Saturday, April 3, 2010

The All-Frat-Boy National Championship

As I spent the last few hours watching commercials (with some college basketball scattered in), I was dumbfounded at just how odd this tournament has been.  They say it every year, but 2010 has seen a strangely-high amount of upsets in the Big Dance.  But just when we think we have everything figured out, two of the whitest teams we've seen in a while are playing for the championship.

The Butler Bulldogs, the team from the tiny school in Indianapolis (the campus is six miles from the site of the Final Four), are suddenly America's team.  Butler is coached by Brad Stevens, a 16-year-old from Des Moines who won the chance to be a coach from collecting box tops from Cap'n Crunch.  I can't confirm this information, in fact I think I might have made it up, but if you've seen a picture of him, it's pretty believable.  His older brother, Gordon, is the star of the team.  They might not be brothers either, but they look a lot alike.  But seriously, the guy's name is Gordon, and he really is the star.  Gordon.  Yeah.  Probably their second-best player is a guy named Matt Howard, who is trying to grow the worst mustache in the history of adolescent mustaches.  Yes, even worse than Adam Morrison's, he's just not quite as ugly as Morrison.

Their opponent needs no introduction, except to say they are probably the most despised team in all of college sports.  The Duke Blue Devils are almost always good, and they have a tendency to have a rich-boy team.  It's like a fraternity team in Intramurals, except they're really good.  Their best players are named Kyle and Jon, and they're backed up by Miles, Mason and Brian.  Even the guys who aren't white are named Nolan and Lance.  Their coach is Polish.  His name, generally shortened to Coach K, looks like a two-year-old was left alone at a computer keyboard.  I don't even think it has a vowel in it.

If you don't like this kind of basketball, I have a feeling you might need to get used to it.  A few years back, the best high school players were going straight to the NBA.  Now there's a new rule that says players have to go to school and try really hard and get an education for at least a year.  Clearly that's their priority when they get to college.  So the best players are on good teams, of course--teams like Ohio State and Kentucky this year.  But they're freshmen, so they're not going to be very dependable.

The schools that get the second-tier players--the ones who won't make it to the NBA without some more work--have teams with juniors and seniors.  They're smarter players, and they're used to playing together, and they've had a few years to buy in to their coach's system.  So these talented teams that are often more fun to watch are losing to the more mature, more disciplined teams, and I think we might see that trend continue.  And I know it's a terrible stereotype, but most people are aware and would privately admit, that white players are not quite as good as their African-American counterparts.  If that's offensive to you, please, get over it.

So enjoy it with me, if you will, watching a couple of teams from small, expensive, private schools, play fundamental basketball.  You might not see any dunks, and there could be a lot of jump-shooting (using the word "jump" loosely), but I can promise you the competition will be great.  But if you're not already a true basketball fan, you just might hate it.