Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stupid Moron Misses Easy Question on Jeopardy

Since when does Magic Johnson play hockey, dumbass?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Song of the Week

"Love Ballad" - LTD
Jeffery Osborne sings lead on this classic. George Benson has a great cover version of it, and in this amazing live performance he praises Osborne, calling him a fantastic singerrrrrrr.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Requiem for a Season

In the past 20 years, a team I root for has won the title in its sport only once, the 2003 Syracuse Orange.
20 seasons of Mets baseball, Redskins football, Knicks basketball and Syracuse basketball and football.
And one title.
99 seasons ended in a loss. Only one ended with a title.
Some seasons exceeded expectations, some disappointed. Some we thought would be bad, and they were bad. Others we thought would be great and they were great. But 99% of them end short of the ultimate goal.
But even as a sometimes pessimistic fan, I refuse to go rewrite history and say everything that happened before the final failure is failure as well.
The Syracuse men's basketball team had a great 2013-14 season. They won their first 25 games and held the number one ranking for a few weeks in February.
This year's team played (and won) the best game I've ever seen in person, 91-89 in overtime, over Duke, possibly forging a rivalry that could grow to even greater heights than previous battles with Georgetown and UConn.
We got to watch CJ Fair, a beacon for college purists who believe freshman should come in and learn and blossom into stars in their senior year.
We got to watch Tyler Ennis who for most of the season played with a calm and poise you rarely even see in points guards twice his age.

And we watched Jerami Grant become a fierce athletic slasher with some real low post move to complement his abilities on the break.

How can any season with all that stuff be considered a failure?
I loved watching this team for most of the season, but their flaws (poor shooting, limited depth) caught up with them in the end.
Believe it or not these players, especially CJ Fair, have been part of a great five year run, perhaps even more success than the team enjoyed in the Seikaly-DC-Sherm-Billy Owens Era.
If Ennis and Grant leave for the NBA, and I couldn't blame them for doing so, I would thank them for their contributions and wish them well on the next level.
And I'd try to enjoy next season with whomever is left.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tournament Thoughts: Second Round Sunday

#3 Iowa State 85 #6 North Carolina 83
I moved the best game of the day to the top of the column because that's the billing it deserves.

What an unfortunate ending to such a great game though. I think it was the right decision, the clock clearly did not start on time when the ball was in-bounded. I wonder what would have happened if the clock started late and UNC had tried for and made a shot instead of trying to call timeout.

Which by the way was a boneheaded move by Ol' Roy. There was not nearly enough time in 1.6 seconds to dribble up the court, call time out, inbound again and have time for anything against a set defense. Totally stupid.

Here's where it got away from UNC: Four minutes to go they're up 8 and have the ball, Marcus Paige took a quick jack and missed a 3 they didn't need. Huge mistake. Iowa turned into it a Naz Long 3.

Then McAdoo commits a foul and Iowa State turns it into a Monte Morris 3.

On the next possession again UNC in a rush. Kennedy Meeks grabs an offensive rebound and doesn't even come down with it. Shot missed, Iowa State turns it into a Melvin Ejim layup on the break. A few seemingly mild mistakes and the lead goes from 8 to zero in less than 2 minutes. I blame the coaching here too. I hate the stall offense some teams employ, basketball's version of the prevent, but it's prudent to at least be patient and make the defense work.

But the biggest mental breakdown of all, the one that cost them the game way letting DeAndre Kane leak out for the go ahead basket with 30 seconds left. You can't let a basket that easy decide the game. Though they did come back and score, and made Kane work for the real game winner, but he made a great play.

I'm not sure what the answer was but all the drama was sucked out of this game by 3 separate reviews, one on an out of bounds play, another on a 3-point shot and of course the game-ender. I know we want to get the calls right, but we can't review everything, it ruins the game.

#10 Stanford 60 #2 Kansas 57
This was a result certainly a surprise to me. I thought Kansas had enough players to knock off Stanford, even without Embiid. Every time Kansas started to make a run, grab some offensive rebounds or hit some shots, Stanford fought back.

