Bernstein: What The Hell Was That?

By Dan Bernstein–

Death penalty for college basketball. For a year, at least.

Shut the whole thing down and reboot it, and maybe when we power it back up it’s all fixed, sorta like a DVR.

That was a few vuvuzelas short of a soccer game, except it wasn’t as interesting.

I know, nobody forced me to watch. I’m glad I did, though.

Even the presiding hypemasters caved to the misery, eventually, with Clark Kellogg invoking the grandiose phrase “unparalleled ineptitude” during a game that was 22-19 at half, saw Butler sizzle through a 1-for-23 shooting stretch in the second, featured 88 missed shots, eleven total assists, and a “national champion” that made just one three pointer.

Steve Kerr seemed dumbfounded with every next errant attempt or fumbled pass, and Greg Anthony declared the first twenty minutes “the worst half of basketball ever seen in a national championship game” with no hyperbole intended and no disagreement possible. As much as I looked forward to Charles Barkley’s countrified drawl of “turrible,” we had to settle for “ah-ful.”

Only Jim Nantz, bless him, continued to see the beauty and glory, his prosaic, middlebrow narration unimpeded by actual events. He had mentally flown off to his happy place, apparently, already seated amid the blooming azaleas of Augusta National, enjoying a pimento-cheese sandwich and dreaming dreamy dreams of eagle putts and six-iron saves from the pine straw.

Turning away from the TV only shifted the sensory experience, as the eye pain was replaced by mental images of transmission trouble, or serious, industrial plumbing problems, thanks to the overmixed effects-mic under those poor, abused rims.

It looked like salvation would come when the game would, inevitably, tighten to the point of possession-by-possession strategizing. The end-game could then redeem the game – in the eyes of some – with the quality-independent drama that is the crutch for those who continue to fool themselves into thinking college basketball is, you know, “good.”

Alas, even that never happened. Bad stayed bad, and then got boring.

Bulldog stalwart Matt Howard was wheeling and flailing as if in a cloud of bees, making one shot in his 37 minutes of “action.” The Butler Way managed 18.8% shooting. Who is Andrew Smith, why can’t a guy seven feet tall even come close to making a basket when standing right next to it, and, more importantly, how does he not play for Illinois?

Now Connecticut, which finished ninth in the Big East this year, gets to parade the trophy, enjoying it before they go on probation and their wizened, corrupt coach serves a suspension.

“One Shining Moment” has never been so out-loud laughable.

This was an all-timer, and everybody knows it – one of the worst important games of anything, ever. The disconnect between the size and scope of the event and what transpired on the floor was like something out of a cautionary fable about hubris and human frailty.

Never has the ceremonial cutting of the nets looked like such a merciful, heroic act.

Get those things off of there and make them stop.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: What The Hell Was That?

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s blogs here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    Meh ending to what was a fun toon-a-mint.
    Look, March Madness is what it is.
    If you enjoy it (like I do) it’s fun.
    If not, hey Bernsie you have lots of NBA and NHL and MLB games to watch.

    I think that Brad Stevens knows that he will never cut the nets until he goes to a big-time school in a big-time conference.

    • bronzo

      Well said Larry…Game was a real clunker…Fun tourney, great games up until the championship. I look for Stevens to maybe take the Indiana job somewhere down the line.

      Not much more to say…game was epic bad… if that is a term?

      • Mark, Sterling

        Usually it’s “epic fail” lol

      • Mr. Pouty Pants

        And it’s usually said by high school girls.

      • Simon

        yeah- epic fail, for the win/FTW, owned/pwn’d, etc are really way overused.

    • Erik-Chicago

      I didn’t watch the game. Not because it was an #8 agains a #11 or that my brackets were completely busted after the 2nd round (I did win last years’ pool), or that there were some good shows on TV, it was because this is the worst sports telecast since CBS had the world series with the worst announcing team, hosted by Pat O’Brian, the main announcer being Sean McDonnough and Tim McCarver.
      Greg Gumbel and his panel of dunces, with ‘Nytol’ Jim Nance, Babbling Clark Kellogg, and Steve Kerr who was a polite fill-in. I often wonder if the announcers are watching the game because no one is calling the ball, instead, babbling about statistics. The porky pigging completely goes against the flow with the action, causing mass confusion. I wish the Sports Director would just fire the whole lot and get some young teachable talent in there who would actually call the game- al la Jim Durham or Chick Hern.

  • Mr. Pouty Pants

    In the words of Comic Book Guy: “Worst title game EVER!”

