Hoops Malone Post #2
My most sincere apologies for not posting for so long after what many media members are calling the Greatest Weekend of College Basketball Ever. I'm still recovering from the fantastic shooting and precipitous collapse of our beloved Fighting Pittsnogles. I'm not exaggerating in the least when I tell you that Jeff and I, while sitting at a BW-3 with televisions literally surrounding us, were generally unaware of the first 10 minutes of the Illinois-Arizona game, due to our complete despondence after West Virginia's loss. Our depression was palpable, which is odd considering that we have absolutely no affiliation with the Mountaineers ... but not so odd when you consider their fantastic playing style and the prominent presence of a big, tattoo'd West Virginia native named Pittsnogle. I felt so bad for those kids, a bunch of guys that basically no one (short of the MWB and our rabid band of 4 loyal readers) believed in, a bunch of guys who came this close to shocking the world and making the Final Four. At the moment, I don't think it's an understatement to say that I have an unnatural man-love for John Beilein. God bless him. If he brings that offense back again next year (but, uh, drops the 1-3-1), this blizog might have to become Mountaineer Central.
*Sigh* Great season, guys. We here at Midwest Bias were rooting for you, even if no one else was.
Bonus WV note: Brian Murphy's Page 2 columns are generally pretty hit-or-miss, but yesterday he invented a term that I'm going to try like the Dickens to incorporate into my personal lexicon: "Pittsnoglian." I encourage you to do the same.
Bonus WV note, Part Deux: In the Sports Guy's ongoing quest to piss me off in every way possible, in the last few weeks he has run numerous columns about how much college basketball sucks compared to his beloved NBA, and how boring the first weekend of the tournament was, and how his favorite part of watching the tourney is predicting which players will make good pros, and blah blah blah. Whatever, I'm used to it. But disrespecting John Beilein's Fighting Pittsnogles is where I draw the line. I understand that he, for some inexplicable reason, is really, REALLY rooting for Louisville (which makes no sense due to the Pitino connection), what with the constant mentions of how he's gambling on them every game, but the bizarre claim yesterday that Gus Johnson "couldn't have been rooting any harder for West Virginia" on Saturday? Huh-WHA? And then there was his snide remark that they "finally" went cold in OT, "ending a 2 1/2 game streak of hot shooting," combined with this little gem he threw out on Thursday afternoon: "Texas Tech big over a WVU team that shot their wad on Saturday. Absolutely go against them." Mr. Simmons continues to approach "Satan" status in my book.
Other lingering thoughts after this weekend:
No one will ever, EVER convince me that Allen Ray travelled. Even when Bill Raftery was counting a phantom step ("One ... two ... three! Yep, that's a travel." WHAT!?), I was throwing things. That was NOT a travel. NOT. A. Travel.
And I didn't see it, but that info Dids posted about Roy Williams made my blood boil. I've loathed that man since he lobbied to get the rules changed after Wisconsin and MSU both made the Final Four in 2000. Needless to say, he and his Tar Fucks are the anti-Pittsnogles. Go to hell, Roy. And take Billy "Fudge" Packer with you. If you can get him out of your ass, that is.
(Speaking of that last sentence, has Pedro Gomez crawled out of Barry Bonds's colon yet? Any sign of him? No wonder Barry's ... so ... tired. Just tired. Can you get my son in the shot? Thanks. I'm just tired. Tired of everything. Tired.)
Back to tourney shtuff, I have to say that MSU's chances against Carolina can best be summed up by the following sentence: The Tar Heels gave up 82 points, in a regulation 40-minute game with no overtimes, to Wisconsin. A Wisconsin team that had scored over 65 points precisely once in their previous 10 games. Wisconsin. Yeah.
Oh, and the less said about that Pat Forde piece, the better. However, since Nips brought it up, the more said about the Bobby Fischer piece, the better! Please, everyone tell me you got to watch that. Absorbing, disorienting, hilarious, disturbing ... that thing ran the gamut.
Back to MSU: what a helluva weekend for the Men of Sparta. They were so obviously superior to Duke that the Blue Devils were fairly lucky to even be within a few scores most of the second half. And Paul Davis made Shelden Williams look pretty pedestrian. Where the hell has this been all year? Oh, that's right: the Spartans play in the Big Ten, where "defense" isn't a dirty word and offense actually consists of passing AND shooting. Strange how things work out that way. And that Kentucky game ... I can't say anything that hasn't already been said. Everything was perfect. I didn't think you could overturn the Sparks 3, not on the evidence presented. And the Spartans proved a lot of people wrong and pulled out an important, close game. Bravo.
Just to let you know, I had "Wednesday" in the pool for "when will the media start claiming that Sparks was fouled on that 3-pointer?" So imagine my surprise when it was the FIRST THING I heard on Monday morning when I got in my car, when Mike & Mike went so far as to say that Michigan State was LUCKY that the officials had to review the foot/line issue, because it drew attention away from the "fact" (apparently) that Sparks was fouled by Torbert. Come on. Torbert never left his feet, and was actually spinning away from Sparks when Sparks shot. Combined with the magnnitude, the stakes, and the fact that Sparks clearly initiated the contact, and you're left with the undeniable conclusion that calling a foul on that shot and possibly giving Kentucky a 4-point play to get to the Final Four would have been the worst call in basketball history ... or at least since the travel called on Allen Ray a mere 41 hours earlier.
Illinois had better be thanking their lucky fucking stars that they've gotten to essentially play 4 home games thus far. I don't care what anybody says, they've looked imposibly shaky several times so far. And Arizona doesn't roll over and piss in the air like that if the game isn't, for all intents and purposes, an Illinois home game.
Sadly for all of us, no one clotheslined Salim Stoudamire into the basket support on Thursday OR Saturday. After watching him trash-talking and cheap-shotting dorky little Utah State guys for 40 minutes, I know we were all rooting for it. Bummer.
And Todd and I talked about this on Sunday, so I'll share it with you: if the Illini had lost that 'Zona game, we'd be putting the blame squarely on Bruce Weber's shoulders. I mean, I know that Stoudamire had a great game against Oak State a couple days earlier, but that strategy of paying extra attention to Stoudamire -- so much so that at times it appeared that the plan was to double-team the kid any time he was past halfcourt with the ball in his hands -- was absolutely killing the Illini because of all the wide-open looks Arizona was getting. And these weren't "wide-open 3"-type looks. They were "wide-open dunk"-type looks. Maybe I'm crazy, but given the choice between A.) taking my chances guarding straight-up and maybe letting Stoudamire shoot 50% from 3, and B.) holding Stoudamire in check but letting everyone else on the team shoot 75-80%, well, I'd personally go with the former. Like I said, maybe I'm crazy.
Hope everyone had a great weekend. Nips and I tore through chicken wings, tore through $2 Miller Lites, tore through the NTN trivia (with help from Kristin, as we won 7 out of 10 games played, including our last 4), and tore through each others' assholes as we watched the action on Saturday in the C-Bus. Wish everyone reading this could have been there.