Amateur Hour and Tight Pants

Well it sure has been a little while. Lots of stuff currently going on in the sports world. One of the more boring, anticlimactic Final Fours in recent memory has concluded. Missouri hired Frank Haith to be its new basketball coach (classic). And now, Master’s Weekend is upon us. So if you’ve got nothing better to do, or even if you do have something better to do, don’t hesitate to find the usual spot on your favorite couch and watch the best golfers in the world go at it. If nothing else, the voice of Jim Nantz has an unparalleled power at inducing awesome naps.

Last order of business, just wanted to say thanks to any viewers who used search engines to get to this column. With the power of being an admin, I can keep track of the different search terms that have led viewers here, with two of the more prevalent being “prostitution” and “call girls from grandview missouri.” Really good stuff. And now that we are talking about prostitution, let’s segue into the meat and potatoes of today’s post.

Something is terribly wrong with the NCAA. The amount of problems that exist with this organization is far too many for one column. Especially since I’m working hard to cut down my word count from now on (lookin’ at you Andy). On the other hand, I have the luxury of saying that there are a bunch of problems with this institution, point those flaws out, and not have to provide any legitimate solutions. Let’s do this.

Before we even get to some of the other stuff, we need to establish that the NCAA is a non-profit organization. Let that sink in. It signed a deal with CBS and Turner Sports for television rights to the NCAA Men’s Tournament worth in excess of $10 Billion. The former president of the organization made almost $2 Million a year. And wouldn’t it be reasonable to suspect that the current president, Mark Emmert, probably received a pay raise upon being hired? Now let that sink in. That’s a pretty nice salary for the head of a non-profit organization. Sounds like they have a pretty nice operation going on.

The problem is that the main sources of revenue and entertainment (in fact…the only source of revenue and entertainment), THE PLAYERS, are getting only a fraction of that profit. No matter what you think amateurism should mean, doesn’t the current compensation for players seem so inadequate that it borders upon the immoral? As Jason Whitlock (who is a heavyset man to say the very least) pointed out, the NCAA’s current compensation package for its football and men’s basketball players is like the organization giving him size 32 jeans as pay for his writing. Do the jeans have some value? Sure. Can he do anything with those specific jeans? If you know anything about pant sizes, the answer is a resounding no.

What players are currently provided with is an athletic scholarship to essentially attend their school of choice. Well…that’s a start. But before that scholarship is valid, those players are required to sign a contract (a long one…one that your average 18 year old kid probably isn’t going to take much time to read). That contract says players cannot sign with an agent or professional sports organization, be paid to play in any athletic contest, or have their likeness or image used in any way for their profit. Now things start to get a little fishy.

So the NCAA can release a video game (they release football and basketball games most every year that are very popular) and use everything except the player’s actual name and reap in all of the profit? Absolutely. Take a look at NCAA March Madness 2010. Almost every player in the sport is accounted for. Their specific skill sets are reasonably accurate, and even the players in the game look like the actual players they are representing. And those players can’t earn any profits whatsoever from this? You got it. Where do those profits go? The NCAA of course. That is what we in the business like to call a raw deal.  

But still…a full scholarship, with room and board, tuition, books, pretty much the whole thing, is all on the school’s own dime. And the players even get expensive team apparel. So we’re still doing OK. But back to the scholarship. I never said it covers the whole thing. If given a full athletic scholarship, expenses for a parking permit, student ID card, course fees (which I have experienced a good amount of in less than one year at an institution), library fines, and several others…it’s all coming out of your own pocket. But still, we’re doing pretty well. I mean the scholarship does cover most of the costs right?

Correct, it is a binding agreement to cover most of the costs for attending that school, for one year. Read that again. These scholarships have to be renewed every year. The athlete has zero insurance against an injury or bad luck. If you are a player that gets limited time on the court or field, and someone else better comes along, you are expendable.

In most other circumstances, that would be OK as harsh as it sounds. That philosophy applied in the workplace is what we like to call capitalism, survival of the fittest. Poor performance = poor compensation. And that would be fine in college too, but it has to be a two way street. Right now, the players are assets to be used and exploited for the benefit of the school, and yet the players are not allowed to use their own god given talents (or even their own image or likeness!) to benefit themselves, except for being given a scholarship that doesn’t cover all of the costs of attending school. The school is allowed to use the image and likeness of a player for its benefit, but the player cannot use his image and likeness for his own benefit? This isn’t capitalism, this is indentured servitude.

For the lucky few that are able to take their talents to a professional level, whether in America or overseas, most of this talk doesn’t really apply to them. But for the vast majority of other athletes, they are being suckered into a horrendously one-sided agreement. I’m sure the NCAA would say that even if the above arguments were proven true, they would still be moot points.

They would say that for players who lack the talent to be professional athletes, they are still given the opportunity to take advantage of an education that is essentially free. But let’s be real. Do you think the majority of players who bust their butts in the weight room, film room, court, or field all day are going to then use the rest of their free time to study? No! They don’t have the energy! Continuing this “real talk,” what do you think they were given that scholarship for in the first place? It wasn’t to get a 4.0 GPA and get a great entry level job on Wall Street, no matter what the institution says. Their job is to go win games, to produce, or else they are expendable. It’s a zero-sum game for far too many of the athletes.

If your hard work on the court doesn’t end up leading to a professional career, there is hardly anything resembling a real-world education to use as a plan B. If you focus too much on education and your performance on the court slips? Better watch out or that scholarship might get revoked.

I’m not sure what the perfect solution is. Some have suggested that the NCAA slowly implement an Olympic type of model. Players are not paid to represent their country, but they can benefit from the use of their image and likeness in endorsements and advertising. A player going unpaid to represent his institution, but still being able to use his own face to make a profit? That sure sounds better. Others have suggested that a sum of money (I have no idea how the amount would be determined) be held in a trust fund that can’t be touched until a certain age and certain educational, employment requirements are met. That seems a bit fairer.

In the end though, there can never be an infallible solution. But one thing, at least, is a certainty. The NCAA’s current system of compensation for amateur athletes is like trying to reward a hardworking 450 pound man with size 32 jeans. It’s not working.

