Friday, April 5, 2019

Three Beautiful Things 04/04/19: Transplant Book, Texas vs Lipscomb, Coach Fran

1.  Today, I finished reading Joshua Mezrick's When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon. I will go back and reread parts of it again in order to have an active and memorized understanding of how a kidney transplant works. I'm thinking about reading more medical memoirs/history books, written for non-specialists. It's a fascinating subject.

2. I watched the broadcast on ESPN of the National Invitation Tournament. The NIT is a 32 team affair, featuring teams who fell just short of being selected to play in the NCAA tournament. I was curious about this game, pitting a middle of their conference Big 12 team, University of Texas, against Lipscomb, a private Christian liberal arts school in Nashville, the co-champion of the weaker Atlantic Sun Conference. Over the course of the winter, I'd heard several basketball experts rave about Lipscomb, urging viewers to tune in over at ESPN3 or ESPNU to see them play. I never did, but the team was on my radar and I wanted to see how they would fare tonight against Texas.

Well, not very well.

Texas prevailed 81-66. In much the same way that Wofford's Fletcher McGee, a three point shooting marksman, got shut down by a stronger Kentucky team in the NCAA tournament, so Lipscomb's Garrison Matthews got stifled by Texas. Two Longhorns, Courtney Ramey and Kerwin Roach, shadowed Matthews on every Lipscomb possession, crowding him, denying him the ball, hassling him when he did get possession. Yes, Matthews made all of his 10 free throws, but he only launched ten shots from the field and only two dropped. By keeping Matthews in check and by manufacturing a few hot shooting streaks, Texas began to pull away in this game before half time and for most of the contest, the outcome was not in doubt.

3. For me, one of the pleasures of watching this game was listening to Fran Fraschilla provide commentary alongside the very solid Bob Wischusen providing the play by play call. Fraschilla is highly knowledgeable, not only about what is going on in the game he is analyzing, but about the personnel of every team, famous and obscure, across the country. I follow him on Twitter and it's as if he can be five or six places at once, he's so tuned in to who has recruited whom, what teams are dealing with what injuries, what different coaches stress in working with players, and other information, not only about Duke or Michigan State, but about teams in all the conferences. He is positive, not very charismatic at the microphone -- he's not a goofy cheerleader like Dick Vitale. On Twitter,  he is generous with providing tips about different drills and practice strategies he suggests coaches consider using.

I'm not sure why Fraschilla doesn't coach any longer. I wonder if he found his niche, travelling from campus to campus, talking with coaches at camps and conferences, and sharing his knowledge on television, radio, and social media. Maybe he enjoys being able to keep an eye on the big picture of college basketball, talking to a lot of coaches and players, and serving as a kind of unofficial ambassador for the game, rather than focusing all of his energies on a single team under his command. I sure enjoy listening to him and having him on the mike today made a game that was not very competitive much more enjoyable. 

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