WHY WE’LL MAKE THE FINAL FOUR
These are the finest moments of one’s life: The half hour leading up to a big Bear game where one can light a blazing fire, curl up on the couch, pour some Cab, grab SI or the NY Review of Books (for reading during commercials), and wait in blessed anticipation for the Bears to take the court, field, swimming pool (I made that up) whatever.
(Usually I contain my thoughts to the pigskin realm, but tonight I feel compelled to spout off about something I know nothing about--sort of like marriage). Hope springs eternal in us old Blues. We always expect the best but deep down know that we are going to get the worst.
It was in black and white on a truly fuzzy TV out in Conn Valley, that as a child, I waited with anticipation to watch the Bears take on Jerry Lucas and Havelecheck back in ’60. The expectations were as high as the disappointment was low. The Rose Bowl that year against Iowa was the same.
Like a child who can’t ride a horse as an adult, because of the horrible memories of being thrown as a kid, I fear to turn on any big game—basketball or football—which involves the Bears. But watching the Bears is like NASCAR. One pretends that he’s going to the track to see the skill and the race, but deep inside he knows that he’s there to witness a once in a lifetime, screaming metal accident.
Louisville is just the type of team to eviscerate Cal. They’ve been there before. They’ve got a killer, experienced, charming coach in Rick Pitino. And they have athletes who might not be reading Chaucer in English 1A.
On the other hand we’ve got what? A history of teasing loyal blues and then letting them down, just when we think we’ve turned the corner (First and goal from the nine yard line against SC with 1:32 comes to mind—but who’s keeping score).
If it’s not the same as it’s been in the past, this year will be different for five reasons. Four of them are Seniors and one of them is the coach, Mike Montgomery. There’s a lot of “athleticism” involved in college basketball. Let’s face it. An 18 year old Freshman like Carmello Anthony can come in and dominate a group of older kids.
Yet there is something to experience, team work and good coaching. At least old foggies like us would like to think so.
Jerome Randle can be shut down. But when he’s on he’s a hoot. Patrick Christopher could play next year in the NBA, though his ball handling skills sometimes let him down. Theo Robertson is just money. He’s got intangibles authors write about and coaches dream of. Jamaal Boynkin is an artist. I can forgive him his adoration of Obama, because he is such a poet with his left hand. He’s a painter and a true basketball “player.” Fundamentals be he.
Amoke has been suspended. I don’t know why. I don’t care. These kids drive me nuts. On your way to the Big Dance and you pull any knuckle headed stunt and you’ve lost folks like me. Not that he cares. Fact is, all focus should be on the Dance—nothing else—except mid-terms. Anyone who does anything to jeopardize that and let down his teammates is better off outta there.
So that brings in Gutierrez. Maybe he should start anyway. Maybe he will pick up three quick fouls and not play much. But he could be the wild card that puts us out in front to stay.
I don’t expect us to win a close game like the ones we’ve been watching these past two days (How do they know that all these games will be so close?) I expect a win by 11—only because we can get very hot.
Of course, three point shooting teams can go cold and get blown out. We’ve watched it happen to us before. But tonight, the advantage of having senior experience has a chance to play out—especially because it will be under the watchful eye of an experienced, professional, coach—the greatest since Pete Newell. Never underestimate the value of seniors in a team sport like basketball.
So I just wanted to get this out before the game started. I don’t want any of that “I told you so” stuff—or band wagon BS. Like the Bears, I want to put it on the line here first. We win tonight, and upset Duke (as we did with Jason) and move to the final four. There the carriage turns into a pumpkin, but what a wonderful ride it will be.
And if I’m wrong. I’ll still be right (See first paragraph). We are destined to be raised up only to be dropped on our Kiester—but maybe not tonight. OK. You heard it here 2nd. Make your reservations before it’s too late.
Jeffrey Earl Warren ‘70