Friday, March 28, 2014

March Madness Weekend, Part 2: Heyyyyyy Brotherrrrr!!!!!!

~This is where I'd insert a group photo, but we managed not to take a single one the entire weekend.~

In other news, Fundy, Smapes, Easy E, LZE, Morley, and BroMo came to town last weekend for March Madness games, golfing, Golden Tee, and general douchebaggery.  Along with Kansas friends Hendo and JDub (and some others who made cameos but are inconsequential to the overall arc of the weekend) we made some SERIOUS plays.  On Saturday, after golf in the morning, I took the crew to one of our go-to bars in Lawrence, "for lunch and a couple of beers during the Florida/Pittsburgh game."  Huge mistake.  13 hours and $800 later, there's a decent chance I might not be let back into that establishment.  The lesson:  Don't take your lowlife friends to one of your home-field advantage bars.  They get to skip town and never show their faces there again; you don't.

Full disclosure:  I'm probably exaggerating how annoying we were that day.  I spent most of the day alternating between laughing my ass off and being mortified, but my pseudo-buddy Hoff, who runs the joint, came up to me at the end of the night and told me we livened the place up and that I should bring my friends from up north whenever I want.  Also, apparently some people (strangers to me) who were at Johnny's Wet at the same time as us left at some point, went to another bar, and ran into my buddy Zim, telling him "We just came from Johnny's Wet, and there was a group of North Dakotans bellied up and getting rowdy, they were AWESOME!!!"  So maybe there were a few fans amongst all the people we pissed off.  Some other mini stories:

- For readers who don't personally know the cast of characters, BroMo is Easy's brother.  (BroMo's blog nickname stems from him being my BROther of a different MOther.)  So every time BroMo came back from the bathroom, or sat down with a random girl at a different table, or really just every time it had been seven minutes and we were getting bored, someone would yell out, and everyone would join in, "Heyyyyyyyy Brotherrrrrrr!!!!!"  Sometimes I exaggerate how many times a certain phrase gets used during a drinking sesh, but no jokesies, we yelled that at least 75 times while we were there.  Conservatively.  It got to the point that random people around the bar were joining in with us during the first syllable....because they knew where that train was headed.

So at the time, I had no idea what the reference was from; I just thought it sounded fun and joined in cause all the cool kids were doing it.  The next morning, I found out it was from this song, which sounds more depressing or something.  It doesn't sound like a celebration.  I like our way better.

-  I get a fair amount of shit for my northern accent from my Kansas friends, even though I don't think I have a bad accent.  A good way to sum it up is thusly:  Last week I ran into some guys from the University of Minnesota-Crookston at the golf course, we got to talking about where I came from, blah blah blah, and they asked "So, does your accent go away after you live down here, or what?"  Not even two hours later, I was talking to another random guy born and raised in Kansas, he asked me a question, and before I could even finish the first sentence, he was cutting in, "So, you're from up north, huh?"  So it goes both ways.  Anyway, after three full days of hanging out with us day and night....Hendo and JDub developed northern accents.  It was fantastic.  As much as they hated it, they couldn't stop it.  It was hilarious to watch.  It's only now beginning to fade.  What a coupla hosers.

- Teens and Smapes went home earlier than the rest of us on Saturday night, but it wasn't to stop drinking and/or sober up.  When we came home, we walked in on the TV volume turned up full blast on the 90's Jams channel, and the two of them were dancing, SYNCHRONIZED, to Usher.  I don't have anything else to add here; just thought that should be documented somewhere.

- Oh yeah, Morley decided to get tattoos drawn on his face and neck.  A '#G' under one eye, a prison teardrop under the other (I thought that definitely had a chance to end unfavorably) and a giant colored-in exclamation mark on his neck.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.

- On Friday night, I got so drunk that I was initially saying it was my drunkest night in a solid decade-- thinking of Easy and ADawg's going-away party before they got shipped to Iraq, a.k.a. the night I made my girlfriend pull over the car in the middle of the busiest street in Grand Forks so I could fall into the road and throw up right there, as cars honked and yelled at me.  Upon further review, I was probably drunker the night I got kicked out of Shooting Star Casino, and also the day I blacked out in Vegas at 5pm.  But the fact remains....Friday night was bad enough to at least be in the discussion.  That's ridiculous.  I'm coming off last weekend with something you couldn't even call a hangover; it's more of a life re-evaluation.  I choked down 2.25 beers during the KU loss on Sunday afternoon, and they might've been the last beers I have for the rest of my life.  (I know, I know.  I'm lying.)

With Jonye having his kid a couple months ago, The Boards are now split 2-2, with Noles and Jonye having kids, and Horp and I still partying whenever we want.  Lately we've been having "arguments" on who enjoys their life more.

Sample exchange from these arguments:

"Good luck with the diapers.  I'll be drunk."

"Tell that to your headache tomorrow."

"My headache is caused by too much fun.  Yours is from poop in pants."

 Anyway, after last weekend, I gotta be honest.....score one for the Dads.  (Sorry Horp.  I'll be back on your side in a couple weeks or something.)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March Madness Weekend, Part 1: KU Chokes Again

I swear I'm not that picky.  I swear I would've been happy with a loss in the Sweet 16, or even a loss to New Mexico in the second round.  Am I asking too much here?  Am I asking too much to not lose to a team seeded at least 8 lines lower?  AGAIN?  I dunno, maybe I'm being greedy.

