24 Great Things About Watching ESPN’s 24 Hour Hoops MarathonPosted by jstevrtc on August 18th, 2010
One of the first things I did on this website upon debuting two years ago was live blog ESPN’s first 24-hour college hoops marathon from start to finish. You know how it is. You’re the new guy, you want to impress your co-bloggers, and all that. I volunteered for the job, thinking I’d earn the respect of my RTC-mates and perhaps bring a few new visitors to the site. I assumed the novelty of it (it wasn’t that novel) would, in the same way that circus-goers stroll by the exhibition of freaks, bring a few people by to check in on the weirdo who was staying up and live blogging the whole thing. I thought it turned out great, especially for a guy’s first time. I had been awake for 16 hours before it started, too, so there were a few palpitations and many hallucinations by the time it was over, but I was proud. And as I was doing it, I was convinced that the combination of my astute basketball observations with my razor-sharp pop culture references would make this site a household name and propel us into the very heart of the American consciousness. Which, as we all now know, is precisely what happened.
Last year I did it again, despite the wagging fingers of my internist and a couple of specialists. We had some technical difficulties when the internet connection at the RTC Southern Compound tendered its resignation, but with some help of friends who subbed for me while I changed location, we got it done and I was able to finish strong.
We’re still in secret discussions as to what we’re going to do this year to celebrate the national holiday that is the 24-hour hoops marathon. I might insult my cardiovascular and central nervous systems for a third year in a row, or we might have something better in store this year. But because I’ve done it twice and not yet needed a trip to the ER, I — erroneously, in all likelihood — consider myself the authority on the subject. To celebrate the release of this season’s Marathon schedule and the fact that it’s — *sigh* — only three short months away, here are my 24 favorite things about watching ESPN’s 24 Hour Hoops Marathon from beginning to end.
24. The fact that it’s actually about 26 hours of basketball, not 24. The last game starts at 11:30 PM ET, if it’s on time. Not only is it an “extra” game, but it’s a good time to summarize what you’ve seen during the day and pat yourself on the back. Bonus hoops? I’m not complaining, not even after 24 hours.
23. Seeing whether or not ESPNU’s Lowell Galindo will continue to go with the full Windsor knot in his tie. Others in the sports media have worn it. Only one man has perfected it. He’s made some appearances without it during the off-season, and stock markets all over the world plummeted each time.
22. The constant string of games is an instant reminder of those sweet days of Championship Week and the NCAA Tournament.
21. If we’re lucky, getting an early dose of Robert Montgomery Knight. Whether or not you like him as a person or agree with his methods, the man was born to coach basketball. As part of the ESPN crew, he usually seems to be enjoying himself. Why wouldn’t he? It’s a great gig. At times, though, his face seems to betray him and he appears defeated, similar to that of Wayne Brady hosting Let’s Make A Deal, as if he’s thinking, “Am I really here? My God, how did it ever come to this…”
20. Watching announcers I’ve never heard or seen before, and probably won’t see again until next year’s Marathon.
19. Fran Fraschilla. You can’t watch a game on which he does the color and not want to buy him a beer afterwards. I met him in a media room last year as he was going around shaking everyone’s hand, having 10-second college basketball conversations with everyone, taking jabs at his fellow pros in the room, smiling and making the rounds like a politician with a running limo waiting for him outside. Then, like Keyser Soze, poof, he was gone, leaving everyone wondering where he went. That’s how you work a room.
18. Sometimes, when you’re not even two hours in…
17. The early-season shakiness of most teams. You’ve got over-eager veterans, nervous freshmen, frustrated coaches…but it’s fun to take those mid-November memories of these teams and then compare them to what you see later in the season.
16. The first caffeine hit at about 8 AM (speaking of shakiness). The key is to abstain from caffeine for a few days so your tolerance goes down. You’ll get a bigger boost on Marathon day.
15. Andy Katz‘ voice. He also went 24 straight hours last season. By the end of it, he sounded like a shell of a man, a mere husk of the buttoned-down Katz we always see.
14. Receiving our man Ray Floriani’s writeup from the early morning NYC-area game. The best road trip I ever had was when I was 20 years old and drove with (Rush The Court founder) rtmsf to New York City to see a now long-gone Christmastime tournament in the Garden. First trip to NYC. Stayed with a friend at his parents’ home in Jersey. First time on a train. Since then, I’ve been a sucker for any and all levels of basketball in the urban northeast, and Mr. Floriani’s stories always take me there, and make me envious of him. I’m also envious because he’s annoyingly popular with cheerleaders.
