Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hoop Heaven

Back before 660 AM in New York City was WFAN sports radio, it was WNBC radio, which played, as TigerBlog remembers, played top 40 music most of the day.

In fact, TB probably heard for the first time most of what now is called "classic rock" on that station.

Even way back then, though, the mornings on the station belonged to Don Imus, who was already doing a show called "Imus in the Morning." TB remembers listening to Imus probably from the first time he was on in New York, which was 1971.

Eventually, WNBC became WFAN, which may have been the first all-sports station (TB isn't sure about this one).

What TB is relatively sure of is that the station that would have failed completely had it stayed with Greg Gumbel as a morning sports talk host, no offense to Mr. Gumbel. Instead, the decision was made to revive "Imus in the Morning" from 5:30 - 9 each morning, even though it wasn't a sports-oriented show. Famously, Imus' show ended each day with a read that called it the "entertainment and revenue-generating portion of the broadcast day," and it wasn't that far from the truth.

As everyone knows, Imus was eventually taken off WFAN for the incident involving the Rutgers women's basketball team - which, TB said at the time, while not being a nice thing to say wasn't even in the top, oh, 50 or so offensive things that Imus had said on-air.

Of course, given his ability, Imus knew he'd be back on the air soon enough, and there he is today, on WABC AM 770 in New York, again with a whole network of stations and a TV simulcast.

The WFAN morning show is the Boomer and Carton Show, with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton (if you go to Wikipedia, look at how Boomer's last name is spelled in the banner in the picture).

Boomer and Carton are no Imus, but then again, nobody is. They are more of a sports talk show than a news/politics/entertainment/sports show like Imus, and Boomer and Carton - like most on the radio - often confuse vulgar and funny.

Still, Boomer and Carton have a nice show, and TB will often flip back and forth between them and Imus on the drive into Jadwin.

This morning, Boomer and Carton interviewed Kenny Anderson, who had been a phenom at Georgia Tech 20 years ago before going on to a long career in the NBA.

Interestingly, Anderson said that even with his 14-year NBA career and all the money he made from it, there was nothing he'd ever done in basketball that compared with playing in the NCAA tournament. Even now, after all this time, the emotion was clear in his voice when he spoke about his experience in the tournament.

Anderson is not the first person TB has heard say this. In fact, it's true of pretty much anyone who has ever been a part of the NCAA basketball tournament.

Right now there are 68 men's teams and 64 women's teams heading ready to see what kind of run they can make. On the women's side, there are probably three teams with a legitimate chance to win the title, and on the men's side, there are probably 10-15.

By Sunday night, there will be 16 men's teams left, which means that 52 will already have lost. On the women's side, 48 of 64 will be out by a week from tonight.

For many of the teams, just getting out of the first round would be a huge accomplishment.

In fact, for the majority of the teams, the best part of the tournament is the part happening now, between the clinching of bids, the selection show and then the buildup to the games themselves.

Here at Princeton, with an athletic program that dates back to when Abraham Lincoln was President, there aren't too many things that can happen that haven't happened at least once before. Still, this week, there is.

For the first time ever, both the men's and women's basketball teams are in the NCAA tournament at the same time.

Sunday night was the men's turn, as they found out they'd be playing Kentucky in Tampa Thursday.

Last night, the women's draw was announced. Unlike the men's draw, in which Princeton was in the first half of the first bracket announced, the women were in the first half of the last bracket.

The Tigers, in their second NCAA trip, earned a 12 seed and will take on Georgetown in the first round Sunday at the University of Maryland. Princeton's experience against St. John's in last year's tournament will be a big plus this time around, though it would have been nice to have a healthy Niveen Rasheed.

Georgetown is 22-10 on the season, with only one win in its last five games. On the other hand, the Hoyas are out of the tough Big East, and Princeton saw a year ago against St. John's what that can be like.

Princeton lost to Rutgers by one; Georgetown lost to Rutgers by 17. Georgetown beat La Salle by four; Princeton beat La Salle by 40.

Of course, Georgetown beat Tennessee.

Can Princeton win? That's a question for Sunday for the women and Thursday for the men.

For now, it's about making travel arrangements, getting on a plane (for the men), scouting, doing interviews and taking in the excitement that is the NCAA tournament.

There is, quite simply, nothing like it.

Don't believe TigerBlog? Just ask Kenny Anderson.

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