[Editor’s note: This is a running diary that Drew wrote during last night’s Kentucky-Kansas National Championship Game. The intro was obviously written before the game started.]
As you can probably imagine, growing up and living in North Dakota has its disadvantages. Things are a bit isolated up here. I could spend 10,000 words telling you about all the things we aren’t privy to yet (I have a friend who still doesn’t have text messaging).
But instead of you wondering if North Dakota is actually a real place, we are going to talk about college basketball.
Running Diary Lead-In
North Dakota doesn’t have a major sports influence on the world. Phil Jackson is from Williston, ND and played basketball at the University of North Dakota before becoming the greatest professional basketball coach in history. Roger Maris grew up in Fargo before becoming the single season home run King. There is also Darin Erstad and Travis Hafner who enjoyed some success in the MLB, but that is about it.
As a youngster it was difficult watching college basketball on television because there wasn’t a clear cut team that I should be rooting for, so I simply didn’t watch college basketball. Then Jeff Boschee became a Jayhawk.
Jeff Boschee played high school basketball in Valley City, ND and is the only player out of North Dakota to be a McDonald’s All American. Since Valley City played in the same conference as my hometown, Devils Lake, I got to watch Jeff Boschee play a lot of basketball. When my dad told me Boschee was going to play for Kansas, I figured I might as well watch him play there as well.
I started off watching Kansas games for Boschee. Then I started watching for Kirk Hinrich. Then I started watching for Aaron Miles, Nick Collison, and then rest of the Kansas squads that made it to back-to-back Final Fours in the early-2000s. I developed a very strong hate for Syracuse and Carmelo Anthony at the age of 13. I also developed a very devoted relationship with the Kansas Jayhawks that finally paid off in 2008 with a National Championship.
Now we are in 2012 and Kansas is playing for another title. I strongly believe in the 5-year rule: Fans of teams that have won a Championship in the last five years have no right to complain when their team doesn’t win another title. I still abide by this rule even after inexplicable losses to UNI (Farokhmanesh!) and VCU in the last two years.
But let’s be honest, it is time for another Kansas title.
Since ’08 we’ve had North Carolina, Duke, and UConn crowned champion. I cannot think of three more annoying schools to win the Final Four, other than Kentucky, of course. Can we collectively as college basketball fans allow the four worst programs in the nation to win the last four championships? Of course not!
So let’s all hop on the Jayhawks bandwagon and follow them against Kentucky in the 2012 NCAA Final Four Championship.
Kentucky-Kansas Running Diary
(Full disclosure: I’ve never done a running diary before, which means I’ve never written my way into a mental breakdown before. I’m trying to remain calm and reasonable, but after yelling at Aaron Craft for two hours on Saturday night, I cannot guarantee anything.)
8:20 Settled in at my buddy Hollywood’s apartment with my bag of Goldfish crackers. Hollywood (named that because he wore a Planet Hollywood shirt to school one day) is more concerned about the Chris Parmalee Era starting on Friday, but he has an HD TV and I don’t, so this is where we are watching.
8:24 Anthony Davis has to be the ugliest future #1 draft pick ever right? Is there any chance he will keep the unibrow when he goes pro? Or is that just his thing, like when Tim Thomas wore two headbands at the same time. Maybe he’s just holding out for an easy sponsorship from Schick or Nair.
8:26 Blue-painted unibrows on Kentucky fans. He has to keep it now.
8:32 Thomas Robinson picks up his first foul. Not good. If he is going to be in foul trouble I might as well just watch Family Guy re-runs.
8:34 Anthony Davis has really, really, really, really, really,
8:36 really, really long arms. They’re a lot longer when he’s playing against your favorite team.
8:36 Second straight long two pointer by Kentucky. Hopefully they just settle for deep twos instead of threes for the rest of the game. Kansas is struggling with the drive and kick right now. Will Bill Self calmly tell them to step their shit up?
8:39 Thomas Robinson > Kevin Young
8:41 Kansas is already down by eight, 17-9. Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop drinking.
8:42 Fully convinced Anthony Davis could dunk from the free throw line without a running start. Just stand there and dunk it.
8:44 White guy comes into the game for Kentucky. “He’s a great shooter.” I bet he also hustles and can take one hell of a charge.
8:44 Davis out, Robinson almost instantly converts a powerful dunk shot. Hopefully John Calipari forgets about Anthony Davis for the next 11:50 and leaves him on the bench.
8:46 Kentucky just had five guys around Thomas Robinson, who got blocked three times, which led to Kidd-Gilchrist converting a layup between four Kansas players. Kentucky is good. Almost too good.
8:47 Media timeout. Hollywood and I discuss how big the Pizza Hut $10 box is (almost as big as Anthony Davis’s arms are long) and just stare at the TV during the Men in Black III trailer and pretend it didn’t happen.
8:50 Dammit. Davis is back in. Kentucky is now up by nine. Kentucky’s point guards look turnover prone. If Kansas can just prevent Kentucky from getting the ball inside at all, they will win.
8:54 Kentucky comes immediately out of another timeout and Teague gets an easy layup followed by ANOTHER long two pointer by Kidd-Gilchrist, to put the Wildcats up by 10. Just under 10 minutes left in the half. Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.
8:57 Just laughing at this point every time Davis blocks a shot. Is this what Ewing was like at Georgetown?
