Filed under: not sports, Off topic | Tags: Boston, Boston Marathon, Boston Red Sox, Dismemberment Plan, Fenway Sports Group, Patriot, Patriots Day, Patton Oswalt
Years ago, when I was in high school, I was driving around Tulsa. As i did at the time, I was listening to music at deafeningly loud volume. The song de jour was “Ice of Boston” by Dismemberment Plan, who are easily in my otp 12 pantheon of best bands all time ever. I pulled up to the intersection of 15th and Sheridan, windows down, enjoying the breeze when I caught a frantic arm in the left turn lane. I ignored it as long as I could until I couldn’t and peered to my left. Two guys in a pick up sat next to me. One of them, a Latino, nodded and pointed. “Ice of Boston, esse!” he screamed before his driver buddy got the turn arrow and he sped off. I nodded out of solidarity, knowing that anyone who knew D-Plan was about the coolest motherfucker in my book.
I thought about this moment yesterday as all the horrific shit came through the Internet, telling me what I’d already suspected. A wonderful moment that shows the triumph of the average person over impossibly long distance had been marred by a senseless and horrific attack. I won’t speculate on anything outside of what I know. And what I know is this: the Boston Marathon is a moment where the normal people get a chance to do something incredible. They have their chance to knock off 26.2 of the most intense running miles of their lives while being cheered by family, friends, and total strangers. Some are literally drunk because it’s Patriot’s Day and that’s what they do, while others are drunk on the excitement of seeing 78 year olds complete a marathon. Some bring their kids to show what’s possible, regardless of time of finish, if you give enough of a shit to just fucking do it. This wasn’t a tragedy involving professional athletes. No, by the time the bombs went off, this was your coworker crossing the finish, doing it for a friend with cancer. This was your brother doing it just to prove they could. This was someone who wanted to tick off “Boston Marathon” on the ol’ bucket list before they moved to parasailing.
And the people chilling outside of Marathon Sports where there to celebrate that. The triumph over distance that makes the marathon so compelling. These were people who wanted to see what sheer determination looked like. They wanted to give those people that final edge they needed to finsih strong.
As a runner, I have loved ever race I’ve ever run. Even though I haven’t had a single person show up, the cheers during that last half a mile are what you need to finish strong. To have the ripped away in an instant by whoever the fuck is just wrong. Yesterday was supposed to be a celebration of friends, family, of people doing something that’s not really in most people. This was a day we should have been celebrating. To see it marred by tragedy makes me so fuckign depressed. I think “That could have been me out there” since one of my life’s goals is to run that race. I think how could someone ruin Patriot’s Day, a holiday that’s spoken in such reverential terms by my buddy James that you’d think it was some kind of Christmas/July Fourth/New Years rolled into one. I think about that 78 year old, just trying to finish, damn the time, to get knocked over by a blast. I think about all the people who are injured, maimed, killed, destroyed by dint of being at a place of celebration.
I spent most of yesterday at work refreshing a ton of sites. All I wanted was news, something to tell me what was happening. I just wanted something to make me feel better about what happened. Then, I saw the videos of people running back to help, regardless of their own danger. I saw former Patriot Dan Andruzzi helping someone to safety. I saw that Men In Blazers, my favorite EPL podcast, Tweet the lyrics to “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” as people poured in to send thanks (in case you don’t get the meaning, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is the motto of Liverpool, who are owned by Red Sox ownership group Fenway Sports Group). I saw countless people offering support and love to Boston, a city I may have besmirched on her for comedic effect but a city that has shown me nothing short of the best time every time I’ve come to visit. I saw the kind of humanity that I worry no longer exists (hilarious, given the tone of the blod, but I’m being 110% real in this piece). The capper was this, from Patton Oswalt:
Boston. Fucking horrible.
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”
But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
I have faith that we’re not a terrible race, hell bent on destruction of ourselves. I have faith that one day soon, I will run the Boston Marathon. I have faith because nothing can stop our spirit, our desire to overcome adversity and to show the world that nothing you do will ever make us cower in the corner. The Boston Marathon will go on and we will make it great.
Time to start sitting around in the blazing sun, eating peanuts and sunflower seeds. Downing overpriced beers and getting sunburned doing nothing. It’s time for baseball! Hooray! Time to let some other team brutalize my affections for six months.
