the rest of the country. So, here are my uninformed thoughts about the games, and some other stuff I watched this weekend:
1) If you’ve not donated to the Big Ten Wonk’s Billy Packer Retirement Fund, I urge you to do so now. I’ve always been a lenient guy when it comes to announcers (even if I tend to pick on their small and humorous errors from time to time), but Packer was brutal on Saturday night. Perhaps the lowlight of the night cane early in the first half when he praised how well Florida was playing with Joakim Noah on the bench. One problem with that statement, though. Noah was shooting the ball right as Packer made the statement, and I don’t believe that he had checked out of the game at any point leading up to the statement. Ouch.
2) I love my buddy The Franchise, but he’s a tough man for me to watch a sporting event with. The Florida-George Mason game was proof of this. Maybe you have a friend like the Franchise, too. He’s the guy saying "If George Mason doesn’t get a score here, this one’s done," roughly 17 times throughout the game. Last year I watched the national title game with The Franchise, and I think he proclaimed Illinois to be defeated by North Carolina’s play with about 8 minutes to go in the first half. Of course, with teams like George Mason, and last year’s Illinois squad, The Franchise’s proclamations are typically followed a few minutes later with "One more three-pointer and this one could get interesting again." Yeah, I figured it might, given that there were 12 minutes left in the game when you noted that George Mason’s coach should pull his team off the floor and head to the locker room to save them from being totally embarrassed. I’ll cut The Franchise some slack, though, since come football season, I’ll be the guy reading things wrong and tossing out cliches, and he’ll probably be the guy getting annoyed with me. His football knowledge puts mine to shame.
3) The number of my friends that have made this point is too numerous to even think of, but the question is a valid one. If Joakim Noah’s mother is a former Miss Sweden, and his father is Yannick Noah, how did he end up so unattractive?
4) I absolutely loved watching George Mason play. Not because I loved the whole Cinderella thing (though I did), but more because they’re maybe the only team that I’ve seen all year with real post players. Watching them drop hooks over Connecticut’s big guys was a thing of beauty, and the few times that they were able to take it at Florida were impressive, as well. Had Jai Lewis carried the Patriots to the championship this year, I was fully committed to naming my first born son Jai. Of course, after I made this announcement on Saturday, one of the guys noted that the kid’s middle name would have to be "Alai."
5) After seeing the presentations of the Chrysler Player of the Year Award (given to Adam Morrison), and the Bayer Senior Class Award (given to J.J. Redick), I’m pretty sure if I was giving out a player of the year award, I’d be choosing Redick. This has nothing to do with his play, however (though I am more partial to Redick’s play this season). Rather, the sight of Adam Morrison in a suit was so jarring and unattractive that I’m not sure I’d want his shaggy, eye-covering hair representing me. If it’s basically a coin flip as to who wins the award, I think I’d prefer to have the more all-American looking Redick’s face associated with my company.
6) How do you think the Chrysler Player of the Year Award is chosen? I picture a big board meeting where Lee Iacocca (okay, his successor, but I had to work in an Iacocca reference somehow) says something to the effect of "The resolution passes, and we will be offering anti-lock breaks standard on all Sebrings in 2007. Now, on to the next matter. We need to decide who was the best college basketball player this season." (Truth be told, Dez noted to me that before the award was announced, Greg Gumbel noted that coaches vote on the award, but I still like the vision of the board room.)
7) In the most disturbingly Wisconsin moment of the night, as the UCLA-LSU game got rapidly out of hand in the second half, a conversation among all of my friends and I about the Green Bay Packers’ prospects for the coming season broke out. Sure, the college basketball national semi-finals are on, the start of baseball is two days away, and here are a bunch of guys talking about what’s basically a bad football team. If ever I had any doubt that the Packers’ are a disease in Wisconsin, last night confirmed it. Sadly, I’m afflicted, though my immune system fights it pretty hard during the Final Four.
8) I’ve skimmed the high school and college slam dunk championships over the weekend, and a couple of things stood out to me:
–David Noel’s handspring, backflip dunk was impressive, even if the handspring and backflip preceding the dunk were totally superfluous and didn’t really have much to do with the dunk. If that dunk was standing alone, it would be nothing special, but Noel is definitely a special athlete.
–The guy that stood out to me more than anyone else from the high school dunk-off was Arizona recruit Chase Budinger. It wasn’t because he was the best guy out there, but it was more because you don’t expect a dude named "Chase" to be that ahtletic. He did come in second in the dunk competition, which is quite a feat when you sort of like a smaller, uber-athletic version of Luke Schenscher. I wish I could toss up a picture of the faces of LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, who were judging the competition, after Budinger’s second dunk. That look would tell you all that you need to know.
–I finally got to see Steve Novak destroy the field in the three-point competition. Like there was any question that would happen.
–After watching his commentary at the Powerade Jam Fest, I’m still baffled at how Tim McCormick continues to find employment talking about sporting events.
–Finally, if you haven’t seen the college dunk contest this year, I would highly encourage that you take a look if it shows up on ESPN again in the coming days. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a field of contestants, at any level, that was so deep and talented. It’s tough to be wowed at this point in the season, but I was officially wowed.
So that’s it for today. Enjoy the last game of the season tonight, and know that when you’re openly weeping during One Shining Moment, I’ll be right there with you (assuming that CBS again adheres to my guidelines for the piece). Oh, and if you want my uninformed game prediction, I'm taking Florida to win the game, though it should be close the entire way. Enjoy the game!