Here we go… headfirst into another season heralded by our 2013-14 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season completely guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. For the next three weeks, you’ll get two hits of excitement each weekday. We’ve captured what we believe were the most compelling moments from last season, some of which will bring back goosebumps and others of which will leave you shaking your head in astonishment. To see the entire released series so far, click here.
Another preseason preview gives us reason to roll out the 2011-12 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball, our annual compendium of YouTube clips from the previous season 100% guaranteed to make you wish games were starting tonight. We’ve captured the most compelling moments from the 2010-11 season, many of which will bring back the goosebumps and some of which will leave you shaking your head in frustration. For the complete list of this year’s reasons, click here. Enjoy!
#1 – Where Welcome Back, Luther Happens
We also encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 seasons.
Our long national nightmare is over. Ok, maybe it was only one year, but CBS has announced that it had decided to go back to the more “traditional” Luther Vandross version of “One Shining Moment” after using Jennifer Hudson’s version last year. While fans and critics widely panned Hudson’s version for the artistic liberties she took with the song and the fact that the video featured several clips of her instead of basketball footage CBS was more kind in their assessment of her version. Harold Bryant, the vice president of production for CBS Sports, stated “Both versions are great. She [Hudson] did a great job. We just felt like we wanted to go back to Luther.”
The Vandross version is one of four (including Hudson’s) that have been used since the song was used at the end of the NCAA Tournament in 1987. The two other renditions are from its songwriter David Barrett (1987-1993) and Teddy Pendergrass (1994-1999). With this year being the 25th anniversary of the song’s introduction it appears to be an especially appropriate time to bring back the Vandross version of the song.
After a big day of comings and goings Wednesday, not as much action yesterday so we’ll handle it here. BC junior forward Rakim Sanderswill transfer from the school, most likely to Fairfield, for his senior season. This is a bit of a coup for the Stags, as Sanders is the type of inside player (11/4 last year) who will excel in the MAAC. Meanwhile, across the country, Washington guard Elston Turneralso announced his transfer to a school closer to his hometown of Houston, Texas. Turner had an inconsistent year for the Huskies (6 PPG in 15 MPG), but he came on during the NCAAs and scored 14 against Marquette and 10 versus New Mexico in consecutive games to help UW get to the Sweet Sixteen. Finally, some good news as Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn announced that he will return to the Bears for his senior season. This will be a huge boost for Scott Drew’s team, as Dunn will join Quincy Acy and newcomer Perry Jones to produce another formidable team in Waco. And in late breaking news on Thursday night, Georgia’s Trey Thompkins also stated in an impromptu manner at the season-end basketball banquet that he is returning to the Bulldogs for his junior year. Thompkins is an unheralded player nationally, but he was among the leaders of the SEC in scoring and rebounding (18/8) and with the return of uber-athletic Travis Leslie, Georgia should be positioned to make a leap forward in the SEC East next year.
This was written prior to the Final Four, but we’re just now finding it. The author makes some interesting observations about (mostly male) college hoops fans and the way in which they (we) get all teary-eyed over One Shining Moment. She even called it “cheesy” before finally succumbing to its magic. Guess you have to have grown up on it.
Luke Winn writes that John Calipari’srecruiting prowess is a bit overstated when it comes to actually making the Final Four and winning national championships. If we’re lucky, we’ll have a post up analyzing this sentiment later today.
It’s a good thing Rick Stansbury got that recent contract extension to stay at Mississippi State or he wouldn’t have been able to afford the $30K that the SEC is fining him for criticizing officials on a lane violation no-call that he said they missed by “eight feet.” Here’s the video from under the basket — what do you think?
