UNC – 2017 NCAA Basketball Champs

Last night UNC won their 6th national championship.

I’m amazed how little this mattered to me. I didn’t even watch the whole game. I turned it on shortly after tipoff. For the first half I only partially paid attention while I did other things. For the second half I watched less than 5 minutes of the game before deciding to go to bed.

This amazed me because UNC’s 2nd national championship is one of my earliest sports memories. It was 1982 so I was only 7 years old at the time. I don’t know if I remember the actual game or if I only remember the countless replays I’ve seen over the years of Michael Jordan’s go ahead shot and James Worthy’s game clinching steal.

What I definitely remember from that night was how important it was for me to watch that game. As a Second Grader with school the next day I had a bedtime too early to watch the whole game. After being sent up, I snuck back downstairs to the office to watch the rest. I turned the TV on and lowered the volume to a whisper. It was still a flawed plan because the bathroom was right next to the office. Eventually my mom came back that way and I was busted.

I was generally a good kid who rarely caused any problems for my parents, so Moms went easy on me. The fact that I even did this must have showed her how important the game was to me so she let me stay up. I don’t recall if that meant for the whole game or just until halftime.

So today there is this clear contrast in my head. As a 7 year-old, I’m doing everything possible to stay up and watch this game. As a 42 year-old, I can hardly be bothered to pay attention while it is on and don’t care if see the outcome until the next day. It’s strange to be able to see such a clear progression of how my priorities and things I enjoy have changed over the years.

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All time all-world roster – basketball edition

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Inspired by the Word Baseball Classic, there’s a baseball version of this going around the internet right now. I know how these things go, so I’m getting ahead of the trend on this one.

So I think the strategy is to build the best starting five first and then fill-in backups and reserves. Also, you’re going to want to get the greatest player of all-time on your roster. Whatever that means to you – Wilt, LeBron, MJ – they’re all American, which means you only get one. The good news is that it gives you position flexibility – C, SF, SG – so you can figure out your other 4 and pick the American that fits at the end.

The best foreign born player ever is Tim Duncan (Virgin Islands). The benefit of taking him is that he is a PF so he leaves the American flexibility. Next is probably Dirk Nowitzki (Germany)…unfortunately also a PF, so probably my first backup.

The underrated Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) is next. I’ll gladly give the Center position to The Dream and cut loose any shot at Wilt.

So my C and PF are filled. Looking through a list of foreign born players, it turns out many of best are big men. Maybe I’ll use some of these to fill in: Pau Gasol (Spain), Patrick Ewing (Jamaica), Dikembe Mutombo (Congo), Yao Ming (China).

At PG I found two fun surprises for my team. I was expecting Steve Nash. The surprise was that he was born in South Africa, not Canada. Similarly, the same thing for Tony Parker. I was expecting France, but he was actually born in Belgium.

So France is still available…and there is a surprise Hall of Famer. SF Dominique Wilkins was born in France. Taking Dominique eliminates LeBron as my SF. The last of my original Americans is Jordan. No complaints.

Starters:
PG Steve Nash (South Africa)
SG Michael Jordan (US)
SF Dominique Wilkins (France)
PF Tim Duncan (Virgin Islands)
C Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria)

Backups:
PG Tony Parker (Belgium)
SG Manu Ginobili (Argentina)
SF Peja Stojakovic (Croatia)
PF Dirk Nowitzki (Germany)
C Patrick Ewing (Jamaica)

Reserves:
Pau Gasol (Spain)
Rolando Blackman (Panama)
Kyrie Irving (Australia)

March Madness 2015

This isn’t specifically about the 2015 tournament. Though I should note I am off to a great start in the Draft Pool. No, I felt the need to rant against poor coaching. This is similar to my feelings about football coaches lacking strategy.

I really haven’t watched regular season college basketball in many years (college basketball has gotten very boring), so I’m basing my entire opinion on the NCAA tournament. Which is OK because the failure there is most egregious. Unlike the regular season, we are dealing with a one-and-done scenario, so you better get it right.

This happens every year. The scenario is generally something like this:
Team is trailing by 1 and has possession with 30 seconds on the clock. Coach decides to go for the final shot with no time left. This is the mistake. JUST SHOOT BABY! (Voice of Dick Vitale.)

The coach thinks he is going to win the game. He is also concerned about the other team having enough time to re-take the lead. He is wrong. JUST SHOOT BABY!

The problem is they need to start the play with 12 or maybe as much as 15 seconds to go. But they always wait to 6 or 8. They’re not that good. These are not NBA players. They never can make anything happen, or turn the ball over, or get nervous and jack up crappy 3’s. JUST SHOOT BABY!

Here is an early example from this year.

Northeastern has possession, but is down 2 against Notre Dame. And they don’t even get a shot off. That sucks. And it’s worse if you are a huge underdog like Northeastern. At least give your kids a chance. JUST SHOOT BABY!

Now if you start the play earlier there is a better chance you get off a quality shot. And means it’s more likely to go in. So what if you miss? Well, under my scenario there is still time for an offensive rebound or perhaps fouling a defensive rebounder to extend the game. But if you wait until there is no time left to shoot and miss…welp, game over. JUST SHOOT BABY!

And what if you do make it? That’s good, right? We can all agree that making the shot and taking the lead is a good thing. So my coach is worried about the other team having too much time left. But guess what? They’re not that good either. These are not NBA players on the other team. So they can’t make anything happen, or they’ll turn the ball over, or they’ll get nervous and jack up a crappy 3. They won’t make it. So…JUST SHOOT BABY!

Other complaint about coaching: Up 3, other team has possession. Please foul. It’s pretty simple math. If you foul, they can only score 2 points and lose. If you don’t they can shoot a 3 and tie. JUST FOUL(?) BABY!

Sixers 2015-01-10

I went to the Sixers game tonight. I had bought Pops tickets for xmas. It was me, him and Susie.

Pops has been frustrated with the “tanking” and I genuinely think he really wants to pull back from rooting for the team. Despite that, he is willing to suck it up to go to the game with us. The family moment is more of a positive for him than all of the losing is a negative. I especially think he likes that Susie is into it. She is the only grandchild who likes the Sixers. When we dropped him off after the game he thanked us. I could tell how much the night meant to him.

Susie did something that surprised me with this game. A couple weeks ago she got invited to her friend Megan’s birthday party for the same night. I told her that I could find someone else for her ticket. She said that she’d rather go to the game than to the party! OK. My impression of 11 year old girls and their thoughts about their reputations is that a girl party is way more important than wasting a night with their dad and grandfather. But Susie had a different take. Going to the game with us was special. She sees Megan every day on the bus, in homeroom, around school.

Something else surprised me with this game…the Sixers won! They are terrible (6-29 coming into tonight) so the expectation is always a loss. But they kept it close and snuck out a win. And it was a fun game. Winning makes it fun. A close win is even better. And then throw in Tony Wroten’s alley oop off the glass to KJ McDaniels:

Wroten to Jakarr Sampson:

and Wroten, Sampson and Jerami Grant hitting back-to-back-to-back 3’s. That’s an exciting game!

One more thing. This was Susie’s fourth game and amazingly the Sixers are 4-0. Yes, these terrible Sixers will not lose when she is there. So I am starting this list to keep track.

2012-2013 Season (34-48)
February 1, 2013
Sixers 89, Sacramento 80

March 16, 2013
Sixers 98, Indiana 91

2013-2014 Season (19-63)
November 22, 2013
Sixers 115, Milwaukee 107 OT

2014-2015 Season (7-29 currently)
January 10, 2015
Sixers 93, Indiana 92