Filed under: Know Your Enemy | Tags: Brooklyn, Chris Webber, Fab Five, kansas, Michigan, Michigan Wolverines, Steve Fisher, Wolverine
Prior to moving to Brooklyn, I probably knew one person that actually went to Michigan. That might even be stretching it. Aside from actual people from Michigan, about the only thing I knew about them had to do with their basketball program. My parents were huge UNC fans, so when Chris Webber called that phantom timeout, causing a foul and costing the Wolverines the 1993 title, my dad had never been so excited. He literally jumped out of his chair, whooped like a maniac, clapped so hard I thought he was going to break a hand, and bellowed “THAT’S A FUCKING TECHNICAL! COFFIN NAILS1!” Keep in mind, I was in third grade and this was one of those rare occasions where I got to stay up past 9pm. I was fascinated by the duel playing out in my mind. On the one hand, I desperatley wanted Carolina to win because I was a misguided fan of the Tar Heels as a kid. On the other hand, I loved seeing these guys who raced around the court, slamming oops and taunting just about everyone they faced. They were aggressive and I fucking loved it2. It certainly helped that their school colors and name were the same as my favorite X-Man. Even at that age, I thought it was weird that they didn’t embrace this coincidence to have a cross promotion thing going on.
Now that I live in New York, I know about a hundred or so people who are graduates of that university. I haven’t had the balls to ask them about the missed opportunity for Wolverine becoming the new mascot of the school, mostly because since Steve Fisher got the axe after some NCAA violations, I figured none of them would want to talk about it. I mean, they’ve kind of sucked until the last few years right?
Michigan: All five of Michigan’s starters have a mutant healing factor, as well as adamantium claws that pop out when they get enraged. The claws have been making headlines, since most basketball games end in sadness rather than severed limbs. Of course, the Wolverines don’t give a fuck. When they’re thrashing their opponents and pissing on their corpses to mark their territory, they’re scary good. Their biggest problem has been that they are their own worst enemy. That rage, which when controlled and allowed to come out in managed doses, can lead them to success, but it can just as easily turn into a berserker rage. If that happens, watch out. They’re liable to kill you as they implode and completely destroy their own chances of victory.
Kansas: Were you aware that their has never been a World War since the Jayhawk adopted his/her current look? That’s because the 1941 Jayhawk actually killed Hitler. Seriously. Even if you were a Wolverine with a healing factor would you want to fuck with the bird that brought down the Nazi party? I didn’t think so. We’re living to fight another day.
Advantage: Killed Hitler…berseker rage. Killed Hitler…has a hot clone named X-23. Killed Hitler…was my favorite X-Man. Anyone who beaked a genocidal lunatic to death definitely has the advantage.
1 – One of my dad’s favorite things to say is, when the Tar Heels are pulling away late in the game, “coffin nails.” It’s a kind of macabre thought since it basically means that Carolina is basically putting their opponent in a coffin and shutting that shit up with nails. And people wonder why I write the way I do. Back
2 – When I used to play hoops in school, they taught us to swing elbows on rebounds to clear out. I have no idea why, but I thought that the Fab Five would have gone out of their way to hit their opponents in the gut, to make them know that they had the ball. So, whenever I cleared out, I swung my elbows like a maniac hoping to break a rub. Needless to say, I fouled out. A lot. Back
Filed under: March Madness | Tags: Billy Donovan, Easter, FGCU, Florida, Florida Gulf Coast University, Michigan, Peyton Siva, Rick Pitino
If you missed part 1 of my Sweet Sixteen preview, check it out here. Shit’s fucking magical and if you’re in one of those second chance brackets, my picks are totally going to get you the lead. I’m the best at picking these sorts of things, so you should never, ever go against me1. We’ve already covered tonight’s games, so let’s move on to tomorrow’s games, including, of course, God’s Team and the Team of Destiny, FGCU.
Enough preamble. Let’s get to this shit.
NEVER BET AGAINST IZZO – MIDWEST REGIONAL
I’ll be perfectly honest: this bracket looks primed for a Tom Izzo Final Four. I can’t believe I’m saying that. I want this shit bag to fail more than anyone that we practically never play. I will never forgive him for the 2009 loss2. I know that Louisville is America’s team, but time and time again, Izzo’s teams come into March playing at a level that you wouldn’t expect based on the three previous months. Dude knows how to coach his team and put them in the conversation for a Final Four, if not a title every year. Honestly, this Regional has little in the way of drama. Well, other than whether or not Lupe will be at a special 96-hour Easter mass rather than praying the rosary in the 15th row. It’s like she’s a Catholic witch. I’d advocate tying her to a stone, chucking her in a river and seeing if she floats, but I can already feel my throat constricting just from typing that. Moving on.