For me personally, it definitely turned into the ol' "Be careful what you wish for" (one of the best 'Goosebumps' books of all time, btdubs) in that I was terrified of New Mexico, KU got Stanford like I wanted....and KU still lost.  I wasn't cocky about the matchup or anything-- VCU in 2011 solved that forever-- but I was definitely feeling good when New Mexico got knocked out.

After the initial shock and depression, I've been pretty level-headed about the loss.  Any time you lose your second-best player and top 5 draft pick to injury, you're gonna be vulnerable.  But still, it's's Stanford, man.  And they didn't even play well.  It's one thing to lose to a low seed when they come out like gangbusters, or have the best game of their season (the aforementioned VCU game, Northern Iowa in 2010, Rhode Island in '98.)  It's another when the low seed brings, at best, their B- game, and it's still enough to knock you off (Stanford, Bucknell in '05, UTEP in '92.)

And so concludes a weird season in Lawrence.  After the entire starting five left last year, I thought it was just going to be a nice bridge season, watching the kids get better, just trying to keep the conference title streak alive, getting a 4 seed at best in the tourney, and looking forward to 2015.  In a weird way (and I know I'll get crucified for saying this), after this stretch of six out of seven years being serious title contenders, it was going to be a relief to just chill out and have a more relaxing "down" year.  Then we got Wiggins.  Oh.  Then Embiid turned out to be a monster right away, not two years from now.  Oh.  Then we beat Duke in the second game of the year, in spectacular fashion.  Oh.  So the ceiling is removed now.  I get it.

And honestly, that's where the season peaked for me.  Watching that game, watching the players play well, and play with smiles on their faces, I was sitting there thinking "However the season ends up, this is definitely gonna be one of my favorite squads of all time."  But it never really materialized that way.  I'll take the Dancing McLemores, or the shit-talking 'Family Over Everything' Morris Twins, or even the on-court nerdiness of Hinrich & Collison, over the relative lack of personality that this year's team had.

And now, since Tarik Black, Wiggins and most likely Embiid are leaving, this year was national title or bust.  It's unfortunate, but that's life in the one-and-done era.  Potential Wall of Fame inductee Andrew White III is sure to transfer too, but I'm gonna pull a Forrest Gump and say that's all I have to say about that, lest I spin off into a huge rant against Bill Self that I really don't want to do right now.  I'll just say that between Self's handling of White, and the amount of times KU looked like they'd never seen a 1-3-1 zone or a 1-2-2 trap hasn't been my favorite coaching job ever.

This isn't to say there aren't bright spots in the future; far from it.  My boy Conner Frankamp had his coming out party in the tournament, and I look forward to three more years of meaningful moments with him (inside joke.)  Jamari Traylor is already better than I ever thought he would be, and he's still got two years left.  Frank Mason has more than a little Sherron Collins in him.  Perry Ellis, another year older and better (hopefully he learns how to play some fucking defense though.)  Incoming freshman Cliff Alexander looks like a MONSTER, and will hopefully bring some of the swag that's been missing since Tyshawn and T-Rob left a couple years ago.  So we'll be back.  F.O.E.

Speaking of Alexander, I know that tricking a fanbase by pulling the hat switcheroo is about as big a douche move as there is (KU has been on the opposite end a few times, and I hate it-- still mad at ya, Baron Davis) but you know what?  Screw it.  Like I said, we need a little swag next year.  Plus, videos like this are just too funny.  Sorry for partying.

Wanna know the greatest thing about the end of college basketball season?  The Masters, the NBA playoffs, and Major League Baseball are right here to fill the void.  And don't cry for me Argentina, cause the Red Sox are DEFENDING CHAMPS, SON.

Coming tomorrow (or sometime soon, who am I, the Answer Man?):  March Madness Weekend Part Deux, when I talk about how drunk we all got.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

No-Go If There's No Jo-Jo

So originally, I was gonna write a huge post before the tournament, sorta ranking the teams in order of how scared I was to play them as a KU fan.  This has always been my determining factor in picking teams in my brackets-- if the Jayhawks were five minutes away from tipping off against this team, how scared would I be that we were about to lose the game?

But with Joel Embiid's injury, everything goes out the window.  I'm like an elderly white woman at an N.W.A. concert; I really don't know how to predict what's going to happen, and I'm scared of everybody.  If you believe what Bill Self is saying, then Embiid should be back for the Sweet 16.  However, the first rule of Fight Club is you do not believe what coaches say to the media regarding injuries.....and the second rule of Fight Club is YOU DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT COACHES SAY TO THE MEDIA REGARDING INJURIES.  So I'm not convinced.  I think there's a very real chance Jo-Jo is done for the year; and I can't really blame him, with millions of dollars at stake.  And even if he does come back at that point, with a month's worth of rust, against a tough Syracuse team and their 2-3 zone, that's still a terrifying game.

