Thursday, March 23, 2017

Michigan loses, but shouldn't have

It was the proverbial Cinderella story waiting to be told. Alas, the Michigan Wolverines have been eliminated from the NCAA tournament, and it's because they shot themselves in the foot when it mattered most. I'll get back to that.

First of all, few thought UM would ever get this far to begin with. Not long ago, they were a "bubble" team. Maybe they get invited to the dance -- and maybe not. But then they stormed through the Big 10 conference tournament to win it and crash the big gala. They had earned it fair and square, though somewhat improbably.

In the opener they faced a pretty good Okla St. squad, certainly no patsies. Michigan shot the lights out -- and barely escaped with a 1 point victory. An omen? Maybe.

Next up was #2 seed Louisville. That pesky Rick Pitino and his always dangerous Redbirds. Again, Michigan came through. Two more major hurdles overcome and on to the Sweet Sixteen. Things were looking up indeed. Could destiny be on their side?

In Kansas City, facing a #3 seeded Oregon Duck team, no slouches themselves, the Wolverines were actually a very slight favorite to win the game, according to the oddsmakers.

And they had the Ducks right where they wanted them. The Blue held a 3 point lead with a little over a minute to go. True, a lot of things can happen in the last seconds of games, what with time-outs, fouls and free-throws. But being up 3 was a pretty good situation.

A Duck stepped to the free-throw line for the first of a one-and one. He missed it. Stop right there.

At that point in time, the two Michigan defenders closest to the basket during a free-throw situation had one primary duty. In case of a miss, block out and do NOT under any circumstances allow an opponent to come down the lane and grab an offensive rebound.

Yet that's exactly what they did. See a yellow flash hurdle down the lane, untouched, grab the miss, and lay it back in for 2 points.

A few seconds later, Michigan would cough up another turnover which led to another easy Oregon basket. That three point advantage had quickly turned into a one point deficit. They had shot themselves in the foot at the most critical time. Twice.

And that's how the game eventually ended. Oregon won by a single point.

The story that will never get told is how Michigan would then likely go up against mighty #1 seed Kansas, in their own back yard of Kansas City, with a spot in the Final Four at stake. Could UM have won that game under those circumstances? Probably not, but who knows? Maybe they could have pulled it off. Or maybe they would have gotten blown out. Neither was beyond the realm of possibility. After all, UM wasn't supposed to get this far in the first place -- right? But they did.

So now the Wolverines head back home to Ann Arbor and lament what might have been. Sure, they had a successful season by most standards, even far exceeded expectations.

Yet you just know when they watch the film of the latter stages of the Oregon game, particularly the two flubs that wound up costing them, it's going to sting. They knew they had it, and they also know they let it get away. Ouch. The two defenders that allowed the Duck to crash the boards unimpeded on the critical missed free-throw will likely lower their heads in shame. Double ouch. They know they messed up -- big time.

Nothing to be done about it now. Over is over, Oregon moves on, and Michigan doesn't.

But yours truly likely isn't the only one that bemoans the lost opportunity of getting to see the "upstart" and "rejuvenated" Michigan "Cinderellas" take on the Jayhawks with so much at stake.

How sweet would another Final Four berth have been for a program that has suffered through hard times and finally fought its way back to respectability? And then, who knows again? If they could beat the likes of 1,2, and 3 seeds along the way, could an outright championship have -- gasp -- been within their capability? Sure. Why not? Stranger things have happened.

It's going to be a long flight for the Maize and Blue, and an even longer day in the film room when they get there. That is a recording they most definitely don't want to watch, break down, and analyze.

They already know EXACTLY how they blew it.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Cam Newton scam

Alas, poor Cam. He has a torn rotator cuff that requires surgery to properly fix. He'll go under the knife shortly. But there's something that nobody seems to want to mention about this story as it has played out.

The injury itself happened way back in Week 14 of last season. That would put it smack dab in the middle of December. A full three months ago.