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Not Again



October 20 2004: It is a cold night at Yankee Stadium and Johnny Damon has just hit a monster grand slam to the right field seats, essentially sending the Red Sox to the 2004 World Series. The rest of that game was merely a formality, as both teams knew who was going to win. The Red Sox were about to beat the Yankees, and complete the greatest comeback in MLB postseason history. I remember feeling delight at seeing a team like Boston, the perpetual underdogs, overcome the odds and advance to the Series (keep in mind this was before they became a sort of free-spending Yankees 2.0). This was a team not with the most talent in the world, but with people you wanted to win, Kevin Millar, Mark Bellhorn, Trot Nixon, Bill Mueller, David Ortiz, and the “Lizard King” himself, Johnny Damon just to name a few. Even more than that though, I took particular pleasure in seeing the stoic faces of the Yankees players in their dugout and the devastated fans in the stands. It was deadly quiet there. Losing would be hard enough. But to lose to their arch-rival, at home, when the stakes were so huge, and when they really had no business losing (no team that had won the first three games of a best of seven series had ever before lost that series, that Yankees team would become the first), made it all the sweeter for most people watching around the country, and all the more bitter for Yankees players and fans. I had always hated the Yankees, but moreso tonight, since it was the game after the Alex Rodriguez debacle when he tried to slap a fielded ground ball out of pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s hands, trying to get to first base. While the hate for him and the Yankees has dimmed down since then, I will always consider that move by Rodriguez very childish, and for to lose that series was particular delightful.

Well, I can’t help imagining that most of the country feels the way today, that I did almost 7 years ago. Virginia Commonwealth, the underdogs of the tournament, an all-time great cinderella, had just beaten one of the true giants of their sport, Kansas University, to advance to the Final Four. The Rams had just completed an incredible run, that many will say they were fortunate to even have a crack at to begin with (they were directly on the bubble 2 weeks ago, not widely considered as a team that deserved a bid, and when they were selected to participate in the tournament, the selection was met with much criticism). Whether their regular season resume warranted a bid to the tournament or not, they have certainly made their critics look stupid based on how they have seized this opportunity. What has made the pleasure in VCU winning and the relish in the Jayhawks losing even greater is the type of team KU had this year. In a year with no great teams, this team was certainly one of the few good ones. But it was a team riddled with suspensions, players who had thrown illegal elbows in games and players unafraid to talk trash. It is definitely pleasing to see any Goliath in any sport fall, but a particular relish is reserved for the trash-talking Goliath, who is forced to eat his own words. This outcome that was met with cheers around most the country, was met with devastation in Lawrence, Kansas and in the rest of Jayhawk nation.

There was lot to cheer about this season, especially the way the team and community rallied around Thomas Robinson after the tragic death of his mother. It was one of the feel good stories of the college basketball season, and exemplifies the true heart of this basketball team and community. But in the end, it was another season with championship aspirations, ended by another team that was a heavy underdog. Different story, same song. Its happened in Bill Self’s tenure as coach (Bucknell, Bradley, Northern Iowa, and now VCU) and in Roy Williams time in Lawrence (Rhode Island, UTEP, UCLA and Arizona). Every big name team has to undergo some sort of major upset on the grandest of stages, its inevitable. But for KU, it seems this type of situation is becoming more of a habit, the expectation rather than the exception. Its happened so many times, and rather than becoming numb to it, its like an old wound being reopened. The pain is magnified and multiplied each time it happens. People will want to point the finger at Bill Self, especially because of the amount of times its happened in his 8 years on the Kansas bench. And he probably does deserve some of the blame (any time a team loses the coach deserves some of the blame). Winning games that you’re supposed to win are usually the easiest ones to lose, and people are beginning to wonder if Self is the type of coach who can win those games come tournament time. This pattern is especially difficult to swallow, because Self has demonstrated the ability to coach well against some of the best teams in basketball since hes been here. They have won some of these games (Memphis, North Carolina) and come up just short in others (UCLA, Michigan State), but it would be foolish to deny that when a Bill Self coached team comes to a play against another talented, blue blood type of program, they will certainly make a game of it. A team that can compete with the big boys, but is particularly vulnerable to the mid-majors? This is definitely some sort of anomaly among college basketball teams.

But first, lets step back and compare what Self has done in the last 8 years to some of the other big names in basketball, apologies if I left your team out.

Syracuse: 0 regional finals appearances, 2 seasons with no tournament bid at all, lowest seed in tournament: 5

UConn: 4 regional finals appearances, 2 seasons with no bid at all, lowest seed: 4, 1 national championship

Michigan State: 3 regional finals, bid in every season, lowest seeds: 6, 7, 9, 10

Kentucky: 3 regional finals, 1 season with no bid at all, lowest seeds: 11, 8 (twice)

Texas: 2 regional finals, bid in every season, lowest seeds: 7, 8 (twice)

UCLA: 3 regional finals, 2 seasons with no bid at all, lowest seeds: 6, 7, 11

Duke: 2 regional finals (bet you didnt guess that), bid in every season, lowest seed: 6, 1 national championship

Florida: 3 regional finals, 2 seasons with no bid at all, lowest seed: 10, 2 national championships

North Carolina: 5 regional finals, 1 season with no bid at all, lowest seed: 6, 2 national championships

Kansas Under Roy Williams: 5 regional finals in 15 years (and only 3 appearances in his first 13), 1 season with no bid at all (team was under sanctions from Larry Browns tenure, so this one definitely wasnt his fault), lowest seed: 8, 0 national championships

Kansas Under Bill Self (8 seasons): 4 regional finals, bid in every season, lowest seeds: 3 (twice), 4 (twice), 1 national championship

Fans have every right to be disappointed in some of the ways seasons past have ended. But why do you suppose that disappointment reaches to such depths? It is because Kansas has been the most consistent winner in the country under Self. Even the only team with more regional finals appearances, North Carolina, had a season without a bid in the tournament, as well as a season with a relatively low seed for a basketball power, something Kansas has NEVER experienced under Self. And even one of the two teams with more national championships in that span, Florida, has struggled to stay relevant since then, with very ungainly seeds and seasons without a bid to the big dance. Looking at that list and the facts above, it would be difficult to justify wanting to be a fan of any other basketball team. How ’bout this? In the last 10 years, 37% of one seeds have made the final four. This is a little bit shocking to hear. When you are a one seed, the expectations are National Championship or bust. And to hear that you have nearly a 2/3 chance of not even getting to the final stage to compete for a championship, where you are at further risk of losing? That is one cold dose of reality.

