Shooting from the lip/March 12th edition
Looking back at a weekend of televised sports ...
The NCAA Selection Show on CBS is good for one thing: revealing the bracket. Expecting anything more has become unrealistic. CBS drags out the announcements so long that there is very little time left in the hour show to really dive into the brackets, the seedings and why certain bubble teams snuck in and others were left out.
Viewers want to hear from the committee, but instead end up hearing more from the CBS analysts. Analysts Seth Davis and Greg Anthony are interesting, but we hear about their predictions and bracket-busters when we would rather hear why, for instance, Iona got in while Drexel and Seton Hall were left out, or why USF is forced to play an extra game.
The NCAA Hardcourt Brackets show on truTV after the CBS show was much better at delving into questions. And give credit to tournament chair Jeff Hathaway and vice chair Mike Bobinski for not ducking any of those questions.
Bad comment in a good film
Last year, HBO produced a documentary about the UNLV basketball team of the early 1990s. Meantime, ESPN put out a documentary on Michigan's "Fab Five'' of the early 1990s. Interestingly, both of those programs lost national title games to Duke.
So it makes sense that someone put out a documentary on those Duke teams. Duke '91 & '92: Back to Back, produced by former Duke stars Grant Hill and Christian Laettner, made its debut Sunday night on truTV and was an admirable look at an admirable program. Love Duke or hate it, this documentary once again shows that it is possible to run a successful program the right way with high character and good morals. Of course, those who hate Duke won't like this documentary because they, well, hate Duke.
But here's something that stuck out in the Duke film as Bob Knight said this about the Fab Five: "Michigan was the most overrated team in the history of basketball. Never had so little been gotten out of so much.''
Okay, I get that Knight coached rival Indiana at the time and didn't care for some of the things the Fab Five might have done on and off the court. But Knight's comments aren't fair. Or accurate. The Fab Five was together only two seasons and they reached the national title game both years. In 1992, they lost to Duke -- the defending national champs featuring Hill, Laettner and Bobby Hurley and considered one of the best college hoops teams ever. The next season, Michigan lost a heart-breaker to an incredibly talented North Carolina team coached by Dean Smith. That's hardly a failure.
I like ESPN's Jay Bilas as a college basketball analyst. I really like ESPN's Bill Raftery as a college basketball analyst. What's strange is I didn't like them working together with top-flight announcer Sean McDonough during last week's Big East Tournament. Now part of that might have been the Big East Tournament. Watching those games was like watching someone read a book.
But the Bilas-Raftery pairing just didn't work. I thought the same thing when Bilas worked this season with Dick Vitale, another good analyst. I thought the same thing Sunday when CBS's Clark Kellogg and Steve Kerr, two more good analysts, tried to shoehorn their thoughts along with Jim Nantz's play-by-play during the Big Ten tournament final.
In the end, I think I stumbled upon the problem: three-man booths generally don't work in college basketball no matter how good the announcers are. The speed of the game, the rhythm of the game just isn't conducive for an announcer and two analysts. When it comes to basketball, less is more. Two is better than three.
Sun Sports' Chris Dingman continued his strong run as a pre-game and intermission analyst Saturday night with pointed remarks about the suspension of Caps defenseman Mike Green. Last week, Green was suspended three games for delivering a hit to the head of Lightning forward Brett Connolly. Dingman scoffed at the suspension, suggesting that a mere three games was neither punishment nor a deterrent.
Speaking of hits to the head and concussions, Green's reckless and disrespectful hit to Connolly merely confirms that you can change the rules, hand out tougher suspensions, hold seminars, alter the equipment and conduct studies, but the only way these dangerous hits will cease is when the players get a clue and start show respect for their fellow players.
Three things I liked on TV this weekend
1. Loved NBC Sports Network's Sunday coverage of the MLS game between New York and Dallas. It looked great and sounded even better with Kyle Martino between the benches -- just like you might see on NBC's hockey coverage.
2. Remember when you were little and your mom made you go outside and play in the fresh air? I get the feeling ESPN's college basketball bracket expert Joe Lunardi needs to go outside for a while. No one should know that much about the NCAA Tournament. But, geez, the guy is fun to watch on TV even though we should point out that he didn't get every team right.
3. ESPN's documentary Sunday night about Magic Johnson’s 1991 announcement that he had the HIV virus was excellent. Credit goes to Johnson, who, at first, wasn't going to be a part of the project. But the film was so good because Johnson narrated it.
Three things I didn't like on TV this weekend
1. Normally, a Celtics-Lakers matchup is must-watch TV, but not Sunday on ABC. This compacted NBA schedule has messed up the season. Just let me know when the playoffs start.
2. I tried to watch spring training on television this past weekend, including Saturday night's Rays-Red Sox game on MLB Network. But spring training is meant to be watched outside with a hot dog in one hand and a cold drink in the other. When it comes to TV, I'd rather watch an old classic game on tape than a spring game live.
3. Seeing clips on ESPN from a Denver television station using a helicopter to follow Peyton Manning on his tour of the Broncos might have been the dumbest thing I've seen on TV this year.
For the second week in a row, an ESPN analyst criticized an official for not making what appeared to be an obvious foul in the final moments of a game. This time it was Dan Dakich, a well-respected player from Indiana and former coach at Bowling Green, who criticized officials for not calling a foul against North Carolina just before Carolina scored the winning bucket in a two-point victory against North Carolina State in the ACC Tournament. What really set off N.C. State fans, aside from it being a foul, was that the officials put their whistles away after calling 42 fouls in the previous 39 1/2 minutes.
Dakich, just like ESPN's Fran Fraschilla last week, made a good point when he said that officials would rather let the players decide the outcome of a game, but what the officials miss is that players are deciding the outcome if they have good defensive or rebounding position and get fouled. They should not be punished because someone thinks a foul should not be called in waning moments.
Three things that popped into my head
1. NCAA bracket phrase I’m most sick of: "eye test.''
2. If you're a college basketball team that didn't get into the 68-team NCAA Tournament, don't blame the committee. It's your own fault for not doing enough.
3. The last time USF went to the NCAA Tournament, current Bulls point guard Anthony Collins was five months from being born.