I did think it was pretty low rent for CBS to zoom in on a crying kid. Not just once, several times. Kids are different than coach's wives.

Andrew Wiggins scored couldn't make a shot and had as many points as turnovers. That led Jim Nantz to go on a rant about how its not the best players who win a game. It's the best team. There is a lot of merit in that argument, and Damino and I have been discussing it in regards to Duke. But coming out of Nantz's mouth it seemed like he was being an old fuddy-duddy who doesn't like one-and-dones and prefers teams that have 5 four-year players in their starting lineup.

I agree that college basketball would be better off, teams and games would be better if there weren't so many players coming in and leaving after one good year. But there's really only one logical, fair thing to do to prevent that, go back to the days when the most NBA-minded players didn't have to go to college at all. But seeing as how that's the NBA's call, it doesn't seem likely to happen.

In pointing out that the two most heralded freshman, Wiggins and Parker combined to win 1 tournament game, Nantz seemed to be gleeful at the triumph of team over talent. But like any other factor in the tournament, nothing is a guarantee of success. Sometimes the team full of savvy veterans beats the collection of talented underclassmen. Sometimes they don't.

#8 Kentucky 78 #1 Wichita State 76
Wichita State has nothing to be ashamed of. They didn't blow a perfect regular season. And they didn't go 35-0 on a fluke. They are a damn good team.

Fred Van Vleet can run my team any day.

And this wasn't a matchup of athletes vs. grinders, these Wichita State guys can play. Cleanthony Early is a great player, and he's got mad hops.

If there was one area where Kentucky had an advantage it was size inside. They only got 7 offensive rebounds, but it seemed like every time they needed one, they got it.

Nick Wiggins had more points than his brother, 5-4.

This was a really great game and if Kentucky keeps playing this way they can beat anyone.

What percentage of TVs in Kentucky will be tuned into the Kentucky-Louisville game?

#11 Tennessee 83 #14 Mercer 63
The SEC is now 7-0 in this tournament. Two for Florida, two for Kentucky and now 3 for Tennessee.

This is the third time in four years than a play-in team not only one their first round game as well, but made the Sweet 16.

Mercer was a nice story but they just ran out of gas.

#4 UCLA 77 #12 Stephen F. Austin 60
Same thing happened to SFA. They just didn't have the same pep as they had against VCU. They also missed a ton of shots. Without Thomas Walkup (people in NYC hate this guy) the rest of the team made only 10 of 40. For an underdog to be a Cinderella and win two games they've got to be near perfect. They were anything but.

The Pac-12, another much-maligned conference, is also sending 3 teams to the Sweet 16, Arizona and Stanford as well. And Oregon also acquitted itself nicely before succumbing to Wisconsin.

3 #1s made the sweet 16, only 2 #2s and 1 #3, but all 4 #4s will be there.

#6 Baylor 85 #3 Creighton 55
Total domination. This did seem like a team of better athletes playing against an old slow group of jump shooters. Maybe Creighton just never saw a team as big and athletic as Baylor in the new Big East.

A shame for Doug McDermott to end a fantastic career here. I love watching the spectacular freshman, but just as much as anyone I like to watch a guy grow and improve for 4 years. And he's technically a walk-on this year. His dad, the coach, is paying his way so someone else can have the scholarship.

He didn't play badly, though his 15 points on 7-14 looks better than it is. During the brief time that this game was in doubt, he couldn't even get a shot off.

Classy move by Coach McDermott to use a dead ball to take his players out one by one for a nice ovation from the crowd and a hug from the coach.

It's nice for Doug McDermott to be the 5th leading scorer in college history, but remember it's a different era. Yeah he appears to be "only" 500 points behind Pistol Pete, but he played 60 more games. McDermott's 21.7 ppg average is nice, but it's less than half of Maravich who averaged 44.

#1 Virginia 78 #8 Memphis 60
Total domination from the jump. Virginia trying to prove that it's not just a plodding defensive team, they can actually score.

