Standing Os & Curtain Calls for Dubs, Steph & Kobe

b-ballWell now, that certainly wasn’t your normal run of the mill, let’s get this last game and 82 game grind over, so we can get a couple of days rest before the playoffs kind of NBA regular season finale.

For the Lakers, who actually won, in You Know Who’s last game. And for Kobe, who reached deep and gave a top of his considerable game performance in his last.

For the Warriors, who set a regular season standard for Ws — 73 — that will likely go unchallenged for a good bit.

For the best player in b-ball, Steph Curry, who set a mark, that transcends the previous by an unfathomable amount.

I found it interesting that at espn.com, the headline featured Kobe, in his last but otherwise meaningless game. Though it shouldn’t be surprising given the au courant tendency to herald individual performances instead of ensemble ones, even in a team game like hoops.

Bryant did go for 60, including 23 in the 4th, all the while leading LA to a rare come from behind victory, and cementing a losing and playoff bereft campaign for Utah.

Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack and Shaq were beaming from their seats courtside.

While, the New York Times online gave its headline to Golden State’s monumental achievement, winning 73 of its 82 contests.

Yo, Kobe, all the real news that fits, dude.

So, yeah, it was nice and all that, Kobe showing his stuff in style one more once, but, really now, the Dubs and Steph were The Story. Continue reading Standing Os & Curtain Calls for Dubs, Steph & Kobe

MMQB: Spieth, Story, Steph & The Real Big Story

stephindexThere are some monster stories this springtime.

Jordan Spieth’s meltdown at the 12th.

Steph Curry’s emergence as the best baller in hoops. Along with his Dubs emanation as one of the best pro outfits ever.

Trevor Story’s 25 or so homers for the Rockies in his first handful of games in the Bigs.

There are a couple of other trends, but they’re probably of interest only to me, a child of Motown. Those would be the Pistons making the NBA playoffs. And the Red Wings backing into the post season like Nicklas Lidstrom, covering a short-handed breakaway counterattack at the Joe.

And then there’s the story that really trumps them all, a fascinating bit of sporting history unfolding as never before. But I’ll save that one for last. Otherwise, you might click away for lack of interest.

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It has been argued by many that hitting a baseball off of major league pitching is the most difficult single task in sports.

Maybe so.

But anybody who has ever attempted golf knows it might be equally as hard to to swing at a ball with a golf club — off the tee, in a trap, out of the woods, or on the green — and have it end up where the swinger would for it to. Continue reading MMQB: Spieth, Story, Steph & The Real Big Story

Hoopaholic Heaven: Tit for Tat & the Title

b-ballSoon enough I shall get to the several Shining Moments at the end of this truly championship-quality championship game, one which should have been played somewhere deserving, at Freedom Hall or the Palestra or Cole Fieldhouse or Hinkle or anywhere hoops worthy other than a cavernous pigskin palace in football country.

In a moment, maybe, maybe not, I shall join the crowd and extol the virtues of Kris Jenkins rising to the considerable occasion, Ryan Arcidiacano living out his dream, Jay Wright’s exemplary game plan and its execution, the Tar Heels’ resolve, Phil Booth’s amazing performance off the pine, Joel Berry’s opening half play, the contrasting reactions of MJ and Rollie in the stands, the Jenkins/ Britt brother against brother angle, and all the other storylines inclined to stick with us about the most exciting NCAA title tilt ever.

But first, I must admit, my thoughts the morning after are not of my resounding “Holy Shit!!” at the buzzer, or, frankly, the game itself. What I couldn’t get out of my mind were the words of a Carolina coach.

And it’s not Roy Williams, who was after the L in his cloying good ol’ Southern gentleman wish I coulda done more for kids mode. Continue reading Hoopaholic Heaven: Tit for Tat & the Title

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: The Best Two are Left

bballHopefully we are in for a treat tonight, what with the indisputably best two teams in the land vying for its One Shining Moment, whoever might be warbling that iconic tuneage when the confetti’s flying.

We should finally be able to make some sense of this cockamamie season — Remember when we were worried about the legacy of SMU, should the Mustangs have finished undefeated? And this weird tourney. You know Northern Iowa’s choke job against the Texas Aggies was as bad as it could get . . . we were so very sure . . . until Oklahoma laid down in the semis.

Through all the ups and downs since November, while filtering through wannabe flavors of the week, Villanova and North Carolina have been the most consistent. It’s far from every year that the top two are left standing to compete on the final Monday.

Didn’t happen last season, even though a couple of #1 seeds tangled for the title. Nor, certainly the year before, when a #7 beat an #8 for the crown. Perhaps the last such tussle, the two best tilting toward title town, was UK over Kansas.

No matter. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: The Best Two are Left

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Final Four Musings

b-ball67.

Of all that numbers that are of some significance during this cockamamie college hoops season in which stats have seemed less relevant than usual, that’s the one that stands out to me.

67.

In early December, in a made for TV, made for the Pearl Harbor commemoration tilt, the Oklahoma Sooners reenacted the kamikazee bombing from WWII, the victims of which aerial attack were that day. a seemingly hapless Villanova Wildcat squad.

The Cheesesteaks fired up thirty something treys, hit but a handful, and came out on the short end of the final score by . . . 23 points.