    That was an unfair shot at Illinois! The Illini’s big soft white guys would have made at least one more shot than that the Butler bigs. But only one more…

  • Taco-Lover Tom

    “as if in a cloud of bees”

    Awesome, Bernsie. Epic. Thanks!

    • Cameltoe Rancher

      I’m still laughing over his description of Jim Nance. Positively hysterical!

      And WHOA!?!?!?! Is that leathery mug Robert Redford? Not so great is that Gatsby!

  • Aaron in Madison

    I watched the first half and when my nephew asked to watch “How to Train Your Dragon,” I said “sure, no problem.”

    • AT3374


  • Malone Stanley

    This game was awful. It was painful to watch. I have seen better shooters in high school games. I had to go to my happy place as well. In my happy place it was all of NCAA mens basketball that went on strike, not the NFL. The UCONN and Butler players were actually scabs and I did not feel guilty to stop watching the game and watch a rerun of World’s Dumbest on TruTV. Awful…..just awful

  • kev in skokie

    That’s what you get for calling them annoying Bernstein! You hurt their feelings, like you hurt Illinois recruiting.
    Also, can anyone help me out? I saw the list of basketball’s new HOF class, Arvydis Sabonis, I’m drawing a blank. Is he the giant guy who played for Portland? He looked like a Big Puffy Ray Liotta, right? All slow and white and pock marked… Is that the right guy?

    • Chris in Scottsdale

      It is indeed. Sabonis was the alpha dog in Europe before he came over, and they take that into account. I never saw him play in his younger days, but supposedly he was sick in the 80’s. Even the washed-up Blazer version still had some serious skills.

      • Chris in Scottsdale

        Found something – I know it’s highlights from one game, but it’s the Gold Medal ’88 game, and he made life hell for the Admiral. There’s a putback dunk in there that is pretty sick.

      • pulseczar

        I think Mitch Richmond and Danny Manning were on that team that Sabonis beat too.

        He didn’t join the Blazers til after their title runs but trained with them in a few offseaons. Was drafted by Portland in 86 and didn’t join until 95 at age 31 or something. Actually the Hawks drafted him in 85 too.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        Wasn’t that the USA team that was Coached by John Thompson???

        I think that Uncle Terry was rooting for the USSR just because he hated Thompson so much.

    • pulseczar

      One of the best European big-men of all time. Would have been great to see him playing the NBA in his prime. Great passer for his position.

  • Glockster

    Bad game, but I have to be pleased to see the hypemasters get their feel good story denied. If Butler had won, it would have been just a matter of time until the Disney movie came out so I had a smirk on my face watching the Darth Vader of college basketball leave with the trophy.

  • Denver Deadite

    “I know, nobody forced me to watch. I’m glad I did, though.”


    • Denver Deadite

      Oh, and what the hell was it?

      Since you’re so desperate for the college game to be devoid of college experienced, NBA-ready players, Bernstein, it’s exactly what you deserved.

    • pulseczar

      You really haven’t agreed with a DB blog entry in like… ever.

      Just an observation.

      • Denver Deadite

        Well, you might want to work on your observation skills then, because I do agree with Bernstein at times.

        This kind of column, however, is way too predictable and expected because Bernstein is a whiner who should know better.

      • pulseczar

        I guess your seemingly existential-level disgust at his bracket selections blog entry just clouds the rest of my recollections. Not that I’m keeping track.

        I’ll try to do better going forward.

      • Denver Deadite

        I’ll try and sum it up:

        Bernstein: I should stop talking/writing college sports! Talk/write more college sports!


  • pulseczar

    Waiting for a repeat of yesterday’s “Bernstein’s always negative” posters…….

    Sometimes the truth is negative. If an opinion differs with yours it doesn’t automatically make it wrong. Many of the regulars should have learned years ago that DB doesn’t do rainbows and teaparties, yet some are almost daily claiming annoyance by DB being DB in some of his stances.

    • Mr. Pouty Pants

      “If an opinion differs with yours it doesn’t automatically make it wrong.” Sometimes Dan needs to remember this.

      I am however very amused at the mental image of Dan dressed like a little princess having a tea party with his stuffed animals.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    One of the first thoughts I had, and TEXTS! I received from a friend was “Bernstein HAS to be loving this”.

    Talk about vindication… I’m not saying that I agree, but for someone to harp against the grain about the vast inferiority of the college game, well… that was like Christmas… or Hanukkah… or something.