With their MRIs and other diagnostic techniques, no doubt the medical people knew what was going on within a day or two of the original injury. So did Cam, and his team, the Carolina Panthers.

At the time, the Panthers were hopelessly out of the playoff race, and after an MVPish season the year before, Cam had tanked something awful in the 2016 campaign. Basically, he and they stunk.

Yet for whatever reason, they left him out there to play the remaining games of the season, though it couldn't possibly make any difference, and he stunk it up even worse. Earning his millions by playing through an injury that made him even more ineffective? An interesting premise, but isn't this why teams have back-up quarterbacks?

Never fear, it is said dear Cam will be --praise the Lord -- healed by the time training camp starts this summer. Good to go. Glory hallelujah and pass the offering plate.

However, as mentioned above, there's one major glitch in this whole scenario. The wily Mr. Newton won't be available for those pesky OTAs (Organized Team Activities) in the spring, which will be coming around shortly. Imagine that.

Most veteran players hate OTAs. It's just a bunch of drills and grunt work they feel is totally unnecessary. A good thing for rookies and breathless beat reporters desperate for a story line, but definitely a drag for those that have been there, done that.

It would be like having military folks that have seen live combat having to go back to boot camp every year for a refresher course. Left, right, left, right, atten hut, at ease. How well do you think that would go over with GI Joes and Janes that know what it feels like to come under enemy fire? Probably not very well.

And let's face it. A torn rotator cuff isn't something that's ever going to completely heal itself on its own. Sure, the human body will do the best it can, but it will never be right again anymore than a shredded ACL can self-fix. You can live with it, if you don't mind walking around with a limp for the rest of your life.

But Cam put off the surgery he knew to be necessary for three whole months. The only explanation would seem to be obvious. He gets to skip the dreaded OTAs and be healthy just about the time camp starts leading into the pre-season and regular schedule.

Had he gone under the knife immediately after the original diagnosis back in December, he likely would have been mostly healed by now, and had no excuse to remain AWOL from the OTAs.

A pretty slick gambit, if thinly veiled. And nobody wants to mention it. Of course, Cam Newton is an African-American starting quarterback in the National Football League. Dare to criticize him at one's own peril, lest the politically correct legions besiege one with their outcries. Good luck with that.

But on the surface, this appears to be no more than a properly timed scam to get out of the same work most of his teammates will be forced to suffer through.

And it just doesn't look or smell right to a totally objective football fan.....

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Resting Lebron James. Fair or foul?

Much has been made of late concerning certain NBA teams "resting" their stars for a game here and there. At the forefront, of course, are poster children Lebron James and Co. of the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

James is on record as saying it sucks, but sometimes certain guys need rest due to the long grueling season. Seems fair enough. Notice he's never come out and said this is typically a coach's choice, not necessarily the players'. That would be throwing his own head coach Tyronne (Shoelaces) Lue under the bus, as it were. So credit to LJ for avoiding that little possible snafu.

And James is correct when he asserts a head coach's job is to find a way to lead his team to a championship, far more than it is to win a single game. Contenders get to say such things. Bottom feeders don't enjoy the same luxury, for obvious reasons, not the least of which is a bunch of multi-millionaires running around playing an inferior version of roundball while getting beat like a drum game in and game out. But that's an argument for another day.

Yet resting players, particularly stars like Lebron, doesn't sit well with many. One of those is Mr. Kosher Peanuthead, aka NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Dear Adam feels the pain of the average fan, as only a multi-millionaire such as himself can. Right. It's not right, he whimpers from on high. There could be "harsh" penalties if this practice doesn't immediately cease and desist. This is definitely a shot across the bow of the collective owners. Either get your boys to straighten up and earn those massive contracts, or I might whack your pee-pees, as in pocket books.

Conversely, Lebron James thinks there's little the NBA brass can actually do about it. An interesting stand-off.

