Monday, March 05, 2007

Three Weeks of Billy Packer -- Kill Us All Now

For those who missed the UNC victory over Duke yesterday, it featured one of the more heated moments in the rivalry's history. Check it out here...

Deadspin has a pretty good round-up of blogosphere reaction. I will make the following points, since it's time for March Madness anyway.

1. Henderson's foul was an intentional hard foul, although I don't think he was trying to injure Hansbrough. This was one of those message fouls, the ones where a guy wants to make sure you don't score while also letting out a little frustration. I've played enough basketball that it's hard for me to believe that you go in with a running leap and swipe with your head turned away in order to simply get the ball. The ball was secondary here -- Henderson wanted to commit a hard foul.

Now, there's nothing wrong with sending messages, but there is a price to be paid if the foul creates an injury or if the attempt is too reckless. Watch Hansbrough hit the deck, and it's clear he could have been hurt much more seriously. Under the circumstances, it's fine that Henderson got ejected. I guess it could be a close call, but I don't even think that's the case. Pat Forde at ESPN expressed many similar sentiments.

2. My biggest beefs are not with Henderson here -- your emotions can get the best of you during a normal basketball game, let alone a rivalry game, and I doubt Henderson wants to see Hansborough hurt. I don't know how extensive his apology was (I didn't see all of it), but it looked pretty sincere.

I will say that Coach K's post-game comment about Hansbrough being in the game was borderline idiotic, as noted by Tar Heel Blue...

Really, the whole thing was Hansbrough's fault in the first place. With your team shooting free throws, 18.7 seconds left, and an 83-72 lead, you're supposed to give up. After all, the game was over.

"The game was over before (the foul)," Duke's Mike Krzyzewski said. "The outcome of the game, let's put it that way. It's unfortunate those people were in the game."

So the Blue Devils had given up. That's why, when Bobby Frasor toed the free throw line with 18.7 seconds remaining, Duke had Gerald Henderson, Josh McRoberts, DeMarcus Nelson, and Jon Scheyer still on the floor. Greg Paulus had just left after fouling out.
Look, I don't blame K here any more than I'd blame any coach -- Krzyzewski may annoy me to no end, but he does not employ goon tactics and wouldn't put up with it from his players (Christian Laettner's stomp of Aminu Timberlake notwithstanding -- and Laettner's more of a jerk than anything approaching a goon). As Forde noted, however, Krzyzewski's team was calling timeout down 13 with less than a minute to play when everyone should have been sending in walk-ons. As Roy Williams noted, a sub was waiting for Hansbrough at the scorer's table. Both teams were taking the game seriously down to the final seconds -- that's admirable, but it's hard to hear Coach K turn around and complain about it in the context of wondering why Hansbrough was in the game. This section of the column will not be popular with my in-laws, but Coach K was dead wrong here. Luckily, he looks like a sage compared to Billy Packer.

3. Billy Packer is a blithering idiot. A complete moron. There is no way I can reconcile his asinine statements with anything other than dementia or an inability to overcome his own biases -- and I think it's the latter, because this is clearly an instance where Packer's trying to say, "But he goes to Duke! He would never do something like that!" I can't stand Packer for any number of reasons -- the voice that sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard, the ACC-centric point of view, the big school bias, the butt-kissing of his coaching buddies, etc. But this was ridiculous in the extreme. Deadspin nails it...

Of all the "Sweet Christ, Billy Packer is so full of equine excrement" moments, we have to say, the "Just Going For The Ball!" foul from Gerald Henderson on Tyler Hansbrough at the end of the Duke-UNC game is definitely near the top of the list. Whatever your thoughts on the reason for Henderson's attack on Hansbrough, Packer's willful -- and aggressive; it's obviously he's not going to let Jim Nantz talk on this subject -- refusal to even imagine that a Duke player might have hammered down a cheap, brutal foul veers toward the pathological. This man broadcasts the biggest college basketball games of the year, every year; this never fails to amaze us.

We would like to see Packer calling other gruesome feats throughout history. "The Hindenberg is ... still in the air! Yep, it's just doing fine! Oh, the grand success! Oh, the grand success!"

The comments are even funnier, especially this one...
BP: "Jim, have I told you how much I like that John Wilkes Booth kid? He's my kind of player. He accidentally shoots President Lincoln in the head; you can see on the replay that he's turning away from Lincoln when the gun goes off, and .."

JN: Wouldn't that be to avoid having bits of skull and brain matter hit him in the face?

BP: Don't be ridiculous. Anyone who thinks that Booth is that kind of player, just doesn't know him. Besides, what was Lincoln still doing in the box that late in the play? He should have been at home resting up for the reconstruction. Lincoln needed to see the third Act like he needed another hole in his head. He was practically asking for it.

Anyway, the point I am trying to make about Booth is that after suffering a painful broken leg, the kid insists on staying in the game. He ran, what, two miles on that leg? He's a true American hero, the kind of fella I hoped my daughter would marry.
Hating Billy Packer. Now that's a March Madness tradition.


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