As much as I disdain Duke, I did feel a little pang of sympathy for J.J. Redick. I dislike all Duke players by default, but he seems like a nice enough guy, and he's certainly an excellent player. I never like seeing a good player end his career with a subpar performance. By him playing poorly, it just provides more fodder for Duke haters to harp about how he's overrated, how he will be an NBA bust, etc. Even if he does wind up being a poor NBA player (I doubt he'll stink. I think he'll fill a speciality role like Steve Kerr or maybe develop into a crafty player like Jeff Hornacek), only an idiot would try to discount his college career.
Did I just defend a Duke player? I definitely need some sleep.
Speaking of players that will be fodder for the derision of message board morons, how about Adam Morrison? Although I suspect J.A. did a rapid fire air punch (think Jordan after his winning shot over Craig Ehlo to beat the Cavs in the playoffs) when Gonzaga lost--I nearly did the same thing when Duke lost--I felt bad for Gonzaga and Morrison in particular. (By the way, J.A., I wasn't including you inthe message board morons lot.) Yes, he's a trashtalker and he resembles Christiane Amanpour, but he's a heck of a basketball player. When CBS coverage switched to the Gonzaga game following UT's dramatic win (as an Austin resident and spouse of a UT grad, I'm suppposed to be excited about the victory, but I have to admit I wanted WVU to win--I love their style of basketball--too bad they rebound like junior high girls), it looked like Gonzaga was still a lock to win the game despite letting UCLA chip into their 17-point lead. Blowing a nine-point lead in three minutes, culminating with an utterly boneheaded TO by Batista, a TO by Raivio, and a brick by Batista, was almost as pitiful as Arizona blowing a 14-point lead in the closing minutes against Illinois last year. The ESPN message boards are abuzz with folks lambasting Morrison for crying after the game (actually started when UCLA took the lead), saying real men don't cry when they lose, he's not fit emotionally for the NBA, etc. If I'd have been in his shoes, I can't say I wouldn't have cried. Part of what makes college baketball superior to the NBA is that all the players actually care. Was he a bit overboard? Probably. But I won't fault a guy for being emotionally spent when his team has just blown a game like that. If it had been Maryland instead of Gonzaga, I might've teared up watching the game in my living room--after I'd hurled a string of expletives and thrown something, of course.
Hopefully tomorrow's games will be even half as exciting as tonight's.