The NCAA Tournament is the best 3 weeks in sports because it is completely different from the regular season. Teams are seeded on the merit of their regular season accomplishments sure, but after that, it doesn’t matter anymore. In college football, if you have a one-seed type of regular season, you are almost ensured a berth in the national championship. In the NBA, teams are given a 7 game series to weed out the unworthy. But in the NCAA Tournament? Its do or die every time you step out on the court, and one bad day on the defensive end, or even an unlucky break on the offensive end will mercilessly send you packing. Its so much fun to watch the underdogs joyfully celebrate conquering the favorite. It is why so many people tune in every year. They are patiently waiting on the next Davidson, Butler, George Mason, and now VCU to appear. They don’t fill out brackets because they want to pick the highest amount of correct games, they fill them out because it’s so much fun to see them totally busted. And on the other side of that upset is a powerful team, just as devastated to be finally upended as any other mid-major school would be in that situation (maybe even more devastated, considering the higher expectations…but thats another column for another day). Seeing the jubilation of Jaime Skeen and Joey Rodriguez celebrate an all-time moment is just as fun to watch as it is difficult to witness the devastation of players like Thomas Robinson, or seniors Brady Morningstar or Tyrel Reed, whose livelihood for the last 4 years has been Kansas basketball, and now face the tough task of trying to start their new lives, lives after suiting up for the Crimson and Blue.

In a tournament with no truly great teams, it is only fitting that teams like Butler and VCU will square off in the final four. If Butler wins, they will be tied for the lowest seed of all time to play in a national championship. If VCU wins, they will be the outright recordholder for lowest seeded team to play for a championship (by a long ways too). On the other side, people will be looking to point fingers, but the fact of the matter is, everyone on that team is to blame. Some of the players shrunk from the moment, were too nervous to hit casual free throws, missed open threes, missed freebies right under the basket, and Bill Self is just as much to blame to be sure. If the team came out tight, than some of it is his fault for not helping loosen them up. If the team was overwhelmed by VCU’s pressure defense, some of it is his fault for not coming up with an appropriate solution to break the pressure. There is plenty of blame to go around, there always is a tough loss. And in a few days, or weeks, or months, people will look back on the season this team came together and had, and will say it was one of the better seasons in the rich history of Kansas Basketball. The rational fan will look back on the type of consistent winner Bill Self has turned this program into (and there can be ABSOLUTELY no doubting that it is in a better place today than where Roy Williams left it), and be glad that he, and nobody else in the country, is the leader of this program every year. There is a lot to celebrate every season as a fan of Kansas, and there probably will be for a long time. But in the present, there is no solution for the kind of hurt and emptiness a season ending loss brings.

More Picks and Another Bland Day for the Blog

I’ll be the first person to admit that things are getting just a little boring over here, and am looking to put something out that resembles more of a column than the choppy observations on the goings on in the sports world I’ve been making the last couple days. Hopefully soon. Gonna try and keep things a bit shorter today (who am I kidding) so I can have more time to take an awesome nap a little later (Stayed up really late last studying…so college). So, I think well stick with a recap of last nights action, and get some picks on the games tonight. Again, sorry for the slight lack in more prevocative (or fun for that matter) writing, appreciate you guys stickin’ around.

Well Derrick Williams may have put on the performance of the tournament, as Arizona continues to make me look stupid (Also had them losing in the second round to Texas). Not a monumental upset, but whenever youre 10 point dogs to the defending national champs and come out with a dominant second half like that, that leaves A LOT of people impressed. Derrick Williams has been absolutely unguardable, and if he can continue this type of play, while getting very solid supoort from some of the roll players, theres no reason why they can’t continue to keep winning.

UConn won in solid fashion and the Huskies continue to build on their already white-hot streak. Kemba was absolutely spectacular and Jeremy Lamb is turning into a star. A little bit disappointed on the other end with the Aztecs. It wouldn’t be fair to say that SDSU lost the game more than the Huskies won it, but they certainly had their chances. D.J. Gay was my x-factor for the game, and not surprisingly his inefficient 16 points on 15 shots did not help their cause. Too many perimeter jumpers (7-22 3PM-A) and not enough pounding the ball inside to their bigs. Perhaps the stat that will leave Aztec fans the most bitter would be the 6-13 clip from the charity stripe. Taking those facts into consideration, they were lucky to have stayed in the thing for so long as they did. UConn will need better play from their frontcourt, particularly Alex Oriakhi if they want to advance to Houston. Finals thoughts: maybe the Big East as a whole was a bit sub par during the tournament. But having your 9th best regular season team (UConn finished a pedestrian 9-9 in conference play) advancing to the Elite 8 totally and completely puts to rest the argument about who had the best conference this season. Big East in a landslide, and you can kiss the baby on that one.

Wisconsin made it a little interesting at the end of the game, but the final score doesn’t really dictate how the first 37 minutes went. Butler built an early first half lead, sustained it, and built on it some more in the second half. Before I knew it, they were up by 20. Matt Howard showed off his new found versatility on the perimeter and finally stayed out of foul trouble for an entire game. Brad Stevens is one of the coolest customers around, and would definitely be my favorite to replace Coach Self at Kansas if the situation ever called for it (and it won’t). Its very possible that Pittsburgh was the best competition they could have possibly faced in their entire region, and itll be interesting to see how they handle themselves when the expectations will be vamped up another notch against Florida. Back-to-back Final Four appearances for Butler would have to be one of the more impressive feats in any sport in quite some time. They are one of my favorite teams to watch/follow/pull for, and its a shame they’re on the same side of the bracket as Kansas (read: will lose to Kansas if they meet in Houston). One of the bigger what if’s in sports this year has got to be what would the Bulldog’s have been capable of had Gordon Hayward come back? Can’t say enough good things about this program and am genuinely excited to see if they can continue their ascent to true basketball powerhouse status in the coming years.

Not much to say about the Florida win. The Cougars were outcoached and outclassed. Jimmer was always going to put up his numbers, but Florida made him work for tough shots, and made him a high volume shooter and inefficient point scorer, and that was the key. Jimmer is definitely one of the great stories in college basketball this year, but you can only carry a team so far.

PICKS (Lines from MGM Mirage)

North Carolina (-6) over Marquette

Was surprised to see the Heels get only 6 on Marquette for tonight, but maybe its a testament to the kind of basketball the Golden Eagles have been playing, and the kind of basketball UNC has not been playing as of late. If North Carolina plays like the talented team they are, a team we got a terrifying glimpse of during the last month of ACC conference play, its their game to lose. On the other hand, Marquette has made a really good habit the last few seasons, and especially this one, of playing up to their competition and putting themselves in positions to win games that they probably shouldn’t. I expect no different here. Picking Marquette to at least cover tonight is not a bad bet at all, you know, if gambling were legal.

