Chip Shots: Watching, Listening To March Madness

March 23, 2024 at 8:00 a.m.


My body was under repair this week with two minor procedures Monday, and a major surgery on Tuesday. It dawned on me before the week that this unusually slow-paced week for me coincided with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the Round of 64 specifically.

I’m restricted from driving until the beginning of April, so I’m working from home.

Convenient.

I resumed work Thursday, and while I had the tournament on for each day of the Round of 64, it was more like background noise. I stayed focused on my tasks. It helps the healing process since my home office is ergonomically better than one of the two site-based offices I occupy, so I am pretty comfortable despite the pain.

When Oakland knocked third-seeded Kentucky out of the tournament Thursday it reminded me why I’m so glad I did not participate in a bracket for the second straight year. I don’t miss it.

Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson, and Charles Barkley (panelists with Clark Kellogg on the CBS pre- and postgame shows) each had the Wildcats in the Final Four among their brackets. Although this round through Friday afternoon didn’t have as many bracket busters as it had in recent years, I’m sure I would already be lagging behind bracket pool leaders before the second half of the second day of March Madness.

Among the background noise I’ve already noticed the following:

The buffalo in the Buffalo Wild Wings commercial (voiced by former Saturday Night Live cast member Beck Bennett) is already annoying me, particularly the “box out” commercial.

The Capital One commercials, however, with Barkley, Jennifer Garner, Samuel L Jackson, Spike Lee, and Jim Nantz (yep Nantz is still doing the commercials without calling the action) are entertaining.

Name, image, and likeness (NIL) is no part of the advertising fabric in the tournament as numerous active college athletes are part of the commercials among various sponsors. It will be interesting if these spots will move up a notch in cleverness and quality as the tournament run moves toward the next rounds.

I tuned in on the Connecticut-Stetson Friday afternoon game – a 1-seed versus 16-seed matchup whose outcome was predictable – where the best part of the game so far was the interview with Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley as he made his way to the locker room for halftime.

His interviewer asked, “what’s with that look?”

Hurley explained that although he had a sizeable lead his team wasn’t executing as well as he’d like. He elaborated his point noting by this time of the season (most of these guys have played almost 35 games) there are things that should be automatic, and he was visibly displeased because these things were not automatic for his Huskies.

The Huskies won 91-52 over the Hatters, and I decided the defending Huskies are going to be the team I pull for to win it all, and it was just because I enjoyed his reaction to Connecticut’s first half performance.

What a fantastic way for a coach to react to his team’s performance. Sometimes an inferior opponent hides a team’s sins in the early part of a tournament run. Hurley pointed out that you cannot win a championship without some aspects of your game being automatic at this point of the season.

In business, when companies’ sales spike up it tends to hide the sins of their operation, especially if the profit margins on the sale of the cost of the product alone are vulgar enough… until they can no longer reach such margins.

Hurley certainly knows this affects his hoopsters, too.

The Huskies, as the game progressed, played better defense instead of that issue in the first half – their sin – was overshadowed by the Huskies’ efficient offense in the first half.

John Calipari, Kentucky’s head coach, immediately moved to whining and complaining in another direction. Coach “Cal” – whose Wildcats have made NCAA tournament underachievement their specialty in recent seasons.

Calipari noted several times over the last years that his objective is to get his recruits drafted by the NBA.

Convenient “out” from being accountable for taking elite recruits to disappointing finishes in recent NCAA tourneys.

I was an apologist for Calipari in past seasons when his ardent fans called for his head, but then I remembered when I was a kid and Ohio State, led by Eldon Miller.

The 1980-81 Buckeyes had the preseason number-one team in the polls with four returning starters including CBS NCAA March Madness panelist Clark Kellogg, and they wound up – without injuries being an issue – at 14-13 overall and 9-9 in the Big Ten… when there were only ten teams in the conference.

The preseason number-two team, who did not underachieve in that season, was the Indian Hoosiers, who went on to win the NCAA title.

I feel – like Eldon Miller – Calipari can recruit talent, but he couldn’t motivate talent, and much of what they should have been doing automatically on the court looked like it was long forgotten.

It’s funny though because college basketball coaches have unshakeable tenure at the level college professors do.

When you look at how comparatively tougher it is for a solid college football coach to stay aboard a program without a deep conference or college football championship run, it makes me wonder if college football coaches will get slight break from that scrutiny since twelve teams will comprise the College Football Playoff hereafter.

I’ve enjoyed watching – well, more like listening – to the NCAA men’s tournament in the confines of my home office. It’s impossible for me, healthy or recovering from surgery. To just sit and do one thing anyway.

I feel like I’m still getting a sense of the tournament without betting on brackets, or just sitting and watching the action.

Enjoy March madness however you choose to do so.

