Sunday, February 25, 2007

My interview with Bob Costas

I know I already wrote something yesterday but last night was perhaps the pinnacle of my sports talk career. I was performing standup comedy at the Fariview Heights, IL Funnybone (just across the Mississippi from St. Louis) with headliner Jim Florentine...Special Ed from Crankyankers, "I got mail, yeah!" He told me St. Louis native Bob Costas was coming our to our 8:00 show. Holy shit! I have a chance to make Bob Costas laugh! And if I'm good enough he'll shake my hand after the show! Normally I'm not nervous before shows but I looked over and there sat Bob in his little blue hat with his buddy. They were safely hidden in the front corner of the room near the sound booth near where I walk to and from stage. So I start my set and all I can think is I wonder if Bob will like this joke? Does this make me gay for Bob? Does he give a shit about those Olympic athletes? Should I tell him I lost a parent, too so he'll narrate a piece about me?
The set went well and he seemed to be enjoying himself as Jim was up. After the show the crowd all headed out but he and his friend lingered a bit at their table. Then he walked up to me and shook my hand, "Rob, Bob Costas, nice to meet you." Ahhhh! He said my name! That voice that has spoken to millions! I invited him back to the green room while Florentine finished up selling his CD's and DVD's to the crowd on their way out. So then it was just the green room with Bob, his friend (who announces soccer for ESPN), and me. Bob says, "So you said in your act you went to Ohio State?" Sweet! Bob Costas is interviewing me! Is HBO filming? (in case you're wondering, no, I'm not being sarcastic, I'm this excited) We talk a little Big Ten as we watch Indiana vs. Michigan State. He tells me that I'm funny and had "great stuff." (Oh face) He's probably said the same about Roger Clemons, I have great stuff as and Clemons. Florentine comes back and baseball talk begins. Unfortunately it was about the Giants. Jim mentions to Bob how he was the first guy to really call out major league baseball's steroid problem. He also asks for Bob's opinion on how Sosa will do this year. Sosa? What? Bob says he'll do nothing, I agree and mention he could be 45 years old for all we know now which gets a laugh (I'm so cool). Bob says, "It was so obvious, I mean in the history of baseball only 2 men had hit 60 home runs and one of them was Babe Ruth, all of a sudden Sosa does it 3 years in a row." From this statement I can only guess what he must think about Bonds. He didn't say it because Florentine is a Giants fan. Instead he moved on to talking about how sweet of a swing Jack Clark had. "When Jack Clark took batting practice, you didn't even have to look in the cage. The sound of hit bat hitting the ball was so different than any other player, the way it took off." Ahh, it was an NBC (or HBO) moment, one where he has that serious look in his eye and he's got his left hand up with his thumb against his fingers moving it with the same rhythm of his words. Speaking of NBC, he's not crazy about Sunday Night Football yet. He said they break everything into 12 second segments and try to pander to... America's, America's..."Short attention span?" I add, "Yes!" Now I'm finishing Bob's sentences. This is why I didn't let myself drink before this. Other interesting info, John Madden LOATHES Frank Caliendo. Can't stand his impression of him. Florentine asked Bob about all the different World Series games he had done. He then asked about some game from way before Bob's time. He politely said, "No, that was before my time." I on the other hand said, "Gees Jim! Why don't you ask if he can recall any coverage on Jesse Owens!" In my 7 years of comedy, no laugh was more satisfying than Bob's at this moment.
I guess in the morning Bob had done an interview with Richard Lewis, "Speaking of Ohio State fans, Rob," he adds. I'm officially gay for Bob at this moment, damn he's got a wedding ring. All I care about is sports and this guy has been to everything, announced it, and knows everyone. He said he doesn't really root for teams anymore, he roots for the people he knows. At the Super Bowl he and his wife had 50 yard line seats under the upperdeck. Only 2 % of the seats were covered and he was lucky enough to have them. We talked more NFL and he went on about what a nice guy Dan Marino was, and how Dan Marino is always the most popular guy in the room anywhere he goes and how Dan Marino has everything. I of course wanted to ask, "Everything?" but instead used the moment to say, "It's too bad Favre is sticking around just to break his records." Bob assured me that they really won't matter though because Peyton Manning will break everything soon anyway. Excellent point, take that Favre!
I could go on and on but I'm starting to scare myself. It was truly magical and for once I didn't screw it up. Sure I could have made an ass of myself and tried to give him my card in case he needed...what would he need? The email address to an unknown comic? As he was leaving he mentioned he's flying in an HBO chartered flight to Nashville to be interviewed and then the flight has to go on to Raleigh-Durham to interview Coach K, then back to his apartment in New York. I'll be returning back to the 4th grade classroom I work in for the next 63 school days. I'll miss you Bob Costas, we'll always have Fairview Heights.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Who would you rather be?