It is further interesting to note that Silver serves in his position at the whim of the owners in the first place. Though he was former Commish David Stern's hand-picked boy to succeed him, if he riles up too many owners they can just as easily fire him, Trump style, as they did hire him in the first place. Like the CEO of a major company, the board of directors can off him given due cause and motivation. Let's not forget who works for who here in the NBA hierarchy.

However, if the Commish and the Board of Governors (see owners) get together and decide something, there's little coaches and players can do about it. Sure, the union can raise a stink and say any such actions have to be "collectively bargained", but good luck with that, at least in the short run. The people ultimately holding all the purse strings can pretty much do whatever they want until and unless the courts decide to forbid it. And that could take years to wend its way through the complicated and slow working imbroglio of the legal justice system.

But resting star players is a dilemma indeed. Certainly not fair for some. Example in point --

Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love of the Cavaliers were all sat down for a recent game against the LA Clippers out west. Given the nature of the NBA schedule, there were no doubt many Clip fans who saved up their bucks to buy tickets for the only time the Cavaliers would appear at Staples Center to play against their team. Those seats are anything but cheap. The average John/Jane Doe might only be able to afford to go to one game all year. This was the one. They wanted to see the Big Three and the champs when they came to town.

And when they finally arrived on the premises -- guess what? All the star players they'd been waiting to see -- won't be participating -- even though they're otherwise completely physically healthy. Damn right they have cause to be pissed.

But again, it's quite likely in the long-term interest of both the team and the players to give them a breather once in a while. So what to do that is fair for all?

Enter Byron Scott, former LA Lakers star, and not-so-good head coach later on.

BS, maybe or maybe not appropriate enough initials (let's not forget our last President's were, sniff, BO, but nobody ever thought to mention that) seemed to have the perfect answer.

He rightfully pointed out that fans in other cities might only get one shot to see the "stars from afar" and they should absolutely not be denied the chance when it comes around. Further, out of the 82 game regular season, half of those games are played at "home". Further yet, no team is ever "on the road" for more than maybe two weeks at a time.

So be it resolved that if teams want to rest their star players, make them do it at home games. The fans there have 40 other chances to see them throughout the year, as opposed to only once in many other cities. Play shall be mandatory on all road games unless compelling evidence of physical injury is presented by the medical people. And good luck if they ever get caught "fudging" that. If so, send them off to Judge Judy or a segment on "The View" for "cruel and unusual punishment", the Eighth Amendment and Geneva Convention be damned regarding the use of torture and otherwise inhumane treatment.

That ought to satisfy the players, the union, the owners, and even Mr. Peanuthead.

Heckuvan idea, Byron, and I was only kidding about the initials.

Maybe. Like Isiah Thomas was IT as a player, so too did he crash and burn like the Hindenburg when he got in WAY over his head as a member of management. IT translated to Insanely Terrible. Same with that Jordan guy. MJ? It could just as easily stood for Mostly Junk. Have you seen that Charlotte team since he took over the reins? Not a pretty sight. Monumental Jokes. And we won't even talk about him trying to hit a curve ball in his ill-advised adventure into professional baseball thinking he was all THAT, when he was obviously not. A Majorly Juvenile crusade.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Brady's jersey and the FBI

All of America can now officially breathe a collective sigh of relief. Tom Brady's missing Super Bowl jersey has finally been found. Whew! That was a close one. Maybe not quite as pressing a matter as, say, incoming nukes, but nevertheless of the highest importance to the well-being of the United States. Right.

Evidently, in their infinite wisdom and due diligence, the FBI tracked it down, along with another missing Brady jersey from a couple years back. Well, praise the Lord and all hail J. Edgar Hoover. The Fibbies are on the job.

Early reports say a "credentialed international reporter" was the evil culprit and said stolen goods were located somewhere in Mexico. What to do with this nefarious purveyor of evil? Hmm. Off with his head? Or failing that, maybe have him drawn and quartered -- off with everything else. At the very least a few years of waterboarding at Gitmo would seem to be in order. No wait, there's an even worse punishment for such a dastardly rascal. Make him Trump's press secretary and watch the torture begin. That'll teach him to mess with #12. Bwahahahaha.

