Saturday, April 02, 2005

A new favorite writer?

I ran across some interesting thoughts on last weekend’s fantastical Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight action, courtesy of writer Chris Ballard (and no, I didn’t hold being an SI writer against him. That loathing is reserved for incompetent, soccer-obsessed former college basketball writer Grant Wahl. The dumbass). Anywho, choice cuts include:

On this year's ever-present Coach K ads:
"I have had a change of heart ... I no longer care about his charitable nature - watching K incessantly expound upon his wonderfulness is starting to feel like Kubrick-ian punishment. And, as many readers wrote in last week to point out, one doesn't have to dislike him for selling out; one can dislike him because the ads amount to a nationally-broadcast, soft-lighted recruiting pitch for Duke, something certainly not afforded the Mark Fews of the hoops world. It is not without a certain pleasure, then, that I watch as Duke bows to Michigan State."

On a subject with which I'm sure we're all frustratingly familiar:
"Then, shortly after midnight and deep into an amazing Villanova-UNC game, Allan Ray walks. Or at least that's the ref's story, which he is sticking to. Fortunately, his defense attorney happens to be sitting courtside. 'ONE, TWO, THREE!' says Bill Raftery of CBS as the screen shows the 'Nova guard taking one, two steps. This, after Raftery has spent the bulk of the game all but waving Carolina blue pom-poms when not concocting reasons to yell 'The kissss!' or 'Send it in!' This does not go unnoticed; over the next two hours, the e-mails come fast and furious from my friends. Writes Peter S.: 'I'm not one for sports conspiracy theories, but that is the first time I have believed that CBS conspired to keep a team in the tournament.' Owen, an N.C. State grad, responds with bitter resignation, 'Dude, drink the Kool-Aid. Carolina wins. Carolina always effing wins. I'm going to bed.'

"Not that there's any reason to think CBS announcers would have an ACC tilt; only seven of the eight game broadcasters played or coached in the conference (Jay Bilas, Dan Bonner, Len Elmore, Mike Gminski, Billy Packer, Jim Spanarkel and Bob Wenzel; only Raftery has no ties)."

On the MWB's sentimental favorite:
"Even here, in the Jersey strip mall hinterlands, they know his name: Pittsnogle. It rings out after every three: from the trio of guys with $1 mugs of Budweiser on the far side of the bar, from the father who's brought his young son to taste the Madness and even - quite surprisingly - from two feet to my left where my wife, who generously agreed to stop here on our drive home, has been sucked in. Though not so much that she finds my joke about renaming our dog 'Pittsnogler' funny.

"It's been that kind of month for the Mountaineers, everybody's favorite working class hoops heroes. Which is why it's so disheartening to watch as, despite the WVU barrage of 3s, Louisville fights back. The game goes to OT and quickly gets out of hand; were it not for a missed breakaway dunk at the end, Louisville would win by double digits. Like revelers sobering up to realize they have no idea who they were just spilling life secrets to, our de facto Mountaineers fan club disintegrates. Somewhere, thousand of new and old West Virginia fans mourn."

Indeed, good sir. Indeed.

More thoughts on a man that I really enjoyed before this tourney started:
"3:45: Back home, I watch as Carolina plays Wisconsin. Which means that Raftery is back, playing his usual role as Master of the Obvious. By all accounts a wonderful man, Raftery has nonetheless reached Dickie V-esque levels of volume and inanity. His comments are again UNC-centric and, as always, slathered in catch-phrases that do nothing to provide insight. He punctuates them with high-pitched grunts that, coming from someone else, might warrant a call to the paramedics.

Here's a sample of his second-half 'commentary':

On a 3-point shot: 'Ah, ha ha. Oh My Goodness! Get the puppies going. He is really under total control.'

On a made shot: 'A little ... NYLON!' On Sean May: 'He's a quarterback out there!' (Raftery has already called him a linebacker and a tight end during the tourney).

A Carolina layup: 'The power broker gets to the tin!'

When Carolina commits a foul: 'Oh come on, let it go!'

As contrasted to, when Wisconsin shoots: 'Short! I thought it wasn't going to hit the rim.' (The shot goes in)

Replay of a Wisconsin 3-point attempt: 'Cha cha cha! Get those puppies set, Tito Puente, bada bing, knock it down!' (all this despite the fact that, on the replay being shown, Wisconsin is missing the three-pointer)

Almost loss amidst the cacophony, Wisconsin nearly knocks off UNC."

And still more analyst-critiquing:
"8:11: It ends in double OT as Michigan State wins. Since there's no analysis on CBS - gotta get to 60 Minutes and Cold Case quickly because viewers certainly wouldn't want to reflect upon that double-OT thriller right about now - I switch over to ESPNews for Doug Gottlieb, who has become my favorite college hoops analyst. Gottlieb uses no catch phrases, doesn't feel it's necessary to yell and stays mostly on topic. What's more, unlike so many of his brethren who are given to all but humping the legs of certain coaches, Gottlieb is not afraid to be critical. Which is why he'll surely never get a lead analyst job."

Preview of tonight's games will be coming later. Ciao.


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