Sure we sucked against Penn State and other teams lately and I'm just as frustrated as the rest of you but let's look at who is really doing well lately.
Of course I'm stupid to write this before tomorrow's big game but after thinking about it, our guys must be doing something right. After seeing what happened to the Badgers the other night I feel a little better. How did our dumbasses win in East Lancing? Who knows, but we did. If we beat Wisconsin tomorrow they will have finished the season very poorly. I wouldn't trade places with them because the tournament isn't played at their little isolated rink.

Or would you rather be Florida? yes Rob They got pounded by Vandy last week and now just lost to LSU sans Big Baby. How do you think their fans feel?

UCLA has won a few in a row and supposedly the Pac 10 is the best conference this year, but really, how hostile can the Quack Attack be? (Do they call their gym the pond?) This isn't the 90's, learn to beat Stanford...And West Virginia?

North Carolina keeps losing to conference foes who also own them in football. Wouldn't that suck? You just wait Virginia Teach, we'll take you in the round ball this winter! Nope, didn't, either time.

Kansas, they're known for fucking up everyone's bracket by losing early. I don't know how many times I've been at a sports bar or a high school basketball game and heard, "Kansas is down 8 with 4 minutes left!" That news spreads like wildfire and once again the Jayhawks piss down their birdy legs while you're left listening to some old man you don't even know bitch to you about how that messed his bracket up and oh look, he's pulling it out of his smoky little jacket to show you the wrinkled mess....and his bracket (hi-oooo!)

Memphis...umm, yeah I wouldn't mind being Memphis now but Peter Griffin pops out to say, "C'mhoooooon..." Memphis? Really? They haven't played anyone. They beat the 'Zags by one the other night. I'm guessing they're a lot more "athletic" than Gonzaga.

Texas A&M opponents can just call Bobby Knight for a scouting report on how to win.

Washington State? What? Besides being the only football team with 2 different colored helmets they're not cool enough to have a great shot at getting anywhere in the tournament. Someone will stick them with the 11:00 am game toward the east coast against an SEC team. There's your token 14-3 seed upset if they start that high.

Pitt might start well but then Dave Wansted will show up, jinx everything, and before you know it the whole team will be falling all over the place like one of those stupid Disney sports movies where a ghost interferes with a basketball game.

(these arguments are getting more and more reliable)

Georgetown...They could worry me. We all remember last year. Do they still have 1 or 2 guys who insist on wearing a light gray t-shirt under their jersey that turns dark gray from sweat? If you look at their schedule though you'll see on any given day they decide not to show up, ask Old Dominion.

Something feels dirty about Nevada. They doesn't even have the highest RPI in its state. They're 12 behind UNLV. Speaking of other teams who have won a lot of games against no one, Air Force. That team doesn't sound "athletic" either.

Butler..."Hey we're good, remember when we won a bunch of games last month? 'member?" All of a sudden Cindy Lauper pops out and belts, "I see your truuue colors shining through!"

I live in St. Louis, I've heard plenty about the Missouri Valley Conference. I'm still not sure where this valley even is but I know AM Radio practically gives each team a hand job because it's a Cinderella school. Wait, that wouldn't be a hand job then, that would be...

Duke. Their point guard is turning out to be as overrated as his older brother. Still, if ACC clock officials are in charge of a subregion, anything could happen.

West Virginia and the rest of the teams that shuffle in and out of the top 25 shouldn't win it all. Sure one of them could make it to the Final Four but I like the odds for the teams I just said sucked. Now the fun part will be seeing which team wins it all, seeing what I said about them and then reminding me it doesn't matter who they lost to earlier in the year 'cause "conference road games are hard."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This joke isn't funny anymore

This is getting ri-goddamn-diculous. Have you kids ever played against a flippin' 2-3 zone before? I recently had an email exchange with Dids (he's alive! And Nerding, presumably) about last night's abortion of a contest against Penn State. here are some of our (rapidly growing familiar and tiresome) thoughts on this mindboggling trend:

1. If any team we play the rest of the year spends any less than half the game in a zone, their coach should be fired.

2. If you don't think we're in tremendous danger of losing in the second round, please note that we never really penetrated the zone defense -- lots of our offense came in transition -- of a team that A.) was incredibly small, and B.) is probably less talented than the hypothetical 7- or 10-seed we'd be facing. This is wildly troubling.

3. I can't possibly stress this enough: SEND SOMEONE TO THE HIGH POST. This is seriously like 8th-grade-level stuff, which makes me worry that either the players are too stupid to grasp the idea, or, even worse, the coaching staff isn't telling the kids to do it. Only two players on this team ever flash to the high post: one is Lighty, and he couldn't find the basket with two extra arms, pliers, and a goddamn helmet flashlight, and the other is Cook, but he always fades too far up before catching the ball, and then reverse-pivots so he's outside the three-point line and the entire exercise has become useless because now the entire defense has you in front of them. Ugh. Swinging the ball around the perimeter is great, but it has to be accompanied by some kind of player movement inside the arc, or else the defense's basic shifts will cover everyone. With Oden's height and skill, and the shooters we have, Oden and Hunter should be in the game, repeatedly flashing to the high post while the ball is reversed; we'd make a killing, and teams would be forced to abandon the zone in a hurry.

