In 2006, Gonzaga’s team has been too good too long and is too well known to retain its original beloved Cinderella Team status (Gonzaga has a #3 seeding, for goodness sake); nonetheless, I still like saying Gonzaga.
Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga. Gonzaga.
Also, it’s the only team in this year’s NCAA tournament with a name that makes me think of cheese.
For that matter, Gonzaga is, as far as I can determine, the only team in this year’s NCAA tournament named after a 16th century Italian Jesuit. That would be Gonzaga’s namesake, one Aloysius Gonzaga, AKA the patron saint of youth, a title apparently earned by his efforts to save young people from the plague (I suppose it would be petty of me to wonder why St Gonzaga couldn’t have rescued a few, slightly older dudes while he was at it).
I have a thing for mascots, the more obscure the better. What’s it to ya? This year’s winner: The Iona Gaels. (Timely, eh? Sure & Begorrah)
3. Classic Rivalries
More precisely, I like classic rivalries that are mindlessly sustained. Following Duke’s victory in the 1992 championship game, I left the stadium in a bus full of (adult) Duke supporters. Within nanoseconds, the bus was filled with the dulcet intonations of the traditional Duke mantra, “Go to hell, Carolina, go to hell.”
Only those unacquainted with this Tobacco Road rivalry will be surprised to learn that Duke had not defeated North Carolina that night – because Duke played Michigan in the Finals. North Carolina, in fact, had not made it to the Final Four or the Elite Eight. It makes, as we say in the Ozarks, ain’t no nevermind.
The Duke-North Carolina rivalry, like those between Oklahoma-Texas, Missouri-Kansas, Army-Navy, and the rest, have long transcended their specific institutions and no longer require battles between or even proximity to the contestants; they have become, in fact, independent, metaphysical sacraments.
I’m told, by the way, that a line from the North Carolina State University Fight Song that references the University of North Carolina, “Come over the hill, Carolina,” is actually sung in vivo as “Go to hell, Carolina” by the State students – those scamps.
4. Dick Vitale, Bay-bee
Yes, God forgive me, I like Vitale’s motor-mouthed, opinionated, parody-of-himself commentary. And, it’s true that Vitale talks in clichés (e.g., Diaper Dandy, Prime-Time Player), but that seems only fair since he’s the guy who made those phrases into clichés in the first place. Regardless, I, for one, enjoy Dickie V’s goofy neologisms more than, say, these phrases from last night’s games: “achieved good rotation,” “an isolation move,” and (be still my heart) “non-power conference.” Besides, one ex, now otherwise (almost) engaged, apparently still recalls with some fondness that I introduced her to the notion that it’s pronounced bay-bee during March.
5. Al McGuire
Marquette’s return to the brackets triggers memories of Coach McGuire, who not only brought Marquette to the championship in 1977, abut was also another announcer with a stream of consciousness style and a, well, unique vocabulary. A big center, for example, was an aircraft carrier, a player who could jump extraordinarily well was a ballerina in the sky (which, I suppose, would make a tall center who was also a leaper an aircraft carrier in the sky), and enjoying the moment was going barefoot in the grass. McGuire would also share the occasional piece of gossip on the air, a kind of comradery with the fan that is all but extinct in these days of sterilized commentary. In 2006, CBS isn’t likely, for example, to let you know that Tennessee coach, Bruce Pearl, was thrown out of his son’s high school hoops game for harassing the ref, although I maintain that kind of thing deeply enriches my enjoyment of the game. And, who could resist a big time coach who said, for publication (of course, everything Al said was for publication), “Coaching is not the ultimate. I never liked coaching. There’s got to be more to life than hangin’ up jock straps.” McGuire died in 2003; one hopes he is currently going barefoot in the grass.
Death, as you’ve no doubt heard, takes a holiday, but you may not know that diseases, as Death’s employees, are entitled to time off as well. As it turns out, Diabetes 2 is a basketball fan so I figure it’s safe to snarf down a few cheese-laden chips (“Could you squirt a little more of that Gonzaga on that taco chip, please”) between buzzers.
I have had the honor and privilege of facilitating the inconceivable LaWanda’s* entry into the spiritual realm of basketball understanding. I’ve watched over her as she has discovered the quintessential purity and joyfulness that is the pick and roll, as she grasped the nuances of the over & back rule, and as she incorporated into her core intellectual processes the key strengths and weaknesses of the full court press.
*Note: the iridescent LaWanda chose her own pseudonym; I think she’s trying to get in touch with her inner white trash
I like the awkwardness of TV announcers pretending they are intimately familiar with the second guy off the bench for the Old Dominion Monarchs.
9. Single Elimination
I like it clear cut. All you gotta do to win the Tournament is never lose, bay-bee.
10. Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke Duke