Thoughts on the first great night of the season
Virginia impresses, Arizona topples Duke, Dalton Knecht is very good at basketball
First things first: The end of Virginia’s 73-70 win over Florida was among the funniest things you’ll ever see in a November college basketball game. It was undoubtedly one of the TV moments of the 2023-24 season. If I was a CBS producer, I’d put it in “One Shining Moment.”
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On a crucial late possession, Virginia guard Reece Beekman deflected Florida guard Walter Clayton’s dribble out of bounds. The referees called it Virginia’s way. They went to review it, saw a couple of angles, and stuck with the decision. All along, ACC Network analyst Cory Alexander — noted UVa hoops alum — was broadcasting loudly from his courtside position about how they had made an obviously incorrect call.
I’m not so sure it was that obvious. It looked like the ball caromed off Clayton’s knee, or at least was close enough to doing so that it would be hard to overturn. But that wasn’t what was funny. What was funny: According to Alexander, the referee came to the broadcast table and asked, “Did we get it right?” And Alexander … just said no. He turned his monitor around and let the refs see for themselves (which is itself legal, and happens often when TV folks have better angles than the in-house production). The refs watched it again and reversed their call. Florida ball.
Tony Bennett’s head ignited with the heat of a thousand suns. Yes, Tony Bennett: The least explosive temper in college basketball, went ballistic. Bennett stared Alexander down, pointed at him, and screamed across the court. “CORY! COME ON MAN! DO YOUR JOB!” Alexander, clearly sort of embarrassed at suddenly being the center of negative attention, then found himself in the position of having to analyze getting berated live on air by the head coach of the basketball program he played for.
It was a pure “Curb Your Enthusiasm” moment. Alexander didn’t necessarily do anything super wrong; he was trying to be honest and helpful. But he never seemed to consider that his view of the replay might have a) been incorrect or b) not something he should share so loudly and forcefully, lest he become the story of the game rather than merely someone describing it. The referee shouldn’t have asked him for his opinion, and Alexander should have answered with “hey man, that’s your job, not mine.”
It worked out for Virginia in the end. But for a minute there, you could actually hear the music. Utterly hilarious.
Anyway, that was merely one highlight of the best night of the 2023-24 college hoops season thus far — the first time it really felt like the season was fully up and running. Below are thoughts about whatever stuck out Friday night, as I attempted the glorious challenge of consuming multiple quality games at the same time. There is a lot on Virginia’s impressive start, Arizona’s gigantic win, Duke’s strange offensive vibe, and a sampling of other results that caught they eye. God, it’s good to be back.
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