How to Watch, Stream, Listen
Odds & Ends
Verba de Ludis
Near misses are a common occurrence in our daily lives. Think about the last time a motor vehicle has nearly collided with your own - the adrenaline begins pumping through you almost immediately as your mind tries to catch up with the potential damage that could've been inflicted on your person. You're left with either two reactions, "Oh thank you sweet deity," or, *middle finger* "[expletive] you, you [expletive] [expletive] [expletive] [expletive]!" Hands trembling, you spend the next three minutes of your life evaluating all the swell bits of your time on earth and being thankful that all your limbs are still intact.
Near misses can be both exhilarating and demeaning to the stability of your psyche. I remember being offered crack cocaine in front of a bar in Portland, Oregon and sincerely contemplating the ramifications if I decided to indulge in the mind altering and derailing substance, but inevitably turned down the opportunity as I figured it'd be too much for my tiny brain. I remember mowing the lawn at my parent's house when I was a kid, getting closer and closer to a nest of swallows before approaching a little too close and being subject to the dive bombing tactics the asshole birds deployed. I remember sitting at SeaWorld when I was too young to understand basic sentence structure and getting royally pissed off at all the jackwagons sitting in the 'splash zone' while the whale trainers forced sentient marine mammals to do tricks for food.
Most importantly though, I remember Kris Dunn clanging a shot off the back of the iron, with time expiring in Omaha, only for the ball to die, kick off the front of the iron, and fall right through the hoop. I remember sitting there thinking that the best player in college basketball was rising for a shot as time expired and that the conclusive end was already determined. I remember laughing as I saw the ball fall through - a picturesque moment in a series of truly awful basketball sequences. It was a horrific basketball game with so few adjustments on the offensive side of the ball and far too many pace-altering adjustments to pick up the defensive pressure. It was like looking at a painting made by a cat dipped in paint - beautiful, sure, but the process to get to an end was torturous.
That game itself encapsulates how the season will end for these two teams. Providence has fallen off the table recently, losing six of their last nine games. They started the stretch by losing their offensive star Ben Bentil to an ankle injury - something that's taken him a long time to fully recover from. Kris Dunn has been phenomenal, sure, but the loss of production from Kyron Cartwright, Junior Lomomba and Jalen Lindsey has kept the Friars from polishing off their previously impeccable season. Kris Dunn has been struggling with the flu and hardly played in the last two Friar affairs. Remember, this is the same Providence team that beat the almighty Villanova and looked like a team that was poised for a run in the tournament as a 2-3 seed. Now they're on the outside looking at their former selves in the mirror and resting their chin on their hand and wondering desperately where they'll be just two weeks from now.
Creighton exists on the same plane of the college basketball teeter-totter as Providence. They've got some excellent wins, some high quality players, but they haven't been on a hot shooting stretch lately. Sure, they put up 100 on St. John's in their last affair - a game that saw Chris Mullin allegedly get tossed for complaining to the referees about the student section making fun of his shoes - but haven't been shooting well as of late. The play of Isaiah Zierden has dwindled as the season has gone on, arguably because he hasn't played a full season of college hoops in two years. Maurice Watson Jr., a guy who absolutely electrifies the Creighton offense, has been making careless turnovers in an attempt to jump start the sluggish offense. The play of junior forward TOBY! Hegner has been seemingly absent as his inconsistencies on both offense and defense are beginning to present themselves. Yet, this team, somehow, can win big games over big opponents at least the first time through. In their follow up meetings in the BIG EAST round robin, the Bluejays sit at a paltry 2-5. Those two wins are over St. John's and DePaul.
In a land of nearly infinite opportunities it is our near misses that remind us of our self worth on a daily basis. Remember that time you were supposed to go to prom with your cousin but decided to get drunk with your neighbor? Slam dunk decision. Remember that time you had one foot in the door going into Chipotle but then your wife called and she told you she was going into labor? No e-coli for you, buddy. Remember when you were on trial for murdering your wife but the glove didn't fit right and Johnny Cochran was your defense lawyer? You're OJ Simpson, baby. Near misses are what makes us grateful human beings. Cherish them, because if it went the other way your high school classmates would bag on you while your kid was born after you got e-coli and put in jail for the rest of your life. Wait, that timeline doesn't work. Whatever. Enjoy the game!