The teams met again on the final Saturday of the season in a cavernous football stadium for a right to contest the national championship. The 44 point turnaround smackdown suffered by the Sooners made that December beatdown look like a slap on the wrist.

In a way, that December slaughter in Honolulu made a Nova W inevitable last night. Not that anybody could have possibly seen Oklahoma’s crack up coming. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Final Four Musings

Texas Western/ Kentucky: What About the Game Itself?

b-ballWhat’s gotten lost in the imperative that is the historical in hindsight relevance of that culture shifting NCAA title tilt in College Park in ’66 is . . . the game itself.

For years, when the topic of Texas Western’s “upset” of Kentucky comes up, to impose some sort of hoops veneration it would seem apparent, I have lorded over those listening, my attendance in Cole Fieldhouse that night.

Then, as I did just the other day in this space, I’ll offer that I do not recall any buzz at the time about the all black starting lineup for the Miners vs. the all white squad of the Wildcats. I certainly don’t remember seeing any Confederate flags in the gym, as fictionalized in a recent movie about Don Haskins and that championship team of his.

I do remember whom I went to the game with, some frat brothers. I do remember that three of us went to a museum that afternoon in D.C. — the Phillips Collection, where I stood mesmerized by Renoir’s “Luncheon at the Boating Party” — while the our pal went to play the ponies at Pimlico.

I recall seeing Louie Dampier and a couple of teammates walking around the team hotel that afternoon in shirts and ties.

But, but, but . . . I recall very little about the actual games that weekend — it wasn’t yet called the Final Four — and how they were contested. Continue reading Texas Western/ Kentucky: What About the Game Itself?

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: From 16 > 8 > 4 & the Coaching Carousel

b-ballIf I didn’t know better, I’d have to believe some of these tourney games were contested in MacArthur Park.

Northern Iowa. Stephen F. Austin. Ever to the threshold but never beyond Gonzaga. The usually preternaturally resolute Wisconsin Badgers, outscored 8 zip in the last :19 seconds, not even making it to OT.

They all melted in the dark.

The biggest surprise of all choke jobs: the Charlottesville Wahoos whose game like the cake of Richard Harris was left out in the rain?

Tony Bennett’s team has Ludvig Von play mastered, they’re classicists. When they hit all the scripted notes on the staff, it’s a thing of beauty, a veritable sonata. There is a beauteous resonance when they are in control.

Such as they were Sunday evening, fiddlin’ their way to the Final Four, up 14 with ten to play, doin’ their Beethoven thing, when, well, when Jim Boeheim got in touch with his inner rock & roller — Who knew? — and the Orange went all REO Speedwagon on UVa.

The Cavaliers did not ride the storm out. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: From 16 > 8 > 4 & the Coaching Carousel

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Whew, What a Weekend!??!!!

b-ballOf course, I wanted Northern Iowa to win.

Small school from Mo Valley. Double figure seed. Won their opening rounder on a mid court miracle. A W Sunday would have meant the SEC woulda been ofer the Sweet 16, not that it would matter to the league schools’ fatcats (except in Lexington).

So, yeah, I was rooting for them in their Round of 32 tilt with the Texas Aggies, for whose supporters, hoops is truly a minor diversion until spring pigskin practice.

But, gimme a break, the Panthers meltdown — Correct descriptor: Choke Job — was EPIC. Unprecedented. The worst in NCAA history?

The worst ever in the history of the sport? (There are reports that it is indeed the biggest last minute comeback ever, though that’s hard to pin down, even in this age where everything that ever happened ever is chronicled on the www.) Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Whew, What a Weekend!??!!!

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Shockers Abound on First Thursday

b-ballAnd, I don’t mean just Wichita State, which has proven yet again — as if we shouldn’t have already known — how nice it is to have a senior, tourney-tested backcourt.

Especially when, like Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, the guards are really good and mesh with each other like gears on a Ferrari.

And, yeah, there’s Little Rock and the Whiffenpoofs. But more about them, and other stuff, after this public service announcement.

Which is in response to The Most Shocking Phenomenon of The Whole Opening Day of the Dance.

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After Kentucky throttled Stony Brook in its opener, setting up that delicious Round o’ 32 battle with the Hoosiers, several Wildcat players were severely perplexed by the absence of the Big Blue Nation in Des Moines.

I mean, really, what is up wit dat? Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Shockers Abound on First Thursday

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Bracket Babble & Other Ruminations While Dressing For The Dance

b-ballHere’s what you won’t find here:

Any NCAA tournament predictions.

Consider me a spoilsport, an outlier, whatever, but I don’t fill out a bracket anymore, haven’t done so for, I dunno, five years or thereabouts. Haven’t applied for a job at Dairy Queen, in order to enter Warren Buffet’s sweepstakes. Haven’t entered the $5 pool at my old office, the one I used to run.

Truth be told, I can’t recall ever coming close to winning one of those pools, even though I watch more hoops from November on than the population of most medium sized cities.

I just love the game, love the tourney, savor the madness.

So, no upset specials. No parlays, though I’ve got a comment about one that’s intriguing.

So, what you get here are a few observations, some snarky comments, and the passing along of some interesting peripheral info about the Dance, which shall have only karmic relevance, if that, to who(m) has that One Shining Moments several Mondays hence.

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The final dance is in Houston, right? Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Bracket Babble & Other Ruminations While Dressing For The Dance