Saturday, March 11, 2006

Thoughts from Championship Saturday-Part 1

As I wrote last night, today is my favorite day of the college basketball season. There is a lot of it, most involving good teams with the occasional sleeper (like Wake Forest) mixed in. My two best friends, my wife, and one of their wives spent the day soaking up all the hoops we could. Here’s how it went. All times are eastern.

11:40 How would you like to have tickets to the Conference USA championship game, which started at 10:35 local Memphis time? Are you kidding me? I know they did this to get their game on CBS, but again, are you kidding me? I wonder how many fans would be there if Memphis was not playing.

11:55 I saw the first “bracketology” update from ESPN with Joe Lunardi. He had Hofstra, Michigan, Maryland, and Utah State the last four out. I’m not a big fan but I liked that list. He had my school, Maryland there, but I gave up on the Terps chance for the dance early in their drubbing by Boston College last night. I’m not a Tommy Amaker fan, so I would be happy to see the Wolverines drop to the NIT. Hofstra should not get in ahead of my Terps, so that’s a good call too. Knowing nothing about Utah State, it’s okay with me if I don’t have to learn to pick my brackets.

12:20 I love UAB’s Squeaky Johnson. Any player who wears #0, has that do, has that nickname, and his game—how can you NOT love him. Nice pirouette when he got called for a questionable foul too.

12:25 The CBS studio crew of Greg Gumbel, Clark Kellogg, and Seth Davis (one of the better studio teams on any network) went through their projected #1 seeds. I agreed with Davis, ranking in order UConn, Duke, Memphis, and Villanova. Kellogg should be slapped for suggesting Gonzaga was even a consideration. The bottom line here, though, is that the difference between #1’s and #2’ is, in my opinion, extremely overrated. I know some #2’s have lost in the first round, while a #1 never has, but it’s still not worth all the fuss made over it.

12:40 I checked in on ESPN2 and found the America East conference championship, the traditional opening game on Championship Week Saturday. I have some moderate interest since Vermont’s coach is Mike Lonergan, who was a Maryland assistant last year. They are getting whipped by #1 seed Albany, the Great Danes. Who thought of that for a mascot? Of course, that’s coming from someone whose school is represented by a turtle.

12:55 CBS analyst Dan Bonner correctly pointed out the potential mistake made by a Memphis player who recovered a lose ball and called timeout while lying on the floor. He had the possession arrow in his favor, and Memphis could regret having the timeout later in the game. It was just another example of a player not being sure what to do next, and stopping the game so his coach could figure it out for him. Coaches bear a lot of responsibility for this trend, claiming to want players to think themselves while they try to pull their strings from the sidelines whenever possible. Yes, this is one of my pet peeves. I may cover some others during the day.

My guests are due soon. More later.


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