So bottom line, I have absolutely no clue what to make of the Jayhawks' chances this year.  I could see a second-round flame-out with no Embiid to protect the rim from New Mexico's dynamic frontcourt of Bairstow and Kirk....or maybe they survive the first weekend, Embiid comes back and feels good, and the same team that beat Duke and ran through the Big 12 resurfaces, and all of a sudden we're giving Florida a fight for their life in the Elite 8.  It's all on the table.

Roun' these parts, where 95% of people's brackets have Kansas winning it all every single year, I sometimes get accused of being a pessimistic, doom-and-gloom fan.  But whatever, I'm usually right.  I picked them to lose in the Sweet 16 last year and was right, I picked them to lose in the Elite 8 in 2011 and was right, etc. etc.  Please don't misconstrue the fact that I *think* they will lose as me *wanting* them to lose.  That's absurd.  While confidence is low, excitement remains high.


So in lieu of giving my thoughts on some of the other teams in the tourney, I thought I would let my friends do it.   I've done this a couple times before, and they're kinda fun to re-read with the benefit of hindsight.  This one was just before the 2010 tournament, and this one was prior to the 2011-2012 regular season.
So here's how some of my fellow college basketball diehards feel about their squad as we enter the greatest three weekends of the year.  (Disclaimer:  Everyone brought a lot of hustle, so this might get long.  However, it's the only post you're gonna see here for at least a week, so make it last if you need to.)

Here's the keys to The Slice, why don't you guys drive for a while.

Double D, representing Kansas

Unnerved, unmoved, unlaundered. Three very fitting words for my March, and I am positive I am not alone. Unnerved because I try not to set riDUNKulous expectations for any KU Squad, but more times than not I end up disappointed. "WE ARE GOING TO THE SHIP!" Unmoved because you won't often talk me off my opinion ledge or out of my lucky chair. "BRO, THIS IS WHERE I SAT IN '08!"  Unlaundered and dude your shirt smells too! (Fact, Axe Body Spray sales triple in March! Bibliography: Wikipedia Internet Machine).

As a #rockchalker #kubballer March Madness is what I look forward to in the basketball season each year. Don't get me wrong, I love winning the conference. But most Jayhawk fans measure basketball success in the Big Dance, and it would not be hard for them to admit to that statement. This particular year I have faith in our Coach to get us to the Sweet 16, after that it is up to the players to take us further! Today I want a rematch with Florida to get to the Final Four, tomorrow I will be praying that Stephen F. Austin advances to the Elite Eight. Regardless of the opponent, I want to see my team work hard and make plays! Really, really, really, ridiculously good plays.

Obscure Rap Song Title to be used as my personal #KUBBALL Tournament Slogan: "Work Hard Play Hard" -Wiz Khalifa

Here is what I want; 4-6 great tournament games that my team wins!


Hendo, Kentucky

Is it January? The last two games is what I was expecting to see in mid January, not in the last 2 games of the Conference Championship. If you have been following Kentucky Basketball in the last month, which I'm sure everyone of you has, Calipari reportedly has been "tweaking" things in practice. Nobody knows what the said "tweaking" is and obviously Calipari won't say either but, players seem to be having fun playing basketball and less like Calipari Robots. Andrew Harrison has learned that he is not the best player on the court, let alone his own team.  Let me know if you want a "fear the tweak shirt" (shirts are made from recycled 40-0 shirts.) However anytime we go on a scoring drought its because we can't get Julius Randle the ball on the block at any point in the possession. I think Julius should take the ball up the floor, dribble it to the left block, and then we can start the offense.

The draw in the Midwest Region for Kentucky is obviously not an easy one. If this team is performing the way they did against Florida in the SEC Championship I don't see Kentucky having a problem with Kansas St. or Wichita St. The length of Willie Cauley-Stein doesn't match anyone from either team. I also don't see anyone being able to play with Julius Randle. WSU doesn't have the personnel to double team him like most teams have been doing. I do believe the game that will be huge for them is the potential Louisville match up.  If this team makes it to the second weekend and finds a way to beat Louisville I will be 100% convinced this team has finally learned to play as a team and wouldn't be surprised if they made it all the way to the Championship game and seek revenge against Florida.

In the Championships Trophy Speech I also expect WC-S to be MVP and give this speech:

"We had to go back to playing Kentucky Basketball. We came out here. We were letting us be bigger than the game. We were bigger than the game. We had to say, ‘Hey, let’s play Kentucky Basketball,’ because can’t nobody be bigger than this game. And we did that, and we came out victorious."*

*Editor's note:  Nice Jameis Winston reference.

Stenj, Florida

In these times of the one-and-done this year's Florida Gators are a throw back squad.  Led by four Seniors and without a sure-fire NBA player on the roster, this team's success relies on experience, leadership and team defense. 

Scottie Wilbekin is the heart of the team.  Arguably the best PG in college ball, he runs the machine.  He can defend, drive and seems to always come up with a big bucket when they need it most.  The SEC Champions are also blessed with two talented sophomores in outside threat Michael Frazier II (45% from 3) and 6th man Dorian Finney-Smith.

The Gators play tough defense and set up the full court press every opportunity they have.  The press doesn't necessarily create many turnovers, but tends to wear the opposing side down by the end of the game.

