April 3, 2011

The Cougar Lounge - Outside The Box, Thinking


"That didn't feel too good."

- Wazzu men's hoop head coach Ken Bone after the Cougars were embarrassed by eventual NIT champion Wichita State [75-44] in last week's NIT semifinal in New York.




"So you're saying we've got a chance?"

- VCU men's hoop head coach Shaka Smart borrowing a line from Jim Carrey's character in Dumb and Dumber before his Rams defeated top seeded Kansas to advance to the Final Four where they no longer have a chance after they were disposed of by Butler.




"The run ends here."

- Kansas forward Markieff Morris [or was it Marcus?] who issued some pre-game smack-talk to VCU point guard Joey Rodriguez before the Rams eliminated the Jayhawks.




"What's not to like?"

- Former 1970s version Wonder Woman Lynda Carter giving her opinion about the skin-tight, breast-pumping-up costume worn by Adrienne Palicki in the upcoming new version of Wonder Woman.









After slightly over two solid weeks of bracket and ostentatious ego-reducing basketball playing, the Big Dance has been reduced to the last two teams standing - Butler and Connecticut - two teams 99.9% of the country would never have predicted to be there [100% if you eliminate the Butler and Connecticut alums]. In fact, even Las Vegas had a difficult time believing these would be the final two teams left standing as Butler was listed as a 30-1 shot to make it this far - even with their Final Four pedigree from last year. Connecticut, despite being a somewhat more "reasonable" third seed, was still given only a five-to-one shot to make it to the championship game. Of course, it was really scary for Vegas coming into the weekend because Virginia Commonwealth was in the Final Four and the Rams were carrying a 125-1 price tag around Houston with them and had VCU not come up against the defensive juggernaut that is the Butler Bulldogs, they might have been playing for a national title tomorrow night.



Needless to say, just the fact that Butler and VCU were able to reach the Final Four once again proves why the Big Dance is not only the premier athletic event in the United States of America today but also why it is 85 million billion times better than the money-losing bowl game system contrived for college football and the so-called championship foisted upon the public by the BCS Taliban overlords. Suffice it to say that, had Butler and VCU - and even Kentucky and Connecticut! - been in the BCS Taliban's convoluted football format, none of those teams would have ever made it to the Final Four. Let us take the 11th seeded VCU Rams first. Barely able to make it into the newly-expanded 68-team tournament, the Rams would have been the equivalent of North Carolina, Central Florida, Texas Tech or South Florida in football. Butler, as an eight-seed, would have been only slightly better - being the equivalent of Northern Illinois, West Virginia, Miami [Ohio] or Florida. Fourth-seeded Kentucky, had the Wildcats made it to the final, would have been like Alabama, Nevada, Oklahoma State or Virginia Tech playing for the national football title and Connecticut - carrying a three-seed - would have been similar to Boise State, LSU, Michigan State or Missouri playing for the title. The moral of the story? Any of those teams would have been appropriate to play for the national title in college football if only they had been given the chance to do so on the playing field and not eliminated by computer rankings and not afforded a chance to play at all - much less advance to a chance to play for the national championship. Instead, we got a cheating program versus an overhyped program in the national championship. Sadness will reign on Tuesday as the realization comes to the American public that they will have to wait 300+ days for the unbridled joy of fair competition, excitement and bracket angst [this year, thoughtfully provided by Butler and VCU] to come around this way again.

Meanwhile, as if on cue, one of the prime offenders of the bloated bowl game system - the Fiesta Bowl - was exposed last week as a corrupt entity [yes - shocking! - we know] after a politically-oriented financial scheme was revealed. The BCS Taliban expressed the predicted outrage [yes - shocking! - we know] and threatened some really hard wrist-slapping [loss of their BCS Taliban secret decoder rings] to prove they were "deeply disappointed" and that there was no place for such activities in higher education or collegiate sports [only the BCS Taliban can have a monopoly on college football post-season shenanigans!]. So, with the Fiesta facing a possible expulsion from the secret BCS Taliban club, does that mean the evil BCS Taliban overlords will finally see the light and move toward creating a college football playoff akin to the exciting and successful March Madness? Hahahahahahahaha…the Lounge clientele laughed in unison at that notion as the first speculation following the announcement was that the Fiesta might be replaced by another BCS Taliban lackey - the Cotton Bowl. So much for forward-thinking types being associated with the future of college football at the NCAA level.