Virginia won the ACC regular season, conference tournament and now they're the last team standing. I think that proves they were the league's best team this season.

They got off to a bad start with 4 losses in non-conference before New Year's but 3 of them came against VCU, Wisconsin and Tennessee. Maybe those losses weren't as bad as we thought.

#1 Arizona 84 #8 Gonzaga 61
This wasn't even that close. I had this game on in the background while writing this post and Arizona just dropped one amazing play after another. They are incredibly good.

So there was some wildness to this first weekend, Syracuse, Duke, Wichita State and Kansas all get knocked off, but the most popular Final Four selections: Florida, Arizona, Michigan State and Louisville are all still alive and looking good.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tournament Thoughts: Dayton 55 Syracuse 53

What the hell happened to Tyler Ennis? Remember when he went more than half the season without making a turnover in the final 5 minutes of a game? Why did he take two outside shots at the end of the game.

Here is what Jim Boeheim said about the game ending 3-point miss:

"The last shot was a great shot. It was the right play. A chance to win the game. You don't have enough time to get to the basket. I have no problem with that shot."

And Ennis:

"I thought I got a really good look.I didn't think I had enough time to get to the basket. I think the look I got, I think everybody was happy with it. I thought it was good.''

I can actually understand that, time was winding down, he had no time to pass, he would have been driving into the teeth of the defense and risking not getting a shot off at all.

It was the jumper on the previous possession that I think was much worse.

So did Coach Boeheim:

"With 13 seconds to go, we wanted to get it to Tyler and drive the ball. We'd just driven the ball for three baskets. I don't know why he settled for the jump shot. There was plenty of time. He had space. I'm not sure why."

But Ennis thought he could make it:

"I had some space. They were guarding me off a little bit. I think it was (Devin) Oliver on me. Whoever it was, I think they knew I was going to drive. Any other night, I think that was a good shot. My shots weren't falling tonight from the outside. Maybe it would've been better to drive. I think I had the confidence."

And maybe that's what it comes down to, a bad night at the wrong time. I like his confidence, but sometimes it cuts both ways, it makes you feel like you can accomplish anything, but it also leads you to make the wrong decisions. Clearly the missed jumper with 13 seconds left was a bad decision.

Here's the paragraph from the game notes that sums things up pretty well:

With Syracuse trailing 47-42 with 4 minutes remaining, Tyler Ennis drove to the basket on five of the Orange's next seven possessions, scoring 11 straight points to pull Syracuse within one. However, Ennis took jump shots outside the paint on the Orange's final two possessions, missing both.

Throughout the entire game Syracuse couldn't hit an outside shot, and Dayton just packed its defense in the middle and every drive to the basket was met with 3 or 4 guys. Maybe that is what Ennis thought would happen if he drove on those last two possessions (especially the last one).

I guess what I think is, Ennis wanted to be the hero. He didn't think Dayton would let him get to the basket but he knew they would dare him to take a jumper. He thought he would make them, so he took them. He didn't, game over.

But as usual, if not for Ennis and Fair Syracuse wouldn't have been in this game, even though they combined to make only 11 of 35 shots.

As the game hinged on those two plays it doesn't make sense to rehash the first 39:47, especially because I deleted the game in anger when I usually like to rewatch them before I write these posts (even the bad losses).

I think Boeheim wasted at least one timeout, ceding an advantage we had been given when Dayton used its last TO. But he did use the second one to set up the press which created the steal that could have won the game, so it almost worked out.

The refs missed a clear travel on Dayton in the corner, a clear hop, and they blew it.

I also disagree with the elbowing call on Cooney in the first half. The guy was so close to Cooney he could barely have moved without striking him. Maybe the call was in the letter of the rule, but not the spirit. The NCAA has a big problem with these zero tolerance rules. If you have officials, you have to trust their judgment.

Vanessa Williams was at the game.