Billy Donovan's squad is not deep in the big man department.  They tend to have some trouble with offensive boards and finishing when they rebound one of their own.  They are also a poor free throw shooting team, specifically from their bigs. 

The nucleus of this team has been to three straight Elite 8s and is the number one overall seed this year.  They come in on a 26 game winning streak looking for 6 more.  I like Florida taking the next step and moving on to the Final Four this year.  Is a championship in the cards?  Who knows, but I like the team with senior leadership and experience under the big lights.

Horp, North Carolina

(Editor's note:  I have a disgusting number of North Carolina fans, and I didn't even ask Fundy to write me anything, since I wanted him to focus on getting done with work and getting on I-29 to get down here.)

No one could have predicted this year's UNC team. Losing two starters at the beginning of the year, then beating the #1,2,3,4 ranked preseason teams, but losing to Belmont Street and a JV team, and now comes the tourney. I would compare this year's UNC team to Justin Bieber.

First, he looks cuddly with that mop of hair (UNC ranked in top 15 to start the year).....then he starts hitting that fine ass* (UNC beats Mich St and Louisville).....but then the Bieb's dad comes around and starts taking lap dances next to his son and blocking off traffic so he can drag race (loses to Belmont and JV team).  But then the Biebs is spotted back with that hot little ass** (beating Duke).

So, I will be watching TMZ before the tourney starts and if Bieber isn't hurling eggs at his neighbors, then UNC has a chance at the Sweet 16. But if I see that fool biting another strippers nipple before tip-off, then it could be a first round loss.

*Editor's note:  He's talking about Selena here.
**Editor's note:  Still talking about Selena.

Easy E, North Carolina

“It’s a new dawn! It’s a new day! It’s a new life! Annnnd I’m feeling goooooooood……”

It has been well documented how the Heels have gone from starting out 1-4 in the ACC to winning 12 of their last 13. I am sure the more casual UNC fan was already saying things like:

“We will be lucky to make the NIT this year”

“Can Roy please just call one 1st half timeout? ONE!?!?!”*

“TAR!!!!!   …. Soooo how about this Virgina team?”

But I am not here to stand-up for these fans, instead I am here to show them how this year’s team will make the Elite Eight and surpass everyone’s expectations! The one hiccup this UNC team has is its FT shooting and I don’t see their team free throw shooting  (62.5%) improving dramatically, but I believe this team now understands that Marcus Paige and Nate Britt need the ball late and specifically NOBODY TALLER THAN 6’5” should get the ball late! Also, UNC is one of the best teams this year at tipping missed FTs back to the offense, which is the 2nd best outcome after Marcus Paige shooting all late FTs. 

This team will go as far as Marcus Paige can take them, with support from J.M. McAdoo and Brice Johnson. JMM plays his best when he is not the #1 option in the offense and Brice is insta-buckets when he checks in. But Paige will need to play great virtually every game of this tournament for them to get to the Elite Eight-- which he has done throughout this late season run. 

The one flyer that scares me to death is J.P. Tokoto. I see him make wayyy too many questionable decisions with the basketball late in games, as well as his propensity to take long-range jump shots (23.5% from 3).  J.P. needs the Uncy Aaron speech, “When you woke up this morning, did somebody tell you that you were suddenly good at shooting?  No?  THEN QUIT SHOOTING!"  Don’t get me wrong, I love everything J.P. does around the rim, but once he starts floating around the 3pt line…. I’m nervous.  I got UNC winning late against Providence, shocking all Big 12 fans with clutch baskets late over Iowa St., then facing St. Joe’s.  I think UNC  matches up well on the inside and will run their transition game into the Elite Eight. After that, if it’s Mich. St. I think Izzo beats Ol’ Roy, but if it’s Virginia, then I like UNC’s chances. Go Heels. 

*Editor's note:  Easy E texts some version of this question to me multiple times a year, so don't be swayed by him attributing that quote to "the more casual UNC fan."

JDub, North Carolina

Ya know that feeling you get when you've completed the perfect lie? You crafted the deception, cleaned up the loose ends, and when the time came, you delivered the fib with conviction and just the right amount of pageantry. Your victim is fooled and you are free to resume living your life free from repercussion. IT. IS. AWESOME. It's my favorite feeling that doesn't involve cheese and/or R&B music.

You know who else loves to lie? The North Carolina Tar Heels. They've been lying to us all year long, and they're doing a phenomenal job. The only parallel I can draw is to a married man (UNC) deceiving his beautiful, doe-eyed, idealistic mistress (me). Here's the timeline:

- We meet, and it's hot. (Beginning of the season)

- Things get rocky, but it'll be better when he leaves his wife. (Just wait until we get PJ & Leslie McDonald back)

- He leaves town on my birthday to renew his wedding vows with his wife. I'm crushed. (UNC doesn't seek reinstatement for PJ Hairston, ending his time as a Tar Heel. I'm crushed.)