By now you have probably heard the news that CBS will have a new singer for its traditional “One Shining Moment” montage to finish the NCAA Tournament. To be perfectly honest the reason that it took me so long to get this post up is because I had to figure out who Jennifer Hudson was. I’m not saying she isn’t a “big name”. I have heard of her, but I had no idea why she was “famous”. So after an extensive literature search, we can tell you this about her:
Was a finalist on the 3rd season of American Idol (never watched it)
Won a bunch of awards for her role in Dreamgirls (never watched it)
Had a self-titled debut album that sold over 1 million copies worldwide (never listened to it)
Is friends with Barack Obama (familiar with him, but still waiting on our invitation for a RTC vs. White House pick-up game)
Has a few hit singles, “If This Isn’t Love” and “Spotlight” (never heard them before, but I am assuming they are hits because they have over 3 million and 8 million hits on YouTube and don’t involve dancing babies or drunk girls)
Your new "One Shining Moment" singer
Now that we have that background information out of the way we can get to the important stuff namely Hudson being the fourth person to sing what might be the most second most famous song in sports (behind “The Star-Spangled Banner”, just ahead of “O Canada” and “Take me out to the ball game”, and well ahead of “Sweet Caroline”). As every college basketball fan knows, the three previous singers–David Barrett (1987-1993, 2000-2002), Teddy Pendergrass (1994-1999), and Luther Vandross (2002-2009)–were all guys and while the knowledgeable fan can differentiate the versions by singer having a female voice will certainly be a significant change. While I am willing to try change (rtmsf might disagree with this), I have to admit that I would have preferred if they had went with the Teddy Pendergrass version given his death in January of this year as a tribute much like they did for Doug Towey, the CBS producer who decided to use the song in 1987, after his death in March last year.
In any event, we will just have to sit back and listen to Hudson’s version on April 3rd before passing final judgement, but you can be sure that the Internet will have plenty to say about it on the morning of April 4th.
After the jump we have videos of “One Shining Moment” from each of the three previous singers to get you in the mood for March Madness. If you have any thoughts on your favorite version of the song or on Hudson taking over the reins, we would love to hear them in the comment section.
I’ve often said that the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament is like Christmas for me. So what better time to make a Christmas, err, a March Madness wish list? Here, in no particular order, is what I want as the best three weeks in sports begin:
To hug a stranger at a bar while cheering for a player I’ve never heard of at a school I don’t know anything about.
Anyone who roots against a big underdog for the sake of his bracket to be forced to watch exclusively LPGA tournaments through the rest of March.
Another George Mason to make the Final Four. I’m looking at you, Siena.
A 16 seed to finally win a game, and not just for the free Arby’s burger. (This promotion, though, is sort of funny, especially this quote: “Each year at this time, people crave that Cinderella story – the team that takes everyone by surprise. Our new Roastburgers offer an unexpected change from standard greasy burgers.”)
A brawl between Gary Williams’ sweat and John Calipari’s gel in Round 2 (speaking of greasy things)
A cat-fight between Fran McCaffery’s wife and Rick Pitino in Round 2 (sorry, I must have that mascot brawl on my mind).
A game that goes seven overtimes. Six is nothing.
A buzzer-beater that will make Bryce Drew say, “Now that was impressive.”
A moment so memorable, I’ll always remember where I was when I saw it. (Unless I’m with Jim Calhoun. Wait, why would that happen?)
Someone just as fun as Stephen Curry to become the new Mr. March.
Jonny Flynn to keep doing his Energizer impression
To win my pool, though I’ll settle for keeping my bracket alive past the first day.
To watch my alma mater, Penn, try to win a game. What’s that? The Quakers aren’t in the tournament for the second straight year? And they had one of the worst seasons in recent history? Excuse me while I jump from the Palestra rafters.
Jay Bilas to stop hating on the little guy. How many mediocre schools from BCS conferences to do we need to see before we realize it’s the upsets that make this tourney tick?
To find a new villain other than Duke. How about … let’s see … um …. Oh, hell, I’m sticking with Duke.
The announcers doing the Cornell game to abstain from saying things like “I thought Ivy League kids were smart” after a bad turnover. SAT jokes are a no-no, too.
Players to stop thanking God after wins. I’m OK if Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado repeats this gem though: “I’ve got to use my quickness to outquick the opposing opponent.”
Bob Knight to offer a formal apology for once saying, “All of us learn how to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things.” Hey Coach, those words you’re stringing together for your new website with fellow jerk knowledgeable hoops personality Billy Packer. I’m not entirely sure but I think it’s called writing.
Gus Johnson to yell even louder.
Any commentator who says the expression “body of work” more than twice in one sentence to stop getting lessons in awful announcing from Suzyn Waldman.
Gonzaga not to ruin my bracket for the millionth straight year. Please? If I win my pool, I’ll split the money with you, Heytvelt. You can use that cash for your supply of – and moving on!
