Saturday, March 29, 2008

NCAA basketball tournament notes

After not watching one college basketball game during the regular season, the inevitability of being drawn back in for tournament time is just that. The format has worked for the easily distracted in the pre-"Elite Eight" games as CBS has been able to switch back and forth between simultaneous games depending on the competitiveness of the action. Now is the real test, one game at a time for the rest of the way. A few brief comments on the tournament from this perspective follow:
---While watching only a few brief periods of the Texas vs. Stanford game, I felt as if I was lucky enough to see the turning point for Texas. It was a competitive contest and then in the second half sub Dexter Pittman, looking more like a giant NFL left tackle than a college hoops center, came in for Texas and put an end to the shenanigans of those, comparatively speaking, beanpole twins. Stanford was lifeless by the time Pittman hit the bench again. As an unrelated aside, it is interesting to see some politicos suggesting that the bulked up Al Gore play the same role at a brokered Democratic convention, if it comes to that.
---North Carolina and Louisville face each other today in both the men's and women's tournaments. That must be unusual. Despite going to summer school at Carolina years ago and viewing Chapel Hill as an attractive place to possibly live someday, in these contests I am 100% Louisville. Once having lived there, it was the best and most obsessive college basketball experience that a person could ever hope to have. In fact it was too much. In 1975 when Louisville blew a lead and lost by one point to UCLA in the NCAA semi-finals this fan was so down in the dumps that for two weeks he could hardly eat. That Louisville team was the one that either invented or, if not invented, made famous the ubiquitous high five that every one year old in the country is still taught by some stray uncle. That Louisville team was the one that befuddled opponents by speaking in pig Latin on the court---"ackbay oorday". That Louisville team had two stars, Murphy and Bridgeman, who would come out to the country to go fishing in a nearby pond with my friend Don who lived across the road. And then a couple of years later came the "Doctors of Dunk", led by the wiry 6'3" Darrell Griffith, who could almost fly from the foul line over entire teams. You get it. Louisville was implanted into my frontal lobe in the 1970's. Go Cards.
---What is amazing about Davidson is that they don't play like or look like an underdog. When Western Kentucky had its upsets, they actually seemed to be unlikely victories. When George Mason got to the Final Four two years ago, every game was a David and Goliath affair. Davidson appears to be no accident and Stephen Curry is of course beautiful to watch.


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