On Final Four weekend, no matter what city it’s held in, one is surrounded by tall people. Basketball players, former basketball players, and other basketball people are just about everywhere. However, this was not the case at the breakfast I attended Saturday morning. It was a meeting of Jewish Coaches. To complete the stereotype, the Jewish Coaches Association breakfast was held at Katz’ delicatessen.
I was there with my friend, Joe Landon, whose son Aaron is the head basketball coach at South Puget Sound Community College. The M.C. was Bobby Schwartz, the National Director of the Association. Schwartz isn’t only a basketball coach. He also happens to be a Rabbi. In fact, he officiated at the wedding of one of the guys at our table. Not yesterday, but when they got married.
The Red Auerbach Coach of the Year award went to Eron Ganot, head basketball coach for the University of Hawaii. In his acceptance speech, Eron spoke of his family, starting with his grandparents who were Holocaust survivors. He talked about his being embraced by the multiethnic, multicultural people of Hawaii, and expressed his amazement that he was getting an award from this organization.
The breakfast was truly an extraordinary event. And it was an obvious basketball omen to eat at a place called, “Katz’” just hours before the Villanova ‘Cats would play. To complete the foreshadowing, I guess I should have ordered the Nova lox.
THE SEMIFINAL GAMES
FIRST GAME: Villanova 95, Oklahoma 51
I’m a stupid gambler. I was smart enough to bet on Villanova, but I gave 45 points. Just kidding. Everyone knows there is no betting in college sports.
The only thing I have to say about the Villanova-Oklahoma game is a plea to the NCAA: please abolish the mandatory press conferences with the losing players of an embarrassing blowout. In fact, why must there be interviews with losing players regardless of the score? What could those Oklahoma players who were forced to be on the podium say that could possibly be news? “We stunk worse than I thought we’d stink?” “It was all the idiotic coach’s fault?” “My mom told me that sports were bad for me?” It’s sadistic to make these teary-eyed, deflated kids answer questions from bleary-eyed, inflated adults. And while we’re at it, NCAA, stop making everyone refer to players as “student-athletes.” Half of that term destroys all credibility.
SECOND GAME: North Carolina 83, Syracuse 66
This game seemed close for a while, but that was only because it followed the Saturday Night Massacre. These two teams were completely different in every way – even the way the coaches dressed. Williams always looks like he’s wearing clothes that his wife bought him to wear at a country club for very white people. Boeheim obviously buys his own clothes, but he denies having “direct knowledge,” of what store they were purchased from.
Syracuse employed its excellent full-court press in the middle of the second half and seemed to be making yet another exciting comeback. However, North Carolina is not Virginia. (Every school kid knows that). The Tar Heels did not panic.
So Monday night, it’s Villanova vs. North Carolina. Neither of those teams is going to panic. It should be a great game, and probably closer than 44 points. I just hope that people tune in to watch it, considering the other important sports event going on at that time: The Cubs open the season against the Angels.