College basketball is broken. The sport is in a crisis thanks to lower scoring, less excitement, games that last too long, and Ted Valentine’s continued presence.
If you follow college basketball even a little bit, you’ve been bombarded in recent months with ideas about how to fix the sport. These include shortening the shot clock, limiting timeouts, cleaning up the officiating, and all sorts of other things that will hopefully GET VIRGINIA OFF MY GODDAMN TELEVISION, HOLY HELL THIS IS SO BORING, YOU GUYS.1 At this point, complaining about the state of the game has become so played out that complaining about the complaining is stale, too.
If drastic rule changes are made in the next couple of years, I say we call them the “Virginia rules” in the same way the rule that prohibited dunking became the “Lew Alcindor rule.”
Here’s one suggestion that could add a little spice to the discussion: Let’s ban charges from the help side. Instead of experimenting with a larger restricted area under the basket, just get rid of the arc altogether. I know it sounds insane, but you know what’s more insane? Rewarding players for grabbing their nuts and falling over. Seriously. Imagine basketball hadn’t yet been invented, and a group of people got together to make up rules for the new sport. Imagine how the room would respond if someone said, “We should make a rule that lets defenders force turnovers by just standing close to the basket and pretending to be knocked down.” Half the people would be in tears from laughing, while the other half would be trying to figure out who let Greg Paulus into the meeting.
I know what you’re thinking: If charges didn’t exist, what would keep offensive players under control? Wouldn’t they just be able to put their heads down and power the ball to the basket? No, because there would still be offensive fouls. Off-ball defenders could still slide over, put their hands up, and keep a vertical plane as they jumped to challenge shots. If the offensive player bulldozes the defender in that instance, an offensive foul would still be called. The difference is that defenders would have to make a play on the ball. Defenders would have to, you know, play defense instead of just saying, “Welp — there’s nothing I can do to stop him, so I might as well just stand here, close my eyes, and hope I don’t die.”2
“But what about short defenders? If they tried to block shots instead of taking charges, they’d just get dunked on.” Yep. That’s the idea. Sorry to make basketball more exciting.
There are two obvious reasons help-side charges should go away forever. The first is that it would make referees’ jobs easier. With the exception of trying to run alongside world-class athletes half their age while wearing slacks, the hardest part of officiating is making block/charge calls. Take this away and suddenly college basketball refs are just really bad instead of unfathomably awful. Second, it would make for a more entertaining game. Guys wouldn’t get undercut as often when they went up for dunks or layups. Over time, the hesitation to attack the basket due to the fear of being undercut or being called for a charge would go away, resulting in more explosive plays at the rim. The game would be safer, it would be more entertaining, and it would be easier for refs to stop ruining everything.
On-ball defenders would still be allowed to take charges. Off-ball defenders would still be able to establish their position and draw offensive fouls. All I’m asking is that we get rid of the most dangerous and least skillful play in basketball. And I say this as an unathletic former walk-on with a bunch of loose cartilage in my left elbow from slamming it on the court during a lifetime of taking charges.
Join me in my fight, America. #BanCharges.
John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Maryland is back!
I gotta be honest — I thought the Terps had been wiped off the national radar. They started out hotter than anyone expected, rode that momentum for a couple of months, and then hit a wall sometime between Yogi Ferrell’s fifth and sixth 3s in Maryland’s January 22 loss at Indiana. Jake Layman became unspectacular, Dez Wells had far too many off nights, and Melo Trimble suddenly looked human. In the seven games since the Indiana shellacking, the Terps:
- Needed a miracle to beat Northwestern at home
- Were blown out at Ohio State
- Beat Penn State at home by just six
- Were blown out at Iowa
- Narrowly escaped Indiana at home
- Narrowly escaped Penn State
- Beat Nebraska by four at home
Soooo … yeah. Maryland was like a 130-year-old geezer who knows he’s about to die in his sleep, so he delays the inevitable by staying awake as long as possible. The Terps put up a good fight, but with Wisconsin coming to College Park on Tuesday, it appeared as though their eyes were about to shut and they’d fade away for good.