  • bigtime sucker

    i know it’s not an excuse, but the NCAA’s need for a big crowd seemed more important than providing a setting for a well played game. The Compaq center would have been a much more effecient and appropriate host in terms of basketball quality. Reliant stadium, good for a superbowl, good for a concert, good for a wrestle mania, TERRIBE FOR BASKETBALL

    • Likquid Swordz

      That game last night simply the nail in the coffin for me as far as college basketball. There weren’t any really good teams and maybe like 3 guys that are surefire NBA talent and the rest is D-league/Europe League material. I turned the game off with 12 mintues left cuz I got tired of all the eye pain.

      Maybe this tourney should be a seed for the 2012 TOB

  • Terrys Ducks!

    I believe the bees that were swarming Matt Howard was the same swarm that stung KANER last year after the Stanley Cup winning goal.

  • Peter (in Rogers Park)

    So, yesterday morning a garbage truck hit, and knocked down, a utility pole in the alley behind my building. Cable and internet have been out since, as a result I didn’t watch the game (no signal for chan. 2 via antenna either). Aside from having checked the score with the ol’ BB, at which point I idly wondered why both teams only had scores in the twenties, I was unaware of the whole fiasco. I would only say that the nega-hype DB shovels in the direction of the NCAA is about as useful and reality-based as the fluff generated by his more high-profile CBS counterparts (not very).

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    Now, based on what we’ve seen over the last month, who do we want with the Bulls two first round picks? ;)

    I want random 8 minute-a-week combo guard… and Jeremy Tyler- currently big in Japan.

  • JAWS

    That game was so bad that, on a night when nothing else was really on TV, I was channel surfing by 5 minutes into the 2nd half, and never even flipped back to see the result.

    I fear this is was college basketball has become and will be. It’s already gotten to the point that the first weekend seems to create more excitement than the final four.

    • M. Leigh

      Wasn’t it yesterday that you were ranting: I don’t care, get it over. Now you take the opportunity to trash the game which meant nothing yesterday. Glad to read that most people have you figured out, too bad Rosen isn’t one of them.

  • Jim Peters

    So, what’s the point? I remember a “marquee matchup” of Duke and UNLV ending up at 103-73. Different game, yes, but it is this the first “clunker”? Have you uncovered something new here? Don’t think so. Just like Tim McCarver, you have proven yourself to be the “Master of the Obvious”.

    Please tell us something new next time.

  • Greg Olsen's Skill Set

    Last night’s dud of a game actually gave Bersie something to write about. Just imagine if it were a well-played game which ended up with both teams scoring in the 70’s? Well, considering it’s Bernsie I’m talking about, he’d find something to complain about (the game started too late, One Shining Moment featured Bill Raftery shouting ONIONS!, etc.).

    I am convinced after last night that college hoops and the tourney will only return to its past glory if the NBA changes the one-and-done rule. I believe that you give athletes a choice: they can make the jump straight to the pros, BUT, if they choose to go to school, they must stay at least 2 or 3 years before declaring for the draft. It might not completely improve either the NBA or college tremendously, but I think it would add some consistency to the college game and players would be better groomed for the pros after receiving the tutilage of a college coach for a couple of seasons. Plus, there would be less players making the jump and failing in the NBA if they saw how much better they could be learning and developing in college.

    Just a suggestion.

    And one more thing, Bernsie will never fully embrace the Tournament, becasue it doesn’t always crown the best team as champions, case and point this year. He’s solely a pro sports fan, so I take everything he says about college sports, for the most part, with a grain of salt.

    Steak dinner, boom.

    • bigtime sucker

      here we go again, here’s my proposal and it hasn’t changed. make the rules the following:
      come out of highschool: 1st season, MANDATORY d-league 2nd year must start in d league with team option to put you on later in year 3rd year whatever the team decides
      come out freshman year: 1st season MANDATORY D LEAGUE 2nd season: team’s choice on what to do with you
      come out sophmore year: must start season in d-league but elgible for call up at teams discretion.
      junior or senior, you can start in NBA no questions asked

      also added to that, teams can incent a player for each year of continuing education up to 1million dollars cap free for each year completed in school

      gives players real options, you can go to NBA, sign an NBA contract but learn the ropes in a more learning environment, OR you can be king of your own castle in college. Maybe the spector of forced d-league action keeps players in school while also giving these young men an option to attend a community college and pursue an education regardless of their decision

      • Greg Olsen's Skill Set

        I agree that the D-league could be turned into a legit minor league system, if they follow the ways of the MLB and make it easy for players to be called up and sent down with ease. I don’t exactly know the NBA rules, but something tells me that teams have to jumps through some hoops (no pun intendid) in order to transfer players from the Assosication to the D-League…but I’m still not sure about minor league basketball having the success of minor league baseball.

