Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The scene: fifteen minutes prior to tip, as YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles prepare to battle the fightin' Hoyas of Georgetown. A large bald man approaches a smaller, but just as bald man in a poorly-lit corner of the Bradley Center.
BALD MAN #1: I hear the plans were delivered after your suspension ended. So you're on board with Phase 1, Coach?
BALD MAN #2: I think so, Coach, but I'm just an 'aw shucks' fella from a backwater nuthin' in Texas who didn't learn 'rithmetic until I was 6205 days young. Run it back for me one more time, real deliberate-like.
BALD MAN #1: You're getting on the Third's last nerve with this Forrest Gump bullshit, Coach.
BALD MAN #2: I'm sorry, Coach. I don't mean it in a disrespectful way, relative to the conversation we're having right now. But we're really supposed to score less points?
BALD MAN #1: Yes, exactly. This isn't rocket science, Coach. Even a Boeheim could understand this.
BALD MAN #2: But how does this help us get to Phase 3?
BALD MAN #1: Alright, Coach: you've been on a need to know basis until now, but if we're going to partners in this thing, we'll let you in on some of the details. The long and short of it is: we're trying to get the Big East to kick us out of the conference after this season. And to do that, we need to play a certain style of basketball -- a certain unappealing style of basketball. We've already undertaken more covert efforts in certain of your games ...
BALD MAN #2: Covert?
BALD MAN #1: What, you think it's a coincidence that you've scored under 50 points in two games already? Answer this question: who put Jake Thomas into the game when you were down one with five seconds left at Wisconsin-Green Bay two weeks ago?
BALD MAN #2: I ... I did. I think? Didn't I? We called timeout, I looked at who we had on the floor, and that's when Jerry pulled me aside and ...
Hold on. Coach Wainwright?
BALD MAN #1: Yes, Coach Wainwright has been supremely helpful in our mission. He adds an air of authenticity to our designed mediocrity. We were hopeful that you would pick him to replace you as head coach during your exile, but no matter. The time has come to include you in the plan.
BALD MAN #2: So what are you looking for here? Flops and charges? Turnovers? We can do turnovers, even when we're not tryin'.
BALD MAN #1: No, no. Nothing that blatant. We don't want to make things too obvious, lest the Cronins and Ollies of the world start asking questions and looking for answers. All we need you to do is play zone, and we'll do the same. And everything else should fall into place.
BALD MAN #2: And then what? We're just going to expect some TV man backs up the Brinks truck with money after we build a modestly-sized townhouse with bricks for two hours?
BALD MAN #1: Precisely.
BALD MAN #2: Huh. Well, I've lost a lot of weight in the last two years, and I don't think too much of it was in the brain region, and I don't mean that in a self-deprecating way, except I do, but anyway: you're taller than me and I like your mustache. Let's give it a shot.
BALD MAN #1: A missed shot, Coach.
SCENE: after the game, the two bald men meet again in the same poorly-lit corner of the arena.
BALD MAN #2: I think we might've overdone it a bit at the end there, Coach. Did you have Cahill in on this plan, too?
BALD MAN #1: Cahill? Ha. No, that wasn't necessary. That was just John being John at the end of the game, though we don't begrudge the help. The cross-body block you had Lockett throw on Whittington was inspired, Coach. Too bad he couldn't hit that last free throw; I think we could've secured our exit from the Big East with five more minutes of that slop.
BALD MAN #2: Maybe. But I still don't understand how any of those smart TV guys -- and I mean "smart" relative to their brains, not "smart" relative to their clothes, because I only say that about Coach Wright -- will wanna pay good American money for this. It doesn't make sense.
BALD MAN #1: It doesn't make sense, Coach. [Looks down at phone, clicks on Tweet] But we're paid, baby.
Jae Crowder Player of the Year of the Game: We've been kinda hard on Trent Lockett around these parts -- and had Greg Whittington hit that third free throw after Lockett tackled him on a desperation three-point attempt with 2 seconds left, we'd probably be hard on him again today -- but he was mostly great against the Hoyas, finishing with 9 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks, including another swatted jump-shot attempt in the final minute of a game. He also appeared to know that (1) he should miss his free-throw attempt with one second left in the game and (2) he needed to hit the rim for the attempt to count, even if John Cahill and Co. didn't.
Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: Juan Anderson didn't have the most impressive stat line -- 1 point, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 fouls -- but he more than earned the Fulce award on this night for two reasons: first, for the floor-burn special in the second half, when he furiously chased down a loose ball behind the midcourt stripe and earned a jump ball call for his efforts; and, second, for telling Coach Buzz not to put him back in the game when Jamil Wilson was on a tear in the second half. That move earned two enthusiastic slaps-of-five from his head coach and, more importantly, our Undersung Eagle award.
Davante "Big Smoove" Gardner Smoove Play of the Game: With Marquette down one in the early going of the second half, Lockett beat his man off the bounce on the wing, took advantage of an excellent seal by Chris Otule, and then just kept goin' up and up and UP, finishing with a two-handed flush that was by far the most exciting play of this root canal of a game.
Up Next: Another week off (isn't this the third week-long layoff we've had already?), then a date with the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Zoo.