But then Wells went nuts, Trimble joined him, and now Maryland is back in business! I don’t want to give Terps fans false hope, but I really believe Maryland still has a chance to win the Big Ten title. They basically have to win out from here and hope for two Wisconsin losses, which sounds unlikely until you compare the teams’ schedules. Maryland’s remaining games are at home versus Michigan, at Rutgers, and at Nebraska. The Terps should be favored by at least eight points against all of those teams. Meanwhile, Wisconsin has to play a surging Michigan State squad, then play Minnesota on the road in a rivalry game, and then finish the regular season at Ohio State. None of those looks like an easy win, making the next week and a half of Big Ten basketball way more compelling than most people expected.
11. Whoever Is the Second-Best Big 12 Team
I give up. Seriously. Iowa State lost to Baylor at home Wednesday night. Give this spot to Baylor or West Virginia or Oklahoma or whatever. I don’t know anymore. You figure it out.
10. Northern Iowa
Travis Heying/Wichita Eagle/TNS via Getty Images
Northern Iowa is a mid-major team in the top 10 of the AP poll that doesn’t score very many points, which is another way of saying it’s the two things college basketball fans seem to hate the most. But the Panthers are also 27-2 and riding a 16-game winning streak. They just avenged their only regulation loss of the season, and they have a player in Seth Tuttle who can go toe to toe with anyone in college basketball. Those things actually matter.
Is Northern Iowa really one of the top 10 teams in America? I don’t know. I’m not going to pretend I’ve followed the team closely all season. I’ve seen the Panthers play a handful of games, but those games were so long ago that you could convince me that Ali Farokhmanesh’s and Lucas O’Rear’s sideburns played big roles. I do know this: Saturday’s game at Wichita State is the biggest regular-season game in Northern Iowa history. I get paid to watch college basketball and I don’t know much about the Panthers, so imagine what the members of the NCAA tournament selection committee — which is made up of athletic directors with all sorts of other responsibilities besides following Missouri Valley basketball — know about UNI. A lot of very important eyeballs will be examining Northern Iowa for the first time all season on Saturday. Here’s to hoping the Panthers make the most of the opportunity.
9. Notre Dame
A game like Tuesday’s loss to Syracuse is inevitable for teams like Notre Dame, which relies on 3-point shooting to open up its offense. The Irish usually find ways to score when 3s aren’t falling, but just because they don’t need to hit 10 triples a game doesn’t mean the 3-point line isn’t important. When the Irish are at their best, they establish themselves as 3-point threats to stretch defenses and then they get creative with ball screens, isolation drives, and off-ball movement. The problem Tuesday was that the Irish never established the 3-point threat. This was especially troublesome because Syracuse plays a 2-3 zone and Notre Dame has zero size. Those added wrinkles to Notre Dame’s offense were easy for the Orange to neutralize because the Irish couldn’t hit from deep, make Syracuse extend the zone, and then work the ball to the open spots.
In the big picture, this loss changes nothing. The Irish are still who we thought they’ve been all season. If Trevor Cooney hadn’t emerged from his slump to pull two miracle shots out of his ass, Notre Dame probably would have beaten Syracuse. If the Irish had gone even just 5-for-22 instead of 3-for-22 from the 3-point line, they probably would have won. I’ve said all season that it feels like Duke is better when it makes shots than when it misses. Call me crazy, but I think the same applies to Notre Dame.
Kansas State beat Kansas for the second time in their last three meetings Monday night, which is something the Wildcats haven’t pulled off for more than 20 years. Naturally, K-State students, who don’t have much to cheer for this year and who are accustomed to watching their team get worked by the Jayhawks, stormed the court. Chaos ensued.
Jamari Traylor was hip checked by a fan.
Bill Self and Bruce Weber were pinned against the scorer’s table as they shook hands.
And a Kansas assistant coach put a K-State fan in a headlock as the K-State fan presumably asked Kansas’s players what they thought of the nail polish on his middle fingers.
Nobody was seriously injured, but the situation clearly spun out of control. Now the court-storming debate has returned. Regular readers of the most powerful power rankings in college basketball know where I stand on court-storming: I’m so pro-storm that my dream is for student sections to storm the court after every game, win or lose. Monday night, however, forced me to revisit my stance and come to a shocking conclusion.
I’M DOUBLING DOWN ON BEING PRO-STORM.
