TV & Fury banter about the Final Four

Posted: April 3, 2012 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
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Monday was the final college basketball game of the season (for the men, anyway. And the NIT is done, right?). Terry watched it in Sioux Falls, Fury in New York City. Red Bull (the new Total Zero version) fueled Terry’s writing, Dr Pepper Fury’s. At the end of the game, they participated in a little back and forth about the big game. Here are the results:

TV: So Kentucky held on to win its first national title since 1998 when Tubby Smith was its coach. Awkwardly, Smith – now the coach of the less than golden Gophers – was in the stands Monday night to … cheer on the Cats? That’s very different than Roy Williams rooting for Kansas a few years ago after leaving the Jayhawks for North Carolina. Officially, Tubby wasn’t fired by Kentucky, but he was going to be. Lending support all these years later is either really big of him or just plain weird.

Also, how had Kentucky not won a national title in 14 years? Is John Calipari that much better at cheating than anyone else? To that end, Jeff Gold of ESPN set via Twitter the line for the Cats’ title being vacated for improprieties at July 21, 2013. I’d agree with this except I can’t help but wonder if Kansas is dirty, too. It just seems like that is the way things are going, whether because everyone cheats or the rules are ridiculous. The truth is probably in the middle.

Fury: Do we know for sure Tubby was there cheering for the Cats or was he just there because every coach in the country is at the Final Four getting free shoes? I thought it was a nice nod to the past that Kentucky ran the Tubby Smith Offense in the second half, after easily scoring 41 in the first 20 minutes. They played tentative, but it actually looked like Calipari instructed them at halftime to run 32 seconds off the shot clock, then force up a shot, or force it into Anthony Davis down low, even though he was scoreless in the first half but they still dominated.

As for the vacating, yeah, Cal’s had two of them erased, but give the guy credit – that 2011 Final Four appearance for Kentucky is still on the books.

I thought the weirdest pregame prediction was Kenny Smith, who said Kansas would win if Jeff Withey got four blocks. Huh? Why four? Was that how many Bill Russell had – unofficially – when he led San Francisco to titles? And what if every one of those blocked shots would have been scooped up by a Kentucky player and turned in to two points? By the way, Withey finished with…four blocks.

TV: All right, I guess we can give Tubby the benefit of the doubt. (Reluctantly.) As for Withey, that has to be a misprint, right? I mean, Whitey seems more appropriate. Of course, at least he played and impacted the game, unlike the goofballs at the end of the Kentucky bench. Although it’s unrealistic and petty of me to expect scrubs to stifle their championship enthusiasm, I still feel like there should be some sort of etiquette. Maybe they should be forced to wear different-colored jerseys or some sort of scarlet letter so that we can differentiate practice players from contributors.

Also, in my mind, Thomas Robinson and I look like twins in tank tops. Related note: Did anybody else notice that POTUS was rocking the wife beater under his shirt and tie? I wonder if he calls that an A-shirt (the official name) because it seems unlikely he’s allowed to throw out “beater” references the way the rest of us do.

Fury: Time for my complaints, but not before I make some kids get off my lawn, which here in NYC isn’t really a lawn but more a small patch of grass in front of the deli downstairs, used by dogs out for walks.

* This happens in the Super Bowl too, but I don’t like it when the play-by-play guy – in this case the pleasant, professional but incredibly boring Jim Nantz – introduces the starters. I don’t want a screaming PA guy, the type you’d hear in Boston or Miami or every other NBA arena except during Lakers games, but I would like someone who’s used to talking outloud to 70,000 people. Nantz uses his Tiger-is-on-the-18th-green-with-a-birdie-attempt-for-the-Green-Jacket voice when bringing out the starters for the biggest college basketball game of the season. Also with introductions? I prefer when they alternate starters. I love it when they would do this in high school and back in the day in college. You get the showdowns at midcourt as you shake the opposition’s hand or stare disdainfully at him as he slaps it.

* Every game looks the same in the tournament now, especially during the Final Four when it’s been all domes forever. Why does this bother me? I don’t know. But each court looks the same each year and it all blends into a boring background. Just take New Orleans’ Superdome, as an example. Look at what the court looked like in 1982 when Jordan hit his jumper, or in 1993 when Webber called his timeout. Sure it looked like some of the fans were seated in Houston for the game but it added some type of … character is the wrong word, but something to the game:

Who knows, maybe it was just the green decorations on the floor that threw me off.

TV: I think the NCAA agrees with you to a certain extent because, if I recall correctly, the generic black-and-blue floors from the early rounds were ditched for the Final Four. Same with the women’s game. That’s new this year. I think.

All joking aside, Kentucky was really good even if the great label might have fallen by the wayside in the final few minutes. And for all the talk about MOP Anthony Davis (he of single eyebrow), I enjoyed watching Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Terrence Jones more. Why? Because I’m not sure what sort of pros they’ll be. Again, maybe I’ll be proven wrong about that. It’s just that both are incredibly suited for the college game. Jones proved to be sort of like a more versatile version of Kansas’ Robinson, the Big 12 player of the year.

Dude is 6-foot-9 yet strong enough to guard a five and quick enough to guard a 3. Kidd-Gilchrist reminds me of another three-name standout under Calipari: Chris Douglas-Roberts from Memphis. That is, he gets to the rim with all the voracity of a Derek Rose yet has a fairly long wing rather than a point guard. You can get away with that in college; the pro game requires more range. Just ask CDR. He’s no longer in the NBA.

As for Coach Cal … sigh. Lots of talk after the game about him shedding the choker label. Less talk about his on-again-off-again relationship with the rules. Is he cheating? Maybe. Is he the only one? Hardly. It’s just that he seems – both to the eye test and based on his history – dirtier than most. One day, I’ll disregard that when contemplating the national champion. But I’m not there yet, as stupid as that is.

Fury: You’ll have to forgive Terry, he still has that Jamestown naivete in him. It is interesting comparing Cal to, say, Bobby Knight, a guy who makes no secret of his hatred for Kentucky and Calipari, even if he expresses that hatred by, bizarrely, refusing to say the school’s name for a time. Knight never had any typical NCAA infractions and obviously never had to vacate an entire season. But I wonder: Who would you rather have your kid play for? Coach Cal or Bobby? One of them maybe plays on the edges of an archaic rulebook, the other one verbally, mentally and, finally, physically abused his players, all in the name of making men out of them. Or something.

One more note on the actual game itself: While we all love upsets in the early rounds, I don’t think I’m alone in wanting the best teams – which is often the higher seeds, which is often the big-name programs we’ve watched for four decades – in the Final Four. The skill level is higher, as is the level of play. Tonight’s second half was hard on the eyes at times but you could at least see talent on the floor and the first half Kentucky attacked and dominated in a way few college teams have the past decade. Compare it to the Butler-Connecticut atrocity from last year. I love the underdog as much as anyone, but I wouldn’t want to see two underdogs in the Final and, honestly, probably not even one. Give me Davis and Robinson and Kidd-Gilchrist and shooters like Lamb.

It was an entertaining season, although the tournament itself didn’t contain too many memorable moments, at least not in the final seconds. Now we can all look forward to spring and everyone’s favorite time of the year: the college baseball season.


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