Oregon vs. Louisville: My beef with the Ducks is well documented throughout the recent history of these hallowed pages3. Seriously. Fuck these guys. If Rick Pitino’s squad doesn’t rip through them like a direwolve in a maternity ward, I’d be shocked. The Cardinals, despite the assertion above, are actually really good. There’s no way that whoever the fuck plays for Oregon will be able to hang with Peyton Siva, Dieng, or Russ Smith for more than ten minutes. I fully expect for Five Seconds in an Italian Restaurant’s relentless pressing will upend the Ducks before they have a chance to establish anything approaching rythym. Let me save you the wasted time of watching the second half: Oregon will be crying going into the locker room, down 25, so CBS’ Sadness Porn quota will be hit an hour into the broadcast. I fully expect them to start aggressively cutting away to the more competitive Michigan/Kansas matchup in the second half.
Prediction: Oregon 65, Louisville 99
Michigan State vs. Duke: If it were any other coach going against the Dark Magic of Coach K, I would pick against them. There’s something about Coach K’s ability to entice a heady mixture of incredible athletes and hideous looking white dudes (Ryan Kelly’s flycatched mouth, anybody?) and get them to play as a tightly wound unit. Whether it’s a complete understanding of K’s fist-as-basketball metaphor or fear of him shoving said fist so far up their asses he can control them like a puppet, I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that there’s a dash of a Satanic ritual going on that none of us will ever truly understand4. Sadly for Blue Devils fans and happily for my still-mourning parents, the end of the line is here for the Blue Devils. More so than Coach K’s devotion to Beelzebub, Lupe Izzo’s supreme devotion to the one true god will be the main battle in this one. As the young men hooping it up think fate is in their hands, they’ll miss the gathering storm above their heads. Since this one’s going down on Easter weekend, Coach K will have to admit defeat and retreat to his Satanic rectory to lick his wounds. Michigan State lives to fight another day5.
Prediction: Duke 68, Michigan State 72
Elite Eight: Michigan State vs. Louisville – Would you bet against the compulsively praying Lupe Izzo on Easter? Keep in mind that, more than Coach K’s black magic, Rick Pitino is a man of weakness. There’s no way that a man who slept with his assistant’s girlfriend-at-the-time, now wife and tried to pay her to get an abortion before getting the whole mess dragged out into the public thanks to an extortion attempt can win a game on Easter Sunday. I don’t care if you’re as Roman Catholic as the new Pope. Lupe has your shit beat in spades and then some. Michigan State will be smashing Cadbury Creme Eggs on each other as they cut down nets on Sunday. Mark it eight, dude!
FLORIDA GULF COAST, A TEAM OF DESTINY – SOUTH REGIONAL
What is there to say about Florida Gulf Coast that hasn’t been said before? They’re a prestigious university founded in the year of our lord 1997. They’re practically on the beach and, from what I can tell, are just a community college masquerading as a D-I school. Their coach is a character trumped only by their insane love of monster dunks and genuine joy. Which makes them incredibly scary. If God’s Team has to face them, we’re going to have to call on all the fun we have in our reserves and play out of our minds like we did on Senior Night. Is this it? Will our season end this weekend at the hands of America’s Team of Motherfucking Destiny?
Michigan vs. Kansas: I am so fucking happy that we’re facing Michigan in this one. I don’t know that I really want to face Michigan, but I 100% did not want to face VCU. I touched on it already, but remember the first half of the UNC game? Imagine if we were playing a team that actually know ho to run a four guard set and can play that kind of shit for a straight 40 minutes of hoops? I, for one, welcome Trey Burke and Hardaway. I can’t wait to see WITHEY! blocking Stauskas. I don’t feel supreme confidence that we’re actually going to win this one, but there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going to make it a game, no matter what happens. As long as we can minimize the damage from our turnovers, we’ll be in it. And if there’s one thing this season has taught me, if it’s a tight game, we’re going to win it.
Prediction: Michigan 70, Kansas 86 (OT)
Florida Gulf Coast vs. Florida: TEAM OF MOTHERFUCKING DESTINY! THIS TEAM IS SO FUCKING FUN THAT I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THEM DUNK ALL OVER BILLY DONOVAN’S BOYS! WHO ELSE WANTS TO SEE DONOVAN SO UPSET HE PUKES UP HALF HIS CONTRACT AS FGCU DUNKS ONE OF THE GATORS? In all seriousness, why would anyone pick Florida in this one? First, I’ll put in a vaguely stat based reason: they haven’t won a single close game this year6. FGCU could run roughshod over them and as long as they’re within single digits and the gods of regression to the mean don’t decide to give Florida their first close victory. Second, I feel like FGCU has at least one more win in them7 because they’re good and they have the entire hoops community up on their jock. Third, I can’t imagine a more fitting way to have the overpayment of Billy Donovan exposed. If he drops one to an unknown on national TV, I feel like he’ll pretty much have to run to UCLA because none of the Florida fans will want to continue paying him so much. Finally, I’m not ruling out the previously mentioned possibilty that one of the Eagles manages to dunk the entire body of a Gator.
