Tuesday, April 6, 2010

March Madness - The Finale

The Semi-Final Round

Butler's coach doesn't look any older today than he did last weekend, but his kids are playing quite well.  ... or Hayward and Mack are playing well in the first half.  He's cool calm and collected, playing in his first Final Four and not seeming to break a sweat.
*****
I have to say that the commercials are somewhat nauseating. I'm watching a breakfast from Denny's that would feed a Biafran family of 4 for a month, if they could gag it down.  And why is there an ad for Lipitor coming on next?  Don't people go to medical school to figure out if I need a drug or not?  What in the world would make me think that I could know whether or not I need to take Lipitor?  I wouldn't try to tune my car; why would I prescribe for myself?  And if we'd just avoid eating that Denny's Super Duper Double Grand Slam with bacon and sausage half of us wouldn't need the meds at all.

Where's my game?  These commercials are making me nuts.
*****
Da'Sean Butler planted his left foot and his knee went the other way.  Writhing, crying, pounding his fist on the floor, he was a puddle of broken athlete.  And then there was Bobby Huggins, his coach, down on the floor, hands cradling the boy's face, wiping his tears, eyeball to eyeball being there with the kid whose fist gradually unfurled and then began patting the coach's back.  It was quite a moment.
*****
West Virginia forgot to show up to play the game, Michigan State fought valiantly, but it's Coach K going for Duke's 4th title against a team called Cinderella only by  those who've not been following them this season.  I am prepared for 2 days of David v Goliath blathering on the sports networks.

The Interlude

And, I was not disappointed.  Brad Stevens handled it well, diffusing the 30 v 3 years of coaching comparisons and the repeat appearances v first time ever in the Final Four questions, but I have to think that he already knew that we knew that he looks like he's 12.
*****
One of the nicer statistics shared by these two teams is their high graduation rates.  The players can complete grammatically correct sentences and string more than 2 of them together into paragraphs, at least when a microphone is thrust mouthward. 
*****
Dick Vitale is always annoying, but he was disrespectful during this interlude.  Reacting to the fact that the Butler players would be bussed back to their 9am and 10am classes on Monday, he guffawed and then rambled on about no learning anyway it's all a celebration until I pressed the mute button.  Dick, look at the paragraph above this one... these kids actually attend class, take tests, and graduate.  And they play in the Championship Game.

My favorite sign this year was held by a Cornell fan.  It read : Our other fans are studying.
*****
Brad Stevens responded to the 9-quadrillionth time he was asked to assess his team's chances like this:  We don't have to be better than Duke 365 days a year.  We don't have to be better than Duke in the next 23 hours.  Tomorrow, just for 40 minutes, we have to be better than Duke.  

It was positively Herb Brooks-ian.

The Championship Game

Butler is taking quality shots which just won't drop through the hoop.  They're not as tall as the Duke team, but they're not intimidated, either.  There's no swagger on either side, no chest thumping or pouting, it's just good team basketball.
*****
A single point separates the teams at the half.  And that half came quickly.  These teams are well-coached in practice.  Their coaches don't need to teach them what to do during the games.  They can let them play. It makes for a more enjoyable watching experience. 
*****
I'm watching Howard crash against the padding on the stanchion holding up the backboard and wondering about the conversation in his doctor's office this morning.  The kid concussed his brain in the game on Saturday. He's on the court tonight.  I'm not judging - how can I when I don't know the facts?  But I really hope that everyone agreed that playing in this game was the right thing to do.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Especially when that mind is one of the NCAA's 15 Academic All-Americans. 
*****
There was a 1 point difference with 5 minutes left and then again with 49 seconds and then with 13.6 seconds there was another time out and then Brian Zoubek's father smiled at his son's free throw and Hayward clunked it off the back of the rim again and Duke won.
*****
It was a great game and I'm glad I really didn't have a horse in this race because the Butler fans are sitting, stunned, shocked, unable to move from their seats.  I know that feeling.  I know it well.  I'm a Cubs fan, after all.  But even a fair-weather fan such as I feels the ache.

The Aftermath

Basketball in a football stadium puts the fans too far away, and I really don't like the raised floor with the teams below ground. 
*****
Interviewers should be banned from asking losing coaches if they were proud of their players - some questions have the potential to end very badly.
*****
The One Shining Moment montage was a true tear-jerker and smile prompter and if that last shot had gone in Butler would have won it all.  They played it out to the very end - ran even though the race was won.  That's a proud moment right there. 
*****
And that's enough sports for me for a while. 

2 comments:

  1. Oh, crap; did I miss all that?! So, did somebody win? What a sports dweeb I am...hopeless.

    Meanwhile, back in the blogosphere, what a find in "Querulous Squirrel," huh?! We must have been reading and commenting within moments of each other. Ta-da...yet another compatibility.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, you missed it, but not to worry... tho you may be a sports dweeb, you and your readers (children?) do manage to find fabulous bloggers out there. http://thequerulousquirrel.blogspot.com/ is really wonderful - short, brilliant fiction.
    a/b

    ReplyDelete

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