      • bigtime sucker

        also a qualifier for 1,000,000 incentive is a c average

      • Mr. Pouty Pants

        But the D-league is a joke. This isn’t like baseball, the system isn’t in place to truly be a developmental league. It would be like telling football players they can come out early if they play in the arena league or the UFL for a few seasons. I like the option of either going straight to the NBA or a minimum of 3 years in college.

      • bigtime sucker

        d league is a joke the way it is now, but this could change that, it could also act as a deterant for kids to come out early, who knows? but it is also a way to stick it to them, by giving kids who if they to school, wouldn’t be getting any schooling because of free ride, king status and guarentee that they will make millions in nba money, a chance to increase their salary by actually going to school. you say nay, and i respect that, i say hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm interestting scenerio

      • Paul B.

        Why does matter if College Basketball sucks?
        The NBA should have to develop their own minor league system (the D-League is there to be developed) just like baseball and hockey.
        If an NBA team wants to draft an 18 year old out of high school, it’s their choice to do so. They aren’t obligated to do it, they choose to do it.
        It should also be a man’s choice to persue his trade and not be forced to attend “college” and work for free for some predetermined amount of time so that the NCAA, their sponsors, and the college basketball coaches can get rich.

        You don’t get something or nothing in this country… I’m looking at you NCAA athletics and NBA player development.

  • Chris in Scottsdale

    In wholly irrelevant “where were you?” talk, a child born after the death (4/5/1994) of Kurt Cobain has reached the age of consent for marriage in some states, which of course puts them past the R. Kelly/LT/Jared Saltalamacchia’s wife danger zone.

    I was riding in a friend’s ’88 Corsica down 6th street in Rockford, past Amcore bank… given that I was a flannel-wearing knob, I was crestfallen.

    How about you?

    • Beverly Brewmaster

      I was sitting in the small theater of our high school waiting to take the main stage along with the rest of my band for our annual talent show. Since most of the kids who played in bands were in the talent show, it was oddly appropriate that we were all assembled in the same place when the news broke.

      In hindsight, where I was then wasn’t nearly as important as where I was the first time I heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

    • bigtime sucker

      i was probably at school and said whoahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh and moved on. celebrities have never had an impact on me, he was a talent, and changed music radically for a brief period of time, but he was messed up, we all knew he was messed up and to be quite honest, suicide was a vailed theme in his music so it didn’t suprise me at all. the bigger mourning, came three years later when the spice girls, backstreet boys and nsync came out and reinvigorated pop music, kurts death opened that door big time, it might have stayed shut if kurt was still alive, so i didn’t mourn the guy, but i did mourne the influence

      • pulseczar

        Cobain, in all of his 3-chord/2-minute anthem/punk-rock fundamentals would have been livid to know that anyone suggested he opened the doors for the likes of NSync, Backstreet, or Spice Girls.

      • bigtime sucker

        he didn’t open the doors, his DEATH opened the doors, the loss of his INFLUENCE opened the doors. Nirvana was the leader of that revolution and the thing was, when kurt died, it was up to Pearl Jam to take up the mantle, but they decided to go “above the fray” and under the ground. tney railed against ticketmaster. put their albums on vinayl, stopped releasing singles, had concerts in weird places, it’s like they tried to take themselves out of the equation. with a lot of pj and nirvana imposters out there which most were imitation knock offs and pj not wanting to lead and no more nirvana, it weakened the althernative revolution, thus making record makers looking for the “next big thing” which opened the doors to the spice girls and all the garbage that came with it. if kurt was alive, his influence would have kept that era going and rock wouldn’t have been as vulnerable to the re-rise of pop music

    • Mr. Pouty Pants

      I lived about 40 miles from Seattle then and almost everyone in my school was devastated. Looking back it was pretty funny how “grunge” a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds thought they were.

      • Jaimie in Hoffman Estates

        Im a big Nirvana guy, though im only 27 really didnt get to appreciate his music till after his death. Kind of like Sublime, whos lead singers death anniversery is coming up.

    • pulseczar

      I remember exactly where I was when I heard it. Kinda like Challenger and 9/11 but just not anywhere near as important in retrospect. (understatement?)

      I was a senior, we were squarely into cruise mode waiting for graduation. Was always more of a Pumpkins guy (see my username) but it was huge. That is some of my generation’s defining music.

      RIP Kurdt Kobain

      I remember where I was when Eazy-E died too.

      • Beverly Brewmaster

        Bronzo, I’ll give you the other bands you mentioned (and I’m being generous with U2 post-Zooropa) but Aerosmith? Take away Dream On and Walk This Way (which wasn’t really even that relevant until Run DMC got involved) and what do you have? Another coked-out hair metal band. Nothing wrong with liking them, but the face of music would be pretty much the same if Steven Tyler had never been born. You don’t have to like Nirvana, but they changed the face of popular music in a way we may never see again.

