Sunday Sports Serenade: Basketball, Bubbles & Bon Mots

b-ballAnother boffo Saturday of conference action. Do we love it that we can now watch, like, say, 30 games? Including almost the entire A-10 schedule?

You betcha. Dayton at Rhode Island, anyone?

Playaz of the Day. They’re both from Pa, playing oh so close to home.

Slight edge to a kid who(m) you know could help you find the primo Philly Cheesesteak, Ryan Arcidiacano. Tony Luke’s? Dalessandro’s? Campo’s? I just know that Ryan knows.

Arcidiacano’s ‘Nova Wildcats — the Lox Men, to those in the loop — bounced back from that Creighton debacle yesterday against Marquette, despite some home brewin’ in the Town that Miller’s Made Famous.

My man led the way. 20 points. 4 boards. 11 assists. For those keeping score at home, that gave him a double double. Lots of leadership, and No Turnovers.

Plus a truly savvy hustle play in OT to get a timeout on a loose ball that sealed the deal.1

Meanwhile, from across the Keystone State, Lamar Patterson continued with his stalwart senior season. The guy whose scoring average and shooting percentage has increased each year, battered the underwhelming Maryland Terps in College Park, with 28 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, and — all together now — lots of leadership.

Plus he’s got the purest shooting stroke in the game.

Jamie Dixon’s Panthers are always good, always legit, and have never made the Final Four. Last year, they were blindsided in the opening round by upstart Wichita State. They are the Peter O’Toole of college hoops.2

Those Bubble Ain’t Champaigne. Jimmy Dykes can caterwaul all he wants, the SEC is looking like a three bid league to me. At best.

The Cats. The Gators. And, well, you tell me who else isn’t flinching every time they hear something burst?3

Marshall Henderson’s meds are apparently working. Ole Miss is 14-5 (5-1) after battering rival Mississippi State yesterday at home. So the Oxfordtowners’ hopes are high.

Mizzou is 15-4 but only three up three down in conference play. They host the Cats this week, and a W could grab Joe Lunardi’s attention.

Other than that, well you tell me?

Bon Mots du Jour. Yes, I agree Jimmy Dykes, who does provide legit insight, is becoming more bombastic by the telecast. Officious is the word that comes to mind.

But, his SEC play by play partner Mark Jones is a fairly calming, unassuming presence.

Yesterday he threw in a couple of fresh phrases.

When the ball dropped in a Tennessee player’s lap under the hoop for an easy follow bucket, he intoned, “Room Service.” I think I’ve heard that one used before, maybe by Bill Raftery, but it’s still clever. When a Gator drained a trey, Jones went “Splash Down.” Like it.

Longhorns Coming on Strong. Yes, I did use a gratuitous mention of the new Texas football coach. But Charlie’s arrival in Austin has boosted the school’s hoop fortunes.

The burnt orange ballers have won five in a row. The last three against Top 25 competition.

Coincidence? I think not. Rick Barnes can use all the help he can get. Red McCombs can neither dunk nor give a shit about the basketball team.

There’s lots of streaking going on across the land. Top teams losing two, three in a row. Like Ohio State. Or the Badgers.

Top teams beating other top teams with regularity. Mitch McGary? Who is Mitch McGary? The Wolverines have beaten three Top 10 teams consecutively. Including last night’s impressive W in East Lansing, between two injury-depleted squads that still gave no quarter for 40 minutes.

Who is that Guy With the White Beard? Loved the cutaway to a shot of Bill Russell, who was sitting in the stands in Seattle at the Oregon State/ UDub game.

The guy is hoops royalty. Two NCAA crowns. Eleven — yes, 11 — NBA titles. 5 MVP awards. 12 All-Star games.

That, my fellow hoopaholics, is a resumé.

I just wonder how many of the thirtysomethings or under, either in the crowd or at home watching on TV, had a clue?

Probably not many. But, you know, it’s nature’s way. I remember taking the son of some friends to a U of L game decades ago, when he was maybe ten or so. In the hallway, I pointed over and said, “Hey, there’s Paul Hornung.” He didn’t know.

Samson’s Head Band. Willie Cauley-Stein, we all know — at least in and around the Big Blue Nation — has been in a slump as of late. He showed up with ring around the forehead yesterday. And proceeded to be only the second player in college hoops this season to have 6 blocks and 6 steals in the same game.4

If only these guys wearing headbands would go Slick Watts style. Instead, most sit on the back of guys’ foreheads like an ill-fitting yarmulke at nephew Aaron’s Bar Mitzvah.

Tiger Went Home. Mr. Eldrick Woods failed to make the cut at a tourney he’s won 593 times before.

Now back to hoops.

Deadly Duo. Saturday Night basketball during January and February is one of The World Wide Leader’s major features. Game Day. Lots of promo. An attempt to schedule the most juicy matchups, like Wolverines vs. Sparty last night, Orange vs. Blue Devils next week. Not to mention Cards vs. Huskies last week.

It’s, you understand, a big deal.

And the kind of thing that is really just for the tried and true, down to the core of his/her soul basketball fan. I mean, the peripheral fans aren’t watching hoops on Saturday Night Date Night. They’re at Rye or El Camino or Headliners or “Lone Survivor.”

So, I gotta ask. Why does ESPN continue to batter our senses with Digger and Dickie V. Neither adds a thing, either to the action or when attempting to provide insight.

I know I’m beating this dead horse even after the maggots have come to roost. But really, it makes no sense to me whatsoever.

Chip Hilton Award. Do young fellows still read those books?

Anyway, the colleges in Clair Bee’s stories always had names like Tech and State. You know, generic?

Which I mention because I love love love the way Michigan State’s home unis just have a squiggly script “State” across the chest.

Way cool.

“Underdog” Alert. Wichita State (0 losses) and San Diego State (1 loss) and St. Louis (2 Ls) all appear legit, and ready to help or hurt come Office Pool time.

— Seedy K


6 thoughts on “Sunday Sports Serenade: Basketball, Bubbles & Bon Mots

  1. Arcidiacano is the working class Aaron Craft (although Villanova is Main Line rather than real urban Philly)!

  2. Archie Diacano has one of the best names in hoops. But, really, two mentions of your Cayuts is two too many. Really.

  3. One of the best, if not the best, analyst on ESPN is Kara Lawson, the former women’s All American from Virginia. Watched her on Gonzaga-BYU and she was insightful, low key and extremely knowledgeable. Even agreed with Mr. Kaplan about the Patterson kid at Pitt. Why not more like her and less Diggers and Dicky Vs

  4. David, I believe if you check a little more closely, you’l see that Kara matriculated and graduated from the University of Tennessee.

  5. Regarding Patterson: He had only the second best stroke this weekend. Cue the Shoni Schimmel highlights. Never seen anything like it.

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