By Daniel I. Dorfman–
I was really hoping to sit back and catch all the games yesterday. Unfortunately, my landlord has this annoying habit of wanting his rent every month so I had to pay some attention to other projects, but I squeezed in as much basketball as I could.
So I can not tell you what happened on every play in every game, but like many I suspect, I caught enough action to be entertained yet I still managed to be somewhat productive. (I’ll let others decide on that one.)
There are so many questions at the beginning of each tournament. Which team will be a Cinderella? Who will have the first buzzer beater? How quickly will the announcers get on my nerves? That is an open competition on this day since prohibitive favorite – Gus Johnson – is not assigned to any of today’s games.
Also, this year we have crossed a new frontier with all the games on at once. I can’t help but thinking about the days of calling SportsPhone to get scores (and getting yelled at by my parents when the phone bill arrived) and thinking how far technology has come.
11:30 — I walk out of my apartment and I hear a father telling his pre-school age daughter that he wants to get home so he can watch basketball. Parents should always be honest with kids.
12:15 — I meet a group of friends at a River North establishment. One of the first questions I hear is “Do they have HDTV here?” What else do you ask at a sports bar nowadays?
12:28 — We are supposed to be able to watch all four games at once either through CBS or Turner owned stations. So my buddy Dan goes, “Why do we have ESPN here and not the games? That is the most stupid thing I have ever seen?” Hard to argue with that.
The bartender eventually changes the channels but soon four of five TVs are on Old Dominion-Butler. West Virginia-Clemson is on the other screen. But the other two games are nowhere to be found. This hardly improves the situation.
12:52 – Friends Jon and Tom follow Louisville – Morehead State via Tom’s iPhone since it is still not on one of the TVs. The 2011 version of any port in a storm.
With no money invested in this year’s tournament, (I’m not being saintly here, I just never got around to filling out a bracket) I prefer to root against certain coaches who give me the creeps and with Messrs. Huggins, Pitino and Calipari in action today, I have plenty to choose against.
1:24 – The first batch of games are wrapping up. I had taken my eyes off West Virginia – Clemson for a few minutes as the Mountaineers had pulled away. But now it is a three point game. I start paying attention again and three consecutive steals and subsequent layups put the game out of reach. I must be Bob Huggins good luck charm. What a depressing thought.
A few minutes later Butler’s Matt Howard corrals a rebound and scores to win the game. The Madness has begun. One Shining Moment has its first highlight.
2:47 – Louisville- Morehead State is close. I love it when 13 seeds have a chance to knock out the four seed, especially when Rick Pitino coaches the four seed
2:52 – Demonte Harper of Morehead St. knocks down a cold blooded three to give them a 62-61 lead.
2:55 – Mike Marra of Louisville gets clobbered on first glance as he tries to win the game, but no call and Morehead State pulls off the upset. I should feel bad for Pitino. I don’t. It’s even better when replays show it might have been a good non-call.
3:06 – Another close game between Temple and Penn State. Temple’s Juan Fernandez makes an awkward lean in jumper to win it. You do feel bad for Penn State players who are in shock.
4:00 – Kentucky is in a battle with Princeton. Could John Calipari go down as well today? Dare to dream.
4:08 – Brandon Knight of Kentucky makes a great runner off the glass to put the Wildcats up with a couple of seconds left and they soon. Doesn’t it seem like Princeton loses this way in every tournament?
5:28 – Another close game has Richmond battling Vanderbilt. Kevin Anderson of Richmond knocks down an off balance shot to give the Spiders a three point lead. Bill Raftery isn’t on my nerves yet, but he is getting there. Richmond eventually wins and in another tournament tradition, the last 30 seconds seemed to take forever.
10:20 – I get home after attending a long meeting. Judging by the scores at the top of the screen, it doesn’t look like I missed much tonight.
10:32 – Michigan State is trying to come back against UCLA as they have shaved what had been a 23 point deficit down to four with less than a minute to go.
10:44 — Keith Appling of Michigan State makes a three with 4.4 seconds left to make it a one point game. The Spartans still have a heartbeat. I’m just grateful Gus Johnson isn’t broadcasting this game. The headache he would give me would be piercing.
10: 54 — UCLA holds on and Greg Gumbel is telling me to turn to TruTV. Am I the only who had never heard of TruTV before this tournament?
11:24 – The last game of the night ends and it has been a fun day. Best of all, I don’t have a headache from annoying announcing. Can the same happen Friday? Dare to dream.
Do you agree with Daniel? Post your comments below.
Daniel I. Dorfman is a local freelance writer who has written and reported for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe among many other nationally prominent broadcast, online and print media organizations. He is also a researcher for 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DanDorfman To read more of Daniel’s blogs click here.