Kansas (-10) over Richmond

Richmond has been slowly building a reputation for itself the last few years as one of those mid-major programs that can beat you with really good guard play. And they’ve won a lot of games doing just that. But they won’t win tonight. I guess if you really wanted to play devil’s advocate, you could say the Spiders might just have a very slight edge in the backcourt, but even such blashpheming won’t help their cause. Richmond’s big men like to spread the floor and aren’t quite as partial to banging around on the low-block like Markieff Morris and Thomas Robinson are. Expect Coach Self to really get after it inside with his patented high-low offense and try to dominate points in the paint and rebounding margin. Forgetting the other half of the Morii is never a good idea either, and it should be noted that absolutely no one, at any position, in college basketball has a better back-to-the-basket mid-range game than Marcus. His fallaway jump shot is a beauty. Kansas cruises.

Ohio State (-4) over Kentucky.

The oddsmakers in Vegas seem to have a bit of a man-crush on Brandon Knight and Co. Kentucky’s had a great season and getting placed on the top 4 line without a legitimate front-court is certainly an admirable feat (Terrence Jones has been playing a little out of position at the 4 spot to help compensate for the season long absence of Enes Kanter while hes a more natual fit filling in the role of the athletic, slashing, wing player, and Josh Harrelson, at the 5 spot, is just all sorts of…something). In the same way Kansas will look to exploit Richmond’s weakness down low, look for the Buckeyes to do the very same with Sullinger. If Kentucky plays well, they could certainly make a game of it. On the other hand, Ohio State is the far superior team and will threaten to run the Wildcats out of the gym if they don’t bring their a-game. Aaron Craft can shut down Knight, Diebler is lights out every time he steps on the court, and David Lighty and William Buford are the top 1-2 tanden of wing players in the country. They are both tall, versatile, athletic players who can knock down the treybomb at a great clip. Sullinger may get all the pub (and deservedly so) but these two guys are what make this team go.

VCU (+5) over Florida State.

Personally, I don’t have very much at stake in this game, and am just flat out uninterested. I’m not sure how much pedigree really matters, but VCU is a program that’s won games in the tournament before, so maybe that counts for something. Florida State’s defense gives opposing coaches nightmares, but VCU possesses the athletes (the ones Notre Dame lacked in their blowout loss to FSU last week) to neutralize the Seminoles’ greatest weapon somewhat. VCU is one of the hottest teams in the country, and their 3 starting guards lit Purdue up last Sunday. They may not need quite as big of a performance tonight, since the competition level drops off a little bit from Purdue to FSU, but hey, it couldn’t hurt. Shaka Smart is the most saught after commodity in college coaching right now and he may just be the best coaching prospect to have come out of the school’s fruitful coaching tree, which includes established names such as Anthony Grant and Jeff Capel (who will have no problem landing back on his feet). VCU fans, soak up this run to the Elite 8 the best you can, because the odds are heavily in favor of Smart taking the elite money and going to a major school.

BONUS PICK

Colorado (-3) over Alabama on March 29

Not really too many things to say about this game either, its just nice to see two quality young players representing the major Kansas City area. If you’ve got nothing else going on next Tuesday night, give this game a shot. Colorado features one of the more unheralded seniors in the game in Cory Higgins, who has scored a lot of points in a fine collegiate career. The Dancin’ Buffs also possess one of the best pure scorers (out of Grandview, Missouri) in the country in Alec Burks. He is a first round pick in the draft this summer if he decides to leave, and he really knows how to put the ball in the bucket. Alabama is coached by one of the men mentioned above, Anthony Grant, and he seems to be making some slow, steady progress, but progress nonetheless, towards turning the Crimson Tide into a team that can compete for SEC championships on a yearly basis. Two players on this squad that you have to watch out for are J’Mychael Green and Trevor Releford, straight out of Bishop Miege High School, who has made KC very proud this year. Green was actually one of the more sought after recruits in the country as a high schooler, and has been making progress each season since he went to Tuscaloosa. He is definitely flying under the radar right now, and if hes smart and decides to come back for his senior season, he could put up some big numbers. Releford has shown immense promise on the court his freshman season, so watch out for this guy to become one of the top lead guards in the SEC in the coming years. Better days are coming for Alabama.

Record Last Night: 3-1

Overall Record: 3-1

Well, that concludes another post here on jaywalking33. Appreciate the viewership/feedback as always and hope you stop by again. And I PROMISE I will try to pick up the pace on the amount of column-esque posts I put out on a weekly basis. Or at least try to spread them out a little bit. They are definitely more fun and a better challenge to write, and based on the amount of views I got on my first two days in business (with more of a column format) compared to the amount I’ve gotten in the last three (where I seem to have had the collective writing focus and brain power that most deserves to be ranked somewhere between the dumpster outside of my dorm and Dynasty Reintjes (too lazy to explain that one) on one of his more legendary nights) it appears you guys like reading them too. Or you’re just tired of reading posts that are probably too long. Or, what is easily the most likely of situations, you’ve become so attached to this blog, that you just needed some time away to get your thoughts straight, before you come back to commit for the long-haul. Hey, on the bright side, at least you don’t have to read the ramblings of some guy who suffers from an obvious case of classic delusion, right?

Tonights Picks

First of all, just wanted to thank all of you for now making this blog the top result on Google when you type “jaywalking33” into the search box. We have now surpassed previous powers on the results page such as a fake jaywalking demotivational poster, and an article about some guy hitting two cars after being pursued by police. Clearly, we are headed for stardom here. Also, I got a very passionate and thought-provoking comment from a fellow Villanovan last night so, a most sincere thank you to whoever you are. The feedback is what will make this blog better, and you clearly understand that. Anonymous, the mainstream music industry is definitely an entity with some pretty giant flaws. Hopefully this song (which is an all-time favorite) demonstrates to you that I can also respect the independent artists out there trying to make names for themselves by writing music about something deeper than parties and promiscuous women.

PICKS (Lines from MGM Mirage)

UConn (+1) over San Diego State

Kemba Walker is the difference maker here (as if there was any other possibility) in what should be a game UConn wins by at least 10. They’ve got the frontcourt depth to help neutralize Kawhi Leonard (who remains one of the most undervalued players in the country) and the rest of the SDSU bigs, and I’m looking for Jim Calhoun to outcoach Steve Fisher. D.J. Gay will have to be play a good game (at least a better one than he had against Temple) tonight for the Aztecs to have any chance.