- I'm inconsolable, and he's stopped trying. (1-4 start in ACC play)

- He comes back, but I'm not ready to believe. (UNC rights the ship with a few wins in a row, fans remain unconvinced)

- He takes me to beautiful dinners and showers me with gifts for weeks. (The win streak reaches 5, 6, and then 7)

- I'm still dubious, but then he comes to my place and shows me the divorce papers. He's actually going to do it! He had a lawyer draft them and everything! (UNC beats Duke at home)

- Things sure are swell. (The win streak balloons to 12)

- I'm not so sure he filed those papers... (The winning ends with a loss at Duke)

- I become suspicious and go through his phone. He sent his wife a text telling her how much he loved her right before he came over. I'm confused. (UNC loses to Pitt in their opening game of the ACC tournament. I'm confused)

In short, UNC cannot be trusted. Is this the team that beat Louisville, Michigan St., Kentucky, and Duke or is this the team that lost to Belmont, UAB, and Wake Forest? It's a trick question. They are all these things and more. And less. And I hate everything. From game to game I have no idea what this team is bringing and I don't think they do either.

So to sum things up, when asked to jot down some quick feelings regarding how I feel about North Carolina heading into the tournament, I wrote almost nothing about basketball and instead focused on lies and unfaithful partners. How do you think I feel about the Heels right now? 

Jonye, Wichita St. 

(Editor's note:  Jonye played for Northern Iowa, so since they didn't make the tournament, I thought I'd give him a shot at MVC cohort Wichita St.  Whoops.)

Welcome to the Midwest bracket home to three #1 seeds and two #3 seeds, as Sir Charles would say what the committee did to Wichita State, is “TERRRRRRRRIBLE.”

Congrats to Wichita State for making the final four last year, going 34-0 this year, their reward is perhaps the toughest single region in recent memory.  If I was an NBA Scout I would just get an all session pass to the Midwest reason and wait to see what comes out of the other 3 regions at the final four, I wouldn’t be missing much.  Here is Wichita’s hypothetical run to the final four:  First round play-in game winner.  The first and second round will be in St. Louis and place near and dear to the hearts of all MVC Fans.  Round 1 should be a win.  Round 2 facing the winner of Kentucky/Kansas St, Kentucky is the team that just took Florida to the wire and is littered with lottery picks, #8 Seed is a joke, likely more of #3, but if you are going to undervalue a team, put them in the Midwest (see also Louisville, Duke, Michigan).

IF Wichita wins its second round game they get to face Louisville, which is a #1 seed posing as a #4 seed in the Midwest.  Virginia can play its way to a #1 seed but Louisville can’t? Arguably the hottest team in the country right now and they were given a #4 seed.

 IF WSU beats Louisville they will face likely either Duke or Michigan, Duke probably should have been a #2 seed.  Michigan, had they beaten Michigan State, would have been a #1 seed.  Somehow a Michigan St. win in the Big 10 Tournament isn’t good enough to vault them to anything above a #4 seed (much like Louisville), but Michigan's and Duke's losses are penalized with a drop?  Does the committee value conference tournaments or not? You can’t have it both ways.

So there you have it, the Midwest region home to 3 -  #1 Seeds (Wichita State, Louisville, and Michigan) and 2 -  #3 seeds (Duke and Kentucky).

I am not conspiracy theorist, but it looks an awful lot like the committee is tired of non-BCS schools making it to the final four, to reward a team that went perfect through the regular season and then won their conference tourney, with the toughest bracket in recent memory is shocking. If this is how they want to do it, let’s just go to the football system where there is D-1A and D-1AA, let the BCS Schools form four conferences with 35 teams in each conference and then play it out.   Wichita State can only beat who play them, and they beat everyone, KU wouldn’t play them, KSU wouldn’t play them, and that’s just in the state of Kansas.  If 34-0 and doesn’t garner enough respect to get a decent draw in the committees eyes I guess every conference, outside of the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 12, and Big East should be one bid conferences, let the smaller schools play in the NIT.  That’s not the tournament I grew up with, but the way things are trending you will see the end of the Cinderella story and begin the era of evil step conferences.  Jealous that their players are all one and dones and jealous fans that have to learn a new roster every year, this is TERRRRRRRIBLE.

Long live the MVC where defense and team basketball are still respected, the players come to get an education and learn how to play as a unit.  Long live the years where Northern Iowa had the chance to upset a #1 seed Kansas*.  If I wanted to watch a bunch of guys who weren’t interested in team basketball and making those around them better, I would watch the NBA and maybe in a few years the NCAA tournament. No Thank YOU.

*Editor's note:  I'm not sure what he means here.  Do you want Wichita St. to be an 8 seed now, so they have a chance to take down a 1 seed?  The MVC just got a 1 seed, and you just wrote The Gettysburg Address about their unfair path....but long live the years when you had a chance to take down a 1 seed?  I think this was a blatant excuse to shoehorn in a reference to the Faroukmanesh game, and I suppose I can understand that.  Dick.


