The Buckeyes built that loss brick by brick. It was a game they should have won, with even an average shooting performance. It was the most infuriating basketball game I've watched since Dec 2nd, 2010. I can't remember what happened that day, but it must have been awful, because just thinking about that date makes me want to run for the bathroom.
The worst thing about the Ohio State loss is that this team, more than any OSU team I can ever remember seemed perfectly built for a long run towards NCAA glory. All season long, Sullinger seemed like a dominant force inside. Sullinger isn't the strongest or the tallest guy to ever play inside, but what he does have is a giant ass that he wields with reckless abandon. Most of his points this year seemed to come when he would take a pass from Aaron Craft that appeared invisible to all but Sullinger. Jared would catch it and, with defenders bouncing off his J Lo like ass*, throw down a thundering dunk before retreating down court to play defense while screaming at the top of his lungs. It was all great fun if you're a Buckeye fan. Not so much for anyone else.
*I'm not kidding. That guy's ass is like something out of a Bill Cosby cartoon. I'll bet he's the all time Buck Buck champion of Columbus.
Which makes it all the more confusing as to why he was rendered almost powerless against Kentucky. I know his stat line makes it look like he was very effective. In fact, looking at his 21 points to go with 16 rebounds you'd probably guess that Sullinger is the only Buckeye to show up at all. But, I can't ever remember a team's supposedly dominant inside presence get stuffed as much as Sullinger did on Friday night.
Kentucky had 11 blocks on the night, and probably twice as many shots that they disrupted; all while single teaming Sullinger so they could lock down the Buckeyes vast array of 3-point shooters. The NBA knock on him is that he's too short and a not strong enough to play inside against the best players in the world or even Ryan Hollins. He can dominate against lesser competition in college, but lose a lot of his effectiveness against bigger stronger NBA players. It sure looked that way against Kentucky's Josh Harrellson and Terrence Jones.
But it was a bummer, man. Just a total bummer to watch this team play their worst game of the season in the Sweet Sixteen. I was all geared up to watch the Buckeyes make an historic run through Kentucky, North Carolina, U Conn, and Kansas to win the National Championship. Is there a bigger murderer's row as far as NCAA basketball is concerned? I don't know if anything even close to a run through historically great programs like that has ever been done. If you think I'm actually going to look it up, you haven't been reading my column very long, so I'm just going to declare, with all of the ignorant confidence of an SEC football fan, that no, nothing like that has ever been accomplished in the history of basketball.
And it all went away in the flash of an eye when William Bufford appropriately bricked a last second desperation shot at the buzzer. They didn't even call a time out. The glory that seemed almost assured just a few days ago disappeared like the Christmas turkey being annihilated by the Bumpus's dogs as all of Ohio watched helplessly in a drunken haze. We all watched in horror as the guy who was 2 for 15 on the night launched a contested shot while Jon Diebler, the dude who hit 493 straight 3s without a miss in the month of February, didn't get to touch the ball.
There would be no timeout. There would be not Final Four. There would be no National Championship. There would be no more basketball. There would be no more distraction from the deepening mess that the Jim Tressel Tattoo Affair has become in what is known around Columbus* as "That F***ing Story That Just Won't F***ing Die".
*Once again, I'm assuming facts not in evidence. I'm just assuming that people are now referring to that whole mess as TFSTJWFD because it should be.
As disappointing as the loss is, there was one good thing to come out of it. Jared Sullinger did announce that he's coming back to OSU, as he should, so there will be at least one more year of Craft to Sullinger awesomeness to appreciate next year. Like he did this year, he will probably dominate at the college level next year. But, to improve his NBA outlook, I think that the smartest thing for him to do over the summer will be to work on adding a couple of inches. If he can do that, he could end up back in his home state as I'm sure the Cavs will be picking pretty high again next year. At 6'11" he'd look pretty good playing along side Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes in a Cavs uniform. Someone needs to look into getting him some Extenze, unless I'm misunderstanding the product.
Speaking of the Cavs.
An Awkward Glance Ahead At The Cavs
I don't know about you, but I fell out of my chair on Saturday morning when I opened up the paper to find that the Cavs had beaten the Pistons the night before. I had absolutely no idea that the Cavs were still playing.
But they were, and what's more, they were on a certifiable hot streak. The Cavs had won 1 game in a row before traveling to Atlanta yesterday, and 2 of their last 6. One of those losses came in over time against New Jersey so I'm going to go ahead and count that as a win too. When you look at it that way, the Cavs are playing at a blistering .500 pace over the last week and a half.
Take that Kelly Dwyer, or should I say "Smelly Dwyer."* If I was the Cavs owner I'd make you eat some crow on Twitter. 12 wins huh? How do you like us now, bitch?! We might even get to 15, possibly 16 wins before this thing is done. That would be, like, almost twice as many as you said, or something. Maybe next year you'll learn to keep your pie-hole shut.
