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Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Full Access & a Lunardi Suggestion

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As an unrepentant, untreated hoopaholic, one of my favorite things in life is the trend toward 6:30 tipoffs.

Why wait all the way to 7:00 for the first fix of the night?

So, God bless ya, Fox for moving to 6:30/ 8:30 weeknight tips. That the network has contracts with the Big East and Big Ten, this year’s premier leagues, makes these games especially attractive.

I am somewhat bereft that Super Tuesday is the new Big Monday. I mean, come on, can’t we have both?

Anyway, I threw together a contemporary equivalent of Swanson’s TV Dinner (salmon and veggies, no tripartite disposable tray) and turned on the telly Tuesday evening to FS1 for Illinois at Penn State?

And, who among us would ever have believed that in February, 2020, that would be a game of significance? Both in the conference. And for seeding purposes. But, yeah, believe it.

I was immediately distraught by the image(s) on the screen. Which, unlike my dinner plate, was split three ways. Game action to the left, and both coaches roaming the sidelines one over the other on the right.

”Who cares what the coaches look like on the sidelines while the game’s going on,” I screamed to nobody in particular, except perhaps Naismithius, Greek God of Hoops, who could, given his infinite powers, remedy the situation immediately if he would so chose.

Then I noticed the box in the lower corner under the always on the screen shots of Brad Underwood and Pat Chambers. It read “Live Full Access.” When I stopped braying, I realized they were both microphoned up, as in live audio. Real time. Cuss words and all.

Which I wouldn’t want to have to deal with all the time, but is far far better than the productions that seem to be creeping more and more into every hoops telecast, you know, lingering shots of Tom Crean with his perpetual forever scowl, pacing back and forth in front of his bench.

And, there were no commercials. No Dennis Celery, how pleasant was that? So the camera and microphones went into timeout huddles, and halftime locker rooms.

Which made the game even more illuminating, than simply the scintillating action on the court. I pray such “Live Full Access” doesn’t become a full time thing. But I would like to observe Chris Mack and Coach K throughout a tilt. Good luck with the latter.

The Fighting Illini conquered the home standing Nittany Lions, breaking a four game losing skein for the school’s first Top 25 road win in a good while, as in years. At one juncture, State forced three shot clock violations on consecutive possessions in the 2d, to overcome a substantial Illinois lead.

Then Aya Dosunmu — yes, the same Aya Dosunmu I hipped you to weeks ago — took over the game for the team in orange. He tallied 16 in the 2d, including the shots that retook the lead, and a floater down the lane which sealed the deal with :16 or so on the clock. He also garnered a couple nifty assists, and, when there was no play to be made on a key possession, gave up the rock and didn’t force matters.

All this after suffering an injury against Sparty that, fortunately wasn’t as bad as it seemed, but did keep him out of the team’s L at Rutgers.

He possesses the kind of stuff you cherish in the alpha on your favorite team.

Though fickle about such designations, Aya Dosunmu is my current favorite cager, that doesn’t wear a U of L uniform.

* * * * *

Even if there are now those whose bracket projections prove to be more astute than his, when Joe Lunardi, the Godfather of Bracketology, talks, I listen.

He’s made a proposal, pertaining to NCAA tourney eligibility, that makes total sense.

It is that a team must have at least a .500 record in its conference to punch a ticket to the Dance. A team totally even in regular season that loses a league game would still be eligible. A team a game or two under .500 that wins that many in the league tourney would also become eligible.

In the article at ESPN.com, he backs up the efficacy of such a mandate with hard stats.

* * * * *

For many, February is their least favorite month.

For this hoopaholic, it’s boffo.

— c d kaplan