Thursday, March 17, 2011

Waiting for Godunk: Talking Tourney with Greg Anthony & the Powerade ION4 Bracketology Scientists

Kevin Owens is a seven year veteran of overseas professional basketball. He currently writes for SB Nation Philadelphia, SLAM Online, Hugging Harold Reynolds and his own blog Waiting For Godunk, which details his career as a standby athlete. He played for Monmouth University in the 2001 NCAA Tournament. Follow him on Twitter @Waiting4Godunk.

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During my playing career, I have been injured more times than I can count. I’ve worn knee braces, elbow pads, ankle braces, protective glasses, a facemask, and on one occasion an athletic cup. (My man parts are ok now.) Never have I had to wear anything like former UNLV and NBA standout Greg Anthony. Anthony, who broke his jaw in 1990 practiced in a hockey helmet during his recovery.

This is one of the bits of information I received from the HBO Documentary Runnin’ Rebels which premiered Sunday night. Monday morning I had the opportunity to meet Greg Anthony, now a basketball analyst for CBS Sports, ESPN, and Yahoo Sports, and ask his opinion about the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

We met up at CBS’s Bracket Lounge in the Time Warner Center. Powerade, the official drink of the NCAA Tournament, sponsors the lounge, which gives shoppers, or the occasional slacker skipping work, a place to watch the NCAA games live. Along with watching the tournament, they have many interactive games which include a mini-basketball shooting contest.

Greg and I were at the lounge as official “Powerade ION4 Bracketology Scientists” along with Kevin Burke from The Hoop Doctors, Susan Shan from Susan Shan.com and Josh Zerkle from With Leather. I quickly learned that as much as I watch college basketball, my seven year hiatus from intently watching the tournament put me at an analytical disadvantage.

Case and point, a sleeper pick of mine, Villanova. In my bracket I have the Wildcats reestablishing themselves as one of the best teams in the nation and doing some damage. My thought process being that Nova now has their full roster healthy and practicing again. Then Greg Anthony dropped some knowledge on me. “You’re looking at the name on the jersey. Don’t always just look at the name on the front of the shirt. Everybody is doing that with their region. Villanova is the weakest nine seed in the tournament, by far. If I’m OSU, I’m saying I could be playing Villanova. I like that; I’m not upset with that.”

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My other sleeper was the Richmond Spiders. I just covered the A-10 Tournament for SB Nation Philly and watched them play twice over the weekend. I was shocked that they were a 12 seed and not an eight or nine. Kevin Richardson, although small, can put up some serious numbers. Richardson’s teammate Justin Harper has jumped up the NBA draft boards lately with his fine play over the past few months. I was convinced that the Spiders could overtake Vanderbilt in the first round. Then more knowledge dropped by Anthony. “Vandy is a potential Final Four team.” Damnitt!

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I also am not big on Florida doing much in the tournament. I say this mainly because I haven’t seen them play that often. I have them losing in the second round…That is until Greg…Knowledge…Dropped. “Florida’s won more games, outside of the Big East, against the top 50 than anybody in the country. They were 12-3 coming into the championship game. If you look at their division, they had Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia in the same division all make the Tournament, and you won that division by three games.”

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I feel like my bracket was in disarray and the tournament hadn’t even started. Although I walked towards the exit with little confidence in my analytical skills, I was grateful to have met such intelligent analysts. It was then that I noticed my bag and sweatshirt were missing. In their place sat a more expensive looking bag, far heavier than mine, and a grey sweatshirt, far nicer than mine.

I quickly realized that one of the reps had brought my bag down to Greg instead of his. I felt like Greg probably didn’t want to swap his bag for mine, which contained car keys for my car parked in central New Jersey, my grey hoodie and a half eaten chocolate chip cookie.

The situation was quickly rectified and our bags swapped back to their rightful owners. As I stood, eating the remainder of my stale cookie, I saw Greg Anthony and his bag walking out. Greg overwhelmed me with his basketball knowledge. He knew so many stats and information off the top of his head. I’m sure he works harder than most analysts, reading hundreds of stat sheets and team breakdowns whenever he has free time. I began to realize why that bag was so heavy.

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