I won’t start this post with a glowing tribute to college basketball. Before the masterpiece that was the National Championship game, college basketball looked to be in big trouble. Poor play, awful officiating, coaches kicking players, it was not a good time to be a college basketball defender. The tournament, with the exception of Florida Gulf Coast and a couple of games here and there, was a clunker. Even the Michigan-Syracuse game became a letdown, limping to finish behind spotty decision-making on the floor, on the bench, and by the refs.
But then Monday night happened and showed us the best of basketball.
Suddenly this time of year, from the middle of March to June, was shoved back to the forefront as the best time for sport fans. Forget the beginning of football season, college and pro, or December to February. This time is the time for sports fans and Monday night reminded us of that. The game between Michigan and Louisville had athleticism, talent, and coaching all at its best. A rocking dome, with the Fab Five in attendance added frosting to the cake. A movie like performance by Spike Albrecht, who came off the bench averaging 1.6 points per game, then proceeded to drop 17 points easily in the first half, then MOP Luke Hancock bringing his team back with 4 straight 3s (and Phil Jackson’s commentary on twitter about momentum). Then the 2nd half, with Allen Ive- I mean Trey Burke bounce up and down off the canvas trying to push his team to victory (Burke easily was the best player on the court and it wasn’t even close). Peyton Siva, with an all-world performance in the battle of some of the best backcourts in the country. In the end, Louisville’s mental toughness won out over Michigan’s youthful exuberance. The only thing missing was a last-second shot opportunity to cap it off. What a treat to the sports fans, at least those that were able to stay up and watch.
But this is just the beginning of this glorious time of year. Baseball started last week, and the storylines are already forming with the Battle of LA, Cano signing with Jay-Z, the Yankees and Red Sox being trash, the Big Red Machine, the two nice Upton Brothers, Washington’s Rise, and the Astros and Marlins competing for being the worst team ever. This week the Masters starts, and Tiger Woods has his life together seemingly, because he has his game back. Later this month, the NHL starts their playoffs, which is arguably the most dramatic games of the year, especially if and when the game goes to overtime. Not to mention the Kentucky Derby at the beginning of May if you like to participate in America’s greatest pastime; gambling.
Finally, in two weeks, the greatest basketball players in the world start their tournament, in what projects to be the another fantastic NBC playoffs. The West looks wide open, from the number one seed down to the five. Yes, I included Memphis because not having Rudy Gay makes them better. Heck, if the Lakers get in (and even me, the diabolical Laker hater wants the purple and gold to get mollywhopped in the playoffs) that could be intriguing at least. In the East, let’s not pretend we are not dying for a Heat-Knicks showdown in the Conference Finals, especially with Carmelo hitting the B button 7 times, then going up, Y, B before each game. Just to hear that Madison Square Garden organ in meaningful playoff games (and wins, they’ve only had 1 in 12 years), is life for NBA fans.
From the great sports on TV, great weather outside to turn into a weekend warrior, Iron Man 3, and the return of the sundress, this is probably the greatest time of year for the Mancave Now if we can get Phil Jackson to tweet all about it to make it even better.