Backdoor Cuts: Vol. IX

Posted by rtmsf on February 9th, 2010

Backdoor Cuts is a weekly college basketball discussion between RTC correspondents Dave Zeitlin, Steve Moore and Mike Walsh that occasionally touches on relevant subjects. This week the guys turn the volume up in their heads and listen to their favorite fake basketball broadcasters.

DAVE ZEITLIN: Seeing Barack Obama in the broadcast booth for the Duke-Georgetown game last Saturday got us thinking. What other non-basketball people would we like to see call college basketball games? Since my esteemed colleagues seem to hate when I set criteria, I won’t make any. I just hope, like me, they’ll try to pick someone as funny, likable and basketball-savvy as our president. (I think I just made Glenn Beck cry).  After careful consideration (actually, I’ve hardly thought about it all), my No. 1 choice would have to be Will Ferrell — if only because he could switch between Ron Burgundy and Harry Caray, and maybe even throw a little Jackie Moon in there. Just picture a Kentucky-Duke game with Ferrell on the mic alongside Jim Nantz:

Ferrell as Harry Caray: Hey everybody! This should be a fun one as Coach Mike Shacklestein tries to figure out a way to stop John Wall. Hey! What if the world was made up of only walls? How would anyone walk? Oh, and there’s a fly ball to deep center…

Jim Nantz: No, no, no, this isn’t baseball, Will. It’s a basketball game. And I didn’t know you’d be doing voices…

Ferrell as Ron Burgundy: Did you just interrupt Harry? If you were a man, Jim, I would punch you! Right in the mouth! That was great analysis from Harry — compelling and rich. And now we turn our attention to Brian Fantana on Panda Watch.

Jim Nantz: No, there are no pandas here. Can we just talk about the game, please?

Ferrell as Jackie Moon: Sure thing, Jim. I know a lot about basketball. Some would even say I perfected the game. And there’s John Wall performing the play I invented as he leaps and forces the ball in a downward direction through the net off of a high arching pass.

Jim Nantz: I never thought I’d say this, but I miss Billy Packer.

You’d watch that game, wouldn’t you? What’s that? You’d watch anyway because it’s Duke-Kentucky? Shut up, reader.  Also, just because a week can’t go by where I don’t mention Penn (the same way Mike can’t not mention Jersey Shore), I’d like to see Quakers point guard Malcolm Washington’s father call a game. You may have heard of him. His name is Denzel and he sometimes acts in movies. That would be fun.

Finally, there was this bald guy I met once at a game that I think would do a pretty good job behind the microphone. I think his name was Richard Vitale or something, but some people called him Dick. Anyway, he seemed to really love basketball and had a lot of energy so he might be fun to listen to for one half — or one game at the most. After that, you’d probably get sick of him.

MIKE WALSH: Way to name drop, Dave. We’re all very impressed.

To me, announcing crews at college basketball games are a lot like the wait staff at your favorite restaurant. If you’re lucky enough to turn on a game with a good crew, they can elevate a burger of a matchup to something really memorable. On the flip side, just like a crappy waiter can ruin an otherwise great meal, a subpar set of announcers could turn even the Syracuse/UConn 6OT game into peanut butter and jelly.

That being said, before I get to who I’d like to serve me my hoops on a silver platter, I can’t help but throw out a few train-wreck tandems for your consideration. In keeping with the food theme, let’s call these my Cracker Barrel Crews. Can’t you just imagine Jay Bilas sitting courtside at Allen Fieldhouse with Jersey Shore MVP Ronnie? (I apologize … I had to keep the Jersey Shore streak alive.)

Jay Bilas: The Jayhawks are on an 8-0 run over the last three-and-a-half minutes. What has Kansas done to spark this offensive outburst, Ronnie?

Ronnie: Kansas got dat Ron-Ron juice in those Gatorade bottles, I’m tellin’ you, bro. I’m tellin’ you …

Jay Bilas: Um, OK, I’m not quite sure what that means. Anyway, Kansas pushing the ball up the floor. Xavier Henry for three …


Jay Bilas: I’m speechless. You make Bill Raftery sound like Shakespeare. Let’s check in with Digger Phelps and The Situation at the Syracuse/Georgetown game.