*That's right. High five. High five.
After picking myself up off the floor I immediately began to research why the Cavs were suddenly the team that nobody wanted to see on their schedule. I came up with 3 reasons.
1. Any lottery team playing the Cavs would be terrified that, no matter what they did, they would be unable to lose and therefore unable to increase their own ping pong balls.
2. Any playoff team playing the Cavs would be terrified that the unthinkable might happen and they would lose, shaking the confidence of the entire organization to their very core. Right before the playoffs too. Plus it's embarrassing.
3. The Cavs suddenly formidable starting lineup.
Don't believe me? Feast your eyes on this:
Alanzo Gee, JJ Hickson, Ryan Hollins, Ramon Sessions, and Anthony Parker. That would scare the hell out of anyone.
Joey Graham didn't even get on the floor against the Pistons, fer cryin' out loud.
THE JOEY GRAHAM!
No wonder these guys are making Smelly Dwyer look so foolish.
With the Cavs sprinting towards the finish line, let's take a look at what they have coming up this week. There are 4 games on the schedule.
The first one is at home on Tuesday. It is the long awaited rematch against the Heat, where the Cavs attempt to make up for their hard fought, last second loss way back on Dec. 2nd. Man, that was a nail biter.
The Cavs took Sunday off, despite the fact that they had to play a game against the Hawks. That's how seriously they are taking this rematch against the LeHeat. And, preparations have been ongoing. Players have been cleaning their houses, moving out of their master bedrooms in case LeBag-O-Farts needs a place to crash, hiring maids and nannies in case he needs someone to watch his kids, interviewing high priced escorts, reserving rooms in bars on West 6th in case he wants to go out after the game, and Tivoing as many Family Guy episodes as the DVR will allow (even at the cost of tragic amounts of porn)...just in case.
You can never be over prepared for a visit from that guy. This time, the Cavs will be ready for him.
The Cavs also travel to Charlotte, Washington, and New York; three teams that are just bad enough to lose to the Cavs and screw up the whole Kyrie Irving plan.
My prediction is that the Cavs will regain their focus after the Miami game on Tuesday an end up no better than 1-3 for the week. This will keep them in the ping pong ball driver's seat, but also twist that knife a little bit deeper into Dwyer, who is certainly regretting the day that he dared predict the Cavs to have a 12 win season.
An Awkward Glance Ahead At The NCAA Tournament.
We are finally down to the Final Four of VCU (that's Virginia Commonwealth University, for my female readers*), Butler, U Conn, and Kentucky. Aside from the Buckeye's early exit, it's been a good tournament with an abundance of tight games, exciting finishes, and upsets.
*I'm really not sexist and I don't actually believe that women reading this didn't know that. I'm just trying to see if I can generate some hate mail. Plus, I have this theory that nobody reads this. Especially women, who generally don't know anything about basketball or sports in general.**
I think at this point, with the Buckeyes out, it's important to recognize the truly important aspect of the 2011 Tourney. My bracket.
I'm smart enough to realize that there's nothing more boring than some schmuck droning on and on about their bracket and their picks for the tournament. I'm also smart enough to know that the usual rules don't apply to me, and there is a large contingent of avid readers out there who will be very disappointed if they don't know how things are shaping up for me.
**That's got to work, right?
I'm in the 97th percentile on ESPN. That's right suckas. Good for 183,470th place as of this writing. That's better than Dick Vitale, Matthew Berry, Colin Cowherd, and Snoop Dogg. I tied President Obama, and kicked the absolute holy hell out of Bill Simmons.
But that's not important. Nobody cares about them. They are all idiots anyway. What's important is that you realize that Brian McPeek and Rich Swerbinsky each filled out 285 brackets and I beat them all.* That's right.
*Of course I did lose to McPeek's wife, but we're not going to talk about that because that's not important.
Next week I'll regale you with tales of my upcoming fantasy draft, and how I do this week in the playoffs of my strat-o-matic baseball league.
An Awkward Glance Ahead At The Indians
Spring Training is winding down and things are getting set, including the rotation. Jeanmar Gomez and Josh Tomlin have been given the final rotation spots along side Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, and Carlos Carrasco. That is a young rotation, but there is a lot of upside there.
Hopefully Carmona picks up where he left off last year and resumes pitching like he actually belongs at the top of a major league rotation. Carlos Carrasco might finally deliver on the promise he showed so much of in the minors and at the end of last year. We all know Masterson can strike guys out. What we don't know is if he can, over the course of a season, command the ball enough to keep guys off base and make those strikeouts matter.
With 2 more young guys in Gomez and Tomlin, we might be staring down the barrel of one of the more exciting young rotations in the league that could possibly keep the Indians in contention for the next few years. Of course, this is Cleveland, so it is far more likely that it is an unmitigated disaster and the door between Cleveland and Columbus never stops revolving.
