Best Unintentional Comedy - Mike Patrick, ESPN play-by-play guy
No one gets as excited about routine plays as Mike Patrick does: "I don't believe what I just saw! That was incredible! Taurean Green caught the in-bounds pass, dribbled up the court, and then had the presence of mind to make a 15-foot pass to a wide open Brewer on the wing! Unreal! That guy has the heart of a lion!" Because Patrick gets so wound up over ordinary plays, he doesn't have an extra gear for when something genuinely remarkable happens. I've thought, though, that having Mike Patrick announce everything you do throughout a work day would make your job sound decidedly more enthralling: "Middlekauff tallied up the students' test scores without even using a calculator for basic subtraction! Amazing! And then he had the presence of mind to enter the grades in the computer! Lots of teachers grade things, but nobody makes it look as easy as Middlekauff! That guy is special!"
The Erin Andrews Award - The Memphis Tigers
For those of you who may not know, Erin Andrews is a courtside reporter for ESPN that has developed quite a cult following for her looks. Now, Andrews is a pretty attractive woman, but I don't think under normal circumstances that most men would deem her a bombshell. So why all the fuss about her? Well, simply put, although she may not look like a Hollywood starlet, she's certifiably hot compared to most female sideline reporters. And that brings me to Memphis. Memphis has a good team--lots of athletes, an imposing shot blocker, solid team chemistry--but they amassed their 30-3 record by feasting on woefully undermatched Conference USA opponents. I suspect Memphis won't come out looking as beautiful after the NCAA Tournament.***
*** Well, I stand corrected. Memphis has played well, beating Texas A&M tonight to advance to the Elite 8.
Best Human Interest Story - Greg Oden
No story this year was as inspiring as Oden's. Forced by his high school's administration to stay in school until he was forty, Oden did not allow their cruelty to break his spirit. Throughout his 25-year high school career, Oden led his team to 17 State Championships, set all-time records in every major statistical category, and drove the team bus for fifteen years. This year as the oldest freshman NCAA athlete ever, Oden dominated the opposition despite being twice their age, and many NBA scouts project him as the #1 pick in June's draft.
What! Oden is only 19? I'm revoking his award. (Although I'm tired of hearing about Oden, he's definitely an imposing presence in the paint. And, while he looks older than he is, he seems to act older as well. He's calm and soft-spoken and strikes me as quite level-headed based on what I've read about him.)
The Scarface Award - Josh McRoberts
Points per game - 12.8
Rebounds per game - 7.8
Expletives shouted per game - 54.6
The ESL Award - Greivas Vasquez
Vasquez not only fired up his teammates and dazzled Terp fans with his incredible passing but also taunted the opposing team's fans in two languages.
Worst Basketball Analyst - Doug Gottlieb
Gottlieb offered up his share of erroneous prognostications (most analysts do), but he earned this award based on his condescending criticisms of various players and teams throughout the season. Doug, it's okay to take your job seriously, and offering criticism is part of your job. But remember, you're talking about 18-22 year-old kids, not professionals. And, more importantly, you're talking about a game. (Also of note, Gottlieb shot 36.8% from the field and 45.7% from the foul line during his college career. He doesn't have much room to criticize.)
Player I'd Least Want to Meet in a Dark Alley - Jared Dudley
Part of a Player I'd Least Want to Meet in a Dark Alley - Gerald Henderson's forearm
Player You'd Never Want to Play Horse With - Acie Law
Worst Broadcast - ESPN's coverage of Maryland at Duke
When my Terps are handing another loss to the Dukies, I want to see it! Instead I had to put up with "technical difficulties" throughout the last six minutes or so of the game during which I had to watch Sportcenter's scoreboard screen and listen to Dick Vitale and Mike Patrick blather on about the Cameron Crazies. Then, once ESPN finally restored the video, do you think they went back to the action on the court? Of course, not! They showed computer images of the plans for Duke's new practice facility, while Dickie V sang the praises of Coach K. Could ESPN not save that piece for a game that Duke actually won? Well, maybe that wouldn't be possible since they lost that game and the two games since then. Hahahahah!
Best Overlooked Player Likely To Be Drafted By a Decent NBA Team - Al Thorton
Playing for a slightly above average FSU team, Thorton didn't receive nearly as much publicity as top players at high profile schools, but anyone who followed ACC basketball knows Thorton possesses all the skills necessary to thrive at the next level. For anyone who doesn't follow the ACC, here's a quick look at Thorton's stats: 20.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 53% FG, 82% FT, 45% 3PT.
Most Offensive Offense - The entire Big 10 conference
The Jumping the Gun Award - basketball analysts everywhere
I realize that part of their job is to create a stir about the NCAA Tournament as early as possible, but why do analysts declare teams as "locks" or "bubble teams" with over half of conference play to go? For example, I recall reading that Clemson was a lock for the NCAA's when they were 4-1 in the ACC (each ACC team plays 16 conference games). Where is Clemson now? In the NIT. I can imagine someone like Joe Lunardi had conversations like this in college:
Joe: How was your date?
Joe's friend: Great. She's a cool girl.
Joe: How many times have the two of you gone out?
Joe's friend: Just two so far
Joe: Man, you're a lock to marry her.