OK, pass me back the mic.  My quick bracket predictions, in 15 seconds or less:

Elite 8:  Florida, Syracuse, Michigan St., North Carolina, Arizona, Creighton, Louisville, Duke
Final 4:  Florida, Michigan St., Arizona, Duke
Champ:  Michigan St. over Arizona

Rock Chalk, dudes.  Fundy, Smapes, LZE and Easy, hurry up and get down here, and hand me a Mich Golden while you're at it.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Favorite Non-KU Teams Of All Time

I first thought about this subject months ago, when Noles, randomly talking trash about Duke one day, asked if it made me sad that Duke beat both UNLV (Larry Johnson was/is my boy) and KU in the '91 Final Four, then turned around the next year and took down the Fab Five in the championship game, in effect wiping out my three favorite college basketball teams on their way to back-to-back nattys.  So now, in the spirit of March and all the joy this month brings, here are my favorite college basketball teams of all time, non-Jayhawk division.

Honorable mentions:

2012 Norfolk St.- Any 15 seed that beats Mizzou as a 2 seed in the first round, particularly in the year that Mizzou ditches the Big 12, is at least going to be an honorable mention, even if the only player I can still name from that squad is Kyle O'Quinn.  In all seriousness though, this game did not resemble a typical March Madness upset.  If you showed this game to a neutral observer without telling him who the 2 seed and who the 15 seed was, he would've told you that Norfolk was the 2-- that's how well they played this game.  Fun fact:  I was all fired up after the game about how good Norfolk St. looked, so I loaded up on them for their second round game vs. Florida +11.....and they lost by 34 points.  Ten minutes into the game, the score was something like 30-6.  One of my worst bets of all time.  Worth it.

1996 UMASS- The '95 squad had more talent top to bottom, but as soon as Lou Roe graduated and Marcus Camby became the man....HEADS UP.  It was also a ton of fun to watch their all-Puerto Rican backcourt of Edgar Padilla and Carmelo Travieso bomb threes and drop dimes all game.  This team deserved a title, but unfortunately lost in the Final Four when they ran into one of the best teams of the entire decade in Kentucky.  This was probably the point where Leo Inceptioned John Calipari into leaving UMASS, becoming the antichrist, and going to coach Kentucky someday.

1988 Arizona- OK, so technically, I wasn't quite old enough to remember this team.  But they did have Kenny Lofton, who would subsequently become one of my favorite baseball players of all time.  And I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the team represented in this video, which is probably the most linked-to video in the history of The Slice.


2000 Seton Hall- Street-balled and trash-talked their way to the Sweet 16 as a 10 seed, and were a basket away from the Elite 8.  They played like their roster was full of potential pros....but the only one you ever heard from again was Samuel Dalembert.

1992 Cincinnati- Three words:  Nick.  Van.  Exel.


1995 Wake Forest- Young Tim Duncan was fun and all, but RANDOLPH CHILDRESS THO. (You don't have to watch this whole clip, especially if you're a Carolina fan...but please please please just watch the crossover at the :25 mark, then jump out of your chair and yell and gesticulate like you're watching a pickup game at Rucker Park.  That's all I ask.  "OHHHHH SHIT!!!  Sit down!  Sit the fuck down!  Sit on it, son!!!!!")


Top 5:

5.  2001 Arizona- I was a hipster Gilbert Arenas fan; I loved him way before it was cool.  Loren Woods is one of my five favorite non-KU players of all time.  And, naturally, Duke beat this team in the title game.

4.  1999 UCONN-  I have a few random reasons why I love late-90's UCONN.

-  Khalid El-Amin, the greatest fat point guard in human history.  Middle Schneweis Brother went to one of his high school games in Minneapolis.  The opposing student section taunted him all game, waving empty pizza boxes at him and whatnot.  El-Amin dropped like 40 points, hit a game-winning buzzer beater, and sprinted off the court, snatching a pizza box from a student on his way off the court and taking it with him to the locker room.  Hero.

-  Our March Madness pool came down to the championship game that year.  If Duke won the game, Dunph won the pool.  If UCONN won, Lane took the cash.  UCONN scored the upset, and Lane claims to this day that Trajan Langdon threw the game on the last possession (1:21:45 mark, if I didn't link it correctly) so that Lane could collect the $59.  A running joke that has lasted all these years.

(Side story, this week's edition of "Dammit, we're getting old":  Lane, who is taking classes at Rhode Island now, saw some kid wearing a '99 UCONN championship hat the other day.  Lane said nice hat, and told him how he won his high school March Madness pool because of that game.  The kid just looked at Lane and said "Yeah, I was five years old.")

Jake Voskuhl's hair + sideburns.  He should've just gone the whole nine and played games while wearing a white puka shell necklace. 

-  Technically this happened in '98, not '99....but UCONN had basically the same roster, and it's one of my favorite tournament buzzer beaters of all time, so the judges are going to allow it.   "HAMILTON!  NO!  Another tip!  No!  Haaaaaaamilton!  At the buzzer-EEYYYEEEESSSSSSS!  YESSSSSSS!  CONNECTICUT WINS!"


3.  1995 Villanova- Kerry Kittles waaaaas myyyyyyy shiiiiit!  You better believe I was rocking the one low sock, one high sock look when I was in middle school.  (As well as sometimes the one high black sock, one high white sock look, but I don't have Kerry Kittles to blame for that one.)  And Nova's jerseys were so, so 90's.  They should be put in a time capsule or something.  Look at that font!  And the random zig-zags and colors on their shorts!  Damn, the mid-90's were baller.