Prediction: Florida Gulf Coast 68, Florida 64
Elite Eight: Florida Gulf Coast vs. Kansas – I love God’s Team, but who am I to argue with destiny? Unless we show up with the enthusiasm and attitude that we had at Senior Night or the second Texas game, we’re going to get smoked by this showboating Team of Motherfucking Destiny. Since we haven’t really brought that intensity in the tournament, I’m not holding my breath for them to come out with that fire. As much as I hate to do it, I feel like I might have to pick against God’s Team in this match up. Oh, fuck. What is happening to me? Don’t make my fingers do it, Brain. Mark it eight, dude!
1 – Or not. Look, I think there are smart picks and there are dumb picks. That said, there’s no rhyme or reason to any of the shit that ever happens and this year probably shows that more than any other year I can remember. So, take pretty much everything I’m saying with about a pound of salt. Back
2 – A little over the top feeling actually. I honestly thought we played as well as we could have in that Sweet Sixteen game. We were gutted by all the guys bouncing following the title, so the fact that we had as successful a season as we did was a real treat. Throw in the fact that we were certainly out matched by Michigan State in that one, yet managed to stay in the game for a huge part of it and I’m actually not bitter about that one. Now, CBS’ love of Lupe praying the rosary is another story… Back
3 – Cliff’s Notes Edition for Those To Lazy to Click the Link: I hate the Pac-12 with a blinding passion. Oregon was every analyst’s pick for the twelve seed that makes the Sweet Sixteen this year. I spite picked Oklahoma State to make an Elite Eight as a kind of psychic fuck you to the Jay Bilas’ of the world. If you need more proof about why you should never use my picks to try and make up some ground on that mortgage, I think this should be enough evidence to not consider me any kind of expert. Back
4 – Until the Dark Lord returns to this earth and Revelation actually comes to pass. Don’t count this out as a possibility. There’s no way that Satan isn’t involved when a dude that old has the coal black hair of a young My Chemical Romance fan. Back
5 – Otherwise known as Easter. Oh, god, what is Lupe to do? Back
6 – Analysts love a stat like this, but Florida is 0-6 in games decided by single digits or less this season. They’re either blowing teams out in the most boring fashion possible, or they’re choking like a freak show performer in a botched kielbasa deep throating. There’s literally no in-between. Back
7 – I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade here, but I would not be surprised if in three years, FGCU vacates this miracle run. There’s just something about a team that appears out of nowhere, from a university that arguably did the same that doesn’t sit quite right with me. I want this to be George Mason on steroids, but I’m merely pointing out that it wouldn’t surprise me if this was a case of loading up for a miracle run, damn the torpedos. Back
Filed under: March Madness, Uncategorized | Tags: Aaron Craft, Buzz Williams, Florida Gulf Coast University, Indiana, Marquette, Miami, NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, Ohio State, Tom Crean, Tubby Smith, Wichita State
I don’t know about the rest of you, but last week’s action was one of the most incredible pair of opening rounds I’ve seen in a while. After watching nearly 40 of a possible 48ish hours of hoops, I was completely exhausted, but totally satisfied. So much drama. So much fun. For those of us who love this time of year, we were treated not only to the third 15/2 upset in two years1. Not only that, but Florida Gulf Coast followed up the stunning beat down of Georgetown with an even more impressive victory over San Diego State. Throw in Harvard winning like their first NCAA game of all time ever, Gonzaga losing in the Second Round, and complete Madness that is the West Regional, and we’ve had a pretty solid tournament so far. Hell, CBS managed to limit the amount of Sadness Porn to a minimum as teams were ousted2.
Now that we’ve put the craziest weekend in sports behind us, we’ve winnowed the field down by 48, leaving us with the Sweet Sixteen. Yes, someone’s just four games away from bursting out into tears as “One Shining Moment” plays over the Georgia Dome’s speaker system. At this point in the tournament, I ignore seeding. The teams that made it this far are either good teams, underrated teams, or so jacked up on adrenaline that it doesn’t matter whether they were a one seed at the outset or a fifteen. The slate is clean, chummies. It’s time for legends to be born. It’s time for magic to continue. It’s time for heartbreak and joy, probably in the same minute.