My body was under repair this week with two minor procedures Monday, and a major surgery on Tuesday. It dawned on me before the week that this unusually slow-paced week for me coincided with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the Round of 64 specifically.

I’m restricted from driving until the beginning of April, so I’m working from home.

Convenient.

I resumed work Thursday, and while I had the tournament on for each day of the Round of 64, it was more like background noise. I stayed focused on my tasks. It helps the healing process since my home office is ergonomically better than one of the two site-based offices I occupy, so I am pretty comfortable despite the pain.

When Oakland knocked third-seeded Kentucky out of the tournament Thursday it reminded me why I’m so glad I did not participate in a bracket for the second straight year. I don’t miss it.

Kenny Smith, Ernie Johnson, and Charles Barkley (panelists with Clark Kellogg on the CBS pre- and postgame shows) each had the Wildcats in the Final Four among their brackets. Although this round through Friday afternoon didn’t have as many bracket busters as it had in recent years, I’m sure I would already be lagging behind bracket pool leaders before the second half of the second day of March Madness.

Among the background noise I’ve already noticed the following:

The buffalo in the Buffalo Wild Wings commercial (voiced by former Saturday Night Live cast member Beck Bennett) is already annoying me, particularly the “box out” commercial.

The Capital One commercials, however, with Barkley, Jennifer Garner, Samuel L Jackson, Spike Lee, and Jim Nantz (yep Nantz is still doing the commercials without calling the action) are entertaining.

Name, image, and likeness (NIL) is no part of the advertising fabric in the tournament as numerous active college athletes are part of the commercials among various sponsors. It will be interesting if these spots will move up a notch in cleverness and quality as the tournament run moves toward the next rounds.

I tuned in on the Connecticut-Stetson Friday afternoon game – a 1-seed versus 16-seed matchup whose outcome was predictable – where the best part of the game so far was the interview with Connecticut head coach Dan Hurley as he made his way to the locker room for halftime.

His interviewer asked, “what’s with that look?”

Hurley explained that although he had a sizeable lead his team wasn’t executing as well as he’d like. He elaborated his point noting by this time of the season (most of these guys have played almost 35 games) there are things that should be automatic, and he was visibly displeased because these things were not automatic for his Huskies.

The Huskies won 91-52 over the Hatters, and I decided the defending Huskies are going to be the team I pull for to win it all, and it was just because I enjoyed his reaction to Connecticut’s first half performance.

What a fantastic way for a coach to react to his team’s performance. Sometimes an inferior opponent hides a team’s sins in the early part of a tournament run. Hurley pointed out that you cannot win a championship without some aspects of your game being automatic at this point of the season.

In business, when companies’ sales spike up it tends to hide the sins of their operation, especially if the profit margins on the sale of the cost of the product alone are vulgar enough… until they can no longer reach such margins.

Hurley certainly knows this affects his hoopsters, too.

The Huskies, as the game progressed, played better defense instead of that issue in the first half – their sin – was overshadowed by the Huskies’ efficient offense in the first half.

John Calipari, Kentucky’s head coach, immediately moved to whining and complaining in another direction. Coach “Cal” – whose Wildcats have made NCAA tournament underachievement their specialty in recent seasons.

Calipari noted several times over the last years that his objective is to get his recruits drafted by the NBA.

Convenient “out” from being accountable for taking elite recruits to disappointing finishes in recent NCAA tourneys.

I was an apologist for Calipari in past seasons when his ardent fans called for his head, but then I remembered when I was a kid and Ohio State, led by Eldon Miller.

The 1980-81 Buckeyes had the preseason number-one team in the polls with four returning starters including CBS NCAA March Madness panelist Clark Kellogg, and they wound up – without injuries being an issue – at 14-13 overall and 9-9 in the Big Ten… when there were only ten teams in the conference.

The preseason number-two team, who did not underachieve in that season, was the Indian Hoosiers, who went on to win the NCAA title.

I feel – like Eldon Miller – Calipari can recruit talent, but he couldn’t motivate talent, and much of what they should have been doing automatically on the court looked like it was long forgotten.

It’s funny though because college basketball coaches have unshakeable tenure at the level college professors do.

When you look at how comparatively tougher it is for a solid college football coach to stay aboard a program without a deep conference or college football championship run, it makes me wonder if college football coaches will get slight break from that scrutiny since twelve teams will comprise the College Football Playoff hereafter.

I’ve enjoyed watching – well, more like listening – to the NCAA men’s tournament in the confines of my home office. It’s impossible for me, healthy or recovering from surgery. To just sit and do one thing anyway.

I feel like I’m still getting a sense of the tournament without betting on brackets, or just sitting and watching the action.

Enjoy March madness however you choose to do so.

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