Archive for February 18th, 2010

The Joy of Curling

Before the Winter Olympics started, I considered writing a satirical post about how excited I was for curling. I didn’t consider it for long, though, because faux-excitement for the Winter Olympics and for curling in particular was sort of played out. The Winter Olympics are pretty much a joke in America; women pay attention to the figure skating, and sports journalists try to make a big deal out of skiing and speed skating (so long as they’re both headed by good-looking marketable stars). Curling was the biggest joke of all, a ludicrous extension of the term “sport” into the realm of bocce and shuffleboard played out on ice, complete with brooms.

Now that I have watched curling, I have come to a conclusion that I guess shouldn’t surprise me too much: Curling is awesome. Curling is awesome because, while not a sport, it is the closest thing the Winter Olympics has to a sport outside of hockey. This is because it is played in teams with objective scoring. There are curling matches, whereas everything else in the Winter Olympics is either judged or a race—or in some ridiculous cases, such as Moguls, a hybrid of the two. Simple comparisons to bocce or shuffleboard are misguided because they underestimate the dramatic and propulsive influence of the ice. In bocce, you’re just trying to get your ball closest to the Pauline; on both sand and grass, it’s very difficult to really deflect the opposition’s balls further from the target. In shuffleboard, you can’t put spin on the puck; everything is in straight lines. Continue reading

The Double Bonus: The Coaching Conundrum

With two of the four teams generally considered “elite” losing to unranked teams at home this week (Syracuse to Louisville, Villanova to UConn), Kansas and Kentucky are presumably more solidly entrenched as the two best teams, both in the rankings and in peoples’ minds. They are the only two teams left with just one loss and they are both loaded with talent projected to go in the first round of the NBA Draft (Kansas has Xavier Henry, Cole Aldrich, and Sherron Collins; Kentucky has John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Patrick Patterson). Kentucky, though, has already faced two close calls this week, needing overtime to win at Mississippi State, and facing Tennessee in a game that went back and forth until the Wildcats pulled away during the last eight minutes.

During that game, however, I started wondering an odd thing: Is Bruce Pearl an underrated coach? This seems like an odd thing to say about a guy whose team is coming off back-to-back double-digit losses, who has never made it past the Sweet 16 of an NCAA Tournament, and isn’t even the biggest basketball coach at his own school. He is  more known for things like taking his shirt off at a Lady Vols game and his feud with John Calipari than for anything to do with coaching.

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