4. Ball-screens against a zone, and especially at the top of the key, are largely pointless endeavors. Stop it. No, seriously. You're giving me an anyeurism.

5. Another thing that makes me worried that the problem is coaching-related: Who. The Christ. ATTACKS A 2-3 ZONE WITH A TWO-GUARD FRONT?!?! You're just allowing the defenders to match up with your players, and you're decreasing the amount of space said defenders have to cover. You're essentially playing right into their hands.

The way to defeat a zone is to move the ball quickly, force the defenders to move, and slip people into the zone's cracks, forcing the defenders to either collapse on the offensive player or allow him a relatively easy 12-footer. Yes, theoretically, a zone is used for "packing it in" and usually gives up open three-point opportunities. But getting the ball into the paint absolutely devastates a zone defense, and while we swing the ball around the perimeter against zones, we seem to be unwilling to A.) put anyone other than Oden inside the three-point line, or B.) have Oden himself move around anywhere inside the arc. He just sits on the low block, waiting for the entry pass that will never come because *DING DONG* they're in a zone and it's designed to prevent easy entry passes to the low block.

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills, because the guys keep winning, so the residents of LEBO are all rosy-red glasses and I'm sitting here fretting us having to face a team with even a modicum of talent and a good head coach. I need to lie down.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kevin Durant would get an 8-seed by himself

... and would probably be favored in the second round over that region's 1-seed, even if he were 14 inches tall. He would be able to beat every team in the country, with his superior blah, and blah, and OMG lengthz0rz. Why do I point this out? Because now that we're getting close to Selection Sunday, people are starting to really take closer looks at "resumes" in order to parse out where exactly "the bubble" is and where exactly certain teams will fall on and around said "bubble." And the talking heads who have been rightfully praising Texas uberfrosh Kevin Durant all year are starting to take their mancrushes a little too far. Not into "gross" territory, but into headshaking territory.

I bring this up because, for some reason, I watched part of ESPN's "College Gameday (for basketball, you know, one of those sports that's not the NFL)" this past Saturday, and they were doing a neat little segment called "blind resume" wherein they would put up only the resumes of two teams, then let the analcysts talk about which team had the "better" "resume", and then they would reveal the names of the teams, with hopefully astonishing results and a bunch of hemming and hawing from Digger, Jay, and ... Hubert Davis(?). Well, they put up a couple of resumes, and the teams had similar records (18-8 to 18-7) with similar RPIs, and the team with 8 losses had the better SOS and more wins against top 50 RPI teams. As you can probably guess, the 18-7 team was Texas, who everyone is certain will get in. The 18-8 team was Syracuse, who everyone is certain will get in the NIT.

So Digger does the requisite "holy cow, I can't believe it" crap, and Hubie's doing some too. And then Jay Bilas speaks up. And I normally love Jay Bilas; I think he's an excellent color man and an even better studio guy. But here, he says something along the lines of "Yeah, but if you were to just tell us the names of the two teams, we wouldn't even have to look at resumes, because we know Texas is playing better." To which I queried, "Isn't that the exact kind of specious, circular, 'I know who's better because I watch and I know who's better' reasoning that this entire segment of the show is supposed to call into question?" But Rece Davis has his hands full anyway, so he doesn't ask that, but to his credit, he does ask, "But what about the argument that 'you are what the numbers say you are," and "you are what your resume says you are'?" And then Jay starts equivocating and bullshitting and at one point actually says that Texas is better because they have a similar record against a much better schedule, which the numbers inform us is an outright lie (SU's SOS: 55. Texas's: 81). And then they do a few more, and as they're going to commercial and the camera is slowly backing away, they go back to the Texas thing, and Hubert, God bless him, proves himself to be the only honest one in the group when he says "I would take Texas just because they have Durant." And they all laugh. And I'm one step closer to seppuku.

You see this kind of things elsewhere, too, as Tempo-Free Suburbia pointed out yesterday. He links to a column by Andy Katz discussing the much-buzzed-about NCAA experiment where basketball writers were invited to try and come up with a bracket, like the actual selection committee does. In the article, he basically says ... well shit, not to get all FJM on you, but here's the relevant passage:

If Texas were to be close to making the field, I'm convinced the Longhorns would get in based on their ability to win games...

Yes, yes. "Winning games" certainly separates them from the rest of those losers on the bubble.

... the overall youthful talent on the team led by Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin...

That's some frighteningly NBA-like logic, promoting the individual player hype over the accomplisments of the team.

... and a desire to see this team entertain.

What the hell does that even mean? "I think Texas should make the tournament because I want to see Kevin Durant play"? Pretty much. More NBA-age. Also, you'll note that not once in that sentence does he discuss the team's actual accomplishments, outside of an amorphous "ability to win games." But hell, he pretty much admits this, later.

