A Weekend of WOWS!

January17/ 2000

… LaBron, Carmello, Dwight, JR, Shawn … all of you 19 y/o NBAers can have your Lamborghinis, mansions, and bling bling.  When all that “stuff” is tarnished and long gone, Kevin Pittsnoggel and the “Boys of March” will still have their priceless  memories of March Madness 2005.  For two weekends now we have seen as exciting a series of basketball games as Dr. Jimmy Naismith could ever have envisioned in his Springfield YMCA.  I hope you watched and I hope you put aside those stoopid “morality plays” and just watched some neat kids play their hearts out on the hardwood.

   When Myles Brand calls the roll in St Louis next weekend, there will be no cinderellas.  The clock struck midnight for all of them this weekend.  The Big Dogs of Division 1-A Mens Basketball will be on stage … Louisville, Illinois, North Carolina and Michigan State.  I was pulling for Arizona to beat Illinois just so it would Rick, Lute, Roy and Tubby or Tom.  Somehow the name Bruce Weber just doesn’t fit in that group of greats.  

   Maybe I am more sensitive to the “OH WOW” aspects of something mega-cool like this what with being a cyber-stained scribe and all. In truth I worry that I have become too jaded to possible “oh wows”.  After this weekend, I’m not too worried.

   I don’t pretend to be an X & O aficionado of team sports.  I really never have gotten all wrapped up in zones, and ball screens, and double posts, and dribble penetrations.  That takes the enjoyment out of it for me.  “The coaches’ son” from West Virginia launching a “3-pointer” from downtown El Paso into a basket in Albuquerque is pure artistry enough for me.  Those no-name Philly street kids from Villanova making 3 after 3 after 3 after 3 against the Heels were driving me nutz but you had to say “wow”.  Luckily I saved a bunch of “wows” for those lanky Wisconsin farm boys that kept doing the same things … and the Heels survived them both … survived and advanced.

   Bill Raferty (Sean May’s press agent) warned us prior to Sunday’s tip-off that Scott May had requested no camera time due to his nervousness at watching his son play.  We can only imagine a Dad’s pride at the awesome performance his boy put on.  That kid is moving up REALLY fast on my list of “most favorite Tar Heels EVER”.  I grade different from most folks.  

   Back for a minute to West Virginia.  I was really hoping for a Final Four with a Pittsnoggel … I’m pretty sure it would have been a first.  That bunch was straight out of Hoosiers.  I kept checking their bench for Dennis Hopper having DTs and Coach “BeeLine” could be played by Gene Hackman.  I thought their win versus Wake Forest was a thrilla, and it was; but they seemed Destiny’s Child … albeit kind of a cross-eyed jug-eared child that poses no threat to Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt.  Pittsnoggel brought back memories of a certain “Hick From French Lick” in more ways than one.  I’m not sure the incestuous hillbilly image of West By-Gawd Virginia was lessened by that group but I expect the President of the Memphis Grizzlies was quite proud.

   I would like to be around 20 years from now when Kevin Pittsnoggel and Mike Gansey meet up and relive this experience.  Raferty kept telling us about that kid from Wisconsin with the academic accomplishments and blond tuba-playing fiancée.  I doubt they will have mansions or bling bling but I’m betting they will lots of friends and be a credit to their community. The Sparks kid is heartbroken but he got the ultimate “shooter’s bounce”.

   There was a noticeable dearth of “Superstars” although LaBron and Carmello and Dwight among others WOULD have been there under different circumstances … heck with’em, I didn’t miss’em   one bit.  That lack of “big names” might have been the secret to such incredible games with a endless list of unheralded no-name heroes.  

   Purists bemoan the 3-point shot.  I love it.  Keep firing them up and you can whittle a lead down really quick.  Of course, if you are off by a ¼” you DIE.  JJ Redick got the Dante/Shammond Award for “Going Cold At THE Worst Time” and alas, the only time we will see Coach K next week is in those commercials.

   It is amazing how quickly the losing teams are out of the picture.  Survive and Advance … lose and go home to angry message board septic tanks overflowing with flatulant bile about how the team, the coach, and, of course, the Athletic Director all “disappointed them” by “choking”.  That same inglorious fate still awaits three of the Final Four.  Ol’ Roy has done nothing in the eyes of UNC’s hapless bottom-feeding vermin until he wins “them” a National Championship so their wretched and otherwise worthless lives can have meaning for 3-4 days.  Then it’s back to their dead-end jobs, bad haircuts, runny noses, and dismal prospects for ever achieving anything themselves.  Pretty heavy burden for Ol’ Roy to bear … I suspect he understands that bizarre aspect of his profession.  For “45 y/o Little League rightfielders” any success is vicarious as their reality sucks.

   This was a totally “Thugless” 2nd Round.  The closest player to a thug simply by physical appearance had to be Salim Stoudamire.  If that boy ever gets by airport security without being “wanded” the TSA guys have to be asleep.  I did not see ONE example of “thuggery” in any game.

   Team Swagger watched the dramatic ending of the Kentucky/MichState game en masse including the family cat.  I don’t know much about Michigan State fans except I am sure they have a bottom-feeding lunatic element like every school does; but I couldn’t help but imagine if it had been our Wuff buddies instead of Mich State waiting for the ruling on the Sparks’ kid’s right toe at the end of regulation.  That ruling would have caused Wuffs to totally forget “T.A. from the one” and would have defined “insane paranoid rage” FOREVER.  

   Making a “free throw” under the pressure of the entire basketball world watching as Melvin Scott did on Friday and Raymond did again and again on Sunday and so many other 19-20 y/o kids did this weekend.  I have watched a lot of exciting basketball over the years but never watched such a series of incredible competition.  Yes, I watched the 1957 triple overtimer vs Wilt on one of those goldfish bowl 12” screens.  After what we saw this weekend, only the heightened circumstances of the Finals itself can possibly match it.  There were no losers this weekend except you if you didn’t see these games.


Swagger’s Stumper

Roy is #2 in Most Final Fours without an NC.  

Who is #1 and #3?


   Jack “Goose” Givens buried Duke and Coach Bill Foster in the last Final Four to be held in St. Louis.  Bill Foster was the last “unhated a whole lot” Duke coach.

   My prognosticating continues to astound as I told many that I had a feeling the “match-ups from Hell” somehow would not happen.  It would have been a shame to spoil such incredible basketball with all the puss and bile that a State vs UNC match-up would have generated. 

   Our last column on Apocalypse Sunday broke the SwaggerSays total view record previously held by “Who Hates Skip”.   We welcome a heck of a lot of new readers.  Check out the archives.  Nice to hear we are still “loved” by the BobLee Fan Club over in WuffPride.  

   I loved those Dasani commercials with the guy in the bear suit.  Still can’t stand David Spade but love the bear guy.

  A terrific BobLee ALIVE in Albemarle last Thursday.  Swagger in the hometown of T.A., Woody Durham, and Bob Harris.  BobLee met a lot of great folks, shared some laughs and great hospitality.  Our next show is in Lumberton on Tuesday-April 5.

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