It’s time to see who really is the best.
THEY CALL HIM MR. CHALK! – EAST REGIONAL
Outside of Cal kicking UNLV to the curb, this regional was about as ho-hum as it got. Didn’t these jackasses get the memo about parity? Where were the upsets? Where was the drama? Step up your motherfucking game, East Regional. We need drama! CBS needs kids crying! GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT! Other than the Temple/Indiana game on Sunday, I barely remember anything in this side of the bracket, and I only know that one because I decided to walk to my buddy’s house while it was happening, following it on my phone. Naturally, it was a battle that I should have left early to catch more of. Oh, well. Since there’s no Cinderella story here, we’re left with a little outside of Marquette, in terms of interesting teams.
Marquette vs. Miami: This one’s definitely the more interesting of the two games in this corner of the bracket. Miami has been blasting through the season, showing the world that Jim Larranaga’s dream run with George Mason might have just been proof that he’s good and not lucky. It’s hard not to root for the guy, honestly3. Except that I have a hard time rooting for Miami. Having been raised by UNC alums, I feel a particular distaste for most of the ACC, save Carolina. Which sucks because everything about Miami says they’re going to win this one pretty easily. Marquette has a hard time scoring threes, which is a pre-requisite for tournament success. On top of that, they don’t seem at all concerned with winning games until the last three minutes. That makes me really nervous. Very nervous. But they have been winning games in the last three minutes and I don’t see any reason for that to stop now4.
Prediction: Marquette 67, Miami 66
Syracuse vs. Indiana: What happens when Jim Boeheim’s perpetual scowl meets Tom Crean’s Black Hole Sun grin? What’s the over/under on number of times Boeheim tries to rip Crean’s butt cut from his head and shove it down the Joker’s throat? Is it possible for this one to end when the two coaches start throwing punches? Is there anyway to legitimately pick this one that doesn’t boil down to something asinine like the above? Yes, the answer is yes. Syracuse is going to punish Indiana with their athleticism. Zeller will have a good game, but it won’t be enough to topple Syracuse. I don’t know why, but the Orange’s gimmicky zone is successful and I don’t think Indiana is going to have an answer for it. Plus, it’s impossible to root against a team that has a dude named Christmas on the roster.
Prediction: Syracuse 86, Indiana 68
Elite Eight: Syracuse will take on Marquette. Which is pretty much doom for my Marquette to the Final Four pick. Or you would think. They call this shit March Madness for a reason. Buzz Williams will be wearing the East Regional’s net like a mad awkward wig on Saturday. Mark it eight, dude!
AND THE WEST IS FUCKING CRAY-CRAY – WEST REGIONAL
Outside of Florida Gulf Coast’s miracle run to the Sweet Sixteen in the South, this was the most incredible corner of the bracket this season. Of the top four seeds in the Regional, only Ohio State has made it to the second weekend. Throw in the fact that the first round saw nine, ten, twelve, thirteen, and fourteen make it to the Second Round, and this was the most thrilling slate of games from the first weekend. Of course, I think everything that happened in the opening weekend reinforces my belief that this Regional is Ohio State’s to lose. Shit, Aaron Craft spent most of the Iowa State game getting fucked by the gods of fate before putting up a three point dagger that killed every Cyclone fan in the country5.
Arizona vs. Ohio State: I hate Arizona. I really hate them. I’d hate them if they didn’t play in the Pac-12 which unfairly gets bandied about as a power basketball conference, despite the fact that they’ve been pretty bad for a while now. It wouldn’t matter if they were stocked with future saints, I’d still hate them. During the 2002-03 vintage’s run to the title game, the fucking Wildcats managed to knock God’s Team off after we were brutalizing them in the first half. I’ll never forget that. The only solace I have is that we got a rematch victory in the tournament that year and the Arizona fans I know hate Isaiah Fox, too. God, I hate this fucking team so much. Is it too much to ask for Ohio State to start with Aaron Craft draining ten straight threes, limiting Arizona to just ten points in the first half, then petitioning the NCAA to invoke a seldom used mercy rule? Probably. So, I’ll just have to settle for Ohio State massacring them according to the rules of the game.
