Monday, February 11, 2008

Recovering from a fortnight of basketball

Well, really it was only regulation and two overtime periods, but one of the FSN announcers referred to it as a "fortnight of basketball." I figure this either means that he doesn't know what the word "fortnight" means, or someone's been living in a time warp.

I always hate the UNC-Clemson game in Chapel Hill because of that gosh-darn (now) 53-game winning streak. It's more stressful than the Duke games. And for the first 37 minutes or so of last night's game, it looked like that streak was going to end. Let me tell you what saved the Heels. It wasn't the shooting, or the rebounding, or any semblance of defense. Nope, it was my friends' 3-year-old son.

Disclaimer: I know that at some point on this blog I've mentioned that I'm quite superstitious. If you don't go for superstitions, you might want to stop reading now.

So we spend 37 minutes of the game losing, for various reasons that I'm sure you find on other blogs. And then, the magic happens. With 3:13 or so left in the game, my friends' 3-year-old soon walks upstairs from the basement, where he had been playing, into the living room.

And Carolina starts making a comeback. Those of us sitting in the living room, including his mother, understood that this child absolutely could not go back downstairs. Doing so would surely ruin the comeback bid.

But of course, the kid didn't want to stay upstairs, and he's not old enough to grasp the (probably foolish) notion of sports superstitions, "mojo," and the like. Trying to hold onto him while he squirmed to go back downstairs to play with Thomas the Train was not going to work. But he had to stay upstairs, and the adults all understood this.

So his mother bribed him with candy at 8:00 at night. And upstairs he stayed. And Carolina went to overtime.

Soon we had a ridiculously hyper three-year-old boy running around in circles on the oversized ottoman in the middle of the room, lips blue from bubble gum and gumdrops. And Carolina went to the second overtime.

Then it got tricky again, because he done eating the candy and the trains were still downstairs. So his mom tried to bribe him with paints. It didn't seem like the paint bribe was going to work at first, but when she took out the oversized watercolor book, his eyes lit up and he decided to stay. He even tried to paint within the lines.

And Carolina won the game.

So no, it had nothing, nothing, to do with Tyler Hansbrough's 39 points, or QT's better-than-usual performance, or Wayne Ellington's hot hand.

Nope, it was all the kid.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

When are they going to change that rule, baby?!?! thought I was referring to Dick Vitale's constant complaint that the possession arrow "jump ball" rule is ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, the possession arrow "jump ball" rule is ridiculous. But what I'm referring to is the "it looks like a situation where we might want to implement the ridiculous possession arrow 'jump ball' rule, so let's just let them play instead of calling a foul like we would usually do" non-call.

Yes, that's exactly what happens. If it looks like two players from opposing teams might possibly possess the ball at the same time, the refs allow them to shove, elbow, and otherwise wrestle until they decide to blow the play dead. Quite a difference from touch fouls in the backcourt and Greg Paulus flops. I mean, seriously, that's exactly how Ty Lawson hurt his ankle. Ryan Reid threw him to the ground in a way that should have caught the attention of the WWE. I'm not accusing Reid of playing dirty, or intentionally hurting Lawson, or anything of the like. I just think the play should have been stopped before either player ended up on the ground.

Super Giants Bowl

Last year's Super Bowl between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts was historic. Peyton Manning won his first Super Bowl. Tony Dungy became the first African-American Coach to win a Super Bowl. This year's Super Bowl between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots was also historic. Eli Manning won his first Super Bowl, preventing the Patriots from completing the first perfect season since 1972. Overlooked has been the fact that Giants' GM Jerry Reese became the first African-American GM to win a Super Bowl. Congratulations, Jerry!

A few more notes:

1) Too bad the MVP trophy almost always goes to an offensive player. No offense to Eli Manning, whose fourth quarter escape from an almost-certain sack created an amazing play to keep the winning drive alive. But really, the Giants' defense won the game. Who knew that Plaxico Burress' prediction would be almost correct?

2) Not that too many people took Plaxico seriously in the first place. Did anyone, even those fans who thought New York would win, really think New England would only score 14 points? And if you did, did you think that BEFORE Tom Brady jinxed himself by laughing at Plaxico. The two people (if that many) who usually read my posts know that my brother prides himself on making fairly accurate predictions. Even he had to admit that he was way off with his 38-24 Patriots win prediction (or it might have been 34-28...way off, either way).

3) Man, I'm glad Peyton won the Super Bowl last year. Can you imagine how mad he'd be if Eli had beaten him to it? I mean, really!

4) There are already questions about whether the Giants can repeat next year. The answer is no. Don't get me wrong; they're a good team. You have to be a good team to win the Super Bowl. But the Giants are like the 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers: good enough to win a Super Bowl; not good enough to be able to get there two years in a row. Heck, the Patriots can't even figure out how to pull that one off. Let's face it: teams in recent memory who have pulled off back-to-backs (Denver 1998-1999, Dallas 1993-1994, San Francisco 1989-1990) haven't tended to be wild card berths with 6 regular-season losses. I will say this, though: Tiki Barber looks rather silly.