It also means that David Huff, Kick-ass Samurai tattoo and all, will be starting the season in AAA. He can take heart in the fact that he will almost certainly get another shot at some point this season.
Another development of the spring is that the Indians recently declared that pederast Hannahan as the starting 3rd baseman. I'd like to make fun of the guy, but he has had an impressive spring. We all knew he could handle the glove. That's why he was signed in the first place. But, he's been swinging the lumber really well this spring too. He's hitting .375 with an OBP of .464. Obviously, we don't expect him to carry those numbers through to the season, but he's looking like a legitimate place holder until Lonnie Chisenhall arrives sometime after his service time clock won't be a factor...I mean, when he shows that he belongs on a major league roster after proving himself in AAA.
Even Grady Sizemore is getting back into the action. He started the game on Saturday night and hit a double in 3 at bats through 5 innings. It will still be a while before he's allowed to play in back to back games, but the early signs are encouraging.
The end of spring training and the beginning of the regular season always brings out the optimist in most fans, and I'm no exception. I've convinced myself that the Indians are set to surprise some people this year. Opening day is only a few days away.
As of right now, the Indians are in first place
Actor In My Movie
Everybody knows Dylan Baker. He's been on just about every TV show ever made, from Law and Order to Law and Order: Criminal Intent. There are people who will recognize him from the Tom Hanks movie, Road to Perdition. He's had parts in the Spider Man movies as Dr Curt Connors*. He played the Warden in the Will Arnett tour de force Let's Go To Prison. He acted along side Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio in the epic mess, Revolutionary Road. He even made an appearance in Across The Universe, whatever the hell it is that movie was trying to do.
*In college, my idiot friends and me would get together occasionally and watch Mystery Science Theater 3000. We were all super cool. (Remember that time I told you about my NCAA bracket and Strat-o-matic baseball team?) One of our favorite MST3K movies was called Swamp Diamonds. The hero of that ridiculous movie was a character named Touch Connors, one of the great names in the history of cinema. Touch was a real ladies man. My friends somehow started calling me Touch Connors and that became one of my many nicknames for the rest of college. I'm pretty sure it was because I was the absolute opposite of a ladies man. Like I said, we were all super cool guys. I feel like you need to know these things.
A lot of people would recognize him from any number of those roles that he played. All of those people have one thing in common:
None of them have seen the movie Happiness by unredeemable weirdo Todd Solondz. Because if you've seen Dylan Baker's turn as Bill Maplewood in Happiness, you can never see him as anything else again. If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't, forget I mentioned anything.
If this has peaked your curiosity, by all means, go out and rent it. But, I'm not recommending it, so don't blame me. I advise against it. It is, however, the reason he's in my movie. A dude has to have a set of stones to play a effed up role like that.
An Awkward Glance At Nothing In Particlular
Finally, I'd like to dedicate this column to Greg, the one guy on the face of the earth that noticed I haven't been around for a few weeks. At least he's the only one who made me aware that he noticed my absence (except my brother who is contractually obligated to read the ridiculous things that I write. Not even my own father, who is exempt through a Grandfather clause, is so obligated).
There is, I'm sure, a contingent of you (larger than I'd probably care to admit) that are having a James Blunt moment. Let me explain what that it.
You may recall James Blunt as the gargantuan asshat, who I believe is directly responsible for Justin Beiber, and who perpetrated the song "You're Beautiful" upon the unwitting and mostly undeserving masses back in 2005. Way back then I remember hearing the song over and over, multiple times a day for what seemed like four decades. Then it slowly started to fade away until it was finally, mercifully gone. But before that happened, and I'm crapping you negative, I distinctly remember thinking "Maybe this will be the last time I ever hear this horrible song for the rest of my natural life." And I would smile, as there are few thoughts a man can have more pleasant that the thought of never hearing the song "You're Beautiful" ever again. Ever. This thought would make me happy, even as I contemplated using a root tip pick to stab myself in both eardrums and about the face and neck.
At some point, the thought was proven true, as it has been damn near 6 years since I have heard, or even thought of that awful song. Until last week. Last week I was in a new office where the radio is tuned to some sort of easy listening station, not because anyone actually likes the music, but because it is the least offensive and easiest to ignore. I guess it's better to please nobody than risk slightly offending anybody.
And there it was. You're Beautiful suddenly filled the office like the stench of 1,000 port-o-johns tipped over in the middle of a thai food festival. And I could only laugh. I wasn't even mad. Six years is a damn good run. I thought my happy thought again. "Maybe this time is the last time I will ever hear this horrible song."
Now, as I write this I imagine all of the powerless people who have been subjected to such catastrophic idiocy and are thinking to themselves "maybe this is the last time I will ever be subjected to this stupid column." And I just sit back like the Diabolical James Blunt and gaze out over the misery and devastation that I have caused.
Except for Greg. Greg's my man. Thanks for the email. Far out, man.