N WORD NBD
I could be in the minority here, but I was more turned off by the post game hand shake diss than Andrew Harrison calling a 6’11 white guy the N word. Don't get me wrong, it caught me off guard for sure, but I wasn’t offended. I bet Frank Kaminsky wasn’t either.
I read some tweets taking the stance of “But what if Frank said that?” Frank Kaminsky didn’t, and it is unnecessary and pointless to create a what-if scenario that won’t lead to any progress in mending our country’s race relations from what one 20 year old African American kid said in an under-his-breath emotional outburst after the biggest loss of his career. If you were offended from what he said, you got your Twitter apology from Andrew, and that should be enough. The guy didn’t know how to handle defeat. Hopefully he’ll learn from it.
38 other times this season, the Harrison Twins and Willie Cauley-Stein shook the hands of the other team, when they could relish in all that hard work by staring at the defeated faces of their opponents and say "good game". When it was their turn to congratulate a Badger team that outplayed, outstrategized, and were the better athletes when it counted, these three weren't the "Best Versions of Themselves." They were flat out disrespectful. To Wisconsin, to Kentucky, and to the game that gave them a stage to build their brand on their way to making millions at the next level. Losing sucks but suck it up. You lost to the better team on their night.
O SAY CAN YOU SEE…CREATIVITY?
The NCAA got it right here. The national anthem was sung by student athletes from all four schools. Vito Brown, Wisconsin’s 6’8 sophomore forward, Duke Football player Deion Williams, Michigan State soccer player Michelle Dear, and Kentucky soccer player Kennedy Collier performed perfectly under pressure, hitting their marks and added their own touch to a totally original version of the Anthem.
I love seeing what collective personality the student body takes. Duke students looked very organized and pleasant, very School Ties feel-y, but I’m sure they had verbal ammo ready to deploy to every player on that Spartans roster and probably the trainer and manager. Michigan State students go HAM all the time, but that’s just what you do at Michigan State. The Izzone always seems to sell out on tour. But they played like their lead singer fell off stage after killing it the first three songs. Badger students go costume strong. Its a given you’ll spot the candy cane striped pants throughout the student section but one guy came as Rocky IV, knowing they were up against the impossible, the machine, the man that will “break you,” Ivan Drago. One thing we know about Rocky though, he always wins.
DOES ROCKY WEAR ADIDAS?
Like Napolean Dynamite rocking that blue tuxedo to Prom, the boys of Madison made their own style out of a bad situation and won anyways. Maybe that’s because Bo Ryan had them practice in these uniforms for days leading up to the Final Four so they didn’t feel so unfamiliar in them...or is it just they shamed themselves into loving them? Either way the Badgers will take the stage wearing them one more time Monday night. Then they can burn them.
Kentucky, Duke and Michigan State, all Nike schools, wore the same style of the high v neck cut slimmer fit top, longer shorts with minimal accents like the school's logo stamped just below the neck line. Michigan State's uniforms felt familiar, but not boring. Sparties seem to always carry the same look as the students... Effortlessly cool. The nearly all white look from Duke and Kentucky, their unis barely accented with color, just the numbers a bold blue, which is what stood out to me most except for how (too) long the shorts are. I dig the the slimmer fit tops but I’d like to see the shorts start to follow that lead. Google Chris Obekpa St Johns and yes, it's time for a comeback... More on that another time.
Rihanna performed American Oxygen at halftime. She could sing the alphabet song and I’d be put in a trance. Only one song? WTH? Don't go to the studio desk, at this point does it matter what the keys are to the second half? Nah. Not really. Take me back so I can stare. Thank you.
Speaking of all this Rocky IV-ness, play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz set the stage perfectly when introduced the starting lineup for each team like a heavyweight match was about to go down. I was waiting to see some dudes in silk robes and cut men giving them shoulder rubs and last minute pep talks. Nantz always knows how to handle the most powerful moments in sports….his words perfectly describe what we all feel at the exact same time.
RAFF NAILS IT AGAIN
After Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein made a jaw dropping block on Frank Kaminsky, color analysts Bill Raftery (known best for his catch phrase “A little KISSSS of the glass!") said “This defense gives you the Willies!” - I died. Bow down to Billy. He is King Pun.