Or maybe Dick Vitale and Gilbert Gottfried calling, well, any game I guess. They’d all sound the same:



Gilbert Gottfried: I BROUGHT WINE! … (off in the distance, the sound guy strangles himself with his audio cables)

Would it be painful to watch? Absolutely. Would I enjoy every minute of it? No question. Did you just lose all respect for me? You probably shouldn’t have had any respect for me anyway.

So what makes for a good announcing crew? For one, they’ve got to have voices that you don’t mind listening to for about two hours. They’ve got to be able to tell a story and they have to have a sense of timing. Sometimes there are just moments that simply don’t need any words at all. And they’ve got to be prepared. Nothing makes me grab for the remote faster than mispronounced names, stale stories and meaningless stats.

For me, I think my dream duo would have to be James Earl Jones doing play-by-play with Morgan Freeman on color. I don’t know if they like basketball. I don’t know if they know anything about basketball. And frankly, I don’t care. I could listen to those two talk about anything and I would hang on their every word. They could even make an Ivy League game sound good … well, maybe …

STEVE MOORE: Now that Dave is sufficiently mad at me for taking three days to chime in on this topic — and I’ve stocked up for yet another blizzard — I guess it’s finally my turn here.

First, a few notes on my colleagues’ suggestions: I would absolutely watch a game with Will Ferrell on the mic, but I’d prefer if he stayed with the Ron Burgundy impression throughout the game. And of course, it would have to be a West Coast Conference clash between San Diego and … well would it really matter who the opponent was?  As for Mike’s idea: I’m really not that into the idea, but I’m more concerned that Mike can write scripts for Ronnie and The Situation. I mean, I know it’s been snowing where he lives, and he’s got lots of free time on his hands, but you don’t have anything better to do than watch Jersey Shore? I’m on the topic, I would nest.

But…while we’re on the topic, I would prefer to see Snookie sitting courtside. Not only would she provide insightful analysis, but the table would cover up her lower half, so that we wouldn’t have any — ahem — “wardrobe malfunctions” that could make Gus Johnson reach new heights of excitement (this blog just went NSFW, methinks).  Anyway, onto my suggestion for America’s next great college hoops analyst … Stewie from Family Guy. The possibilities here are endless, especially if the game is aired on Adult Swim after 10 p.m., when he can get away with even more than Brent Musberger in the late stages of a blowout. In fact, Musberger might just be the best partner for Stewie to call the game.

MUSBERGER: You’re looking LIVE at Cameron Indoor Stadium on the campus of Duke University…

STEWIE: Hello Brent. Did you said Dookie?

MUSBERGER: No, Stewie. Well, I guess, that’s what Dickie V calls them.

STEWIE: Ahh, dookie. Brent, I come bearing a gift. I’ll give you a hint. It’s in my diaper, and it’s not a toaster.

MUSBERGER: (chuckles uncomfortably) Ah, well, um, Stewie … what do you think of this matchup between Duke and North Carolina? What do you think the Tar Heels are made of?

STEWIE: Sunshine and farts! What the hell kind of question is that?!

MUSBERGER: Um, I’m not sure we can say “farts”, but we can make lots of innuendo about gambling and covering the spread…

STEWIE: I don’t care, I’m bent on world domination!

MUSBERGER: Ah, just like Calipari..

Tell me you wouldn’t watch that. At least until the FCC pulled the plug just before halftime and switched to a solo Jim Nantz so everyone would be put to sleep.  And since I missed the memo about name-dropping famous family and alumni tied to our alma mater: George from Seinfeld, Mike Eruzione, Martin Luther King Jr., Howard Stern, Geena Davis, Emily Deschanel, Julianne Moore and Bill O’Reilly.

Mike skipped his list, because, well — there are no prominent St. Joe’s alumni…

DAVE ZEITLIN: Wow, recapping these columns is getting harder and harder each week. Let’s see, what have we learned? Mike is soothed by the sound of famous black actors talking, Steve is actually proud of the fact Bill O’Reilly went to his alma mater, and even though its now been off the air for a couple weeks we can’t stop talking about those wacky kids from the Jersey Shore.

Luckily, the rest of this site provides good college basketball content because we’re not exactly pulling our weight. Maybe next week we’ll actually talk about basketball. Either that or “juiceheads” at Seaside.

rtmsf (3954 Posts)

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