Remember, the chore is to put together the 34 best at-large teams...

Right... make a competitive field.

Hmm, that has the ring of a superfluous phrase thrown in to help you make your argument.

Texas has been one of the most competitive teams in the country this season, playing overtime games and late-possession games constantly.

Translation: Texas played a lot of nationally-televised games this year where I could watch Kevin Durant play. And yes, the Longhorns have played a "competitive" (WTF?) 8 games decided by 4 points or fewer this year, but in those games they've pretty uniformly beaten bad and middling teams (the Ws: St. John's by 1, LSU by 1, Arkansas by 4, Nebraska by 1, Baylor by 1) and lost to decent ones (the Ls: Michigan State by 2, Oak State by 2, K-State by 1).

So, when it came time to vote, I had no issue making a plea to our group that Texas would make it a better field.

I wouldn't, either. They're a deserving at-large, even though I think they're way closer to the bubble than most journalists would have you believe.

The reality is that I didn't care what the Longhorns' RPI was, nor did I check it, because I know Texas would be a tough team to face for anyone in the bracket. Once again, there's nothing wrong with that logic to me, and I wouldn't be surprised if Texas is discussed in that manner next month.

Back the fucking truck up, there, chief. Didn't care about, or even look at, the RPI? Because "I know they'd be a tough team to face"? More of this ridiculous "they deserve to get in because I think they deserve to get in" bullshit. And if the committee does use that kind of "logic" when putting the brackets together, it's a goddamn travesty.

None of this is meant to be taking anything away from the Longhorns in general or Durant in particular. He's an amazing player and they're a good team, probably deserving of a spot in the Dance. But as TFS says, results should not be completely disregarded in favor of "gut feelings." Right now, Durant's mere presence is single-handedly getting them a higher seed than they deserve, if the punditry is any indication. And frankly, that's wrong.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Thanks Nike

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Join me...

Flipping channels...flip flip yeah CBS! game on! Girlfriend is dismay as I cancel our plans to Starbucks, the gym, or anything else.
Live from The Barn, over several thousand Minnesota fans screaming in that weird accent and holding up signs that say, "We own you in hockey!"

Harris opens the game with a 3 which is matched by some araaaab white guy named Shamoo Shamalah or something similar. And they're on their asses in the barn giving light applause...probably because it has the acoustics of a Jr. High gym.

Greg Oden's range seems to be that of a kareoke singer, good thing our guards can shoot today. Greg works on his highlight reel for why he should stay next year.

Hmm, interesting...Cub Foods sponsors the Gophers. Probably much cheaper than the Piggly Wiggly. Conley keeps stealing the ball as the Minnesota as he plays better defense than the Gopher intermural league that they practice with known as their 2nd team.

Buckeyes start to build a lead but wait a minute folks, here comes Twig to keep it close! Side out whenever a shot goes up! Right on cue he spikes his first possible rebound out of bounds. Next time down he's schooled and gives up a layup. We give up 6 unanswered and Twig is taken out. 5-0 run by Ohio State.

Why is this McKenzie guy wasting his career in Canada or wherever the hell we are? And the announcer just said that Oden expected McKenzie to drop a dime, but instead a deuce.

7 and a half left and Twig returns to (da da da da da daaaa) charge! An aggressive turnover.

He's taken our and we go on an 8-0 run (that's 13-0 if you're counting). Why is he on this team? I doubt he sees much action in March a la John Sanderson.

Commercial news: If anyone wondered, you can now get women's NCAA highlights on your AT&T phone this March...AT LAST, we can watch a fast break ending in a power layup shot with the right hand from the left side...then everyone falling down followed by the 8th jumpball of the half. John Wooden was wrong about women's ball.

The half ends with a 12 point lead. Maybe we don't suck. The only reason it's close is because of McKenzie.

Half begins: Is anyone going to score this half? Is the hockey influence that strong?

Minnesota finds more new ways to turn it over. After cutting it to 7 we score a touchdown and coach finds it safe to whiten things up. Terwilliger returns, maybe he can blend in. Picks up a foul getting around a pick and fouling someone 35 feet from the basket. Good thinkin' 'cause he might have chucked one up from there. I'll use this TV timeout to write that he has done NOTHING good in this game. I can't wait until he never gets in next year. Ahh, at The Barn they used the timeout to remember that AMAZING 1982 Gopher team. Was that their last Big Ten Championship?

How about Ron Lewis today? Finally showing he's a mature player, stepping up.

Ahh, Twig tips one to the right team...and scores? Gophers officially give up. With Oden out I can already hear the talk of the "arena" as they leave. "Sure they beat the shit out of us, but Oden didn't impress me." Twig gets a jump ball, half a steal. He'll finally have something to talk about with the team in the shower. We're up 24 without Oden. Flip over to Fox for prerace...Gordon's wife as hot! I should have played more Pole Position growing up, I had a future in NASCAR.