Prediction: Arizona 25, Ohio State 100
La Salle vs. Wichita State: In any other year, part of me would want to root for the Explorers. Just like Florida Gulf Coast, it’s always entertaining to see these upstarts make some noise in the tournament. I like the narrative that comes with it. However, I’m firmly in the Shockers’ camp until we have to play them. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. What is apparently a surprise is how good Wichita State is this season. For those of us who have an affection for the Shockers, this isn’t a surprise. They’ve been quietly building a solid team for the last couple of years, seemingly improving with each season. A couple years ago, I went to the NIT final at MSG to catch the Shockers, as well as Releford’s little brother at Alabama. I was impressed then, enough to believe they would not only make the tournament in a matter of years, but that they would pull off a deep run. Well, chummies, here we are. No way Wichita State losses this one.
Prediction: La Salle 58, Wichita State 68
Elite Eight: Wichita State vs. Ohio State – Unfortunately for the Shockers, I think this is as far as they can go this season. Ohio State is just better, deeper, more dominant than Wichita State. It should be a good match up, but it will only end in tears for the Shockers. Which sucks. Luckily, it’ll be a game lost on their terms and not the NCAA panicking and getting the refs to make a few calls for OSU to make sure the Final Four isn’t Oregon, Florida Gulf Coast, and Marquette. I guess that’s the benefit of going Saturday instead of Sunday. No way the NCAA tries to railroad you to make sure it isn’t the lowest rated Final Four in history. Mark it eight, Dude!
And that’s it for part one. All of this is 100% accurate. I’m a fucking Nostradamus up in here. If you’re laying money, follow my advice. If you need some picks for the rest of the weekend, check back tomorrow when I break down the Midwest South Regionals.
1 – Which is absolutely astounding when you keep in mind the fact that it’s only happened seven times total since the tournament expanded to 64 teams. The fact that there are seemingly more of these wild upsets could speak to the media-pushed notion of parity in the college game. I’m definitely down with this being a routine thing, but I’m not quite ready to say that there’s total parity in the game quite yet. Let’s see what happens in the next three tourneys before we decide that this isn’t a fluke and the world of parity is upon us. Back
2 – Unless you’re Iowa State, in which case your complete break down as Aaron Craft hit that three is forever emblazoned in the minds of America’s college hoops fans. Sorry, guys. Aside from that moment, I didn’t see nearly as much Sadness Porn as previous years. Maybe we’ll get a shit ton of it this weekend. The only thing CBS producers love more than watching kids bawl as their team is punted from the tournament is Injury Porn, which is probably slightly more uncomfortable to watch. Back
3 – It certainly helps when you combine the failure of Frank Haith’s Mizzou squad to do anything other than suck in the tourney. Would Haith have squandered all that talent and forced Miami to shit the bed from the beginning of the season? Would he have waited until the first round of the Big Dance to stick his foot up the Hurricane fans’ collective asses and walk them around like shamed boots? I like to think yes. Speaking of Haith, I made a joke about him on Twitter the other day. I asserted that Missouri could fire him and hire Tubby Smith since the only qualification for the Tigers’ job is having a losing conference record. Some dude actually Tweeted at me about it. He said two years was a little soon to be firing a guy. He said it in a way that made me feel like he was being earnest. I guess he’s not familiar with that ol’ literary trick, humor. Back
4 – Full disclosure: Marquette’s in my Final Four in two of my three bracket pools. Probably the most idiotic thing I’ve ever done in the history of bracket picking since Marquette cannot do the two things I almost always use to make my selections: shoot three pointers and force turnovers. Seeing as how I’m in the 14.4% range on ESPN’s bracket board, I seriously need this one to pan out so I don’t look a total fucking moron on my own blog’s pool. Come on, you Golden Eagles! Back
5 – All five of them. ZING! Anyway, Twitter, as it is wont to do, blew up over the blown block call at the end. By definition, I believe hovering over the arc is still within the arc. However, that’s not the only reason the Cyclones lost the game. Not fouling Craft, then choosing to sag off by six feet on that final shot was what lost them the game. Iowa State has been the victim of more big calls not going their way, but at a certain point, you have to admit that if you want to win games, you win games. You can’t blame everything on the officials. Back
Filed under: Recap | Tags: Carolina, James Michael McAdoo, Jayhawk, kansas, North Carolina, Sprint Center, Steve Fisher, Tar Heel
Confession: I didn’t see much of Florida Gulf Coast’s historic achievement over Steve Fisher’s San Diego State. After watching my beloved Jayhawks, coupled with the mental (emmotional?) exhaustion that comes with watching nearly 40 hours of a possible 48 hours of college ball, I needed to remove myself from the squeak of sneakers on the floor. I just couldn’t handle it. It certainly helped that Alex wanted to go home from my buddy’s house where we caught God’s Team’s crazy one against UNC. I just needed a fucking rest. On top of that, I just assumed that history was going to repeat itself and doom fifteen seed Dunk City to the other seven fifteens that came before them. Oh, but they didn’t.