At any rate, something is fishy about this story. First, the FBI has no jurisdiction or authority in Mexico unless specifically invited there by the Mexican authorities to pursue a matter. That would seem unlikely given that little "wall" snafu a certain President has been financially trying to ram down their throats of late -- to no avail. Throw in the threatened tariffs on all their goods heading north and the Mexican folks in power likely aren't overly fond of the Yanquis these days.

These people are going to invite the Fibbies into their own country to go rooting around over something as inconsequential as a stupid football jersey or two?  Yours truly finds that hard to believe.

That makes about as much sense as America inviting Mexico's Federales into the states to locate and arrest a Latino gang leader in a major city. Don't hold your breath waiting for that to ever happen. That turf thing can go both ways, or neither.

Second, it is said this jersey was valued upwards of $500,000. Well then. What manner of fool would be willing to cough up a half million for a football jersey most of the world has already forgotten about? It's not like it's a timeless treasure like the Mona Lisa, or the last dress Hillary wore before having her pant-suit epiphany.

Nevertheless, the ever-reliable Fibbies were evidently up to the formidable task. Order has been restored in the universe and Brady likely smiles. Prosecutors somewhere lick their chops. As they are likely to say or intend -- let me at this international terrorist and I'll jam him up tighter than Chris Christie's belt. Or at least feed him to a Senate committee to be slowly driven stark, raving mad, before they're done with the usual barrage of inane questioning. And THEN we'll talk about long-term punishment. How's 10 years as the sex slave of Judge Judy grab you? Did I mention bwahahahaha? This evil thing can get out of control at times.

However, congrats are in order for the beloved FBI, whether this was a technically legal operation or not. Only results matter -- right?

Pity they never could find those Alcatraz escapees back in the day. Or D.B. Cooper. And they've spent the last 40+ years still looking for Jimmie Hoffa, being led around hither and yon on a "where's Waldo" wild goose chase. And if they ever DO find him, then what? Dig up a skeleton only to rebury it somewhere else? They continue to spend millions of taxpayers dollars on such an incredibly futile premise, if ever even successful, to begin with?

But in the end, credit where credit is due. Congrats to the gallant G-men with the fancy titles and badges. It appears they solved this one. And hey, given all the other balls he continues to juggle, with a dubious success rate at best -- High Lord and Emperor Supreme -- sometimes known as the Commissioner -- Roger Goodell will take any good news he can get these days.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The evil power of predictions

Readers of this column, sometimes known as tripe, will know that not long ago yours truly made some fearless predictions regarding the current March Madness NCAA hoops tourney.

No way was Michigan State going to get invited. They hadn't earned it by a long shot. But into the dance they went. I was wrong.

More recently, I surmised that it was entirely possible the Big 10 wouldn't see a single team last through the first two rounds of play to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Oops, busted again.

Well, OF COURSE I was wrong. I'm ALWAYS wrong when it comes to making such predictions.

This is a dubious trait I inherited from my late father. If he picked them, they were in big trouble. It became quite evident a long time ago when "Friday Night at the Fights" would come on TV. It was sponsored by a razor blade company, Schick or Gillette, I forget which.

See, dad was a big-time boxing fan and had done some amateur pugilism himself in his younger days.

Friday night at my house was almost a holy thing. Thou shalt not, repeat NOT talk while the fights are on. Dad would always have his favorite that he just KNEW was going to easily prevail over the sap that was dumb enough to get in the ring with him in the first place.

And then it would happen. BAM. Down he goes. Dad's pick was out. Though Dad's jinx had become fairly predictable over the months and years, this was no time for any "I told you sos", or even the slightest smirk. Such infidel behavior could swiftly be met with severe punishment. Being banished to my room was the least of my worries. It was something about being made to bend over a certain chair in the basement with a belt coming into play that had long been etched in my youthful memory banks. No thanks. Been there, done that, and that stuff seriously smarts. Be stoic when the fights are on, no matter what.

