Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Night That Did Not Disappoint

Well, the greatest night of televised basketball in my lifetime did not disappoint. Indiana put up a far better effort against Michigan than anyone expected, leading the entire game (well, except for that end part) and taking the Wolverines to overtime. Rutgers, beaten down by the most difficult five-game stretch ever, failed to give up down the stretch against Marquette, even when they had every reason to. Wisconsin, to my delight, pounded Northwestern. Stephen Curry got his points, despite a rough shooting night, but Duke still handled Davidson without much trouble. Louisville...well, I don’t know much about what Louisville did, since I really didn’t see more than 2 minutes of their game. And to end the evening, Gonzaga prevailed in overtime against Tennessee, and scored plenty of points in doing so. Outstanding night all around. (And this doesn’t even take into account that I found the North Carolina-College of Charleston game on a random sports channel. As if I didn’t need more to watch, C of C actually hung around for most of the first half.)

A few random things that I noticed during the evening’s festivities:

1) I have no idea who the color commentator was for the Marquette-Rutgers game, but he was perhaps the most annoying commentator that I’ve ever endured. And that’s saying something, because during the Wisconsin-Penn State game this past weekend, I actually thought Spencer Tollackson had some potential (even though apparently no one told Tollackson that it’s typically a good idea to shave sometime in the three days prior to appearing on TV).

2) Laval Lucas-Perry’s three-pointer for Michigan to tie the game near the end of regulation was one that I found particularly amusing, since it was from the exact same spot that Brian Butch banked one for Wisconsin in for a last-second win at Bloomington last year. Perhaps the Hoosiers should replace that section of the floor to exercise some demons.

3) When Tom Crean called time-out while his team had the ball with the game tied and just over seven seconds to play, I knew the game was going to overtime. Obviously Crean should be commended (wow, that hurt to say) for having his severely undermanned team even in last night’s game. But after years of watching Crean at Marquette, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that Tom Crean’s not the guy you want drawing up a play for a quick score. Usually that just ends with a guard running the clock down too far and losing his handle on the ball at halfcourt as the clock runs out.

4) Last night I got confirmation that channel 41 in Milwaukee transmits the worst picture of any station around. In the middle of the game, I found the Marquette-Rutgers game on MSG and immediately noticed that the picture on the random sports channel that I had found was undeniably more crisp than that of channel 41. That sort of hurt, because I like watching my local stations. But if WMLW’s going to keep things looking blurry, there’s not enough Pat McCurdy promos in the world to keep me tuning in when there’s another alternative. I mean, it was bad enough that this was the only game (other than the surprise UNC game) that wasn’t on in HD last night.

5) Was there an extra crush for press credentials last night at Duke, or have I just never noticed how close to the court photographers are sitting? I think as a rule, if you have your school’s name spelled out on the baseline, no one should be sitting on top of that name. Because it sort of bothered me to see players tripping over the photographers sitting on the top half of the letters in “Duke.”

6) I finally figured out why I irrationally dislike Gonzaga’s Matt Bouldin. I’ve never seen any childish on-court displays from Bouldin, he plays the game hard, and I’ve not read any salacious tales about him. Nonetheless, for reasons that I have never understood, I’ve hated him ever since he first set foot on the court. Then last night, out of nowhere, it hit me–Bouldin looks an awful lot like Jim Breuer. So the way I figure it, for the last three years, I’ve been subconsciously associating Bouldin with unfunny comedy bits like “Goat Boy.” So my apologies to you, Mr. Bouldin. I promise in the next year and a half not to think of bad Saturday Night Live sketches when I see you on TV.

7) Gutty move by Tyler Smith coming back into the game after going down with what appeared to be a knee injury. Also a stupid move. Gonzaga had nearly locked up the game when Smith re-entered late in the overtime period, so Tennessee had little to gain by throwing Smith back out there. Though he scored on a tip-in on his first play back, he sure didn’t look to be moving normally. I hope Smith’s okay, because I was cringing every time he jumped or cut in the closing minute of last night’s game.

8) Finally, in the game I wish had been televised last night, congrats to Harvard for knocking off Boston College. I forget if Harvard eventually backed off of Tommy Amaker’s idea of lowering academic standards, but assuming it didn’t, things seem to be working out nicely (either that or we have to assume what history tells us is not true–that Amaker is some sort of genius). On the flip side, it’s quite the roller coaster week for Boston College, knocking off perhaps the best college basketball team that I’ve ever seen, and then falling to an Ivy League team. Sort of makes you look forward to the NCAA tournament, doesn’t it?

Nothing on the docket tonight, but there’s plenty going on this weekend as I travel to Whitewater for perhaps my only division three game of the year, and get ready for Sunday’s much anticipated Wisconsin-Purdue game. Things are finally getting exciting...


At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Celestand was the MU color guy last night. And Tollackson was much, much worse. No man should ever grunt and yell "Oh!" as much as he did on that telecast. Nor should anyone feel compelled to use the phrase "that's Big 10 basketball" more than 3 times per minute.

Brace yourself for the WW-EC game Saturday, as last year's contest was so brutal that it almost caused me to leave a game early for the first time since a late 90s Bucks game in which they were down 40 to a bad Nets team in the 3rd quarter.


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