Monday, March 29, 2010

March Madness Weekend

What would induce me to sit inside on a sunny San Francisco afternoon?  Sitting on a plaid recliner in a studio apartment, 10 feet away from a 50" flat screen, with windows open and sirens and breezes blowing through the blinds, I bond with my boy over March Madness.  We hoot, we holler, we high five, we call TBG (whose cold-from-hell kept him from joining me on this jaunt) and through it all we don't miss the great outdoors.  Only this event keeps me from the sunshine.
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My brackets are toasted, and still I watch.  I must be a fan, after all.
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The Little Cuter and SIR chose all the Indiana teams they could find, and it's serving them well.  I followed Cornell's Big Red and had them beating Kentucky, which might well have happened if any of their 3-point-shots had fallen.  Still, spending a week reading article after article describing the 15-bedroom house in which the team and a manager reside (if graphic depictions of the living spaces of college boys turn your stomach I'd advise you to avoid these links) brought me right back to Ithaca.  Though the boys lost their Sweet 16 matchup, their coach, Steve Donahue, sent a blast email to alumni thanking us for our support.  I can't remember when I've felt so connected to my alma mater.  Who says college sports have no redeeming social value?
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www.depauw.edu/news  The first game was Butler vs Kansas State. Butler's coach looks much too young to be taking a team to the Final Four, don't you think.


The Big Cuter is now older than many professional athletes, what with red-shirting and straight-from-high-school players joining those ranks.  Still, it's strange to sit next to him and look at the screen and realize that baby faced Brad Stevens, DePauw '99, is going to the championship game

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K-State played a double over-time game on Thursday against Xavier, and it showed in their legs this afternoon.  They were holding their shorts while awaiting Butler's first free throw, and gasping for air everytime they landed on the court after a foul.  Salt Lake City is 4226' above sea level, and Kansas is not.  I was looking for the O2 masks on the bench.
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Fast basketball is fun basketball, and the refs managed to stay out of this game, for the most part.  There was bumping and slashing but mostly there was playing.  And what playing.  Butler was making 3's and playing team ball and retrieving passes out-of-bounds, slamming them in to teammates who made I can't believe that went in shots.  And they won.  And more brackets were busted.  After all, who gave much thought to Butler, though they were a ranked team all season long.  Some habits just die hard, I guess.  Thinking outside the box helped me win with NC State in 1983; where did my brave picking go this year?
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West Virginia did not make a 2-point field goal in the first half, they were not the most talented players on the court, and yet they were up by 2 at the break.  There was a lot more chest bumping and fist thrusting than I thought was needed, but these kids are mostly from the NYC area and maybe it's a local thing. 
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Dick Enberg has been affiliated with NCAA basketball for 50 years.
I tried to think of a follow-up sentence to that statement....... I failed.  This will be his final Final Four; he will be missed.
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Didn't Da'Sean Butler ever listen to Bill Cosby's remonstrance: do not touch certain parts of your body while on the playing field?  DeMarcus Cousins hit him right in the crotch, and he took the ball down with him to the court.  My boys were cowering and I was laughing and Da'Sean went to the bench in agony.  And then West Virginia made its first 2-point shot.
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And then there was Sunday, with Bruce Pearl, the most important Jew in sports today,  coaching his Tennessee Volunteers, with his parents (Bernie and Barbara) in the stands and his son, Steven, on the court.  Who says the American family is in disarray today?  They can be together for Passover on Wednesday and fold in a trip to the Elite 8, too.
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I like Michigan State's Tom Izzo, too, so watching today's first game is pure pleasure for me.  Both Pearl and Izzo seem to develop men, not merely basketball players.  Sports Illustrated recounts the story of the Volunteers attending Leah Pearl's bat-mitzvah, greeting the celebrants with "Shalom, y'all."  There's something really wonderful to me about that.  It's the American melting pot at its best.
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Amidst the basketball, my Cuters are chatting on the phone about the relationships on Chuck, a tv show the Big Cuter has shared with his sister.  They are dissecting love and friendship and platonic connections in amongst the minutiae of the show itself while I sit at his desk, typing to you, and feeling the pride of child-rearing gone well.  My kids are friends - I couldn't ask for more.
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The best are always demonized it seems.  After all, the musical isn't Damn Dodgers, it's Damn Yankees.   I guess this allows the Big Cuter to declaim that Mike Krzyzewski, Duke's coach, feasts on the souls of babies.  He tried to show me the web page which depicted the act, but wiser minds have apparently prevailed and it no longer exists.  There are times when fan-dom stretches the boundaries of appropriate behavior.... big time.
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Quincy Acy, Tweety Carter, Givon Crump, LaceDarius Dunn, Dragan Sekelja and Epke Udoh all play for the Baylor Bears.  If that's not the fanciest line-up of nomenclature in basketball history, I'd like to see your list.  And they are ahead at the half. 
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The Big Cuter is full of NCAA/referee conspiracy theories as Duke, once again, heads to the Final Four.  All I know is that there are 3 more games to watch and then we start the long drought of no watchable sports on tv for my boys, until football starts up again in August.  I may actually get to make plans without consulting a televised gaming schedule.  Bliss........
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I can't finish this post without commenting on the mascots.  There were bears and devils and lions and cougars, bulldogs and 'gators and buccaneers, wildcats, jayhawks,  mountain hawks and cardinals.  But my favorite is West Virginia's current incarnation of their mountaineer



Is she not the cutest thing on 2 feet?
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2 comments:

  1. Ah, MAN! I figured you'd be so proud of me: I watched the last quarter of the Duke/Baylor game! It was an accident. Our Roku broke and is somewhere in the void on the way to being replaced; we're slam out of Netflix DVD's at the moment. Back on the Right Coast, where we have basic cable, we decided to take a walk down memory lane by searching out 60 Minutes. That show was delayed by the game and I was immediately pulled back into my old glued-to-the-game loyalty to Duke. I gather you and the BC don't love the Devils, but I grew up watching Duke basketball live; there were my boys bringing it home again. Now, I'm stuck. I've got to watch the entire Final Four. Oh, brother.

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  2. I knew I liked you! Once an addict, always an addict.... you took one small puff on the pipe of the dream and here you are, back in the conversation with the rest of us!

    YES, I glad you are back in the fold (and glad you traveled well and are safe on the Right Coast) but no, only the Big Cuter bears an irrational hatred of the Blue Devils. I kinda like rooting for a winner.... I grew up in NY with the Yankees,after all ;-)
    a/b

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