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Nice try, Coach, whatever you said

By JOHN C. COTEY
Published April 5, 2005


Pregame talks by coaches are always a popular feature for any broadcast, so when CBS took us into the Illinois locker room for Bruce Weber's pep talk, there was much potential.

Then Weber started talking ... and lost everyone.

Something about fingers on hand being better as a fist, and that Illinois was a fist and that's why they would win.

But in a game of paper, rock scissors, which Weber seemed to be describing, doesn't the hand (paper) cover the fist (rock) and thus win?

I'm just saying.

Anyways, on to the championship game broadcast:

CBS might have been a little quick to anoint North Carolina when the Tar Heels raced out to their big halftime lead, but after everyone watched the Illini come back from 15 down against Arizona, did viewers really need to be reminded by Jim Nantz and analyst Billy Packer that they wouldn't quit?

Feel-good story of the game had to be sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein and North Carolina coach Roy Williams making nice.

The last time we saw them on championship night in 2003, Bernstein was asking the then-Kansas coach if he was interested in the North Carolina opening, mere minutes after his Jayhawks lost to Syracuse.

Williams told her "as a human being" that was a mean question, and that he didn't give a bleep about North Carolina at the moment.

There was no repeat of the fireworks Monday night.

Lou Henson just called and left a message for Bruce Weber - he wants his jacket back.

Packer said early that North Carolina "will not be able to lob that ball inside because weakside help is coming for Illinois." Sean May proved him wrong, killing Illinois inside.

Packer can come off a bit haughty at times, but his work is always generally good. Monday was no exception. His opinions were strong, and when a team plays bad defense (UNC left shooters wide open for 3-pointers too many times) or a player makes a bad decision (a three-on-one break yields a 20-foot shot) or when Illinois proves unable to stop simple inbounds plays, Packer is quick to call them on it.

Everyone at CBS gave Williams a little too much credit for switching to a zone to protect Rashad McCants, who had two fouls. Isn't that Basketball 101?

Is anyone going to miss the commercials with the old man handing some guy at a playground his groceries and driving in for a dunk, or the bracket of the insurance companies, or ... well, I could go on forever.

Dick Enberg's halftime piece on free-throw shooting was disappointing. It didn't really say anything interesting and seemed to stay away from focusing on any of the big free throws missed in the NCAA Tournament.

But it did show the most famous missed free throws this season, those by Memphis' Darius Washington against Louisville in the Conference USA final, which isn't the NCAA Tournament last time I checked. Seemed forced into the Enberg piece to give it some zip.

Nantz called the action and did fine. He warmed up for this week's Masters by tossing in a few cheesy lines, especially the one about May "trying to put Champaign on hold."

And he even explained it for us. Get it? Not champagne, he said, but "Champaign-Urbana, of course."

Of course.

Packer had no sympathy for Illinois' James Augustine when he fouled out, saying every foul was a touch foul and the result of not moving his feet. Augustine got a good 60-second lecture.