The court-storming at K-State on Monday night was an unsafe mess. I’ll admit that. But it was an extreme case caused by a handful of idiots. And even then, it ended up not being a serious deal. So instead of blaming the 99.99999999999 percent of students who weren’t putting others in danger, why not blame the security personnel? Why weren’t Kansas’s players and coaches properly shielded from the madness? Why did it take those people in neon yellow jackets 20 seconds to get on the court? Did they not understand what was about to happen?
Now that I think about it, I actually wish court-storming were illegal. After all, the concept originated as a way for students to say, “I’m so happy that we won that I’m going to run on the floor to celebrate with my team and I don’t care about the consequences.” So let’s go back to having some consequences. I want more security. I want fines for schools whose students storm. I want people twice the age of the students to create guidelines for when storming courts is appropriate. I want college basketball’s powers that be to make it abundantly clear that court-storming won’t be tolerated. And I want students to be so passionate that they give all of those people the jerk-off motion and bum-rush the court anyway.
I understand that this is a safety issue, and I agree that more should be done to make court-storming less dangerous. I just think that if we’re going to completely get rid of a pastime that consistently brings joy to thousands of people just because it can sometimes be too dangerous, we should probably start with the entire sport of football. Besides, is it any safer to keep maniacal college kids confined in the bleachers? Who’s to say they won’t trample each other in a celebratory mosh? In all honesty, the only way to make postgame celebrations 100 percent safe is to ban student sections. Or maybe we could just ban upsets?
Most die-hard college basketball fans love the sport precisely because it’s not the NBA. But all of a sudden there’s a movement to make the college game’s on-court product more like the NBA’s? And now we’re trying to neuter the student sections that make college crowds so much better than NBA atmospheres? No thanks.
Here’s something you may not know about Tucson: It has a monsoon season that peaks every July and August.3 Ten months out of the year, it pretty much never rains in the desert of southern Arizona. But when monsoon season rolls around, it’s not uncommon for the Tucson streets to flood. Locals are used to it, but if you’re not expecting it, monsoon season can be pretty damn confusing.
Followers of the Independent Women’s Football League already knew this, of course, because of the Tucson Monsoon.
Arizona’s offense follows a pattern much like Tucson’s weather. The Cats have a national championship–caliber defense. But when their offense is bad, it’s god-awful. Like “Jason Gardner with blond hair and high socks” bad. Saturday’s game against UCLA was a good example. The Cats didn’t score in the first 6:04 of the game, they didn’t score in the first 6:43 of the second half, and the starters never really got going. And these droughts are common with Arizona. This is mostly because the Cats don’t shoot well enough to unpack defenses that commit to negating Arizona’s size advantage. As a result, Arizona ends up muscling the ball into the lane, aimlessly tossing up garbage that’s lucky to hit the rim, fighting the defense for the rebound, and then chucking it up again until the defense grabs the ball or there’s a whistle. That’s been an accurate description of Arizona’s offense so often this season that if you wanted to set “Yakety Sax” to a supercut of these plays, you’d probably have 2,000 hours of footage to work with.
But here’s the weird thing: Every now and then, monsoon season rolls around and Arizona’s offense looks unstoppable. T.J. McConnell dribbles circles around defenses. Stanley Johnson gets to the rim at will. Zeus “Zeus” Zeuszeuski makes strong, effective post moves. Brandon Ashley hits 15-footers. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson actually goes somewhere with his dribble. Elliott Pitts and Gabe York rain 3s, Dusan Ristic shows off his feathery touch, and Parker Jackson-Cartwright does whatever it is that he does. Arizona fans, who sit through the Wildcats’ long droughts, then treat these sudden bursts of scoring like they’re Andy Dufresne tasting freedom for the first time.
As the calendar turns to March, Arizona’s biggest challenge will be diversifying its offense. The Cats have shown they can score in multiple ways, but Arizona typically looks like a scoring juggernaut only against awful teams. Can Arizona’s offense adapt to the inevitable curveballs the NCAA tournament will hurl at the team?
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
It’s halftime, which can mean only one thing: It’s time for Dick’s Degrees of Separation, the most mildly amusing Internet game involving college basketball! You know the drill: I give you the endpoint of a Dick Vitale tangent and you pick the path he took to get there. Let’s get down to business.