Gerry MacNamara still looks 12 years old (leftover from the first round:

Archie Miller's wife, Morgan Miller, incidentally, the same name as Bode Miller's wife was going nuts in the stands, all while wearing a shirt that said "Dayton High Life." Wouldn't it make more sense if it said "Miller High Life?"

One last stupid face from Jim Boeheim for this season:

Tournament Thoughts: Second Round Saturday

#1 Florida 61 #9 Pittsburgh 45
Typical game of what you would expect from Pitt. They beat you up and hang in there. Typical of what you would expect from Florida, eventually their athletes were too much for Pitt to keep up with, and once they started nailing shots they pulled away.

#4 Louisville 66 #5 St. Louis 51
There are no more 5 seeds left in the tournament.

St. Louis actually gave Louisville a game for a little while but then they gave the ball to Luke Hancock, he hit a couple threes and that was that.

#2 Michigan 79 #7 Texas 65
Our third straight nondescript game of good team beats bad team by a lot. Except Michigan had this one in hand the whole way.

I think there is a strong chance we will get a national championship rematch in this regional final. Michigan would have to beat the Mercer-Tennessee winner and Louisville would have the tougher task of facing Wichita State or Kentucky.

#4 San Diego State 63 #12 North Dakota State 44
North Dakota State actually hung in for a little while but couldn't match the athleticism.

Great performance by Xavier Thames. He killed NDSU every way possible.

#2 Wisconsin 85 #7 Oregon 77
Probably the most aesthetically pleasing games of the day. With 7 minutes left in the first half more points had been scored in this one than in the Syracuse game, which had been in play for twice as many minutes.

I'm very surprised that Wisconsin was able to beat Oregon at their own game. But they are not as slow and lumbering as they have been in previous years under Bo Ryan. They have a lot of guys who can shoot and the like to spread the floor and pass it around to get the defense moving.

They hit 11 of 28 from 3 with 6 different players making at least one.

Thus ends the long career of Mike Moser. He started at UCLA, went to UNLV and finished up at Oregon. He played the 2009-10 season at UCLA, sat out a year, played 2 at UNLV but because he graduated he got back that lost year of eligibility.

You know you're getting old when the guys you used to watch now have sons in college. Last year it was Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III on Michigan, this year it's Devin Marble on Iowa and Traevon Jackson (son of Jimmy) playing for Wisconsin. Looks just like him too.

By the way, Jackson had a great game, 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.

#4 Michigan State 80 #12 Harvard 73
I don't know if we proscribe certain traits to Harvard's players just because they're from Harvard or if they really exhibit them in greater frequency than players from other schools. But the poise, intelligence and decision making of these players is amazing. But I don't want to diminish their abilities by calling them "scrappers." They can run and jump and shoot.

At first it seemed like they were a little worried about Michigan State contesting their shots, so they shot too fast. They were worried about getting beat down the court on a fast break so they didn't go after offensive rebounds. But once they settled down and realized they could play with these guys, they made an amazing comeback.

At 15 minutes of the second half Harvard trailed 53-39. 8 minutes later they led 62-60. A 23-7 run in 8 minutes against a team many people are expecting to win it all. Impressive stretch of basketball.

But Michigan State just has too many weapons. They got back to their game and hit some 3s and held off Harvard.

One weapon they don't have is Denzel Washington. Both Greg Gumbel and Doug Gottlieb called Denzel Valentine that.

#7 Connecticut 77 #2 Villanova 65
Early in the game Villanova led 19-9. UConn made it 20-13 by the under 8 timeout. Allie LaForce interviewed Jim Calhoun, briefly and awkwardly, and he said he thought the team was on the verge of something, and it was, as Verne Lundquist pointed out several times, the old coach saw it coming.

The only guy more correct about this matchup than Calhoun was me. I have a long of history of correctly predicting the #2 seed that will lose in the second round. But I almost never picked the right team to do it. This time I did. Part of my reasoning was that this would be an old school Big East game, which favored UConn, and indeed it was.

Shabazz Napier just took over this game. He scored 25 points on 9 of 13 shooting, in just 25 minutes due to foul trouble. He was awesome.