Do I regret not catching this one? Do I wish I’d been able to bask in the success of a team coached by a dude who dates a former Maxim model? Yeah, kind of. But much like Harvard pulling off the upset in the first round, I think it wouldn’t have had the same impact. After that much baskebtall, you see something incredible and your only reaction is “Well, I guess this is happening, then…” It’s sad, but it’s the way the opening weekend goes.
Prior to the historic upset, I suited up in all Kansas gear, head to toe. I posted a photo, but you can’t tell from it that I was wearing shoes that incorporate red and blue. I’m nothing if not thorough. Right before the tip, my mom sent a text that simply said “Are you ready?” I replied. She hasn’t said anything to me since then. I’m guessing she’s still a little upset about her loss. Is there anyway to wrap your mind around what we watch in these games? After playing like supreme shit in the first half, Matt and James met up with us. It was a somber scene as Andrew and I were pretty much doom and gloom going into the second half.
I’m not saying that Matt and James are good luck charms, but based on what happened in the second half, they’re pretty much going to have to show up to the rest of our games at half time. You can’t fuck around with this luck shit.
Final Score: North Carolina 58, Kansas 70
The Good: If you’re a Tar Heel, the obvious answer is limiting us to a hideous 21 points in the first half, a direct result of us missing eleven shots after scoring in the first minute. That’s a pretty horrific stat. We looked completely discombobulated in the first half1. Seriously. Andrew was definitely more pessimistic than I was, but I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about us surviving to a second weekend. Thank god Matt and James showed up when they did. Neither of them could understand why we were so down on the team. In fact, they spent the first five minutes saying things like “You guys got this” and “Oh, seeeit!” after every truly dominant play we pulled off in the second half2. After a few minutes into the second half, you just knew. This was one of those games where we absolutely were not losing the game.
I think a huge part of that was a direct result of our experience. According to reports, our seniors spent halftime getting fired up about this not being the last 20 minutes of the season. Self let them take the floor in the locker room and it worked. We came out playing like a team possessed. Swashbuckler seemed to make it his personal mission to make every Tar Heel wish he were never born, punctuating every huge bucket with a robotic “You do not fuck with me” stomp. He was fired up. It was one of the most incredibly firey performances I’ve seen in a while. Throw in the fact that we finally started exploiting the size mismatch on the inside as WITHEY! took over the paint on offense and showed why James Michael McAdoo probably shouldn’t be playing the five spot for the Tar Heels. I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite as crazy from God’s Team this season as I saw in the second half. We were clearly hell bent on winning that game…
The Bad: Which wouldn’t have been possible had we started the game playing like that. Can you imagine what the score would have been if we’d come out of the gate playing like that? Jesus. I think we would have killed Carolina so bad, they’d still be investigating the mass killing at the Sprint Center. WITHEY! and Relly probably have wanted posters all over the Chapel Hill campus right now. It was almost unfair how brutally we killed them in the second, but again, we played like we did not give a single fuck in the first half. Andrew pointed it out, but I think a huge part of it was that Prophet came out of the pre-game huddle trying to do too much. He was cold and, by extension, we were cold. It certainly didn’t help that we were channeling our inner 2011 ‘Hawks again by turning the ball over twelve times in the first half. In fact, that might be the most staggering thing about Sunday’s game for me. We turned the ball over so much, yet we won in pretty convincing fashion.
The other thing that killed me is the very obvious evidence from this one that we’re incredibly vulnerable to four guard sets. Carolina, by virtue of a dearth of personnel on the larger end of the spectrum, was basically running a modified version of what Iowa State ran this season. We had trouble with them, and we had trouble with the Tar Heels. I was hoping that it was a talent thing, that Iowa State was just so good that we looked sloppy against them. Nope. Four guard lineups kill us. When we play that kind of team, I’ve noticed two flaws in our line up. One, on paper, we have the size to brutalize that kind of team. However, WITHEY! is not a typically dominant player on the inside3 and Young is prone to alternating between brilliance and frustrating fuck up on back-to-back plays. We have the size to kill a team inside, but we just don’t have the actual mentality to do it. Two, our more traditional lineup leads to mismatches on the defensive end. How many times have we seen Young trying to guard a speedier perimeter player, only to either over play and give up a layup or lose his man and give up a trey? We work best when our three perimeter guys can prowl the arc and our interior guys can watch the paint and help when needed4.