Florida (-2.5) over BYU

Nothing would make me happier than to see BYU advance, because that would give us one more game for a Gus Johnson/Jimmer Fredette combo that is creating some serious hype. These two guys have been on a collison course all season long, and its definitely a must see game tonight. It might be unfair to call BYU just a one man show, but theres no doubt that the offense revolves heavily around their big star. Some teams whose offenses comprise mainly of one player are capable of making final four runs, but that is the exception rather than the rule. I expect no different here. People have stopped talking for the most part about the absence of Brandon Davies, but it should be noted that the only time they played competition close to the kind they’ll face tonight since the suspension, the Cougars got crapped on by San Diego St. Big games could be in store for Gators Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker, who has been on an absolute tear during the tournament.

Duke (-10) over Arizona

Nothing original about this pick. There’s no way around it, Duke is just the better team. Derrick Williams is one of the best players in the country and will put up his numbers tonight, but the question is if Duke’s big men can make him really work/take a lot of shots to get those numbers. If Kyrie Irving can quickly integrate himself back into the Blue Devils’ offense, this team has a serious shot of getting back to where they were at early in the season (unanimous number one, no other team was really that close). Its a three horse race for tournament favorite and Duke is deservedly one of those teams. Arizona winning would be a big upset (although, it should be interesting to see if they can at least cover, if any of you have money on this game). Story to keep an eye on: Kyle Singler isn’t the player he was last year, and has been struggling even more in the tournament, especially from beyond the arc. Nolan Smith has been fantastic this year and has disguised this issue a somewhat, but if the Blue Devils can continue to move on and the competition gets better, Singler will have to pick it up if he wants to end his collegiate career to the tune of back-to-back championships.

Butler (+4.5) over Wisconsin 

This is the game I most looking forward to watching as it should be pretty low scoring and very close, a classic Big 10 game. Both of the coaches don’t get enough credit for the type of programs they’ve helped put together. Bo Ryan continues to orchastrate teams that exceed expectations every single year and despite the accusations that the Badgers’ offense is too slow and deliberate, the regular season results are impossible to argue with. Unfortunately, the results in the tournament have been a mixed bag (similar to Pittsburgh’s) and it begs the question, is this the type of offense you can win championships with? Wisconsin is deservedly the favorite tonight and this team was my original pick out of the region to get to Houston, but something tells me Butler’s run isn’t quite done yet (my instincts are questionable at best). Even with a scrub on the playcall, this game would be close. The only wrinkle here is that the formidable Gus Johnson is calling it. If he can make any type of game a close one, resulting from the Rule of Gus of course, (for those unfamiliar, look up the games hes called in the past couple years, the results will blow your mind) then tonight shapes up to possibly be the game of the tournament. My brackets are completely shot, so I am fully expecting an 0-4 record on tonights predictions.

And finally, the answer to the question (who would you choose to narrate your life) I presented yesterday, which is so complex and beautiful, that it borders upon the unnecessary. Its morning. I walk out of my dorm and the sun is shining, the grass covered in morning dew and it is very quiet. Its a beautiful day to hit the links. Well thankfully for me, I have some of the crew CBS uses to cover the Masters every year to get me through my morning classes. Jim Nantz and Gary McCord, with there vast experience of calling plays on the golf course, will be the perfect duo to seamlessly integrate themselves into the classroom environment, without being a distraction. Everyone wins. Bobby Clampett will be strategically positioned in various hiding places on my walk to and from the dorm room, so that aspect of the day is covered as well. The afternoon crew (while Kevin Harlan was a very worthy choice) consists of Marv Albert and Steve Kerr. Kerr provides the adept, quick analysis, so that he won’t be too much of a distraction for fellow students. Moreover, the afternoon is the time of day when I am usually dozing off in my classes. This is where Marv comes in. He now has a contractual obligation to drop either “AND the fawrrrrrl!” or “YES!” or “Facial!” every time I raise my hand and answer a teacher’s question. While the main purpose is that his calls will jolt me enough to keep me awake, it also acts as a great incentive to be an active participant in class. Again, everybody wins. Lastly, for nights and weekends, its time to bring out the A-team: Gus, Bill Raftery, and Jay Bilas, attorney at law. Gus is the obvious choice, and needed to be given the time of week that is most exciting (at least, I’d like to think that my weekends are the most exciting part of the week). And the Rule of Gus also must be factored in here. Even the lamest of Friday nights can immediately become that much better with Gus on the call. He and Raftery are a perfect fit, and will alternate moments when they are allowed to go nuts. In fact, every time I slam a “gatorade” Bill is contractually obligated to scream “ONIONS!!!” For the third time, everyone is a winner. EuroGus will have to be on standby at all times for when Gus’s head inevitably explodes. And this works out perfectly, because not only is Jay Bilas a practicing attorney, but he is fluent in 18 different languages, meaning he can translate. The only flaw is that when EuroGus’s larynx inevitably explodes, we could be in some trouble here. Thanks again for reading, and look for me to post picks tomorrow for Friday night’s games.

Never Apologize For Partying Lawrence

Not too much going on today, patiently waiting for the beginning of the MLB season, very anxious for more tournament action starting tomorrow night, and I guess there’s the NBA. But who really cares about the NBA. And then there’s been the 6 month wait for the fantasy baseball draft (this sunday). If you like fantasy sports and think you’ve got the dedication to stick with it, I would really recommend it. Relies a little less on luck and matchups (read: fantasy football is a giant crapshoot) and a little more on manager skill. Its the coolest. So, for now I’m resorting to a token post that should hopefully hold me over until tomorrow when there will actually be something good to discuss.

Opening thoughts: as a huge Kansas basketball fan, the exodus of Jacob Pullen and the will he/won’t he stories about Mike Anderson “possibly” leaving for Arkansas are awesome, because undefeated conference regular season records are my favorite. But as  a college basketball/Big 12 fan, (along with Texas’ really crappy loss to a less talented team in Arizona) its tough to see the conference taking this many hits in one week. Pullen really turned his season around and became one of the best players in America, not to mention he was thoroughly enjoyable to watch. His reaction at the post game press conference after the Wisconsin loss was pretty difficult to watch, and really illustrated the kind of passion and fire he had for the game. Anderson turned around the Missouri program and brought it back to semi-relevance (although, the higher-ups at Missouri will have to explain to me how 2 straight seasons of double digit loses and finishing in the middle of the pack of the conference warrants a 500K pay raise to 2 Mil a year). And until Dick Barnes did his usual post-season crapping-on of another absurdly talented team, the Longhorns seemed like an under-seeded, but totally legitimate title contender. Things really changed in only a week, but I expect the conference to carry on, even if it may be a little bit down next season in comparison to this one.