During Saturday’s Duke-Clemson game in Durham, how did Dick Vitale and Dave O’Brien end up talking about Dean Smith?
A. During a break in the action, the camera pans to Mike Krzyzewski, and O’Brien reminds viewers of Coach K’s many accomplishments. Vitale chimes in to say that Coach K is the greatest coach of all time, before adding that Coach K would have the “no. 1 position” on Vitale’s Mount Rushmore. Vitale, seemingly unaware of how many faces are on the actual Mount Rushmore, goes on to list five more names on his Mount Rushmore of all-time coaches, one of whom is Dean Smith.
B. A foul on Amile Jefferson prompts O’Brien to mention that Jefferson played well a few days earlier against North Carolina, registering 13 points and a career-high six blocks. Vitale says he was disappointed in the Tar Heel backcourt’s performance in that game, and that despite their play against Duke, he still believes that North Carolina and Michigan State are teams to watch in the NCAA tournament. Hearing Michigan State mentioned, O’Brien asks how much a play like Denzel Valentine’s game winner against Ohio State can lift a team this late in the season. But Vitale dodges the question and instead mentions that he appreciated the pregame tribute to Dean Smith at the Duke–North Carolina tilt.
C. Following a halftime interview with Clemson coach Brad Brownell, Vitale informs viewers that Brownell played at DePauw University in Indiana just a few years before Brad Stevens played there. Vitale then says he knows Stevens will be successful in the NBA, but he would like to see the coach return to the college game. Vitale suggests that Stevens could be a potential replacement for Coach K at Duke. After a beat, O’Brien mentions that schools like Syracuse and North Carolina also have strong programs with aging coaches. That prompts Vitale to mention how proud Dean Smith was of the job Roy Williams has done at Carolina.
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Bo Ryan is one of the best coaches in Big Ten history. I love how he coaches, I respect the hell out of him, and I’ll be the first to say he’s forgotten more about basketball than I’ll ever learn. But Wisconsin’s loss at Maryland is Ryan’s fault. I didn’t watch that game live, so I knew the final score before I sat down for the replay. As I watched, I tried to pinpoint what went wrong for the Buzzcuts. Initially, it was obvious: Nigel Hayes couldn’t guard Dez Wells. It was an interesting decision to put Hayes on Wells in the first place, since Hayes is a power forward and Wells is a shooting guard/small forward. But I understood where Ryan was coming from. Frank Kaminsky, Josh Gasser, and Bronson Koenig all had obvious matchups, so Ryan had to choose either Hayes or Sam Dekker to cover Wells. Hayes has decent agility for his size, so it’s not that crazy to think that he could guard Wells while Dekker could take Jake Layman (who is practically Dekker’s basketball clone).
But the matchups didn’t work. From the tip, Wells abused Hayes. He shot over him, he drove around him, and sometimes he did both. Even when Hayes stopped Wells, it was more because Wells missed an open shot than because of anything Hayes did. It was the worst half of basketball I’ve ever seen Hayes play, and I say that as someone who was at the Kohl Center when Hayes went 1-for-5 and finished with four fouls against Duke in December. But that’s fine. Ryan took a gamble and it didn’t work. No big deal. There were still 20 minutes of basketball left to adjust.
Except when the second half started, Hayes was still on Wells. And then the second half wore on, Wells continued to abuse Hayes, and Hayes still stayed matched up with Wells. The first few times Hayes got burned, that was on him. When he got burned over and over and over and he kept getting thrown into the fire, that’s when the blame has to shift to Ryan.
Look, I know that Wisconsin lacks depth and doesn’t have a ton of flexibility with its lineups. I also know that Wells got the better of Dekker on a couple of plays, so maybe Tuesday was just a case of Wells feeling it more than Hayes being unable to guard him. I just wish Ryan would have tried … something. Put Dekker on Wells for more than a few possessions. Let Gasser guard Wells, put Koenig on Trimble, put Dekker on Richaud Pack, and put Hayes on Layman. Hell, if you’re going to get burned anyway, try Kaminsky on Wells and keep Hayes under the basket. I don’t know the answer. I just know that hoping Hayes would magically be able to stop Wells after getting torched all game wasn’t it.