At the Small Dance [otherwise known as the National Invitation Tournament] Wazzu lost to eventual champion Wichita State in an ugly fashion but the season was not a total loss as the Cougars produced 22 wins against 13 losses. Amongst those 22 on the good side were wins over both the CIT [another lesser tournament] champion Santa Clara and CBI [an even lesser tourney] champion Oregon as well as victories over Big Dance participants Washington, USC and Gonzaga. While there were a few bad losses [Arizona State and Stanford being two of the worst] most of the losses were to good teams including six to Big Dance participants - Kansas State, UCLA, Washington, USC, Elite Eight team Arizona and national championship contender Butler - as well as a smattering of others who made it into the lesser tournaments. Overall for Wazzu men's hoop this season, there were more on-court good elements to the season than bad.

Even better for Wazzu was the fact that ESPN2 announcers for the NIT semifinal loss to the Shockers never once referred to Wazzu as "Washington" nor their school colors as maroon and only called Marcus Capers "Marcel" and Brock Motum "Brock Moton" once apiece before subsequently correcting the errors of their ways - a much better freshman broadcasting effort than Wazzu typically receives from the conference's own veteran Fox Sports network broadcasters.

"Should he stay or should he go?" asks Bootney Farnesworth the 3rd, about Wazzu junior shooting guard Klay Thompson upcoming decision about the NBA.

Well, unquestionably, the Lounge clientele consensus is that he should stay in Pullman for one more year and increase his NBA stock while also potentially helping Wazzu reach the Big Dance in 2012. While Thompson clearly has some of the skills required to move on to the NBA this year, he just as clearly does not have the entire suite necessary to make him a surefire first round selection and, therefore, a surefire member of some NBA roster next year. Thompson can score and he can assist - his two main attributes - while his rebounding is average. His two main NBA demerits come in the form of his defense and turnovers. But the big picture view of Thompson is one of overall inconsistency. While he can rise up in a big game and drop 43 points on Washington at the Pac-10 tournament he can also disappear in a big game and score only six and put himself in foul trouble in the horrific loss to Wichita State in the NIT semifinal last week. The good Thompson was unstoppable against the Huskies while the bad Thompson was easily stoppable by the Shockers' Toure Murry as well as a slew of other defenders that Wichita State hurled at him during the course of the game. The bottom line? There is no doubt Thompson possesses some of the skills necessary for the NBA but there is also no doubt that he is not the complete package yet and therefore, in the consensus of the Lounge, should return to Pullman for one final year before heading off into the shark-infested waters of NBA-Land.

"What happened to the baseball team?" says Mrs. B.H. Smegma about the sudden downturn of events for the Wazzu Nine.




The Lounge can answer that in one word - pitching. The Cougars experienced some offensive sluggishness earlier this year and most recently in losses to California, but were able to produce 10 runs in their comeback win over Stanford last week. Unfortunately for Wazzu head coach Donnie Marbut as well as Wazzu fans and well-wishers, there has been only sporadic ability by Cougars to stop the other teams from scoring runs this year. Stanford scored 22 against the Cougars in one game this weekend, Gonzaga scored 11 last week, Fresno State scored 16, Dallas Baptist scored 13, South Alabama scored 14 and Cal State-Bakersfield scored 10 runs in the first series two months ago. All in all, six teams have scored double digits runs against the Cougars and - not surprisingly - the Cougars are 2-4 in those games. If Wazzu is going to right the ship for the remainder of Pac-10 play, pitching will have to improve or at least get to the point where the offense can account for enough runs to offset the runs the Cougars allow. Otherwise, there will be no third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament this year for Wazzu.

Since Butler and Virginia Commonwealth made it to the Final Four this year and Butler has made it to the national championship game for the second year in a row, it only makes sense that March Madness should be changed to Mid-Major Madness for all your mid-major news desires and heavy breathing.

Finally, since March Madness is all about money and making as much of it as possible while also crowning a national champion in men's collegiate hoops, the Lounge Scientists say now is probably the best time to replace the iconic American dollar bill with a copper alloy coin instead as paper dollars tend to wear out faster [in about two years] than metal coins and it would save - ironically - money.

"If Congress scrapped the note and fully committed to coins of this composition, the country could save more than $500 million per year," says Lounge Scientist #101, Richard Fisher, of the General Accountability Office who, reportedly, had Butler to win the Big Dance.

Vegas would not like a switch to coins as that would mean they would have to open their own mining operation if Butler wins the Big Dance tomorrow night.




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