Goodbye To An Old Friend

Jarrett Jack's jumpshot on Friday with less than 2 seconds left in the Ga. Tech game signaled, for me, the end of a relationship that has existed since 1938. Oh, the name has changed since the beginning and the locations have bounced around, but the nature of the event has remained the same. The quest to determine the best team in the Atlantic Coast area,

Why, you might ask, am I treating a single loss in a post season tournament as the end of the world. It's a valid question and not one that is easy for me to answer.

I'll begin with a confession. I haven't been completely happy with the ACC membership since they admitted Georgia Tech and later Florida State. I think my dissatisfaction with the expansion centers around the fact that I never knew many fans from those schools and that made for less rivalries between schools of the old ACC and those schools who were added. I'm aware of the fact that my posture on this position fully qualifies me as an old fuddy duddy, but that's O.K. Some of you who are younger will get your opportunity to adjust to changes of like magnitude when they occur down the road. I can only wish you good luck in adjusting. I am not going to belabor the point about the recent additions to the ACC signifying the end of the ACC Tournament as I have known it for most of my life. I really don't care that much if we beat Miami or Boston College and and not much more if we beat Virginia Tech unless they improve their basketball program substantially.

I find that as my interest in collegiate sports, in general, has diminished over time, I have started to have an interest in things associated with the games as much as the games themselves. Maybe I'll share a few of them with you.

I have started to pay more attention to the sideline behavior of coaches and players. For example, Clemson has a player who stands and greets every Clemson player who leaves the game and I have to wonder if this is something he has been designated to do or if he has chosen this as an expression of thanks for the scholarship he was awarded. I don't see that many Clemson games so I don't know whether he ever gets into a game or not, but he probably would be tired, if he did, from all the activity involved in welcoming players back to the bench.

Duke has a player that I would really like to know more about, but I can't motivate myself to try and find out more information about him.
He is a large one, maybe 6-11, and he seems to always sit as close to the players who have removed their warm up uniforms as he can. He bounces up when a time out is called, puts his hands into the grasp of solidarity and, most interesting of all, races ahead of everyone else to the dressing room at halftime. He looks a lot like Christianson. I wonder if he shouts "Let's go" as well as the Mormon did.

Pete Gillen is another one that gets my attention. He is the only coach I have ever seen, but I'm sure there are others, who begs the home crowd with his uplifted arms to make noise at University Hall. On one occasion he ran down the sidelines winding his arms like a clock trying to get the crowd behind the Cavaliers. But that's not what has captured my attention the most about Pete Gillen. It's his ritual after a time out and the team has retaken the floor. It goes like this. First, he has a drink of something from a cup that has been placed behind the bench, second, he wipes his face thoroughly with a towel, then he stretches so the sleeves of his coat rise slightly up his arm, then he kneels and puts his knee carefully on a towel that has been folded and placed on the floor before he went into his routine. One of his assistants always gives me a chuckle because he looks like he wants to win too much, if that's possible. He doesn't rant and rave. He just looks deadly serious all the time and claps a lot. Gillen does some things that baffle me. He points the players to the bench when they leave the floor on a time out. I don't know where he thinks they might go other than to the bench. I shouldn't make fun because it's probably just nervous energy and the man has been on the hot seat this year.

It was nice that the camera caught J.J. Reddick saying something on the bench other than m----- f-----. I'm sure he's not the only player to utter those words during a game, but I am sure that he has been caught doing this more than any player I can remember. I'm sure his Coach will speak to him about that. While he's at it, he should tell Chris Collins not to pick his nose. Zoom lenses can be dangerous things.

It was good to see Lennie Rosenbluth at the Tournament, but I wish they would stop interviewing people while the game is going on.

Billy Packer was his usual self. I have tried to defend Packer over the years, but he makes it more and more difficult as time goes on. The difference between Packer and Vitale couldn't be more dramatic. Vitale praises and likes everybody and Packer seems to criticize and dislikes everybody. How would you like to live with old Billy. Maybe he's not as bad at home. Let's hope not. I just had a horrible thought. How would you like to look across the breakfast table each morning and see Bobby Knight sitting there. He has gotten worse over the years, and I think if I were to have to sit at the same table with him, I would lose my appetite. When is the last time you saw "General" Robert Montgomery Knight smile? The most ironic thing about the moniker "General" is that to my knowledge, he has never served a day in the military. I met someone once who was at West Point when he was and he said a similar incident occurred while he was the Army coach as happened later at Indiana. I'm talking about the chair throwing incident. He was told that a second similar incident would not be tolerated.

Most surprising thing at the ACC Tournament was John Edwards saying he was for the Tar Heels. I guess it is a relief for him to be able to say what's on his mind now that he is no longer in the race for the Democratic nomination for President, but I never knew he was for the Heels. He was at Clemson for 1 year, transferred to N.C. State and attended Law School at UNC. I just not accustomed to hearing politicians say who they are for in an athletic contest.

In one of the flash backs, there was a scene where Tommy Burleson made a beautiful sky hook. Whatever happened to the sky hook? I will never forget the look on Randy Denton's face when I told him one day while we were sitting on a people watching bench near the center of the Duke campus, how tall Burleson was. Burleson had not matriculated to State at the time and Denton's expression told it all. Denton was a pretty big fellow himself at 6-10 and I'm trying to remember Burleson's height, but I can't be sure. Was it like 7'4"?

See you next year at the tournament.