8:58 Kick out three to Teague, puts Kentucky up by 12, 31-19. Still seven minutes left in the half. Will Bill Self calmly tell his team to pull their head out of their ass?
9:00 The AT&T 4G commercials are the worst. It insinuates that 4G makes you act like a jackwagon. I have 4G, but that’s not what makes me a jackwagon. It just lets me look at .gifs faster.
9:04 Hollywood just got declared war on him in Civilization and another three for Kentucky puts them up by 15. We’re both really sad right now.
9:06 Rebounds: Kansas 10, Anthony Davis 8. Davis hasn’t even scored and he has completely dominated this game. The way he is killing my team right now I’m happy knowing he will be forgotten about in Charlotte for the next four years.
9:07 Terrence Jones goes to the bench with two fouls, Kansas immediately scores in the paint. Anthony Davis turns around and gets called with a charge. They need to continue to attack and pick up fouls. That’s their only hope.
9:09 Kansas is shooting 33% from the field. 3:33 left. Media timeout. Kansas looks out of it. Kentucky has all the momentum in the world right now.
9:11 When is Johnny Depp going to make a normal movie? Is it even possible for him to do that? I legitimately don’t know what Johnny Depp looks like in real life. Johnny Depp needs to play a normal every day person and Tom Hanks needs to be in a legitimate comedy movie again. These are my demands.
9:13 Kentucky is better than Kansas on defense and offense and at pretty much every aspect of basketball except for missing layups and getting their shot blocked. Kansas has got those two things down.
9:19 It is FINALLY halftime. Kentucky 41, Kansas 27. Silver lining for Kansas: Terrence Jones and Anthony Davis both have two fouls, Kansas has been the best second half team in the nation. Not silver lining for Kansas: Kentucky has won their last 40 games when leading at halftime.
9:22 Hollywood doesn’t get the Science Channel. Now I’ll never know how they make wax figures and sandwich crackers. Also, the North Dakota Tourism Twitter page is officially verified and followed by Jon Daly. Do what you will with that information.
9:27 At least the Timberwolves are winning.
9:36 Timberwolves are losing now. Everything is falling apart.
9:40 Halftime is over. Bowl of Goldfish crackers is refilled. Bill Self is still talking calmly. Let’s go Kansas!
9:42 18 point lead down to 12. Don’t call it a comeback!
9:46 Kentucky just scored on their 10 offensive rebound of the possession. Kansas is struggling with Kentucky’s size but seems to have some life now. Robinson looks pissed. Hopefully he can harness that. So far, he hasn’t been able to. It has just led to him dribbling the ball too much and shooting pull-up 15 foot jumpers.
9:52 When are we going to see the stat of how many layups Kansas have missed? My guess: 243.
9:53 Kentucky back up by 16. Kansas is playing angry and frantic, not smart. At least the Daily Show is on soon.
9:56 Taking a break to watch Charlie and the Gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia perform the greatest dance number in television history. I need this right now.
10:00 To their credit, Kansas is still hanging around. Down 10 points with 12:21 left is a lot better than it could be. And what have we learned over the last three weeks? Don’t. Let. Kansas. Hang. Around. Bill Self is the best coach in America. He will find a way.
10:01 Bill Self may not yell during his speeches, but he’s sure got the enthusiastic clap down.
10:08 Starting to yell at the TV again. I’m getting a bit excited.
10:10 Davis gets his third point with 8:38 to go in the game. Just imagine if he had actually been scoring. Kentucky would be up by 43 points.
10:12 Six minutes and 50 seconds to go. Kentucky is just a better team. They are better than Kansas. There is no way around it. We all knew this. I don’t know why I’m so surprised, but I am. I’m kind of at a loss of words right now. Something needs to happen soon.
10:16 11 missed layups, 2 missed dunks. Can’t win that way. This is not the right happening.
10:21 What just happened? Kentucky’s lead is down to 9 points. THIS IS IT!! LET’S DO THIS!!!
10:25 SEVEN POINTS!!!!!! CALIPARI’S CUT!! Just under four minutes left. I’m getting excited.
10:28 Just bit off all the nails on my left hand. We’re down to five points with 1:37 left. It was once 18 points and I briefly stopped watching. I love college basketball.
10:30 If Kentucky loses this game due to free throws the Internet is going to explode.
10:32 Great, great, great defense there by Kidd-Gilchrist to force a turnover by Kansas at the worst time ever. If Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t taken with the second pick in the draft after Davis, someone is going to get fired. Have to hope Kentucky misses free throws at this point. These next 53.9 seconds are going to take a long time.
10:34 Both free throws are good. Kentucky back up by 8. Great move by Taylor to get to the rim with 39.8 seconds left. There is still hope. There is always hope. Six points in 40 seconds can happen. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!
10:37 Nevermind. That’s it. Elijah Johnson just traveled because of Anthony Davis’s 13 foot arms. 17.5 seconds left and Kansas couldn’t get a steal. Damn. Good thing it’s Easter this weekend, I need to go home and get out my 2008 National Championship DVD.
10:39 Final score: Kentucky 67, Kansas 59.
Let’s be honest. Kentucky was the best team all year long. Kansas wasn’t even supposed to win the Big 12, let alone be the second best team in America. This was probably the least talented team Kansas has had in at least 15 years. Fortunately it lined up with the best coaching performance of Bill Self’s career.
Now will someone please calmly tell Bill Self that he only has one year left before I get antsy again.