The good stuff: on the unintentional funny scale (not funny to funny) this article from espn.com is funny. LT\’s Prostitution Woes Never, ever apologize for partying Lawrence. I think we can all take a lot from this situation and think about just what it means to party. This HOF linebacker is willing to sacrifice his marriage, as well as the comforts of a relatively normal personal life, on behalf of partying. This is dedication, and sends a message to all of us that we, as fellow partiers, seriously need to reconsider what it really takes to get to that next level of partying. Well done LT, your an inspiration to us all. Thoughts on the article itself. Lawrence seems to confirm the many suspicions about the world of prositution when he lets us know “you never know what your going to get.” Fantasy football, prostitution…hey man, its all a crap shoot.

Now as promised (but more of a space filler than anything), here is some of the music thats been playing on my iPod the last few weeks

Most of the songs on the new Chris Brown album, see previous post for information on those

International Love, Pitbull and Chris Brown. Pitbull really just sucks, but its a nice cameo by Chris, good beat, generally fun song.

No Russian Hands, Mashup of Basshunter’s Russian Privjet and Waka’s No Hands. No Hands is admittedly starting to get pretty old, but it’s a mashup that really works. You have to let it build for about 40 seconds, and then Roscoe comes in and its all kinds of awesome.

Lover Like You Remix, Jodie Connor, Maxsta and Benz. Good Times, Roll Deep & Jodie Connor. Both songs are from are brethren across the Atlantic (the accents in each song are decidedly British) and both are a little bit girly, but solid songs to break out at a party nonetheless. Lover Like You (the more I type out “Lover Like You”, the softer I feel) has a decidedly spring-summerish feel to it, and Connor has a nice voice. Credit goes out to my buddy, Bradford Wiedeman for Good Times. He showed it to me last summer and I kind of shrugged it off, but rediscovered it a while back and it’s not bad.

Grand Hustle Kings and Higher. Both songs are from Bobby Ray’s most recent mixtape No Genre. Higher is a better song for chilling, whereas Grand Hustle Kings goes pretty hard, and is definitely one of my favorite songs from the last couple months. T.I. and Young Dro make nice appearances on it as well, and the song uses a unique sample from the theme to 70’s sitcom Sanford & Song to set the tone.

Deuces Remix, Chris Brown and Keri Hilson. This is different one from the much more subdued version featuring Drake and the gang. This song is very upbeat, gets people moving, and is a nice take on the original.

My Last, Big Sean and Chris Brown. Not really too much to be said about this song. Chris does a great job with the hook (probably too much Chris on this list) and Sean gives off a few passable verses. Good song to break out for any kind of situation really.

Little Bad Girl, Taio Cruz and David Guetta. This one is a little bit more difficult to find on the YouTube circuit, but once you do, its worth it. Good party song.

Price Tag, Jessie J and B.o.B. Love this, also one of the more feminine selections on the list. This song screams summer.

Backseat, New Boyz. This one was produced by The Cataracs. Good for parties. Nuff said.

E.T., Katy Perry and Kanye. This song rocks, Kanye manages to fit in pretty well and Katy is just awesome. Im getting pretty lazy with my explanations. For the 0.5% of you who haven’t heard this song, go get it right now.

Champion Remix, Chipmunk, Chris Brown and J. Cole. Last Chris Brown song, promise. Chipmunk is another British artist, who went with a very unique moniker to establish street cred among his fans. Personally, I think squirrel would have worked a lot better (getting pretty lazy with the jokes here). Good song, I guess its best purpose is to serve as motivation. Good song to use for the next time you go for a run or lift, since you’ve been meaning to do that for a while now, but just haven’t gotten around to it.

Pass Out, Tinie Tempah. Pretty old song, but rediscovered it a few weeks ago. Everything about this jam is great. This guy is huge in Britain (I have absolutely no clue whats going on the with all the songs from England on here, apologies to Greg Reintjes), and is slowly starting to gain a following in America.

This last one is courtesy of Scott Kennedy. Teenage Dream Accoustic Version, Boyce Avenue. AWESOME take on the song. Also a little bit girly you could say, but I feel OK saying this version needs to be on peoples iPods a.s.a.p.

I could probably put a few more songs on here, but I don’t really feel like it. Its been raining all day and it seems to make me apathetic towards just about everything. Any music suggestions, please comment or shoot me an e-mail. Will be posting picks on tomorrow nights games sometime tomorrow afternoon. Also will be taking an in-depth look at the question of “If you could have one media guy, play-by-play person, etc narrate your life as its happening, who would it be?” The easy answer, of course, would be Gus Johnson, but I’ll try to get a little more creative than that. See you guys tomorrow, and in the words of Veronica Corningstone, thanks for stopping by.

Breezy’s Back

Really pumped about the new Chris Brown album, as he looks to thoroughly entrench himself in the Pop/R&B music world for the first time in almost three years. Before we move onto the review, just wanted to say thanks to anyone who looked at/read the blog yesterday, got a lot more views than I ever would have expected. Be sure to stop by again! Separate thanks are also in order for those who marketed it via facebook or told friends without me even asking. MUCH appreciated.

Last order of business, wanted to put up a link to a great article on Deadspin that really takes an in-depth look at the statistics behind one of the greatest games ever played. I am of course referring to the classic 1996 championship bout between the Michael Jordan-led Tune Squad and the heavily favored Monstars. Truly one of the all-time great comebacks and we were lucky enough that actual footage of the game was compiled to make one of my favorite movies ever: Space Jam. Heres the link: compiling-the-absurd-box-score-for-space-jam-or-shawn-bradley-sucked-against-cartoons-too

F.A.M.E.

It seems like a very long time since we’ve heard from Chris Brown. Most of you probably were aware that he released an album, Graffiti, which for me, remains very underrated. While I think several of the songs could have received significant air-play, it makes sense that they didn’t, given the circumstances surrounding his assault on Rihanna just months before (for those of you who haven’t listened to much of the album, be sure to check out Crawl, Sing Like Me, What I Do, Pass Out, So Cold, and Wait). After that, he wasn’t heard from very much in music until he exploded back onto the scene last summer with Deuces. The song rapidly rose up the R&B charts and reassured fans that, at some point, he may just be able to regain the momentum he had going into the early months of 2009 that made him seem destined for interntaional superstardom. A few months later, he released Yeah 3x, a really fun, bubbly song that only increased anticipation for the album release. While this album by itself doesn’t completely deliver him back into the good graces of the many fans he lost for the February 2009 incident, it certainly serves as a really good stepping stone to eventually get back to that level. Because Chris has been out of the music game for so long, my anticipation and expectations for the album were extremely high and it didnt disappoint. I can safely say that close to half the album needs to be on everybody’s iPods a.s.a.p. I was originally a little down on the 9-10 songs (17 total songs on the deluxe version) that weren’t quite up to the level of the other really good ones. But the more I listened, I realized that with the exception of maybe  1-2 songs, there isn’t a bad apple in the bunch. There are great songs, good ones, and a few that just might not be up to par.  But in the end, every opinion varies with each listener. Give it a listen a see what you think.