I’m glad we won, but I don’t appreciate having three years of my life shaved off by a horrific first half that doubles as a manual on how to kill us.
Withering Bill Self Quote of the Night: Toupee decided to keep it straightforward at halftime:
“I told them, ‘Hey, just keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll be fine.’”
He’s just being humble. He probably said “What the fuck?!” before barfing pure anger all over Niko’s dunks. That’s why the seniors had to give the halftime pep talk.
JCTD Award: There’s no question that Travis Releford deserves the award. First, the Swashbuckler essentially called everyone on the squad a bunch of assholes for playing like it was just another game. He dropped this nuggest of science all over them: “This could be our last 20 minutes. We can go out there and leave it all on the court, or we can roll over like we did the first half.” Next, he let the Master take the floor, at which point he gave the goosebumps he’d just given himself goosebumps. Finally, he came out in the second half and decided to show Carolina that there’s nothing like playing down the road from Naismith’s grave by dropping thirteen in the second half. The points were appreciated, sure, but his reactions to just about every huge play were the kind of shit you want to see from your team this time of year. You want bellowing. You want the cocky head nod. You want him to stomp around like he’s an extra in Babes in Toyland. You want him to give more of a shit than anyone else on the court. You want to know that he cares more about this than you do. You want to know that, if he’s on the floor, there’s always hope, there’s always a chance for victory, even in the most dire of circumstances.
Swashbuckler is March Madness, through and through.
Looking Ahead: Friday evening, we have an appointment to meet with Michigan. This year’s Michigan team has been impressive at times, disappointing at others, but always interesting. Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Someguynamed Stauskas have had a very good season, one that has given Michigan fans a reason to stave off hibernation till football season this year. It’s nice to have them back in the national conciousness, even if they have to play Kansas. I honestly have no idea how this one’s going to play out. We could play a game like the first half on Sunday or we could play one like the second. If it’s the former, you’re not going to have an excuse to skip out on your sig-o’s family’s Easter celebration5. If it’s the former…shit. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, here. One game at a time. One game at a time.
1 – I’m not sure I really want to face Michigan on Friday. I know too many Wolverines that will never let me live down a loss to them. Sure, I could make the “What have you done since the Fab Five?” comeback, but there’s no way to do that without it looking like complete sour grapes. That said, I’m pretty sure the first half against Carolina proved to the Faithful that we dodged a fucking bullet with Michigan knocking off VCU in the Second Round. If we had that much trouble with a four guard set, I’m pretty sure Havoc and VCU’s more talented variant on the set would have completely destroyed us. Michigan should be a good, close battle. VCU would have been a complete massacre. Thankfully, we’ll never have to find out what could have been. Back
2 – Completely unrelated to their cheerleading: Brian’s apartment, where we watched the game, is adorned with quite a bit of Yankee paraphernalia Matt and James are from Boston. At one point, Matt, in his most deadpan delivery, looked at a framed painting print and said “What stadium is that?” You know, since it was obviously Yankee Stadium. Leave it to Red Sox fans to totally troll the shit out of their gracious host. Back
3 – The second half of the game not withstanding. I think we were able to thrive inside last season because we had T-Rob and WITHEY! going inside. If Robinson couldn’t finish, he could almost always dish to WITHEY! who’s man was probably on help, or kick back out to Mr. Mercurial. Master of Puppets was more of a compliment to the post/interior than the focal point. This year’s vintage has traded out Robinson for Weird Harold Young. I love Young’s energy, but let’s be real. He’s nowhere near the player that T-Rob was. Back
4 – Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m a fucking genius for pointing out the obvious, but seriously. It’s been a huge problem most of this season and at this point, we’re going to live and die by it. Early in the season, I was hoping that Perry Danger Ellis would be able to sub in for Young and be a better perimeter guy when the need arose. Sadly, I don’t think we’re going to see that this season. Which is probably fine since we’re going to have a solid recruiting class. It just would have been nice to go into a game with an undersized team and not have panic attacks about the fact that one of those four guards is going to go off and torch us. Back
5 – Far be it from me to criticize Christianity, but come on! Scheduling Easter on the Elite eight weekend? What the hell were you thinking? It isn’t like Easter doesn’t move around every year. You couldn’t have pushed it off two weeks? You’re the fucking Pope! You don’t follow the rules, you make the rules! Back