Commentary

Here's an ode to the start of the season

Originally Published: November 8, 2010
By Dana O'Neil | ESPN.com

When Gordon Hayward's half-court buzzer-beater careened off the backboard, we should have known.

The end was too good, too hold-onto-your-seats-exciting to not make us suffer on the other side.

And so, no sooner had we left the giddy cocoon of Indianapolis than we were slapped in the face with the cold fish of reality.

This has been an offseason like no other.

There has been shame (Rick Pitino's trial testimony and Bobby Gonzalez's man-purse gate) and blame (from the NCAA at Connecticut, Tennessee and a host of others); misdeeds (a DWI charge for underage Korie Lucious) and misdemeanors (assault charges for Tre'Von Willis, Tony Woods and LaceDarius Dunn), accusations (a ticket mess at Kansas) and resignations (Tim Welsh at Hofstra).

Mercifully, tonight there will be something else to talk about: actual basketball. It is game time and, instead of drama, there will be highlight plays and crazy finishes to discuss at the watercooler.

To that, I say hallelujah.

Inspired by this giddy reality and perhaps a few too many readings of "The Cat in the Hat," I decided to officially put the Summer of Our Discontent behind us with a tribute Shakespeare might appreciate.

An Ode to Hoops

(With the hope that Renaldo "Swiperboy" Woolridge will give it some cred by making it a rap.)

The season has arrived, it's time to remember
All the things we've longed for, from May to November:

Of the bounce of the ball, the squeak of a sneaker,
And the snarky retort, "Yeah, but your league is weaker."

Of fight songs and Glitter played by rockin' pep bands,
And cheerleaders jumping and popping handstands.

Of the lyrical whine, "Ref, you suck, where are your glasses?"
And the impossible job of pleasing the masses.

Of Cameron Crazies and student fanatics,
And last-second winners and comebacks dramatic.

Of a surging Big Ten led by Izzo and Sparty,
And our own Dickie V, in charge of the party.

Of Blue II the Bulldog, and the Hoyas' dog, Jack,
And a Butler team counting on Howard and Mack.

Of defending Blue Devils, their boss man, Coach K,
And dreadlocked floor leaders like the Zags' Steven Gray.

Of State's Kalin Lucas, who tore his Achilles,
And Nova or Temple, what's the best team in Philly?

Of the Hummel-less Boilers, who never say quit,
And the remodeled digs at New Mexico's Pit.

Of Bob Huggins dressed in a suit colored yellow,
And a Syracuse frosh aptly named Melo.

Of rookie playmakers like the Cats' Brandon Knight,
And Chris, Jay and Chris, aka Mr. Wrights.

Of a Va. Tech team led by Malcolm Delaney,
And a Temple sked loved by even John Chaney.

Of soph Kawhi Leonard, superstar for the Aztecs,
And Terrell Holloway -- no Tu -- leading the X.

Of Mizzou's Kim English, Twitter's best online bard,
And Duke's Kyrie Irving, a savvy point guard.

Of rebirth at Georgia and a sly coach named Fox,
And coaches fighting cancer by coaching in socks.

Of the raps and musings of the Vols' Swiperboy,
And aw shuckses and gosh darns of good ol' boy Roy.

Of Pitt snaring victims in its famed Oakland Zoo,
And court-burning paces of Coach Crean at IU.

Of Terp Jordan Williams and the poor saps he'll flatten,
And Amish beard sales in the Midwest's Manhattan.

Of Pitino's foot stomp and Calhoun's steely stare,
And Marcus and Markieff, a formidable pair.

Of Shockers in Kansas being true to their name,
And the next Cinderella, upending the game.

Of Oakland's budding star, the big man Keith Benson,
And the hope of the Heels, a bigger John Henson.

Of Parsons and Boynton reviving the Gators,
And welcome back, too, the return of the Haters.

Of the devoted fans who live in Kentucky,
And a healthy Herb Pope, who knows that he's lucky.

Of the Longhorns' attempt to rework their poll spot,
And BYU's Jimmer, never missing a shot.

Of Isiah Thomas and his namesake out west,
And Washington's Huskies, the Pac-10 (and 12)'s best.

Of Demetri McCamey, the toast of Champaign,
And Tim Abromaitis, a player and a brain.

Of the steady success of Wisky's Bo Ryan,
And Keion Bell's dunks, when it looks like he's flyin'.

Of the Buckeyes still strong without Evan Turner,
And the next one-and-dones, the class of sojourners.

Of a do-it-all Lion, guard Talor Battle,
And Will Barton putting Memphis back in the saddle.

Of a talent at Morehead named Kenneth Faried,
And the comic sideshow watching coaches get T'd.

Now let me explain, this rhyme has a reason,
There are 68 lines for the new tourney season.

But the madness of March is still months away,
There's plenty in between, and it all starts today.

So plop on the sofa, grab the salsa and scoops,
The season is upon us, Hallelujah It's Hoops!

Dana O'Neil covers college basketball for ESPN.com and can be reached at espnoneil@live.com.

Dana O'Neil | email

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