To tune out anything that has to do with the economy, the wars, the demise of newspapers, octomoms and Dane Cook … and get sucked into a world of college hoops for three straight weeks, remembering so many great shots, players and moments that I have enough material to write another column gushing about March Madness 20 years from now.
And, of course, to cry during One Shining Moment. I mean, what?
So that’s my wish list. May Santa, I mean Greg Gumbel, come down the chimney and bring it to me.
John Stevens is a featured columnist for Rush The Court.
On the news feed tonight the information has come down that Doug Towey, the CBS Sports executive who was responsible for the playing of the song “One Shining Moment” at the end of the network’s men’s NCAA Tournament coverage (that is, the song that plays over the highlight montage after coverage of the championship game), has died at age 61.
Evidently, the story of the song’s emergence goes like this: the song was written on the back of a napkin by a man named David Barrett, who actually wrote it after watching Larry Bird play for Indiana State in the 1979 version of the Dance. Barrett passed the song on to a friend at CBS (rumored to be Armen Keteyian) who in turn passed in on to Mr. Towey. The original plan was to air it after Super Bowl XXI (1987). Time constraints didn’t allow it, so the song was eventually aired after the 1987 NCAA Tournament final (Indiana 74, Syracuse 73, aka the Keith Smart game). I, for one, say thank God for the long interviews after Super Bowl XXI.
I recall the first-ever spin of the song after that IU-Syracuse game. As happy as I was to hear Teddy Pendergrass, with the first few notes I remember thinking that this was going to be some worthless attempt at tear-jerking, wondering why they would choose to end their coverage in this manner. By the end of the song, I had already called a fellow hoops fan who I knew would be watching and we agreed — it was perfect. The song itself can stand alone, especially because it was written with our beloved game in mind. But when you pair it with the highlight montage… well, you indeed have perfection.
Nobody Turns Off the TV Until Luther is Done (photocredit: AP)
The late great Luther Vandross has had the honor since 2003. And I’m not afraid to say that whether it’s Pendergrass or Vandross singing it, when I hear it, the ol’ eyes still well up to this day. Maybe it’s because of what it symbolizes — you know, another season’s end. Or maybe it’s because it’s just a great song.
So with nods to Messrs. Barrett, Pendergrass and Vandross, today we at RTC offer special thanks to Mr. Towey for pairing this song up with our game. In that spirit, here are a couple of samples of what Mike Krzyzewski (and countless others) calls “the national anthem of college basketball.”
Credit: Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times
There is some good news for the residents of Detroit. [Ice hockey is not a sport so don’t even bother telling us about the Red Wings.] In a brilliant PR move, the University of Detroit has decided to make tickets for their New Year’s Day game against Youngstown State free. If you’re in the Detroit area on New Year’s Day, we want to tell you how sorry we are recommend you check out the “Free for All” at Calihan Hall (1:05 PM tip). In addition to the free tickets, spectators also get free non-alcoholic Bloody Marys and complimentary aspirin or ibuprofen for the hangover from some more potent drinks the night before. To be honest, this isn’t the most attractive match-up on paper (3-8 Youngstown State at 4-7 University of Detroit), but we believe that it is important to reiterate that it is FREE. According to our rudimentary math skills, it’s pretty hard to beat that value proposition (at least in ratio form).
While the University of Detroit is probably most well-known as the only successful stint of Dick Vitale’s coaching career (78-30 with a 21-game win streak that ESPN uses to justify his role as the most well-known promoter of our beloved sport), the Titans have been perennial contenders for the Horizon League title and had 4 consecutive 20-win seasons between 1997-98 and 2000-01. The Titans program also produced NBA stars Dave DeBusschere and Spencer Haywood.
While I hope that the Detroit basketball program reaps some rewards from this PR move, I am more intrigued by the idea of a grassroots campaign to get people into college basketball at a level that is more pure than what ESPN and CBS feed down our throats from Midnight Madness until One Shining Moment. If more colleges try this model, they can start to pull in families and get a younger generation of fans who actually root for their local team rather than just what they see on SportsCenter or what some rapper is wearing on BET. If they do that, college basketball can start to fight its way back into the national conscience, which is a place we all know it belongs.