Back to the game, as they cut it to 20 they talk about "how this crowd wants them to get back in the game." Naa, that can't be it. I'm sure they're just waiting for football season...or the 3:30 hockey game. Here's what happened.

Minn Coach: "What's the best gameplan to play OSU?"
Penn St. Coach : "Let them get up 24 points, then attack!"

It's amazing how bad Oden keeps getting outmuscled by a guy who only weighs 240. Going to the NBA would be the equivalent of leaving Yoda's training too soon. I think we all know how that story ends.

Commercial break: Oh sweet, the stupid ass Super Bowl commercials are airing--THAT SQUIRREL LOVES HIM SOM BUD LITE--WATCH OUT GENERIC WHITE GUY!

So as the game winds down, what have we learned...
1. Oden's not ready
2. Terwilliger still sucks
3. We don't suck when we can shoot halfway decent.
4. If we shoot well and beat Wisconsin we should get a #1 seed.
5. NASCAR wives are hot.
6. Ron Lewis does not care what the numbers are on a fast break.
7. Don't you touch that squirrel's Bud Lite you son of a bitch!

(HOLY SHIT ALERT!) Tollackson just Russian Bear Hugged Conley on a fast break as an expression of man love.

The game has now turned into a practice session for Oden to work on rebounding and jump hooks. Oden just used the force to disrupt an alleyoop without touching the ball. More like an ALLEYOOPS! (stuffed animal just re-emerged to roll eyes)

Break: Guy with AA mullet is still pushing UPS products.

Here's what I want this March. The field of 65 without Gonzaga or Duke. That way I can't miss possibly screw up my picks on them.

What the---the floor is still from 1928? 14 layers of paint and shit added on? No wonder it's the barn. They're talking about what a great place this hole is? "Every time you walk into this building..." And how often is that CBS? Twig hits the rim, moral victory.

Aaaaand, we've been taken off the air for the Duke game.

Here's where Terwilliger scores on a scoring tear in the final few minutes like that autistic boy. Twig's would be more miraculous.

Fine, I'll roll with it, my girlfriend went to the gym without me. Duke leads by 8. Reader Wise and I snuck our way into Cameron Indoor a few summers ago while we were in Carolina. It was like a small library building just sitting quietly on campus. The gym was open because a girl's camp was going on (giggity). The hallways outside were tiny, so you pretty much have to be in the gym to be in the building. We made our way to the side halls and ended up in a small locker room. On the chalk board, "Steve, good work this summer --Coach K." I wanted to replace this Steve's name with mine and take a picture but you know Joel, always taking the high road." We then went over to their baseball field which was unprotected. I went up to the plate...Joel stole 2nd...then put it in our trunk. Always taking the high road.

Duke's using its home cooking to finish this game.

I'll flip it over to Fox again for appropriate prerace performances. Hmm, Kelly Clarkson singing Miss Independent. Practically the theme song of NASCAR...good call guys.

Friday, February 16, 2007

How. Me Offended!

Imagine if you will that OSU was no longer allowed to play Hang on Sloopy at games because of some weird "laaawyerrr bullsheet." That's about how the Illini feel right now. After Wednesday Chief Illiniwek will no longer be allowed to perform at Illinois games. The times are getting ridiculous. I was fortunate enough to see the Chief perform at halftime of our game with them this year (when we were up 17-0). Their student section (God bless them) is very into the games even though they know they suck. (Read about my day there in entry two of this blog )

Anyway, the Chief really has some good moves and I think it's a shame. I also think it's a shame the kids have to drink Orange Crush because I think the company stopped making it in 1986 and is just using the surplus. Anyway, I'd be pissed.

I doubt we write much about NASCAR on here but they just switched to an update on ESPN and Brad Daugherty was reporting. Wait, what?

ESPN: "OK, it says here on your resume that you played Center for the Cavs...poorly."
Brad: "That's right, we expected Mark Price to get us places."
ESPN: "Well we were going to stick you with women's poker but we're using the guy who won Dreamjob in season 2 for that. Hmm, it says here we're supposed to look for someone of your uhh nature to work NASCAR."
Brad: "I'll take it--I love fishing!"

One more thing I'm confused about. I like getting comments on my posts so thanks guys. But how come my biggest posts that I poured my heart and soul out for, and admitted that I scheduled a shrink (next Wednesday at 5:30) didn't get nearly the feedback of the one post about RICE vs. TROY?! What nerve do I need to hit to mix things up again?

(crossing fingers that Hot Rod Williams reads this)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Yay! Turd in the punchbowl time!!

Yes, every other MWBer considers me the "pessimist" and they're probably on to something. Maybe. I contend that my "realism" often looks harsh when viewed in the soft-focus, vaseline-on-the-lens slobbering done by most residents of LEBO. Either way, you're probably not surprised at all, especially after a ridiculously poor effort in the way-closer-than-the-final-score win over Purdue on Saturday, to find out that I'm worried about the basketBucks and their ability to make a run late in the season, and especially in the tourney.

