When I Can Afford to Lose - Will Hoge (mp3)
Down on a Bender - .357 String Band (mp3)
If last night were about “hoop dreams,” it was because most of the public had fallen asleep by the time the game was over.
The NCAA National Championship game between the University of Connecticut and the Butler University Bulldogs was, without question, the most torpidly boring spectacle to grace national television in a long, long time. At one point, I was praying to God that the 1968 made-for-TV version of HEIDI would commandeer the station and put us all out of our misery.
If there’s anything worse than watching a team scratch and claw their way into a national championship only to be literally incapable of hitting the ocean from a canoe, I can’t think of it. The story of David and Goliath only makes for good drama if David can hit something, anything, with that damn stone. But if the story of David and Goliath involves David picking up 200 stones and missing everything -- missing Goliath, Goliath’s friends, the bystanders, the animals, everything -- then it becomes just Gawd-awful.
It was THE WORST SHOOTING NIGHT EVERRRRRR. (No seriously. The second-worst was 1941.)
Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite SHOWGIRLS bad. It wasn’t Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen bad. Because Butler was pitiful. I don’t pity Showgirls or LiLo or Mr. Adonis Blood. I pitied Butler. They were the little engine that sucked.
By the time the game ended, however, my pity had become seething hatred. I hated them for embarrassing my sport, for making millions of people feel like they’d wasted their time, for making golf look exciting. No no, this Butler made cross-country skiing look exciting.
It was the perfect cap to the season everyone who loves college basketball begrudgingly acknowledged was, from Day One, “the Weakest Collection of College Basketball Teams in the Modern Era.”
Yes, I’m biased because I’m a rabid fan of the UNC Tar Heels. I’m also a true and sincere fan of college basketball. I love that it’s not as much about the star as it is about the school. The coach is often the star, because other than the mascot, a coach is the most consistent thing a school team has going for it.
It’s got plenty of flaws, most of which were painfully visible in last night’s debacle. Bad shooting. More bad shooting. Bad off-the-ball movement. Defense that swallows offense. The desperate hope that a team might score 50 points before the final buzzer.
Brad Stevens pulled off the greatest coaching accomplishment in college basketball since John Wooden. And I absolutely despise him for it. He stole away a chance for us to see a really good game. He and his non-major conference players who were worse at layups than most D-II girls’ teams.
Brad, dude, I respect you, but please go away forever. Or go to a D-I school and give me a chance to believe you won’t do anything like this again. As far as I’m concerned, you’re a great coach, but your contribution to the game has been gifting a title to Dook and UConn, wrapping the Naismith Trophy in a big red bow and just handing it over to two teams I completely despise.
On the bright side, somehow I still love the sport, and when November comes around, I’ll be full of anticipation and excitement for hoops.
But for now, I don’t want to see a round orange ball for a good long while. And for all those coaches of all those teams seeded 1-5 who somehow managed to screw up badly enough to let VCU and Butler make the Final Four? You should all be put on probation for a year, because all of you have culpability here. You are all accomplices to the crime of stealing my three hours. I want you to pay restitution. You'll be receiving my class action lawsuit very soon, so buckle up.