Oh yeah, for sure, they would come.
More often a Monday. On Big Monday.
“You watchin’ this incredible game?”
I would prevaricate. Or, out and out lie.
“Uh, what game?” or “It’s on but I haven’t been paying attention, I’ve been paying bills.” or “No, who’s playing?”
It would be maybe ‘Cuse versus Providence, and the Friars actually had a dude named God playing point guard.
So, as if it were an Abbott and Costello routine we played out time and again, I’d bellow into the phone, “I hate the Big East.”
Because I was tired of Mr. Bunny extolling the conference’s virtues all the damn time. Because of Jim Boeheim’s whiney demeanor. Because of that ugly ass sweater Lou Carnesecca wore. Because of that ’82 national semi in New Orleans, when, in the most intense defensive battle I’ve ever witnessed live, imperious John Thompson’s Hoyas smote my Cardinals, 50-46.
Etc, etc, etc. Yet, make no mistake, I was tuned in. Because I’m a hoopaholic. I love college hoops.
So there I was yesterday on a beauteous, temperate Saturday noon, my butt firmly planted in my recliner, savoring an incredible window of hoops on the first big slate of league play.
Michigan State was a guy short, but unlike the Cardinals who outfinagled Sparty when they were a man down, the Buckeyes fell in a tight one in Columbus.
The Cats dropped their SEC opener in Tuscaloosa, though the Crimson Tide did everything it could late to give it away late.
And, yeah, the truth outs, I savored the BEast as the surging Johnnies needed OT but stole a road W — a Big East road W — in D.C. over Hoya Paranoia.
While enjoying that tilt, without guilt I might add, I kept waiting for a call from Mr. Bunny, because . . .
. . . because there was Chris Mullen on the St. John’s bench. While roaming the Georgetown sidelines was Patrick Ewing, now sporting a bit more avoirdupois than the day he swatted away U of L’s first four shots in the Superdome.
Both of those former stars are proving they are not Clyde Drexler, displaying that they can actually coach their alma mammys unlike the former Houston Cougar who was but a poseur.
Mullen is still rockin’ his flat-top, balding as he may be. Bless his heart, Ewing, who I’m sure is financially flush, was dressed in a brown plaid sportcoat and a tie that looked like he got them at Goodwill. He looked like Uncle Schlepper, right down to the breast cancer awareness pink sneaks, the kind of shoes Uncle S would have picked up at Big Deal Lucille’s Army Surplus Store on Main Street because they only cost 75 cents, such a deal.
Georgetown hung tough even though two significant cogs were MIA. Caucasian Sensation Mac McClung. And, Son of Alonzo, Trey Mourning, who may be the savviest baller I’ve seen on the hardwood this season.
I kept expecting that call from Mr. Bunny, especially when that brawl went ooooooooovertime.
But no. It’s a new day.
When I did hear from him — some things never change — it was a text, luxuriating in the pleasure that the Cats fell to ‘Bama, extolling the virtues of his Turf Club pal, Tide mentor Avery Johnson.
What I hearkened back to while watching the Cats and Tide go at it tit for tat was the old days. When Saturday afternoon in the SEC meant a boring ass game in front of a smattering of fans in the stands — but the only one on TV — with John Ferguson doing play by play and irrepressible Joe Dean, intoning “Striiiiing music, Tussssssk a loooooosa, Alabama.”
Now there’s Bilas and Shulman and the marvelous Ian Eagle and the wondrous Gus Johnson. All of whom excel, even though we had to suffer the insufferable. Jimmy Dykes was doing UVa’s evisceration of Florida State.
(Dare I even mention You Know Who screaming “Zion!!!!!!!!!!” ad nauseam?)
Also proven yet again Saturday afternoon: Dana Jacobson was right, Leonard Hamilton, you can’t coach a lick. UVa turned the Seminoles over under sideways down.
Such a hoopaholic’s delight it all was.
I texted fellow addict Doc to see if he was tuned in. So he was. Some of us must strap up every chance we can, it’s an addiction.
We revel in every twist and turnover, every back door cut, every alley oop, every netted long ball.
Especially from underdogs like the Cyclones, who, as every expert this side of Digger Phelps predicted, bested Rock Chalk Jayhawk in Ames. A three ball smackdown it proved to be. Even the wags didn’t figure that.
Oh, and I loved when a St. John’s guy fouled out, they played the Everly’s “Bye Bye Love” over the PA. Oooooooold Schooool.
Was that Big Blue to the Bone John Pelphrey on the Alabama bench?
I loved the Iowa State coed, wearing the coolest t-shirt of the day. It read, “You’re Not in Kansas Anymore.” If only she was wearing red pumps.
Finally, after texting Doc “I love college hoops,” I got off my ass and out for a walk and some caffeine at the crowded coffee shop down the boulevard.
Otherwise, I’d have ODed.
Yet came back for more, viewing Nevada, the team the know it alls were positive would run the table in the Mountain West, get crushed by 27 at previously 7-6 New Mexico.
Los Lobos asked, “Will the wolf survive?” Answer: Oh yeah.
So do Doc and Mr. Bunny and me and hoopaholics everywhere.
— Seedy K