Some San Antonio Loose Ends
Tremendous games here last night, a sports fan's dream and a sportswriter's nightmare. Brutal deadlines. Apologies to anyone who read my stories in today's birdcage liner and found they only approached coherency. They also lacked a few details, so here are some things you didn't read in today's paper.
-There was some controversey about the clock at the end of the game, which I'd say turned out be both overblow and meaningless, for reasons explained in a minute. First, what happened was Texas A&M was inbounding after the game-winning free throws by Antonio Anderson, and there was a horriffic inbounds pass that sailed toward half court and the left sideline, where only one Memphis player, Robert Dozier, stood with no Aggies around him. Keeping with the general them of incompetence, Dozier batted the ball out of bounds for no real reason, kind of like a cat playing with a yarn ball. More incompetence: Though Dozier hit the ball, no time came off the clock. Still 3.1 showing.
So now the refs -- and, apparently, Bill Raftery, according to the NCAA suit at the podium after the game -- took a few minutes using the monitor and a stopwatch to figure out how much time came off the clock. When they reset it to 2.0 seconds, the arena groaned in surprise.
But here's why overblown: because I think the refs made the right call, an opinion swayed by John Calipari's swindling sell after the game. He said he was right in front of the play (he was) and watched Dozier hit the ball, which bounced once barely inbounds then bounded into the stands. As Coach Gecko fervently explained, the ball is live until it hits something, so it's possible that the ball went jumping out of bounds for 1.1 seconds before it hit something. Gotta trust the guys with the monitor and stopwatch, I suppose.
And here's why it was meaningless: There seems to be pretty much no difference between inbounding the ball from full court with 3.1 seconds and 2.0 from halfcourt. The Aggies lost the game because they couldn't get a rebound in four chances and The (Still) Great Acie Law IV missed a lay-up. I think the Aggies jinxed him by passing out reporter's notebooks with a picture of Acie Law on the cover and the words "Mr. Clutch." How's that working out for them?
-After the late game, Greg Oden never emerged in the locker room while the media groundlings were allowed in. Instead, he spent the time in the trainer's room, getting stitches on the bottom of his chin. He busted it open when he and Ivan Harris fell over each other going for a rebound and slammed his face on the court. The trainer, Vince O'Brien, said there was absoultely no way he would miss the regional final on Saturday. So now big deal, except there were no Oden quotes in today's stories about his rough night: four fouls, 18 minutes, nine points, three rebounds.
Also: Oden is not used to cuts on his face, because, as he claimed Wednesday, he has never shaved. Not once When he started growing facial hair -- sadly, he can't remember when that was -- he just told his barber to trim his beard when he got hair cuts. Someone challenged him, and he held firm. His mother, Zoe, also hated that beard he wore earlier this season and told him to shave it, repeatedly.
-Ohio State needs to play better on Saturday if it wants to go to the Final Four. If they dilly-dally around again, like they did against Tennessee and Xavier, they're in trouble. Memphis has completely sold me. To see them in person, wow, those dudes are like specimens. And fast. They don't really know how to play basketball as well as some other teams, but they're offense allows for a lot of freedom and they can make plays. Great job in a big spot by Chris Douglas-Roberts, who limped around all night and still played 37 minutes and scoring 15 points.
Also, great job in a big spot by me last night, capping the night. Polished off about (redacted) Shiner Bocks, a chicken quesedilla and four wings in the Rivercenter Mariott lobby bar afterward with some fellow Counts of Consumption. That's an oft-used synonym for sportswriters, by the way.
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