Posted: Monday March 28, 2005 1:49AM; Updated: Monday March 28, 2005 9:49AM
Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. He is a frequent contributor to Sports Illustrated and also appears regularly on National Public Radio. SI senior writer Alex Wolff is the author of Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure. Here Pierce and Wolff discuss the regional round of the NCAA tournament. Previous installments: Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Day Five | Day Six
From: Charles Pierce To: Alexander Wolff Subject: Memory lapses Sunday, March 28, 2005
Tom Izzo got to cut down another net after a showing great resiliency in overtime.
Are they dancing where you are?
Nice timing, veteran scribe. Right into Big Lake country just as the Spartans roll on through. Easter duty being what it is, I didn't catch much of their game against Kentucky except for the two overtimes. I hate the cult of the coach as much as you do, but Tom Izzo pretty clearly put Tubby Smith in what my granny would have called the ha'penny place throughout the extra session. Granted, Rajon Rondo had picked up two fouls (I believe) while shucking his warm-up at the beginning of the game. (If former Southern Mississippi coach M.K. Turk was coaching at Kentucky, would the point guard be Blue Rondo a'la Turk? Stanley Crouch is now going to come to my house and beat me like a rented stepchild.) But Izzo used his big people masterfully, and Paul Davis is making himself a lot of money this month. Of course, once you've faced down the Catamounts, the rest of the field must look like candy-glass.
As for the Carolinas, well, they managed to keep their heads out of inconvenient orifices for 40 consecutive minutes and, thus, barely managed not to get themselves tangled up in Bo Ryan's Bleed-'em-With-Leeches game plan. I, too, admire Sean May's hands, and there's an awful lot of talent to watch but, unfortunately, I don't like this bunch very much. I almost fell off the couch laughing, listening to Rashad McCants and those guys talking about "all they'd been through" in their careers, as if the spoiled little spalpeens hadn't spent their early years whining at DefCon 4, and submarining their coach. Boys, nice run, looking forward to seeing you, but you didn't "overcome" anything except your own ensemble hissy-fit. Move along, please.
Sometimes, I think CBS's memory hole must be the size of Mauna Kea.
Which reminds me. You probably missed it, but CBS ran a pre-game special about the arc of the Maryland program from the death of Len Bias in 1986 to the national championship back in 2002. It was a mixed bag, even if you grant the fact that it's Easter, and that television sports just loves redemption stories even at less appropriate moments on the liturgical calendar. Anyway, it was nice to see Gary Williams get some props, and there was the expected revisionism concerning Lefty Driesell, who still has his fans in our biz, apparently.
But what was missing was a larger context. As author Dan Baum has pointed out, through the efforts of (among others) Celtics fan Tip O'Neill, Bias's death set off the anti-drug frenzy of the mid-1980s, which generally used the Bill of Rights for a bathmat, prompted a series of Draconian new laws, and spawned some godawful Pinochet Lite rhetoric that's been dusted off recently by our hysterical Steroid Apocalyptics. We learn nothing from our own mistakes except to make them all over again.
And, also, CBS? I don't care if he once wore the Terrapin costume and danced through the upper deck. Bob Novak is at all times a mendacious lycanthrope and, if you use him as a talking-head anywhere on your network, you've sacrificed credibility for celebrity in a big way.