Sunday, April 4, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/03/2021: Baking, Buzzer Beater, Vizio Advantage

 1. As the Baylor/Houston game this afternoon grew more and more unenjoyable, I retired to the kitchen and spiffed it up and then, so that I would use up the last of my 2.5" baking cups, I baked a batch of cornbread in muffin cups. I think I'll bring them to our Easter Day family dinner and see if anyone's interested in eating them with our meal.

2. I want to see Gonzaga's men's basketball team win the national championship. But, I'm not a myopic fan. I love the game of basketball more than I do the Zags. I have a long history with college basketball, extending back to the first NCAA championship game I remember watching. It was in 1966 when Texas Western (now U of Texas at El Paso) electrified the world of college basketball and defeated Kentucky, 72-65. 

In the ensuing years, I became a devoted UCLA Bruin fan. I loved their run from 1967-1975 when they won the championship eight of nine years.

So, tonight, as UCLA and Gonzaga hit the ice, and I saw UCLA's classic blue and gold jerseys, I could hear the UCLA fight song in my head and feelings that are over fifty years old returned, and I hoped this 2020-21 UCLA squad, a late blooming squad, a team playing superb basketball over the last three weeks, would bring their best game to this contest and the Zags and Bruins would square off in a compelling match up.

Well, let's just say, not in my wildest dreams did I imagine my hopes being so fully realized. If my hopes were coffee being poured into a cup, let's just say my cup ran-eth over tonight!

UCLA played brilliantly. They were disciplined on offense. They managed the shot clock intelligently, got their best shooters in spots they like to shoot from, made few mistakes, and never folded in the face of whatever pressure Gonzaga applied, full court, three quarter court, or half court. UCLA's best player, Johnny Juzang, scored 29 brilliant points, Jaimie Jacquez added 19, and, to me, the real bonus for the Bruins came from Tyger Campbell and Cody Riley who scored 17 and 14 points, respectively, making it difficult and a bad idea for the Zags to focus much of the defensive attention to Jacquez and Juzang.

It was a marvel to watch how this UCLA team coalesced, found their identity in playing dogged defense and disciplined offense, over the last three weeks. They did everything they needed to do to beat Gonzaga.

Well, except one thing.

UCLA didn't have the game's last possession.

When Johnny Juzang scored on a put back of his own missed shot to tie the game near the end of  overtime, there were still just over three seconds left on the clock, enough time for Corey Kisbert to inbound the ball to Jalen Suggs, for Suggs to dribble-race across half court and from 40-45 feet away from the basket shoot a jump shot. 

Just before the horn sounded to end the game, Suggs' shot kissed the backboard just above the rim and dropped through the hoop.


This magnificently played, intensely battled basketball game ended and Gonzaga won it, 93-90 in OT.

I belted out a My God the World is So Brilliantly Random and Absurd laugh, texted with Christy, Terry, Byrdman, Rog, and Stu and watched the ensuing celebration.

3.  I got to thinking. For years I didn't have a television and so I've only seen replays of past incredible buzzer beaters in the NCAA Tournament. I missed Arike Ogunbowale, Christian Laettner, Kris Jenkins, U. S. Reed, Mike Miller, Tyus Edney, Bryce Drew, Keith Smart, and who knows what other famous buzzer beaters simply because I didn't have a television. But, I had a television in 1983 and nearly jumped through the ceiling of my North Spokane generic apartment when Lorenzo Charles turned Dereck Whittenburg's air ball from thirty into a short buzzer beating game winning shot. 

Tonight I got to see one of the NCAA Tournament's most exciting moments live, as it happened, and you know what? I'm grateful to have ended my years without a television streak. Seeing this game tonight was a blast.

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