The A-Line It is what it is, unless it is not
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2006
5
Mar

Regular Ending

The ACC’s regular season finally ground to a halt. With what has generally become an exhibition season as the media hacks drone on about ‘bracketology’ from about the MNC game on, the devaluation of the ‘regular’ portion of the schedule becomes more acute as everybody marks time waiting for the real March action to begin. Nevertheless, the ACC capped off the pre-tournament games with six over the weekend. There were some good ones.

Things tipped off in the ACC’s Great White Northeast as Virginia Tech lost to Fredo. Seth Greenberg was remarkably placid, looking a lot like the guy who had been informed by jimmy earlier in the week that Hokie Respect applies to the coaches, too.

The kindler and gentler Seth watched as Tech engaged in another of its stock in trade games during this star-crossed season, the close loss. One of these days Zabian Dowdell is going to hit one of those last-second jumpers with the game on the line, although the chances to do so are drawing short this year.

Tech had jumped on Fredo early, taking advantage of an environment more suited to quiet calm reflection than basketball. The disinterested Conte Forum audience made the arts crowd at the Kennedy Center seem a frenzied basketball atmosphere in comparison. The Eagles fed off of the crowd, bringing all the intensity of husbands with their wives in department stores.

While Seth was on his best behavior, Al Skinner gave an excellent demonstration in the proper time and circumstances for getting a technical, using it to fire up his apathetic team. The result was similar to that achieved when a cattle prod is introduced to a bull’s testicles.

The Eagles charged to a second-half lead then held on as Tech made its usual late-game comeback that ended with its usual close-game loss. If there are just basketball gods, somebody is going to pay for all of the tough luck this team has endured, hopefully in Greensboro .

The day’s next game saw Georgia Tech seemingly hell-bent on clinching the Number 11 seed in the ACC Tournament. Apparently they wanted that 9:30 Thursday night slot bad. If you are only going to be in Greensboro for one day, it might as well be extended as long as possible. Clemson ended the season on a high note and heads into the Tournament with momentum that should last about a day.

Action continued late Saturday afternoon as NC State visited Wake Forest . Skip noticed that the interim guy back home was winning a few games and the Cincy brass might not still be quite so interested in a coach whose team had quit on him. The Cincinnati Kid succeeded in rallying the Deacons to put forth something other than the lackadaisical effort shown for most of the year. It didn’t hurt that the Wolfpack limped into the game with numerous injuries or that Herb Sendek seems to be trying his best to deflect some of the fan heat from Chuckie.

One rarely gets to observe the media hyperbole on display Saturday at Duke. The run-up to such mundane athletic contests as the Super Bowl or Olympics paled in comparison to the hype ESPN brought to the World’s Greatest Rivalry in Anything, the Duke-Carolina basketball one.

It began Saturday morning with the Gameday gang surrounded by those Duke students who had not sold their wristbands on Ebay. During the game there was Crazy Cam, Backboard Cam, Trophy Case Cam and Coach K Cam with no subtitles due to problems with FCC decency regulations. All of the other Disney networks got into the act, right down to ABC Family showing home movies of Mickie and the girls.

The media overkill extended down 15/501 to Chapel Hill . While Pit Cam had been a casualty of jihad, ESPN did succeed in convincing a Franklin Street bar to switch to the game from the Hairdresser Channel.

The game itself seemed anti-climactic, especially after Carolina took to demonstrating their far superior speed and quickness and took over the game. Duke was a slow team to begin with and now looks like a slow, tired one.

Ol’ Roy employed the box and one defense, with the box used to lock up JJ while the one guarded the other four Devils. Sending waves of ultra-quick defenders at the lead-footed Redick, Ol’ Roy dared the rest of the Duke team to beat him. They could not. To maintain equilibrium in the World’s Greatest Rivalry, Coach K is going to have to instruct Nike to go find him some quicker Sociology majors.

At the end of the game, Woody gestured and spoke for all Carolina fans as he flung off his headphones, leaned out of the Cameron Crow’s Nest, gave the Duke bench the finger and exclaimed, “You suck, Rat-Face.” After having turned Duke’s Senior Night into Freshman Orientation, Tyler Hansbrough demonstrated that the spirit of Rasheed is not quite dead, parading around Cameron taunting the Crazies. Yep, this is a rivalry, all right. If Taunting Tyler returns to Carolina next year, he should be a real fan favorite.

Sunday was Bubble Day for two ACC teams and both won. Florida State beat Miami in the ‘Hey, we’re in the ACC too’ game and will head to Greensboro as the ACC’s hottest team behind the Tar Heels. The Noles are NCAA bound while the Canes are hoping to again sneak into the NIT.

Family Weekend continued in Hooville. As boygroh called Shane and chortled, “My Daddy really likes likes me,” algroh handed out promotions to his son-in-law, brother-in-law, eccentric Uncle artgroh and long-lost cousin abnergroh. Not to be outdone, the Hoo baskeball family and their sons, with the exception, of course, of Ralph’s children, gathered for the last game played in U-Hall unless it was not.

The Hoos ended their U-Hall run as they began it forty years ago, with a loss. Fallback Dave’s crew made it much more interesting than that 26-point blowout to Kentucky back in 1965. The Hoos fell behind to Maryland by 18, then staged a big rally, taking the lead before giving their Virginia Tech impression at the end. With the win, the ACC’s first Williams to win a national championship should be able to wedge his Terps back into the NCAA Tournament.

So the regular season is out of the way and the ACC descends on Greensboro for the Tournament. With Carolina, State and Duke all drawing first-round byes the opportunity to cop tickets in the Coliseum parking lot should be greatly enhanced, even more so than usual. I certainly hope so. The ACC’s first day is likely to be the only one when fans clad in light blue aren’t bidding up the prices.

A-Line Extra: Family Ties 03/04/06

Football again intrudes on basketball season. After spending three months cajoling and begging people to come work for him, algroh took note of the quality of the applicants willing to toil for the Howard Dean of ACC coaches and finally threw in the towel.

The Hooville Chessmaster announced that son boygroh would assume the title of Assistant Great NFL Legend in charge of the offense, recruiting, nepotism and keeping Ahmad clean. algroh put a positive spin on the surprising promotion, saying that boygroh was about the only staff member who did not head for the hills seconds after the regular season ended, adding, “I guarantee you Temple or Liberty or anybody else won’t try and hire him away.”

An excited boygroh exclaimed, “Gee, thanks, Daddy,” as Shane Beamer looked up from the SEC basement in Starkville and asked, “WTF?”

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