      • Larry Horse's Arse

        I was pushing 40 and said, “who?”

      • pulseczar

        I actually was just getting out hip-hop and rap- or rather adding “alternative” to my tastes a few years before he died. So, I was never a flannel/grunge guy. I abhor the stoner or slacker lifestyles/attitudes. After IOUs and Cavariccis went out of style, it was really just sports jerseys and sports T’s for me though high school.

      • bronzo

        Never liked gangster rap…I’m in my 40’s and it’s rock-n-roll or nothing. While I liked Nervana…any comparision to people like Ramones, Beatles, Stones Zeppelin, U2,Aerosmith is a stretch.

      • bigtime sucker

        u2 is my favorite band but the album POP didn’t do much to help the ushering in of mainstream pop music

    • Denver Deadite

      I was in middle school when the news broke, and I remember it well. While most of my friends knew who he was, I wasn’t that aware of his importance, as I just wasn’t into grunge/alternative quiet yet. In the end, my real introduction to Nirvana was Cobain’s death, followed by the repeated airing of Nirvana Unplugged on MTV, which had premiered a few months earlier, and the subsequent album release of that performance.

      Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, also died on this day in 2002. Now, there was a band I got to become truly familiar with until grunge all but faded away.


    This game is a rreal testament that College Football has it right. IAt least I am guaranteed to watch two of the best teams square off every year. These two teams weren’t even top ten material.

    • Mr. Pouty Pants

      Wow, that’s a load of poo poo. Sure you get two of the best teams in the last game but there is no way all 35 bowl games or whatever is better than the tournament.


    “What the Hell Was That?” That’s the same question I was asking myself watching Butler & UCONN set basketball back 50 years last night on the NCAA’s biggest stage and in cavernous Reliant Stadium in Houston to boot. The National Championship game was one of the ugliest displays of basketball I’ve seen in a long time. Butler & UCONN built enough bricks to build a couple of houses, and made me yearn for the days when the NCAA Championship Game took place in a true basketball arena, whether on campus such as Lexington’s Rupp Arena in 1995 or what’s now called the IZOD Center, the former Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, NJ in 1996. It was so bad last night, I would nominate this Butler/UCONN game as a “Tournament Of Bad” candidate for next year.


    Correction…The NCAA Championship game in Lexington took place in 1985. That’s E-1 if you are scoring…My mistake,

  • Dr. that doesn't help people

    Can someone please have Terry Boers give Jim Nantz some coke next time he does a basketball game. Or better yet, have Charlie Sheen do play by play with a coked-out Jim Nantz.

  • Kenny

    Hmmm, I thought I saw two teams playing damn good defense, which led to the poor shooting by both teams. Gm 7 of the NBA Finals was worse than this and I’m much more of an NBA buckets guy than college.

  • Stretch Armstrong

    It’s funny: Bernstein has been going on and on for weeks about how women’s basketball is terrible…yet their two final four games were WAY more exciting than this game.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not saying women’s basketball is consistently more exciting than men’s. But sometimes the girls’ game can be fun to watch when the games are close, and both teams are playing well.

  • Afghani"Stan"

    This is what happens when:

    1) The NBA allows the one and done rule (no continuity for the major college teams)

    2) The tournament expansion to 68 teams for the sake of money

    3) Allowing conferences to use a tournament to select the team that gets the automatic bid.

    • Casino3129

      Well said. In fact, people don’t hate money, it’s other people being blinded by it. You don’t add games to make more money and think the quality of the product is better. Which is why I’m against an 18 game schedule and the NFL should cut the preseason to 2 games, but that’s another debate for another time.

      Here are ways to change things to make the product a lot better.

      1. Those who go to college cannot enter the NBA for 3 years to ensure continuity of programs who pursue the top recruits and players are better developed in the NBA.

      2. Cut the field back to 64, or even 48 or 52 like the old days. More basketball does not mean good basketball. Plus this weeds out a lot of mediocrity.

      3. Make some of the rules of the college game “more uniform” with the NBA. Go to a 24 second shot clock; 35 is a little much. And I don’t want to hear they are college kids. If they want NBA aspirations, then they should be prepared for the NBA. That said, one rule that can be done away with by the NBA is the Continuation Rule. A foul in the act of shooting should be a foul in the act of shooting, not whistle, one step, shoot and that counts as act of shooting.

      The NCAA better stop concerning themselves with wanting their own identity and start concerning themselves with the quality of the product.

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