Overall Grade: B+…Maybe I’m a bit of a tough grader, but if something is going to get a grade in the “A” range, I think it needs to surpass expectations and give the listener something he/she has never heard before. It needs to be something of an experience. The last album I can safely say that reached this level for me would be My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West. Definitely one of my favorite albums of all time, but needs to be listened to in the right context  NOTE: there is still A LOT of music I need to give a chance but I just haven’t had the time. A few artists I look forward to listening to very soon would be The Black Keys and Arcade Fire, I’ve heard nothing but good things about each artist, and was glad to see that each got what appeared to be some well deserved recognition at this year’s Grammy Awards. Now, we can take a brief look at some of the songs from F.A.M.E. (Songs are tentatively ranked).

MUST PURCHASE/DOWNLOAD….LIKE RIGHT NOW

1. Yeah 3x. Maybe my favorite song on the album, its basically just a really good time/instant good mood in music form. Kind of a sequel to Forever.

2. She Ain’t You. At the very beginning of the song, listeners will hear something that, depending on your knowledge of 80’s music, could seem very familiar (luckily for me, my knowledge of the music from this time period is so great, that it far exceeds any amount that could be deemed necessary). That melody at the beginning is actually a sample from Michael Jackson’s Human Nature off of Thriller. I first heard this song two weeks ago, and have been  listening to it non-stop since. Its a really catchy blend of Pop and R&B, and I’m really hoping it gets some time to display its chops on the radio.

3. Deuces. Despite being released all the way back last summer, the song still holds up surprisingly well whenever its played. People haven’t gotten tired of it. Get in the car and put this on blast and you’re sure to feel like a hard-ass (could just be me though…ouch).

4. Love Them Girls. Chris, Game, and song-writer Ester Dean team up for the first time since Wait, and it doesn’t disappoint. Love Them Girls is something of a sequel to Wait in fact. It gives us a great beat, and the song seems like a combination of Wait, and Usher’s Hot Tottie (an all-time favorite song) and Lil Freak, which would make sense since the music mentioned in this section was all produced by Polow Da Don.

5. Bomb. Wiz Khalifa makes a nice cameo in this serenade to women’s prominently featured backsides. The first 35 seconds get me really jacked up, and then the song drops into something that sounds like a bit of a rip-off of Lil Wayne’s 6 Foot 7 Foot. Regardless, should be a great song to break out once the summer rolls around.

6. Beautiful People. Chris teams up with Benny Benassi (the mastermind behind the blood-pumping Satisfaction). Great dance song, and the album features a version that is a little more listener friendly. The original version that was leaked awhile back can be found pretty easily on YouTube and is about 75 seconds longer than the one on the album. Can’t decide which version is better, but both are good, so its not much of a problem.

7. Up 2 You. This is R&B at its absolute purest. Took me a few listens to really get into it, but I really like it now that I have.

8. Wet The Bed. This song is as filthy as the title implies, and features a really solid cameo from Ludacris, who has a very special talent for putting your dirty thoughts into rap form (I abstain from saying “our dirty thoughts” because I was raised as a Puritan, I have no dirty thoughts). The lyrical content may be a little bit dicey for some people, but this is a song that brings back memories of the fantastic Take You Down from his Exclusive album. This song is what I like to call a Brothers Logan Special, the significance of which I will wait for another day to explain.

SOLID (NOTHING TO WRITE HOME ABOUT)….this basically means results from song to song might be mixed, its all up to the discretion of the listener.

9. Paper, Scissors, Rock. If I had been told 6 months ago that Timbaland would produce a song on F.A.M.E., I would have been pretty ecstatic to get my hands on it. Now looking at that very Timbaland produced song, something seems to be missing. Maybe too many crappy vocals from Timbaland and not enough Chris Brown. This song probably should have been on Shock Value II rather than F.A.M.E. (which by now has become very annoying to type out with the added obstacle of having to italicize with the classic Ctrl+I combo). Regardless of its several flaws, its still a song that can get people out of their seats and moving, and theres also something to be said for its very open endorsement of the lost game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

10. Next 2 You. The song features every girl’s favorite, Justin Bieber, who is now singing a whole octave lower than Brown in some parts (read: he is now undergoing a process many of us in the business like to call puberty (read: his career is effectively over in maybe 12 months)). As soon as I got over the prospect of having to listen to Bieber do his best to keep up with the far-superior Chris Brown, the song really isn’t too bad at all. It kind of has a classic Justin Bieber sound to it (insert joke about how I even know what the classic Justin Bieber sound is), so I’m sure the song will please many of the lady folk.

11. Should’ve Kissed You. A heartfelt ballad, produced by the same man who helped put out mega-hits like Forever, and Disturbia. Pretty solid song, depending on what your tastes are, and Chris goes all out for the last 50 seconds.

12. Say It With Me. If Michael Jackson put out a pop-song today, it might end up sounding a little bit like this (and in fact, you can almost hear him in the background in parts of the chorus). A solid change of pace since most of the songs are pretty slowed down.

13. All Back. He shows some pretty nice vocal range with this one, a song that sounds very much like I’ll Go, from his previous album. Its another slowed-down R&B jam; some may like the song, others simply won’t. With this song, we have officially entered the part of the album where reception of each song just depends on the type of music you like or detest. No right answer either way.

14. Oh My Love. Another change of pace song that has a nice feel to it. Could be a distant cousin to Say It With me.

15. No Bulls**t. One of the more graphic songs on the album and I would probably be correct in classifying it as another Brothers Logan Special. This is a different Chris than the one we saw all these years ago on Run It. It seems he has now entered the phase of his career where he wants to deal with some more adult themes. Adult themes or not, a good song is a good song regardless of content. At the same time, a crappy song about the life of MLK Jr. or Abraham Lincoln is still a crappy song.

16. Beg For It. Shows some nice vocal range with this song as well, but its a little too auto-tuned in some spots for my taste. For any R&B fiends out there, this is another song that should probably be on your iPod.

