Doing a play off of Mr. Russerford’s masterpiece and I’d like to preface this with the fact that Rounders is one of my all time favorite movies. You’ll appreciate this post much more if you’ve seen it.
Someone mentioned earlier this week that Cal is like Teddy KGB from the movie Rounders, and I immediately thought that, this season, Rick Pitino has mirrored Mike McDermott. Let’s dive in...
Opening scene of the movie, we see Mike (Matt Damon) gathering all of his money and heading to KGB’s (John Malkovich) place for a monster game, and to make a possibly huge statement with a big win. Teddy ends up busting Mike for $30k by slow-playing the best possible hand because Mike wasn’t quite prepared yet. Didn’t leave himself any outs.
Early in the season, Rick heads to Lexington with a shot to make a statement to the Nation, that Louisville was in fact a top 5 team. He wasn’t quite ready yet. We didn’t have all of our pieces in place and Cal was playing with the best talent in the Nation.
In the movie, Mike goes back to work and humps it out; earning his money and working in law school. He’s getting back on his feet after being "down to the felt." His friend Worm (Edward Norton) is released from prison and slowly gets him back in the game. He’s liking it and starting to win again.
In late January/early February we see Pitino starting to get his team a little healthier. Wins over Pitt, Nova, Seton Hall, and Rutgers. Then we blow out UConn and beat WVU in Morgantown. We’re starting to feel it again.
Switch to the film and as Mike and Worm are really making a run at it to pay off debts, they get into a game with cops where Worm is discovered to be dealing off of the bottom of the deck. Cops beat the shit out of them and they’re down to the felt again; nothing in their pockets.
Let’s just say, this is the point where Rick and our guys lost to UC, barely beat Pitt, lost to USF on senior night (puke), and lost at Syracuse. Morale was low and it looked like we’d be spectators for most of March.
With nothing left to lose, Mike tells Worm to get out of dodge and he’d take care of it. He goes to his law professor who has been somewhat of a mentor who lends him the stake he needs to make another big and miraculous run.
Like the film, Rick goes to his place of comfort, New York City, and takes a reenergized squad looking for redemption. They tear it up. Off to Portland... 2 wins. Phoenix? 2 wins...
In his game with Teddy, Mike finally finds his flaw, his tell; the oreos (vant a cooookie?). Our protagonist then plays masterfully and breaks KGB, sending him into a rage. It looks like Teddy’s goons are about to administer a beatdown to Mike, but Teddy stops them and says, "He beeeit me. Pay dayt mayn his mahney." (He’s Russian, guys.) The next day we see Mike rolling up his stake and going to Vegas for the World Series of Poker. "First prize at the World Series of Poker is a million bucks. Does it have my name on it? I don't know. But, I'm gonna find out."
Saturday night is Rick’s chance to make Cal say, "He beeeit me. Pay dayt mayn his mahney." (And he’d BETTER do it in a Russian accent dammit.) After that, we’ll be on our way to what mirrors the WSOP for basketball. Does the National Championship have our name it? I don’t know. But we’re gonna find out.
Go Cards. Beat Kentucky.