Sunday, April 1, 2007

A Few Thoughts from Saturday (Semifinal) Night

This entry is cross-posted at TNR's blog, Posting Up:

• Neither game (G-town/OSU or FLA/UCLA) will be listed the “memorable” ones. UCLA’s performance was the more disappointing, never putting any real pressure on Florida except for the first few minutes of the game – and even then, the foul trouble for Aaron Afflalo meant the Bruins’ early lead was destined to be short-lived.

• As mentioned before, OSU becomes a sleeker and more dangerous team without Greg Oden – primarily because they (led primarily by Mike Conley, Jr., who has played himself into a much better draft position) appear ready to attack on any potential fast-break, without worrying about whether the ‘big man’ is down the floor and ready to rebound. The Hoya turnovers in the first half – when Oden was on the bench with two fouls – were critical.

• Georgetown was the beneficiary of the refs’ no-call on a possible Jeff Green travel in the Sweet Sixteen game. Last night, they were on the short-end of two calls that could gone either way: a block/charge on Green against Oden with 6:37 left and the score 50-44, OSU; and a charge/block on Green (taken by David Lighty, who did a terrific job on Green all night) at the other end, four minutes later and with OSU clinging to a 4-point lead.

• In 1965, John McPhee wrote the following in The New Yorker:]
The rules of basketball are such that if they were ever literally interpreted, the referees would call enough fouls in any game to eliminate everyone or both squads two or three times over. No sport, therefore, is more difficult to officiate, since the referee’s judgment is infinitely more important that his vision, and the fairness of the outcome depends on the consistency and balance of the referee’s decisions rather than on any set of inflexible rules.
Forty-two years later, those words still ring true. Last night’s early fouls – two on Oden in the first three minutes of Game One, and three on Afflalo in less than ten minutes in Game Two -- probably did not influence the outcome of either contest, but did much to lessen the drama that both games potentially held.

• The spectre of Kentucky’s head coaching job seems to overshadow the entire Final Four right now, as George Vescey observed in the Times yesterday. Florida’s Billy Donovan has all-but-signaled that he will be moving to Lexington as soon as Monday’s game is over, for a contract that will be likely north of $3M per year. CBS continues to pay big money for the rights to the NCAA tournament; several universities (including OSU) now have athletic ‘businesses’ that have more than $100M in annual revenue; the players continue to (theoretically) get the same ‘compensation’ – tuition, room, and board – although fewer of them receive the scholarships, as Stacey noted; and coaches are the ones who seem to be capturing more and more of the economic ‘rents’ created by the TV contracts, as Andrew noted when we started here several weeks ago.

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