I feel conflicted about this, because we went several years pre-Thad without much talent and with even less winning. People like Charles Bass and (ugh) Brandon Fuss-Cheatham -- who I maintain never made a single jumpshot in his career at OSU -- were logging significant minutes in big games; shit, we even had a season where Tony Flipping Stockman was the #1 scoring option. Because of those lean years, I feel somewhat like I'm looking a gifthorse in the mouth when I criticize this wildly talented group of players. But criticize I will.

This team has "second-round loss to a 7- or 10-seed" written all over them right now. Why?

The main problem right now is the lulls. This team is displaying an infuriating tendency to simply stop trying for looong stretches of games. I don't know if it's because they think they're way more talented than anyone else, or if they get tired, or if they have really short attention spans, but if this continues, it's the Bucks' ticket out of The Dance. Even though I hate the man, I have to point out that Bill Simmons, who actually watches college basketball now (purely for NBA-related reasons, of course, because college sports don't exist to him, except as punching bag/occasional gambling fodder), shared some thoughts about the Bucks which were, in my opinion, pretty spot-on. I especially agree with him that OSU looks bored at times, and that this will likely be our undoing, if and when it comes, in March. The team keeps letting inferior teams hang around, because they're pretty sure their talent will eventually win out, or they think they can turn it on when they have to or whatever. So far they've been winning those games, and in my and Dids's opinion, that's about the worst thing possible, because they have no reason to think that they won't be able to win that way in March. All it'll take for this team to get knocked off in the second round is a relatively smart team that slows the game down and hits a decent percentage on threes. And it probably wouldn't hurt for them to get down by a little bit early, so the Bucks file the game away in the "W" column and start sleepwalking.

Of course, Simmons also talked about Oden, and he echoed just about everything I've said about him, on here or elsewhere (the only thing I'd disagree with him on: I do NOT think Greg has "excellent" footwork, at least not on offense). His offensive footwork is muddled, to the point where every time he grabs an offensive rebound, he looks like he really REALLY wants to travel with it. And he brings the ball down almost into a triple-threat position way too often, especially on offensive boards, negating his height advantage and allowing little guys to get to the ball. He's shown a pretty nice dropstep at times, but the problem is he lets defenders push him out to about 12-15 away from the basket (seriously, have you ever seen someone shoot so many jumphooks from 12 feet out?), where that move is useless. In short, he's too damn passive on offense, although there have been glimmers of an emerging nastiness about once a week for what seems like about a month now. I wish it would all come together.

On defense, Greg is much better. He's very ath-eh-letic, so he moves around well, and he's one of the select few shotblockers who at least moderately control their blocked shots, giving their teammates a chance to get the ball -- too many shotblockers are eager to slam the ball into the crowd, and that's great because the shot definitely won't go in, but you've also given the ball back to the other team to continue their possession. If you can swat it to a teammate, or at least keep the ball in play and create a loose ball situation, then you have a much better chance of effectively ending the opponents possession, and you may get a fast break yourself. Oden does much more of the latter than the former. I only have two quibbles with Greg defensively. One is that (and this sounds crazy) he boxes out too much. What I mean is, your the tallest damn person on the floor, so there's no reason to box your man out all the way to the three-point line -- yeah, your man isn't gonna get the rebound, but now you aren't either! Just stay in the paint, get him on your butt so that he can't get around you, and go up there and rebound the damn ball at the highest point that you can. The second is that he's still woefully bad at defending pick-and-rolls. He looks like he wants to switch every time, when a simple hedge will do the trick. And even when he hedges, he often loses his man and doesn't get back to him in time. Granted, he's gotten light-years better at this since teams were exploiting it mercilessly earlier in the season, but it's still a problem occasionally.

As for the rest of the team's defense, I'll just say that I don't see how we can possibly have the best "opponents points per possession" in the conference. We're an exact replica of North Carolina in 2005: apparently, based on the numbers, our D is pretty damn good, but actually watching the games, I just don't see it. I see us giving up wide-open looks on about half of our opponents' possessions, mostly thanks to the sounds-good-in-theory "hey, we'll overplay and trap all over the place and force turnovers, and even when our guys get beat, the other teams will basically run right into Greg" philosophy. The problem is that our "pressure" is mostly lackluster, and results in just as many wide-open jumpers as it does Oden blocks. I get the nasty feeling that our defensive numbers look the way they do because the Big Ten is pretty uniformly terrible. It goes back to the team looking lazy a lot of the time. It's damn frustrating.