13. When I make predictions that eventually come true. Last year around the 5 AM mark, I mentioned how much I kind of dug that new girl named Michelle Beadle on ESPN’s cool new show (it had been on for four months), SportsNation. I wondered if maybe they’d make us their “Site We Like” someday. Three months later, they did. This year I’m seriously cranking up the predictions.
12. The Ohio State-Florida showdown in this year’s Marathon. I have many, many friends in Columbus, and even though it’s been three years, they still don’t talk about a certain four-month span in 2007. You remember. Gators over Buckeyes in January for the football title, same result in April for the basketball championship. They downplay it, but to my OSU-suporting friends, any chance to exact even the smallest revenge on Florida is taken seriously.
11. The improved diet. Aside from the increased caffeine dosage, this is probably one of healthiest 24-hour periods I have each year in terms of food intake. Because of the increased strain this can put on a guy (keep in mind, I’m usually up for about 12-14 hours before the live blog starts, with no time to nap), I don’t load up on things like candy bars or potato chips. If you go with pizza or fast food, you’ll never last. I try to make it through with as little overall bodily stress as possible, so during the blog I’m mostly putting away fruit and some vegetables I’ve prepared in advance. Why can’t my doctor come over and check my cholesterol levels on Marathon night?
10. Another one specific to this year — the Battle of the Saints. I’m talking Mary’s vs John’s at 2 AM ET. The return of Steve Lavin. It feels like it’s been three years (it’s been five months) since St. Mary’s and Northern Iowa were both America’s Team for a week in March, before it became Butler. Even sans Samhan, it’ll be good to see the Gaels again.
9. Bill Raftery in the afternoon. Yes, he’s made for prime time, but Raftery was perfectly placed last year (Northeastern at Siena, noon) for the purposes of the 24-hour live blogger. If you can make it to Raftery’s afternoon game, his energy will get you past the halfway point, and therefore over a huge mental hurdle.
8. The first glimpses. Last year’s Marathon was my first chance to see San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard, Duke’s Mason Plumlee, and Saint Mary’s’ Matthew Dellavedova, among others. There’s certainly no shortage of freshman talent this time, either, with Trey Zeigler (Central Michigan), Jared Sullinger (Ohio State), Perry Jones (Baylor), Tobias Harris (Tennessee), Kyrie Irving and Joshua Hairston (Duke), and Memphis’ guard tandem of Joe Jackson and Will Barton (if eligible). There are many more. We also get to check out Duke’s Seth Curry, whom we first saw two Marathons ago at Liberty.
7. Low-exposure school (read: mid-major) bragging rights. When some guy wants to show off his week-old knowledge of, say, La Salle basketball during Championship Week, I can trump him with knowledge of players I’ve been keeping up with since the Marathon. Take that, poser.
6. Watching my e-mail inbox fill with reports and cell phone blow up with texts as I get reports from our correspondents all around the country as they attend the games. It’s the closest thing to being everywhere at once.
5. The karma points I rack up as rtmsf and fellow-RTCer nvr1983 text me from their games, then make fun of me right before they hit the sack (not together, as far as I know). They like to rub it in because they get to grab some beauty sleep and I don’t. But that’s OK, since they both need all the help they can get — in terms of both sleep and beauty.
4. My increasing love for Monmouth basketball, because they are evidently going to be a voluntary fixture for a ridiculous tip-off time in this thing for as long as ESPN does it. I don’t care if they score 16 points in a half. Much respect.
3. After the caffeine seal is broken, counting the number of caffeine-loaded beverages (power drinks, coffee, soda) I ingest to keep the train movin’. One day I’ll do this without the aid of caffeine, which is the 24-hour live-blogging equivalent of climbing Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen.
2. Learning, like I did two Marathons ago, about players like Fresno State’s Paul George:
1. The end. Sure, you’re sad because the Marathon’s over, but you’re excited that college basketball has truly returned. You’re proud that you made it through, and elated that you get to finally sleep. What’s more, because nobody in their right mind would live blog the whole thing without taking a couple of vacation days afterwards, you’ve got two straight shortened work weeks, since Thanksgiving comes the week after Marathon week. So you’ve got the arrival of the holiday season, two half-weeks of work, tons of college basketball in that time, a whole new season to look forward to — makes me wish those leaves outside were already starting to change colors, you know?
See you in November.