It should also be noted this was long before the days of any remote controls. No need. I WAS the remote control. Put it on Channel 7, boy. Get me a beer, boy. Turn it up, boy. Let the dog out, boy. I did more marching and had more "yes sirs" coming out of me than a boot camper in the Marine Corps.

Ah yes, fond memories indeed and, to this day, many decades later, somewhere in my subconscious being the memory of that belt has no doubt kept me from doing some things I knew to be wrong, even if I could have likely gotten away with them.

Thanks Dad, I needed that. And sorry about your palookas getting clobbered so many times.

Back to Big 10 hoops.

Yeah, MSU might have got past a not-so-good Miami team, but the jig was up against Kansas. They got rightfully smoked by 20.

Northwestern, the brains school, was making their first NCAA hoops appearance ever. To the purple gang's credit they held off a pesky Vanderbilt team in the first round. Their reward? A date with #1 seed Gonzaga -- out west. At that, they gave the Zags all they could handle, but it was just too much fire power to overcome and the Wildcats went down.

Minnesota and Maryland both made an early exit, but they were pretty much of the cannon fodder variety to begin with. Nobody expected them to go far.

So of seven Big 10 teams, four are already gone.

But wait, I said none would make it to the Sweet Sixteen, right?

Wrong. Can you hear me, Dad?

Purdue, the regular season conference champ in an otherwise mediocre conference, bowed out of the conference tourney early, and looked like they were very vulnerable to do the same when the NCAA's started. Maybe not too surprisingly they dispatched a lowly Vermont team and then got past a pretty decent Iowa St. squad. Sweet Sixteen it is. Their reward? A date with the same Kansas that trashed MSU -- in Kansas City. Good luck with that. But you never know. All but one of the original field has to fall eventually, and the Boilermakers could conceivably pull off the upset.

Which brings me to the two surprise Big 10 teams and what they have accomplished.

First, Michigan. Less than a month ago, the Wolverines were considered a "bubble" team. Maybe they'll get in -- and maybe they won't. But then they got hot, winning the conference tourney. That wasn't supposed to happen. In the opening round, the Blue shot the lights out, and barely escaped Okla St. by one point. A bad omen, because up next was #2 Louisville and that pesky Rick Pitino with his devious ways and championship pedigree.

Yours truly was absolutely convinced this was the end of the road for the Wolverines. No way are they getting past the Redbirds.

But they did. Check off another one in the "wrong" column.

Most surprising of all was Wisconsin upsetting overall #1 seed and defending champ Villanova. Get outta here. The Badgers knocked THOSE guys off? Are you kidding me?

What's up with these Big 10 teams? Don't they know their place? How dare they throw a wrench into the infinite wisdom that is always behind these writings. Harrumph!!

Maybe I should go out to the cemetery again sometime soon and have another talk with my father.

"Dad, I'm beginning to feel the pain you once experienced. Seems like I can't ever get my picks right either. No, I don't drink E and B, Pfeiffers, or Drewry's. In fact, I don't even think they're around anymore. And these days everybody has remotes that can work miracles, rather than the one I used to be for you. Believe it or not, belts are out of the question these days. Something called political correctness would rather put the parent in jail than let him tan the hide of a rogue youngster that absolutely deserved it -- and would make him a better person later on. But it pretty much is what it is and I keep trying to roll with the punches, as you once taught me in those boxing lessons. I know it took her 20 years to finally get there, but now you have Mom next to you, and probably have a lot of serious catching up to do. Just between us guys, I'm not sure if being in close quarters with her for all eternity is necessarily a good thing. A wonderful woman, but she did have her not-so-good ways at times. Nothing you don't know. Wish you could come back and impart a little more wisdom on your eldest son, but you probably wouldn't like what you'd see of the world these days. It's ugly down here, with a great big dose of stupid thrown in. But hey, I'm carrying on the best I can. I'd ask your advice on future roundball picks, but we both know how THAT would turn out. I can laugh about that now, but I did think about that belt for just a second. Some things just never seem to go away. And for sure, I'll catch up with you later, one way or the other".