Also, there's the problem of shots. There's no way around it: there aren't enough balls to go around on this team. Jamar Butler finally looks like he understands his role, but he should be getting more looks. Also, now it seems like he's forgotten how to run the offense, because when he takes over while Conley gets a break, the offense goes in the tank. He still seems to be in limbo, sorta. Ron Lewis pretty obviously hates life. He's saying all the right things about being a team player and not being interested in stats and all that, but his play and especially his body language during games tell an entirely different story. He's about 18 different kinds of frustrated, and he's forcing some pretty bad shots during games. David Lighty's lost all confidence in his shot; he needs to just suck it up, stop shooting, be the defensive stopper this year, and focus on remembering how to shoot in the offseason. I don't even know where Daequan is gonna find shots.

I know I sound like the sky is falling, but it's not. This is still one of the five or six best teams in the country, and they'll go into every single game they play with a better than good chance at winning (except if they play Florida again ... but that's a story for another time, and maybe I'll let Dids give you our feelings on them Haven't heard from him in a while). But they could be so much more than they are right now. At the moment, they're getting by strictly on being way more talented than every team they're playing, and the rub is that, well, most of the top 30 or so teams in the country are way better than 8 of the 11 Big Ten teams. I'm terrified of another rude awakening in March. I don't want to listen to the prognosticators after another second-round exit. I just want the guys to get their shit together and play hard and smart. As I said in November, I would probably hate this team if they represented some other university, because they're wildly talented but don't seem to have any desire to put it all together into a cohesive, intelligent package. Hopefully they can get there. Hopefully.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

A few things

I caught the last 8 minutes of the game today. My said that it wasn't on, but I searched around and found an ESPN Plus. The slice of the game was a nice cross section of what's been going on. Our guys can be stupid but somehow (Conley?) they score when they need to. Initially I was just going to blog about how bad Terwilliger is. He does not grab defensive rebounds, he merely tips them to whoever is near, often the other team. We had a girl on my championship intramural co-ed basketball team at OSU who did this. (I should mention Reader Wise was head coach of that team) Did the "Big T" play volleyball in high school? Is he from some sort of beach that played a lot of volleyball, does he have opposable thumbs? Why can't he grab the ball?

I think that game may have gone the other way on the road as Oden wouldn't have been given 2 no-calls in the final few minutes. But good enough, it's a win. I then flipped over and found the last 2 minutes of Penn State at Northwestern. These teams apparently have a Jim Crowe clause because it was very "unathletic" out there. I would hate to be a Penn State student...We're so so in football and always suck in basketball, it's cold, why am I here?

And the final good news of the day, I was just called by my old championship head coach (representation at an affordable price) and he said that the Midwest Regional is in St. Louis at the Edward Jones Dome so I might be able to see our boys in person just by hopping on the MetroLink. Knowing my year we'll make it to the Final Four, even the championship, run the opening kickoff back start with a 7-0 run and then proceed to get stomped. UCLA just lost which should put us at #2 in front of 2 teams who beat us. I hate the basketball AP, it's worthless and changes too much. It reminds me of (other people's) grade school dating. (I had too many zits to participate...even though I didn't hit my growth spurt until 12th grade...I just got the zits and not the adult body...that's why I didn't like to shower with the team...not that I ever got into the game enough to get sweaty...)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Durham's '07 continues to shine

(note: Rob has been a Bears fan since he was 8 years old...he takes them very seriously and this game meant the world to him...he's writing this note in the third person but will be very open throughout the blog)

They say in baseball that it's bad luck for the pitcher to strike out the side in the first inning. After last night's game I now believe it's bad luck for a team to run the opening kickoff back (even if they don't break his foot in celebration).
Join me as I recall another account of my heart being ripped out...

I started watching CBS coverage as soon as ESPN switched to it's usual "Fuck it, no one's watching" program schedule... a.k.a. figure skating. Why was there a story on Heinz Ward and his Korean roots only 2 hours before kickoff? Last year's leftover segments?

I haven't cried from a Bears game since 1987, after a playoff loss. However, I was quite emotional BEFORE the game. Seeing what could happen just somehow made up for all of those years (the last 20) that I've been teased, mocked, and made fun of for being a Bears fan. Kids were mean and I didn't always have thick skin. Overcome with emotion, I realized it was best to stay home for this one.

As I mentioned the game started with a touchdown jinx. The commercials sucked as well. Glad to see Tracy Morgan's biggest credit is 1 line in a sierra Mist commercial.

As the Colts scored I thought of this point to make...sure AFC you might have all the best teams, good QB's, but your holders are bad too. AFC leads that final season total 2-1 in screwed up holds.

I think about 6 more commercials featured something getting hit at the very end, a guy throws a cellphone rock at his buddy. Hmm, we've seen this before. FedEx dumbs theirs down again as well.

(here comes the first Tecmo reference)
The Bears caused a fumble on a running play by meeting the back before the handoff. They knew that the Colts selected "Run 2" and so the defensive cord. told Urlacher "down and 'a' button!" so they caused and recovered the fumble.

