March 28, 2007 posted by

The Heart of the Game

As Final Four weekend is approaching, it seems like a good time to toss another sports movie recommendation out there. The Heart of the Game was just released on video. It’s not a standard sports film at all. It’s a documentary about a girl’s high school basketball program, its eccentric coach, and one of their star players. That’s all I’ll say because anything you know about this film beforehand can only hurt your experience watching it. So don’t listen to anyone or read any reviews. Just add it to your Netflix list or go rent it. It’s one of those true stories that couldn’t be written because people would think it was over the top.

I also just watched Eight Below because people kept telling me I had to (because of my dog). While I’m not generally a fan of obvious Disney-esque drama, if you like animals than this is not-to-be-missed. I will admit, I like dogs a lot more than most people. When dogs are creating mayhem at the crags and everyone is complaining, I’m the one loving it (more than my dog, who prefers things to be orderly in his old age). So with that qualifier, it’s a flim that shouldn’t be missed.

I realize that most of my blog readers aren’t basketball people. I find this kind of funny; hardly any of my friends know or care about basketball one bit. It’s like my coaching years were another lifetime. But if any of you give a crap about the game (stole that line from an ESPN columnist) you do not want to miss Saturday’s games. The NCAA tourny lacked the upsets that everyone loves. Instead, we have, perhaps, that most intersting Final Four in years.

Though I realize that missing a Saturday outside in order to watch basketball is unlikely for most of you (I’m not even sure I will, but maybe I can ride so hard in the morning that I’m too tired to do anything else), I’ll set the stage a little just in case.

First, there’s a rematch of last year’s title game between UCLA and Florida. Florida has all five of its started back and blew UCLA out last year. But UCLA is probably better. Their relentless swarming defense is allowing an average of 55 points in the tourny and they just shut down high flying Kansas–many experts pick to win it all–to a degree no one could have predicted. Florida, however, has crazy versatility and is, basically, really really good. They’ve been toying with teams, allowing them leads early on only to clamp down later when it matters, in a way only truly great teams are able to get away with. They should win the game.

But there is an intriguing story because they can’t follow the same pattern they’ve played with. You can’t spot UCLA a double digit lead because they’re so hard to score against. If they come out flat, the Bruins will make them pay.

The next game, Georgetown vs. Ohio St is almost like an old school classic. Two teams with dominating 7 footers, OSU likes to run, G’Town plays at a crawl and has the most effiecient offense in the country. Both centers dominate games on defense. Greg Oden, OSU’s freshman center, is im the Bill Russell/Bill Walton mode in that he doesn’t need to score very much to completely take over a game. In the tourny, he’s barely averaging double digits in scoring yet, when he’s on the floor, his teams is crushing its opponents. But that’s a big when, as his agressive style gets him into foul trouble and he’s barely on the floor for half of each game. If Oden stays on the foor, he should be able to neutralize G’Town’s biggest weapon, it’s ability to use their size to dominate teams on the glass. If not, they’re probably in trouble.

These are two of the most intriguing match-ups that I can recall in college basketball in many years. So if you’re sick, injured, or just need a rest day consider checking it out.


  • I’ve never heard of that basketball film, I’ll have to look for it. Eight Below just killed me. I saw it days after Alex (my best frend’s husky) had been put to sleep. In personality he was so much like one of the dogs in the movie that I sat there crying through the whole movie. Some dogs are just truly special.

  • I know. The dog I hang out with is one of those. He, also, looks and acts much like the dogs in the film. I was telling my girlfriend that I couldn’t leave. I’d take my chances and try and get back to them.

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