2.  1990 UNLV- This team was smack in the middle of my formative years.  1989-90 was my first year on the record as a KU fan, but it really could've gone either way; that's how badass this Runnin' Rebel team was.  Whether or not my life would've progressed the same way, and whether I'd be living in Las Vegas right now with season tickets to UNLV games, is a whole different question that only the Butterfly Effect could answer.  With my gambling problem affinity for gambling, it's probably good that my life didn't turn out that way.  Thanks Ashton Kutcher.

1.  1993 Michigan- I'll take the Fab Five's Sophomore year over their Freshman year, since their swag had grown to an all-time high by then.  Really, not much explanation needed besides that.  I figure that if you asked this question to every college basketball fan within seven years older or younger than me, the Fab Five would be the #1 answer for like 75% of them.  This team literally revolutionized college basketball.  Michigan and UNLV are like the Nirvana and Pearl Jam of college basketball.  Without their baggy shorts and cocky attitudes, we as basketball fans might still be listening to bullshit like Poison or Motley Crue.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Wedding Miscellany

I was going through my pictures on my phone and found a straggler that reminded me that I was going to do a post-wedding blog on random awards back in May.  Then the Florida partying hangover lasted for like four months, and KU landed Wiggins, which completely changed my focus, yada yada yada it fell by the wayside.

Anyway, this was the envelope that DVJS left on our doorstep, and is probably the best Departed reference I've ever seen, so he deserves some sort of recognition for that.   Good hustle there.

So while we're here, the award for best wedding gift goes to Gangel and Nicole, who got us a Taco Bell gift certificate.  That, my friends, is knowing your audience.  I think the bride was even more excited than the groom to unwrap that one.  Granted, it didn't end in spectacular fashion (long story short, I ended up drunkenly arguing with a T-Bell employee in the drive-thru at 2am because I was adamant there was still $7.43 left on the card, but they said no es cierto), but don't get that kind of excitement out of a gift from Bed Bath & Beyond.  At least not until they start selling Crunchwrap Supremes.

To all others who may have been the recipient of an award but became a victim of my laziness, my deepest apologies.  Unfortunately, you will not be recognized in this post either, because it's March, and only one thing matters in March.  Hint: it rhymes with "college basketball."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sports Movies, And The Believability Therein

Everyone loves a good sports movie.   They're fun, they're uplifting, you're gonna get goosebumps at least once....everyone's a winner all the way around (except for the opposing team, but they're the bad guys, so fuck them, right?) 

However, most the time, a good sports movie asks its viewers to take a leap of faith or two along the way.  Sometimes I can buy it, but sometimes this leap of faith is just a bit too far for me to accept.  The following is my scale of believability for sports movies, starting with most believable, working its way down to, you guessed it, least believable.

{Important clarification:  We're talking believability in the on-the-field sense here; I'm not gonna hate on the entire premise of the movie.  I understand that it's pretty unrealistic that a 12-year-old gets to run the Minnesota Twins because his grandfather bequeathed the team to him, or that a corn field magically brings dead baseball players to life, OK?  I fucking understand that.  That's not what we're here to poke holes in today.  Adjust your comments accordingly.}

Major League

The way Major League Baseball is trending these days, I'll believe anything.  Did you see Oakland's roster last year, or Baltimore's in 2012?  Those were both playoff teams!!!  You see Willie Mays Hayes as a lead-off man who pops up too much....I see a guy at the top of the order who creates more runs on the base paths than anyone in the league.  You see Pedro Cerrano as a power hitter who can't make much contact besides homers....I see a player who subscribes to the Three True Outcomes theory of hitting.  You see Eddie Harris as a washed-up junkballer with a mediocre ERA.....I see a back-of-the-rotation innings eater who, if nothing else, gives the bullpen a rest every few days.  It's all about taking advantage of market inefficiencies these days.  Who knew that taking shitty intro econ classes in college would help me be a better baseball fan in 2014?  BELIEVABILITY SCORE (OUT OF 10):  9.6

The Sandlot

Maybe I just have a chip on my shoulder, since starting in middle school, I systematically quit every organized team sport I played for.  By my junior year of high school, I was officially a non-school athlete.  Don't get me wrong, I still played sports pretty much every day of my life, whether it was open gym basketball, golf, softball, backyard football, boot hockey, tennis, does frisbee golf count?, etc.  I just didn't play for the school.  So maybe that's why I have no problems believing a rag-tag bunch of kids who are just playing for the love of the game can put on a hit parade against the cocky kids with their uniforms, and their field with painted foul lines and fancy scoreboard and I TOTALLY COULD'VE PLAYED VARSITY IF I WANTED TO!  I HOPE YOU STILL GET A LOT OF USE OUT OF YOUR LETTERMAN'S JACKETS, ASSHOLES.  BELIEVABILITY SCORE:  9.2

The Mighty Ducks (all three movies)

I can't really speak to what's realistic and what isn't in the sport of hockey, since I don't really follow it anymore.  Knucklepucks?  Figure skaters playing right wing?  Players pulling a switcheroo and changing into each each other's jerseys mid-game?  Why not?  I once scored 71 goals in one game with Steve Yzerman in NHL '94 with the offsides & penalties turned on, so I say anything goes.  BELIEVABILITY SCORE: 8.7