I admire the companies that say, "We're not even going to write a new commercial, you may remember this one from long ago, we don't care, suck it Pepsi!"
Schick did that. The rest went through a gay theme including Snickers. And did I see a movie about black swimmers? I guess it's been a few months since our last feel good black movie. None of them will compare with Cool Runnings though, try as they might. Carlos Mencia made an appearance doing more material he didn't write.

As it started to Purple rain I was happy. Not because of an advantage, but more for the fans who didn't deserve to be there. I imagine somewhere there was some rich douchebag that got a first date a ticket so she'd put out. That may have been common. Or perhaps a child who didn't even understand the game of football and his father was trying to compensate for all of the business trips and little league games he had missed. I hope they were miserable.

Next topic: David fucking Spayde. "Hi, I get to play the sleezy smartass guy for a few more years until this red hair turns white. Look at how I'm a foot and a half shorter than all the other actors. Remember the early 90's? Remember all the credit card ads I had to do taking roles from up and coming actors just trying to make it? Now watch me dance around like the oversarcastic ass I have grown aged into."
I really wish it had been Spayde instead of Michael J. Fox.

By the 2nd quarter I don't think it was the commercials that were bothering me as much as the idea that there are still people out there laughing at these commercials, "HOLY SHIT DID THAT DOG JUST WINK!!!" We haven't seen that shit 200 times before. The computer animation still sucks.

Doritos...I'm guessing the people who submitted ads were quite pissed at the ones who really made it. A fat white checkout clerk flirts with...a skinny white guy? Yeah, realistic. (Shit, Rob isn't taking this loss too well and it's coming out in this blog)

Next Chevy

CBS's $100,000 cameras fogged up like the windshield of my Escort for the rest of the first half. Use a hanky you bitches!

Next commercial theme: beating the shit out of everyone...face slaps, "ohhh wa ha ha, what if that really happened! He hit his boss!" I still cringe at how many people I KNOW are talking about what if they did this at their office today. I hope your water coolers have AIDS.

Did the Colts special teams just act cocky for squibbing it and making the tackle at the 37? Yes, they fucking did. The 37.

Commercial break number #54...Coke uses "it's" instead of "its" when referring to #42. Nice job morons.

Coors light fails to make a Super Bowl commercial...Diddly Poo could have been used!

Some Hog movie with 5 guys from early 90's sitcoms...dorks every where look at each other, "We HAVE to see THAT!"

I can tell this game isn't going well as I'm cheering way too hard at an incomplete pass. This game feels familiar. We can't stop shit. I pause game, check on Grossman's status and it says, "poor." Fumbles next play.

Next commercial features black people around the country watching the game...yeah, this is great for African Americans everywhere! Look how happy they are! Until you realize that none of them have cable...they all still have bunny ears on their 18 inch black and white TV's. Somewhere Chuck D also notices and starts to write a song about it.

2 1/2 men...I think if you add Brook Shield's shoulders you can safely bump it up to 3 1/4 men.

halftime...Prince apparently needing to cover his hair from a piece of headwear I haven't seen since "A Different World" was on. How did those screaming whores get Super Bowl tickets?! They better shuffle them out after halftime back into the strip clubs they work in...I would also magically grant AIDS to them.

Prince sings a part of "All along the watchtower,"...I didn't know he was a Bengals fan. Wait, is he singing a Foo Fighters song? What was the deal on that? "Prince, if we can cover Darling Nikki, several years later we'll let you cover us in the Super Bowl." Makes sense.

I now realize I forgot to eat my supper...I have jello and 5 Sam Adams instead.
46-19 in total plays...good lord. I'm about to call it quits and put an even bigger frown on my face BUT HOW CAN I WHEN I SEE A COMMERCIAL WITH ANIMALS TALKING! WHAAA--those are LIONS!!!! They can't talk! But if they could I bet they'd say that! Thanks unoriginal jackass writers!
What happened to sex appeal? Only that company that sells addresses used it. Stupid families.

After the Bears field goal it would have been an obvious chance to onside kick it, but no, why try to gain momentum?

It was all downhill from there...I threw my notebook after Grossman started lobbing passes like Jeff George on the original Tecmo Bowl (highly inaccurate as he had a strong arm). In case you still have that game and want to win the Super Bowl as Chicago over Seattle, it's ABAFEFAB. So no more blog notes...instead I called a hotline from my employer and scheduled a therapy session. Sadly, I'm not kidding. I explained to the operator that the best part of my life was down 2 scores late in the 4th. He understood. I don't know how Bills fans did it. I can't imagine losing 4 in a row. This season has just been the ultimate letdown as far as football. I don't know how to think or feel about it other than pissed off. I WENT TO CHURCH YESTERDAY MORNING! Both of my teams open each championship game by returning a kickoff (both in 14 seconds) and somehow get their asses kicked.

What do I look forward to? OSU basketball? They've been playing kinda stupid well enough. I guess my therapist will help me figure out what it all means. Sorry, there are no hot chicks in this post.

I drank 5 of my 6 beers...I'm going to try and preserve #6 until the draft...I know. Hope will be restored then.