The Basketball Grump was shaken out of his NCAA funk by an exciting Kansas victory over Carolina in the Regional Finals this afternoon, temporarily lifting himself from a miasma of endless time-outs, fouls, bad production values and lemming-like strategies of soon-to-be deified coaches.
The BG wonders why a forty minute game needs eighteen time-outs (or times out, for you grammar purists.) Eight are scheduled for television, the other ten are voluntary and at the discretion of the coaches, the way doggie biscuits are voluntary and at the discretion of your golden retriever. In the Halcyon Days of the Grump, forcing the other team to call the first time out was a badge of honor. The beleaguered coach (usually the Visitor) would humbly signal for a T; his team would slink back to the huddle, while the home fans roared in approval and derision. Nowadays the TV timeouts kick in after four minutes, but often even that is too long. Genius cannot wait.
The Grump is particularly grumpy about coaches calling time-out to set up their full court press. The object of the press, suggests BG, is to confuse and disorient the opponent. The opponent can’t get the ball inbounds. The opponent has to call time out. Soon they are out of time-outs. They disintegrate like a cheap origami swan. Nowadays, particularly at the end of games, the Genius Coach calls time out after his team scores to “set up his press.” This gives the opponent a chance to diagram a play. They break the press. The Genius Coach has to foul. Soon he is out of time-outs.
Fortunately, Team B has a Genius Coach, too. (We know this because TV has anointed them so and hired other Genius Coaches as commentators). Genius B takes his players out of the free throw lane, afraid that they will commit a rebounding foul. His player misses the free throw. Team A rebounds and goes the length of the floor in 2.8 seconds, giving Genius Coach A the chance to call another time-out to set up his press. The Basketball Grump gags on his honey roasted peanuts.
BG is also tired of watching basketball games played in domed football or baseball stadiums. He believes this creates depth of field problems for the college kids, who cannot locate the basket. (This is because the BG has depth of field problems walking through a shopping mall and has trouble locating his car keys.) It also gives television producers the opportunity to show the worst possible perspectives of the action. “Hey look!,” says the producer. “We can put a camera on a girder fifty feet above the air conditioner right underneath the roof. That will look really swell!”
“Better yet,” says his assistant, “we’ll split the screen by showing a taped interview of one of the Genius Coaches just when the second half starts, so the players all look like aphids.”
The Basketball Grump doesn’t like the three-point shot. Pete Maravich didn’t need a three-point line. Neither did Gail Goodrich or Rick Mount. (Anyone under fifty, feel free to Google).
The BG doesn’t like basketball shorts the length of clam-diggers.
The BG doesn’t much like tattoos, either.
And yet, the BG plants himself in his recliner with a bottle of beer and a can of mixed nuts. He excuses himself only to hurry off to Panda Express or the occasional call of nature.
The Basketball Grump grudgingly says thank you to Kansas and North Carolina. He will be ready for New Orleans.
Unless someone offers him tickets for the Lakers.