How sweet it is...
...watching 6'6 men cry.
An amazing night of ball last night, one that reminds us (as if we needed a refresher) on why the tourney is what it is.
And why we all hate Duke.
First it was the baby Tigers running rampant over everyone's model program. We had a bunch of freshmen and sophomores driving seniors, consensus all-Americans, crazy. As he has in big games his whole career, JJ Redick shat the bed (never scored 20 in a Sweet 16 game or beyond; last night had more turnovers, 4, than FGs, 3. And cried like a true Duke star). Beyond that, the Devils choked down the stretch and their depth--hey coach, how many McD's all-Americans do you have warming that pine, exactly?--killed them as it always does. And yet again, Coach K was outKoached. Yeah he's won 3 championships, but he has been consistently outsmarted in the tourney recently. Calhoun, Mike Davis, Tom Izzo, and now Mr. Brady. So what if your program recruits itself; learn how to manage a game.
After just enough tears from the Devils and Mr. Vitale, it was time for the main event. Although you wouldn't have known it for the first 30 minutes. UCLA couldn't have hit Starr Jones' ass for the whole first half, yet they found themselves down a managable 13 at the break.
We should pause briefly and acknowledge two things:
1) Adam Morrison and the zags got their wake-up call. Morrison said Gonzaga has "got to be considered a top-notch program." News flash, Ron Jeremy: the Zags hadn't been to the Sweet 16 in 5 years, the Elite Eight in 7. Bradley has gone as far as you in the last 5 years. You are a top-notch mid-major.
2) This is why a weak schedule will bite you in the ass. Since January they have played only the WCC, which is equivalent to Our Sisters of the Poor. And the games were close. This team was not that good. It's not their fault that they are in that conference, but if they want to be a power, switch conferences. The PAC-10 will welcome you.
Oh, and we called it. Our brackets may have all been dead after the first day (Sporlinote: NEVER pick a Big 10 team as your darkhorse Final Four contestant), but we knew the Zags were overrated. So Seth "Gonzaga WILL be in the Final Four" Davis can eat it again.
Sorry, we're getting off-track. Jordan Farmar and UCLA completed the greatest steal-and-layup since Bird on the Pistons. Bird steals the ball! Gets it underneath to DJ and he lays it in!!!!!! The Bruins showed balls, but more importantly they showed what playing a real schedule will do for you. They have been in close games against tough teams. Gonzaga has had their hands full with Mt. St. Mary's. It just don't compare, and it showed down the stretch last night.
It's also worth Sporlinoting that UCLA showed some serious class. Indicative of coach Ben Howland, some of the Bruins stopped their celebration to go over and console Morrison, who was weeping face-down on the floor. He later said he appreciated the effort.
Last, Redick and Morrison: media darlings. If we hear one more tidbit about how they're friends we're suing the national media for lack of creativity. Enough. They are great players, but neither could get it done in the clutch. Good for them for their stellar college careers. We just can't wait til those Larry Bird and Pistol Pete comparisons die in a year.
All in all, a wonderful night of Tourney action with plenty left to go. And no matter what happens, just remember: it's not like we can ever run out of reasons to enjoy A-Rod's humiliation (take 1, and take 2).