So what does all the above nonsense add up to?

Two things.

Always and forever after respect thy father, and....

You don't won't me picking your team to win, because they'll surely go down.

Dad wouldn't have had it any other way.

PS. Uh-oh. What's that? The Dukies just got smoked by South Carolina? Dang, I didn't even get around to picking Coach K's crew to easily dispatch those low-life Gamecocks. But I was surely thinking it.

Wow. Even my thoughts can be a jinx. This is worse than I thought....

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Michael Rosenberg's incredible whine

Dear Mr. Rosenberg knows a thing or two about Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, long the home of the Detroit Red Wings. Mikey worked at the Detroit Free Press for many years before joining the staff of Sports Illustrated as a "senior writer". That term sounds odd in itself, given Rosenberg isn't age eligible for AARP, much less Social Security, and since when does a guy jump into a new scribe job only to be conferred the title of "senior writer"?

Nevertheless, Mikey recently penned a feature article for SI in which he pointed out all the shortcomings of the Joe, and why it's past time the Red Wings deserve a sparkling new arena. Most of it is laughable, but given it was written by one that evidently feels a sense of great entitlement, perhaps understandable. In no particular order, consider the following---

Joe Louis Arena smells too much like beer. Well gee, Mikey, this is Motown, not the upper East Side of Manhattan. People in Detroit are pretty much blue collar folks, and have always liked their beer -- a lot. You won't see them indulging in too many of those limp-wristed pansy drinks with the sissy little umbrellas sticking out of them. And besides, the Joe is for hockey, not a French fashion show, with $500 an ounce perfume available on tap. You know, the game where the players crash into each other at high speeds, routinely take stitches, and lose their front teeth? Yeah, that game. So yes, a beer smell is more than appropriate. It's called "atmosphere".

Rosenberg laments there is but one loading dock in the entire building. Well then. How many did they need? Supplies come in, trash goes out. One is sufficient.

Oh wait, the Red Wings' equipment manager doesn't have a big enough headquarters. He has different rooms on different stories of the building to keep all the team necessities. Again, if the dude knows where everything is, seems happy with the situation, and gets it to the players when they want or need it -- what difference does it make?

Rosenberg wondered why anybody would build a riverfront arena with no windows. Only a pompous sort that hasn't had to pay much attention to reality would pose such a naive query. But here's the obvious answer ---

People came to the Joe and paid exorbitant prices to see a -- need he be reminded -- hockey game. What do they need windows for? And what would they see outside if they were even present? Most games are played at night, so they could gaze out at the Detroit river, which they wouldn't be able to see in the darkness, and notice the bright lights of Windsor on the other side. The river has a lot of fish in it, and probably more than a few human skeletons lying on the bottom, to go along with boat traffic tooting their horns occasionally. And while they're sightseeing at all those non-visible things, the roar they hear behind them likely means the Red Wings scored. Oops, they missed it. If you want windows, talk to Bill Gates. Microsoft's got layers upon layers of them. But in the meantime, what good are they at a hockey arena other than to lead one astray from the real action?

But the most ridiculous part of Rosenberg's whine-a-thon came when he talked about the press box at the Joe. Too crowded, he whimpered.

Well, let's see. Since leaving the Freep, which busted their union a while back, Rosenberg got a hefty raise by going to SI. And the perks are off the charts. Mikey gets to fly first class all over the country, and sometimes world, in his pursuit of stories. He also stays in first-class hotels, has his dinner and entertainment/bar tabs, any rent-a-cars, and taxi fares taken care of by his publication. Plus, like other media, he gets in free to the arena, some of the best viewing seating in the house, and any food/drinks he wants while "on the job" comped as well. This is a pretty sweet gig.

