There’s a lot to discuss about yesterday’s Maui Jim’s Maui Jim loss in the Maui Jim’s Maui Invitational Tournament brought to you by Maui Jim’s and Prater’s Flooring, providers and finishers of the greatest floors ever known to mankind or I don’t got two wives Tennessee, one who says she’s got my child, but it don’t look like me. But let’s start with this.
We lost. You want Tom Crean fired. I get it. Shut up. You’re boring.
I’m not even going to argue the merits of Tom Crean being the IU coach. I’ve done that. I’m just going to tell you to stop it because we already know that the minute we lose a game, you’re going to start yelling about how terrible he is, but when we win, you’ll be mercifully quiet.
We hear you. We’ve heard you. Shut up.
Because, as I said, you are boring.
You know who isn’t boring?
Bill Walton and his 37 micro fractured feet, Maui Jim sunglasses that allow him to see all the colors of the rainbow, even the ones the Double Rainbow guy wasn’t able to see, his aggressive hostility toward Jon Sciambi, and his love for his own bicycle shorts.
I’m not here to tell you that you’re wrong for thinking Bill Walton is a terrible basketball analyst. I’m not sure anyone could make that argument, especially after his frequent on-air requests to know what the rules of college basketball are. But he’s not boring.
I used to rail against Walton and gnash my teeth over his inability to stop talking or say anything that advanced the cause of understanding what is happening in the game, but I think of I’ve come around. He’s insane. But he’s not dull.
Here are some actual things he said last night during the game, starting with possibly the best one.
Walton: This is out first game together.
Sciambi: Bill, this is our second game together.
Truth: their first game together ended about 45 minutes prior to this exchange.
And then there was this.
Walton: Well, you know what they say…
Or, apropos of nothing:
Walton: I Love my bike
Or, when he said at the end of his bike ride with Danny Manning, “Maui, 7 climate zones. About 1000 emotional zones.” Which is a classic Walton attempt to make us think he’s said something really deep when he really just spouted whatever nonsense bubbled to the top of his head.
Then, there was the moment right before halftime when he gave everyone a brief economic history of the Winston-Salem area of North Carolina, which used to be all about tobacco, but was now mostly textile-based which he concluded by saying, “I love Maui. I love Danny Manning.”
And while you may not be interested in the agricultural and manufacturing base of North-Central North Carolina, you can’t pretend that hearing him call Colin Hartman “An Adonis of the Night” wasn’t the highlight of your basketball watching life.
And say what you will about Walton’s lack of tact or sensitivity toward his broadcast partner, a man he constantly argued with, undercut, and interrupted, you can’t totally hate a guy who first compares James Blackmon, Jr. to handsomest basketball player alive and former inmate at OZ, Rick Fox before stating, “Everyone under 6’10” looks exactly the same to me.”
If it weren’t for Bill Walton, would you know that “the ball is an extension of Blackmon’s mind.”?
You would not.
Walton provides an experience you just aren’t going to get in any other way. And there’s real value in that.
At least I hope that’s true for this team and more specifically for Thomas Bryant.
Because Bryant got an experience last night that’s hard to replicate. He’d spent a week being told how awesome he was and being called a Gym Lion because a. he once called himself that and b. he had a good game against Creighton and then, he got exposed in his very next game on national TV.
It’s hard to find a more efficient way of teaching a player that they need to improve certain aspects of their game than to have those deficiencies be a real problem in the closing minutes of the game. I’ll go further than that, Thomas Bryant’s inexperience, bad footwork, and lack of understanding about the proper angles to take when defending a high ball screen were not just a factor, but were THE REASON, that Danny Manning drew up the final two game winning plays to be ball screens right at Thomas Bryant.
Bryant allowed the guards to dribble straight down the side of the lane, assuming he’d be able to block their shots like he’d been doing in high school for years. But this isn’t high school. And that doesn’t work.
And I’m betting he knows that now.
He’s got too much potential and innate ability, and from what all of his gentlemen callers last week kept telling us, he pays attention, works hard, and learns fast. So, there’s reason to see real value in how poorly he played last night.
Given my druthers, I’d have had him on the bench and had The Adonis of the Night defending those screens, but I’m not one to complain about substitution patterns.
Here’s the good news. The entire team has a chance to learn from this debacle and get back out on the court in a few hours. This experience could be formative for this team.
Maybe now they’ll see the world as it is. The way it’s shown to be when you wear a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses, fire up that Maui wowie, and finally understand that a selfish heart is trouble, but a foolish heart is worse, and that some folks look for answers, others look for fights.
Did you ever waken to the sound of cats making love?