Although I enjoy listening to audio books when I drive, during March Madness it’s all sports talk, all the time. (Besides, my James Patterson novel ended on my way to LA). Some of what’s said is delivered by coaches whose teams are in the tournament and, while what they say is usually nothing more than coach-speak, it’s still interesting to hear from the guys whose team was selected, especially if you get a first-timer. Just as entertaining is the coach whose team got “snubbed.” Their comments can also be enlightening - as long as you can get beyond the bitching. Other contributors to the shows are “experts,” e.g. former players, writers or guys who put an extraordinary amount of time into understanding and studying the NCAA tournament - like Joe Lunardi, ESPN’s expert bracketologist.
As I was returning from my sojourn to watch the Clippers and hang out with friends (see yesterday’s blog), the radio was tuned to Sirius channel #86 - Mad Dog sports. Adam Schein, host of the Schein on Sports, was ranting about his (apparently brilliant yet incredibly foolish) pick of New Mexico making it all the way to the Final Four. Schein said he’d seen New Mexico play so many times and even did additional film study on the Lobos. His resume says he graduated from Syracuse with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Because he went to a university that produces athletes in the field of basketball and non-athletes who go into sports media, I’m curious to know what extensive film study exactly means. An extra bonus was that he had mentioned to his readers that Harvard’s coach, Tommy Amaker, “couldn’t coach his way out of a wet paper bag.” (I always wondered not how, but exactly when, such an opportunity would arise). His remark was that he gave his listeners New Mexico for all the right reasons (what happened, Adam, did somebody contact you about losing money?), yet he did admit, “I was absolutely dead wrong.” Then he proceeded to blast Steve Alford for such a poor coaching job.
Mainly because he was embarrassed that the bracket he thought was going to shock (and defeat) his co-workers with such a ballsy pick was now blown up, he did what most non-competitive people do. He blamed other things and people for his own shortcomings - in as cutting and obnoxious a method as a slick journalist would do. Referencing the plethora of three-pointers that Harvard, the Lobos’ opponent, made, Schein shouted, “Hey, Steve, did it ever occur to you to guard the three-point line?” I’ve often heard media guys use that phrase and wonder what, exactly, they would say to a team in regards to performing that task. “Or maybe change defenses?” was another of his witty, sarcastic remarks directed at the New Mexico coach - like they should have been in the magical defense that doesn’t allow three point attempts to go in.
He continued to complain that none of the clutch guys for the Lobos during the season showed up and how atrocious the free throw shooting was. Apparently, Alford was negligent in not having a contingency plan ready in case the guys he had depended on all year had off nights and the team couldn’t knock down a free throw - so that nothing could stand in the way of Adam Schein boasting about his clutch selection (like the selection should have been reason enough for the victory). Then, he brought out mistake #1 that talk show hosts love to use when someone commits such an unpardonable sin. “Alford was supposed to be on with us earlier week but he didn’t show.” As if . . .
Schein was also incensed by Alford’s comments at the post game press conference in which Steve made the statement that his guys didn’t seem to be focused. One of the things coaches dislike most are distractions. At NCAA tournament time, there are so many additional media requests - leading to more distractions, including some members who ask questions like, “Looking beyond the Harvard game (in other words, we all know you’ll crush them, they’re just an Ivy League school), do you think you can beat Arizona?” “Didn’t seem to be focused?!? How the hell can they not have been focused?” Schein blasted. “It’s the NCAA tournament!”
Possibly due to the fact that the show is multiples hours long, Schein then became vicious, saying Alford’s coaching was “atrocious,” “pathetic” and “repulsive.” He then made the remark, “Bag it, loser!” Schein’s over-the-top diatribe made me wonder (since this show was the first time I’d even heard his name) if he ever had a bad show. Maybe lost focus, maybe felt he couldn’t quite put on the performance he had displayed so many, many times before. Since no one is playing defense on him, i.e. not attempting to screw him up, had he ever had a bad night?
His show, I believe, was a five-hour ordeal - and, no, I didn’t listen to it in its entirety. Before one of the breaks, he made the statement, “Well, that’s three phenomenal hours in the book.” He would occasionally give props to a listener for a good point he hadn’t thought of, or some such comment, and I’d think of Golda Meir’s line:
“Don’t be so humble. You’re not that great.”