Friday Night Lights

There can be no exaggerations when it comes to the craziness that encircles Texas High School football, as well as the insane pressure the parents put on their own kids. As a 10-year-old playing Bambino baseball, one time I struck out looking three times in one game, and my Dad told me to get the bat off my shoulder in a tone that was less than supportive. Well, he did pat my helmet afterwards, but I could totally tell he was annoyed.  I got moved down from 8th to 9th in the batting order for the second game of the doubleheader, AND we didn't go out for ice cream after the game. I guess that's deceptive though, we still went to Pizza Hut. Still, it was pretty devastating. So trust me, I know all about the pressures of youth sports.  I was scarred for years afterwards.  It's a jungle out there.  BELIEVABILITY SCORE:  7.8

Karate Kid

If you asked me last month if I believed that Daniel could win the All-City Championship, defeating the hated Kobra Kai one-by-one, I might've said no. Since then, however, I've fallen into a couple of youtube rabbit holes of bullies getting trucked by their intended I think maybe I'm willing to reconsider.  (SO AWESOME, FYI.  THIS SHIT GETS ME JACKED UP!)  BELIEVABILITY SCORE:  6.5

Angels In The Outfield


We can ignore Matthew McConaughey starting in center field and Adrien Brody as an infield utility man for the moment.  I'm more concerned with Tony Danza throwing 160+ pitches in a single game.  As the manager and/or pitching coach, I'm not even sure that being under the impression that you had actual angels helping out your players is excuse enough to damage his arm like that (and as it turned out, the angels weren't even helping out that game, so it just became REALLY irresponsible.)  I hope the angels know how to perform Tommy John surgery, cause that's what Danza had on his plate three months later.  Shame on you, Danny Glover.  BELIEVABILITY SCORE:  5.4

White Men Can't Jump

Woody Harrelson's "dress like a special needs Beastie Boy, give the aw-shucks act, and above all, be white" ploy would work exactly once, mayyyybe twice, and then one of the following would happen:

a) He would get beat to within an inch of his life and/or shot.

b) The ballplayers of the city would spread the word and warn each other about the white guy pretending to be a goon and hustling people....and then he would get beat to within an inch of his life and/or shot.

Also, Wesley Snipes dribbles way too high.  BELIEVABILITY SCORE: 4.7


Wait, that was based on a true story? Word?

Space Jam

I'm not going to blame the Monstars for falling for the Toon Squad's second-half gimmicks.  Marvin the Martian had completely lost control of the game long before that point-- yes he adjusted his whistle late, but by then, a 50-2 run had already occurred-- the tone of the game had been set.  But defensively, I have questions.  The Monstars couldn't have come up with some junk defenses to stop Jordan?  Box-and-1?  Maybe a Triangle-and-2 if you're also worried about Lola Bunny?  Just watch some game tape of the late-80's Pistons, they were able to manhandle MJ every year in the playoffs, and he had a much better supporting cast. Say what you will about Bill Cartwright, but he's certainly more valuable than Foghorn Leghorn.  Dude straight up burned to death during that game.  BELIEVABILITY SCORE: 3.1

A League of Their Own

There is no way on God's green Earth that Rosie O'Donnell holds down the hot corner.  She makes Miguel Cabrera look like Brooks Robinson defensively.  She's a DH at best-- and I don't care how valuable her bat is, she's still such a liability on the base paths that you're pinch-running for her in late-game situations.  No way she posts anything above a 1.5 Wins Above Replacement, and that's not taking into account how her attitude negatively affects the clubhouse.  BELIEVABILITY SCORE: 2.4

Happy Gilmore

I didn't see enough progress in Happy's short game to believe that he could win any majors on tour at that point in his career.  Sure, he had a good practice sesh at the mini-golf joint, but that was mostly about finding his mental "happy place", not about learning how to hit a cut or draw on command, or how to take the spin off his wedge when there's a front pin placement and trouble short of the green.  Happy might be able to take the Zurich Classic in New Orleans by just bombing drives and making some long putts here and there; or maybe win the Reno-Tahoe Open by taking advantage of the Stableford Scoring System, which rewards birdies and eagles....but the Tour Championship is a test of your entire game and shot-making ability.  You're not winning the gold jacket when you don't even know what a 4-iron looks like.  BELIEVABILITY SCORE:  1.6

Rocky III

The one where Rocky gets crushed by Clubber Lang, does some soul-searching, training, homo-erotic beach sprinting, and then comes back and wins the rematch.  What, Rocky just learned how to take a punch now?  Boxing doesn't work that way.  You can improve your stamina, or bulk up, or change fighting styles, but I'll tell you one category you can't just exercise in order to improve in: "consciousness."  You can't just say "Hey, remember when I got knocked the fuck out last time I fought this guy?  Well, I've been thinking about it, and this time, when he's doing literally the exact same thing to me in the ring, I'm just gonna shake off his punches by growling and repeating the mantra "Ain't so bad!  Ain't so bad!" as he continues to pummel my face with his iron fists."  That's not how it works, Stallion.  BELIEVABILITY SCORE: .9