17. Look At Me Now. Despite the really awesome bass and great verses from Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne, I just could never really get on board with this song. The consensus seems to be that people don’t want to hear Chris rap (even though he does appear to have some talent) and would rather he get back to his Pop/R&B roots, and I am definitely a part of that group of people.

Wow. That was a really long post. Congrats to the few of you (of perhaps no one made it) who made it all the way down here. I would give you some sort of cash reward or something, but I’m usually pretty frugal with my funds. Thanks a bunch for reading. Since the days in between the tournament games are a little slow on sports, thinking about putting up some newer songs tomorrow that I have really been feeling for the past couple weeks/months/whatever. Expect me to take a look at the games for the round of 16 sometime on Thursday. Once again, really appreciate the views.

Why We Love Gus Johnson

Why Gus?: Well, we are 2 rounds deep into the NCAA tournament, one of God’s most beautiful creations, and this man IS March Madness. He has endeared himself to fans with his explosive announcing (which we will talk about in a little bit) and great word choice. I got the chance to listen to most of his games during the first weekend, and BYU guard Jimmer Fredette (who’s three point abilities are off the charts) casually came up 2 times. Gus wasn’t calling a Jimmer game mind you, but even the thought of the Jimmer while Gus was at a different game put a serious crackle in his voice on both occasions. Fans knew that if, someday, this dream matchup could occur, truly magical things would happen. As luck would have it, CBS execs possessed the foresight to assign Johnson to the Southeast regional where Jimmer is playing. 1, maybe 2, games of Gus calling Jimmer? This is absolutely huge. As a Kansas fan, I want Gus calling the game every single time the Jayhawks take the court. But as a college basketball fan? This is definitely the optimal situation. So, with Gus on the precipice of stardom (if he already isn’t recognized among the upper echelon of play-by-play guys, this game/games should certainly get him there), I thought I would give my salute to the man who helps shape the memories we have of the greatest three weeks in sports. There will have to be a medic standing by at all times, there is a chance Gus’s head explodes from excitement if he even just watches the pre-game warmups. Hope you enjoy.

The buttons-freezer. This is the best word I can summon out of the golden fountain of my creativity to accurately describe something or someone who makes it very difficult for you to change the channel. In sports, we see it with the transcendent players, the great teams, hell, when I was a kid, I didn’t want to miss a moment of TV when my favorites color guys were on, like Bill Raftery or Dick Vitale (who I have since become very disenchanted with). If you changed the channel, you were putting yourself in severe danger of missing a great play or a passionate call. Well, as I was watching the Syracuse v. Marquette game yesterday, and someone tried to change the channel, I actually objected to watching my team for a secret split second. Yeah, it was a great game and Marquette was poised for the upset, but more importantly, Gus was moving into Gus territory. You could hear it in his voice. I didn’t want to miss a single word.

And in that moment, Gus moved to a level that no other play-by-play guy I can remember has gone. Gus is becoming a buttons-freezer. Ask the casual sports fan who the best guys are to call a game, you’ll probably get Al Michaels, Jim Nantz, Joe Buck, and Marv Albert, and then you’ll get into a discussion about how hot Eric Andrews is, even though she doesn’t do play-by-play. If its a crappy game, and its not one of your teams, or you have no money invested in the outcome, or your not procrastinating for anything, and one of the greats is calling it, your DEFINITELY still turning that game off. You’ve got better things to do. What if all the same aspects of the above situation hold true, but now, Gus Johnson is calling the game? Maybe you still turn it off, but you at least have to think about it. Turning off Gus Johnson is running the risk that you will miss the next great sound bite in the man’s illustrious sound bite career. How many play-by-play guys can you think of who actually make you consider watching a crappy game just to hear the guy who’s calling the action? I can only think of one. And there’s the European Gus Johnson. So I guess that makes two.

Now, the easy explanation as to why this situation is beginning to occur with Gus is that he gets so riled up, with his voice going to previously untredded octave levels of excitement, that he just goes nuts. He’ll say something that is so out of the ordinary, that the average listener will actually have to stop and think about what just happened. But to the trained ear, its just an excuse to laugh and enjoy the moment. Most people who proclaim themselves to be Gus fans would probably say something similar to the above scenario as to why they are indeed Gus fans, and they would be right. But is there something deeper at work here? In all honesty, probably not. But I’m just three paragraphs and change into my first post, so well give it a shot anyway.

One of the things I really don’t like about Joe Buck (despite having the silky-smoothiest voice around), is that he shows an innate ability to absolutely NEVER get rapped up in the moment. He has called some pretty exciting games and moments in his career, and the man is on the same plane of speaking the entire time. I guess that quality does have some merit, but lets see some passion man! He would probably respond that the pure play-by-play guy is merely supposed to guide fans through the experience of watching that particular sporting event. His job is merely to relay what is happening on the screen so the watcher knows what is going on. Maybe he’s right. Maybe a play-by-play man, in the absolute purist sense is supposed to stay as uninvolved as possible. Well…that isn’t very exciting. There is something to be said for a man (namely, Gus) getting so into the moment that he actually exceeds the excitement of the fans watching around him. It takes moments like those to competely new levels of awesomeness and memorability for the fan. Ask someone about the UCLA v. Gonzaga regional semifinal in the 2006 NCAA tournament. The most adept of fans will probably realize what you are talking about, but the majority don’t have that kind of memory. On the other hand, go up to that same guy and scream “Batista with the the CAAAAAATCHHHHH,” and he will probably immeidately refer back to that very game…or he will be creeped out and get the hell out of there. Heres the clip: Because of countless other instances of that kind of passion for the moment, Gus has now embedded himself into the very fabric of the NCAA tournament.

Maybe most fans would have Buck or Nantz call the biggest games, and thats OK for them. But I’ll take Johnson. Sure, he’s a little unconventional, and definitely takes some getting used to (the first time I heard him, I thought CBS immediately needed to get rid of that clown). Furthermore, why has this post been progressively making play-by-play guys seem more and more important? Not a clue. I really just wanted to discuss why Gus Johnson is a man among announcing men. But now that I really think about it, maybe it is true that the people who call sporting events inevitably become a part of them, forever associated with them, whether they like it or not. And wouldn’t you rather listen to the guy who manages to ratchet up the excitement of the game to another level rather than the guy who simply relays the events to you? I know I would. The sports memories I most like to look back upon are the ones that were the most exciting and fulfilling, and there is no better man at making that happen, regardless of outcome, in the business than Gus Johnson. Go Gus, go college basketball. Heres a solid “best of” mix of Gus’s better moments: