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March 13, 2011
"Klay is an awesome player, best in the league. I just wish I was healthy enough to help him out like I did last season."
- Wazzu sophomore point guard Reggie Moore after Klay Thompson broke the Pac-10 conference tournament scoring record with 43 points in the loss to rival Washington last week.
"They don't get trapped so easily in their own ego. Women don't have to play golf to make deals."
- Formula One racing chief Bernie Ecclestone, pondering why a woman might make a better boss in the sporting world.
"This is the system David Stern and his minions like, so that's the system you have I certainly can't have an opinion because David Stern, like a lot of leaders we've seen in this world lately, don't really tolerate other people's opinion or free speech or anything. So I'm not really allowed to have an opinion. So it's up to him."
- Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy, complaining about "The Man" and his system after his center Dwight Howard picked up his 16th technical foul of the season which requires an automatic suspension due to league rules.
"It's not something I like to talk about. You don't know how much time and money I've spent on electrolysis and hair dye and reconstructive surgery so that I can look like this."
- "Two and a Half Men" actor Jon Cryer after co-star and bad boy-in-trouble Charlie Sheen called him a troll [before later backpeddling and apologizing].
It is finally here. The day the entire civilized world has anxiously been waiting for [well, second-most awaited day after the new phone books arriving]. The enormous and powerful machine known as the Big Dance has finally arrived for 2011 - or will arrive this afternoon when the NCAA selection committee will officially name their 68 teams who will compete in the men's hoop tourney this year and millions of office brackets around the nation can begin to get printed and distributed. Workflow will slow down even further this week than it usually does because this year CBS and their new minion [to use Van Gundy's catchy terminology] Turner Sports will be televising every single game in the tournament live and in its entirety on one of four channels - CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. It all officially begins on Tuesday and the train gathers momentum and charges through the remainder of March, not stopping until the first week of April when some lucky and talented team will have the honor of earning what no college football team can currently earn - the right to say they are a true national champion from actually playing and beating all opponents placed before them. Lest there are people with regrettably short memories out there - Butler made it to the championship game last year - something that never would have happened in college football where BCS Taliban minions [hey, this Van Gundy word is coming in handy ] determine who plays according to their system and like a lot of other leaders we have seen in this world today, they do not tolerate other people's opinion or free speech and hey, wait a minute .
Unlike the money-losing bowl game system in place for college football, March Madness makes a metric ton of moolah for the NCAA [CBS and Turner signed a deal with the NCAA for nearly $11 billion] and had Wazzu men's hoop team been able to make it to the Big Dance [the overwhelming Lounge consensus is that their current 82 RPI as of today will not be good enough to get them an invitation], some of that moolah would have been coming their way [in six years, due to the rolling window payment system, but hey, it is still money in the bank]. Since the Cougars appear to be destined for the NIT [National Invitation Tournament], they will not be seeing any of that moolah but the consolation prize is that they will likely host a game as a second seed in the NIT and if they can get a decent-sized crowd for that game, can keep the lion's - or, make that cougar's - share of the proceeds right away without having to wait six years for it. Additionally, as a second seed, Wazzu can have a good shot at getting an all-NCAA-expenses paid [courtesy of Big Dance moolah] trip to New York for the NIT Final Four. In other words, good news all around - potentially - for the Wazzu men's hoop program.
There had been a slightly remote chance that Wazzu could get an NIT match-up with Virginia and former Cougars' head coach Tony Bennett - as the prospect of Bennett returning to Pullman would have likely been one of the blockbuster games for the NIT - providing a good game, good television with the backstory and an expected good crowd. But the Cavaliers were always an NIT bubble team and probably burst their flimsy bubble when they pulled off a choke in the ACC tournament opener, however not just any garden-variety choke, but a choke of epic proportions against Miami that even a Heimlich maneuver would not have saved. That performance likely scuttled any remote chance Wazzu fans and well-wishers had of seeing Bennett returning to Pullman this month.
Meanwhile, left out in the cold from all the Big Dance hoopla is ESPN, which lost out on the negotiations for the big moolah contract that CBS and Turner Sports got last year when they signed with the NCAA. But do not feel sorry for ESPN as the network contributes 70% of parent company Disney's cable network revenues - financial analysts call it the most valuable asset Disney owns since purchasing it 15 years ago - and is expected to handle all future World Cup as well as having a good shot at taking the Olympics away from NBC [the American public can only hope].
"I wish they would have made it to the Big Dance but this is the next best thing," says Judge Mental, about the Wazzu men's hoop team's likely going to the NIT this week.
That is the most realistic perspective, Your Honor, as the Cougars clearly were not consistent enough to merit an NCAA bid this year. Three or four more wins along the way would have probably done the trick but that is all spilled milk under the bridge now [as Father Lotto likes to say]. Instead of speculating about the vagaries of the NCAA selection process or the shortcomings of the team dynamic, now we can all move on to speculating about who the Cougars' next opponent might be - and that is always fun speculation. With Virginia seemingly out - due to the NIT selection structure and the Cavaliers' overall ineptness in late-game play - that moves speculation to several other teams - New Mexico, Long Beach State and Montana. New Mexico might be seeded too highly and could be too far away geographically to send to Pullman while Montana is closer geographically but might not make the tourney. That leaves Long Beach State as the most likely opponent to be coming to Pullman after UC-Santa Barbara claimed the Big West Conference's automatic NCAA berth this weekend. Long Beach State has a head coach Dan Monson who is familiar with the Northwest but aside from a single player from Oregon on their roster, will have no other direct ties to the region. That, along with the Wazzu students being on spring break, will likely make it challenging for the Cougars to get a decent crowd, but if they can crack seven thousand in attendance for such a game, they should be able to make a small amount of money on that and possibly even set themselves up for another hosting opportunity down the road when the students get back from break.
"I figured we were in for a good run and then yikes!...they fell off a cliff!" says V. De Milo about the Wazzu baseball team's season so far.
Well, it did look promising there after Wazzu won the season-opening series from Cal State-Bakersfield, then the chilly-shortened series from UC-Santa Barbara and then blew Oklahoma State out of the water at the Dairy Queen Classic in Tucson. But then the wheels came off the wagon and after an inexplicable loss to Minnesota, came losses to South Alabama and Dallas Baptist which exposed the Cougars' lack of depth in pitching while Wazzu tries to make it through the pre-season without injured Chad Arnold and some inconsistencies in their offense after the Oklahoma State outburst. Since then, however, Wazzu was able to right the ship - somewhat - with wins over Dallas Baptist and winning the series from Utah Valley. But a tough road trip to Fresno State will likely be a good Pac-10 precursor for the team - challenging both the pitching and hitting capabilities of the squad in a hostile locale.
Everything is about the Big Dance from today until April, but the NIT is still a decent tournament with decent opponents - many of whom just missed out on their Big Dance opportunities - and even their own decent tourney-centric websites such as NIT-ology to track the comings and goings of the various expected participants.
Finally, the Lounge Scientists know that Wazzu fans and well-wishers have a pain in their heart because the Cougars will not be going to the Big Dance this week but the NIT is acting as a placebo for their heart condition and if they lived in Germany, that is exactly the prescription they would likely receive as German doctors tend to give out placebos as a common practice, according to a recent German study.
"Their use is of enormous importance for medical practice," says Lounge Scientist #53, Christoph Fuchs, a scientist at the German Medical Association who, reputedly, had a placebo for breakfast and is still hungry.
The Lounge's Big Dance bracket has been prepared by the accounting firm of Ernst and Whinney and is ready to go this afternoon.
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