But not good enough for Mikey. Heaven forbid he should actually have to -- horrors!! -- come in physical contact (rub elbows) with other scribes, particularly those low-life locals like he used to be. Too crowded? Please. The man obviously forgot where he came from. It happens sometimes when people experience just enough success where they start getting cocky -- and feeling entitled to royal treatment. This does not normally play well amid the down-trodden masses (see Detroit fans), foolhardy and gullible as they may be.

In another part of his article, Rosenberg mentioned the concourses at Joe Louis were too narrow. That raises an interesting question. How would he know, having gained free admittance through the press gate and whisked up to the press box by an elevator?

Also a whine about not enough rest rooms. OMG, the men's even had troughs for urinals. Well, so what? Men at sporting events typically couldn't care less about taking a whiz alongside their fellow drunken fans. The main thing is getting to go at all when you have to. The availability is a lot faster with those troughs than it would be with individual facilities. Plus, it's cost effective. One trough costs a heck of a lot less than 20 urinals. Uses a lot less water too. All those thousands of flushes aren't necessary.

And while we're on that subject, maybe the women should have the same experience. If they want to go to a DEE-TROIT hockey game, they should woman up and squat over troughs themselves. A little humility and team spirit couldn't hurt.

Outrageous, you say? Nonsense. Seeing as how the Wings would appear to be little better than NHL cellar dwellers in the near future, they could use a little livening up in their new arena. What better way to do it than have a roof panel open up and occasionally drop an octopus (which the Joe was famous for) -- splash -- into that same women's communal urinal while they're congregated together in their unholy communion? Surprise!!! That would most DEFINITELY get the fairer sex into the game, as it were. Plus, it would certainly speed up the process for those still waiting in line.

Even the wimpy Michael Rosenberg might appreciate such a forward-thinking feat of engineering.

And if he keeps writing such limp-wristed articles, perhaps that would be the very rest room where he should squat to tend to his business anyway.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Michigan State. A bad illusion

First of all, Michigan State had no business making it into the NCAA hoops tournament field at all, much less being assigned a super generous #9 seed. Given how they played during the regular season, including their conference record, and their dismal showing in the Big 10 conference tourney, at best they should have been among the "play-in" teams, or more properly relegated to the second class NIT tourney.

Sure, head coach Tom Izzo can yuk it up after they handily beat Miami,Fla. But it was an illusion. State played horribly. Any half way decent team would have blown them out. Indeed, the Canes jumped off to an early double digit lead.

But then something astounding happened. As bad as MSU was, the U got worse. Much worse. It appeared their team went into a collective brain freeze. Assuming they have talented players, one could surmise the Canes somehow reverted to the mass intelligence quotient of your average brick. Either that, or their coaching staff is totally clueless.

Yours truly has seen a lot of college hoops in his day, and some are definitely better than others. But what the Miami group put out there after the first 10 minutes or so of play has got to be the most inept roundball exhibition of recent memory. They were just -- that -- bad. Pitiful. How in the world did this team win over 20 games this season?

This was not due to the Spartans suddenly playing really well. At best, they were mediocre, totally indicative of their record to date this year. Yet miraculously, they not only survived this game but won it by a wide margin. As mentioned above, this was a mirage. MSU still isn't any good. It's just that Miami was shameful. It was embarrassing to watch such a proud university stumble and bumble their ways around the court in such a hapless fashion. As Charles Barkley might say -- Turrible. Just turrible.

Next up for the Spartans are the Kansas Jayhawks, the #1 seed in their NCAA bracket. Like Dorothy famously said in the Wizard of Oz, we're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

Nope, but somebody might want to tell Tom Izzo and his Spartans that THIS Kansas isn't like being in the doofus land of the Canes anymore either. Unlike the Wizard, these guys are the real deal.

And unless the Spartans somehow find a way to play out of their minds, not likely, the game on Sunday could get very ugly indeed.

MSU got away with an illusion once. Don't look for it to happen again.