After I pulled into the campus of Saint Mary’s College last Saturday night via the only road that leads to the school, I was told by an attendant to “park wherever you can find a space on campus” for the Gaels’ game with Gonzaga. I did. As I got out of my car, I realized that I had no idea where I was going, because the Gaels’ gym — McKeon Pavilion — is so small that it doesn’t stick out on campus like most arenas do. In fact, it doesn’t even show up on Google Maps.
This is stupid, I thought. Saint Mary’s has a legitimate basketball program with multiple alums in the NBA. Why don’t they build a real arena with a real parking lot so I don’t have to walk all over campus trying to find the game?
I eventually figured it out, walked into the gym, and took my seat. Two minutes later, I was sweating. Five minutes after that, my back started hurting. This is when I realized that I’d flown across the country and driven a half hour to a tiny town in Northern California just to have the most miserable basketball experience of my life. But then it happened: Saint Mary’s scored its first basket of the game and the home crowd exploded. In an instant, I went from thinking the Gaels needed an upgrade to hoping they never get a new gym. That’s because — and I don’t care if you don’t believe me — McKeon Pavilion on Saturday night was as insane of a college basketball atmosphere as I have ever experienced.
The reason fans who haven’t been to McKeon assume it’s an easy place for visiting teams to win is that it holds only 3,500 people. There are two things to keep in mind here, though. First, there were way more than 3,500 people at Saturday’s game. I was shoulder to shoulder the entire game and had to do a squatting half-stand to see over the guy in front of me without blocking the TV camera behind me. Hundreds of people lined the aisles and walls of the gym with nowhere to sit. I don’t know much about the fire codes in Moraga, California, but it was hard to believe they would have permitted the scene inside McKeon. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Saint Mary’s athletic department let students dangle from the rafters above the court. The claustrophobic chaos made it feel like I was watching a pickup game at a legendary park in New York City.
The second thing is that the size of the gym is actually an advantage for the Gaels. It’s a hot, humid, cramped concrete box that does the exact opposite of absorbing noise. No matter how loud you think it gets in McKeon, it gets twice as loud as that. I’ve never been so uncomfortable, and I was a fan. I can’t imagine what it feels like to step into that jungle as a visiting player. Thankfully, Grant Gibbs, who played at Gonzaga for a year before transferring to Creighton, can provide perspective.
As a neutral party and Ohio State alum, I’ve never been more serious in my life than when I say that I would rather the Buckeyes play their home games in McKeon Pavilion than at the 19,000-seat Schottenstein Center.
The point is this: It’s true that Gonzaga plays in an easier conference than other top teams. But pretending that any halfway decent team could’ve cruised to a win at Saint Mary’s on Saturday is objectively wrong. Saint Mary’s still had a shot at making the NCAA tournament, and a win over its archrival may have put it on the right side of the bubble. The Gaels had never beaten a top-five team in their program history. It was senior night for Brad “Not Omar Samhan” Waldow,4 who is one of the best Saint Mary’s players ever. Patty Mills had his jersey retired at halftime and brought a few of his Spurs teammates to the game. All signs pointed to this being a special night for Saint Mary’s.
Brad Waldow is the Jack Cooley to Omar Samhan’s Luke Harangody.
Waldow was great from the start, the Gaels couldn’t miss from behind the arc, and Gonzaga blew countless shots around the rim. Saint Mary’s built a 17-point lead and McKeon brought the ruckus. When Gonzaga’s push to start the second half didn’t get it over the hump, it looked like an upset was inevitable. Even more so when the Gaels held a nine-point lead with 6:20 to play. And yet, the Zags won by 10?
If you still think Gonzaga doesn’t deserve to be called one of the nation’s best teams after Saturday, then you’re not paying attention or you just hate the Zags more than Kyle Wiltjer hates defense.
I’m putting forth the same amount of effort toward the Duke section this week that the Blue Devils put forth defensively at Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.
The Hoos have been pretty bad offensively without Justin Anderson, and there’s no telling when he’s coming back. London Perrantes is out partly because of a concussion but mostly because Virginia needs at least another week to get all the blood out of his jersey. And now the Hoos had to go on the road to play a team they beat at home by one 11 days earlier? And they were going to play Isaiah Wilkins, Devon Hall, Sam Spears, and B.J. Stith a combined 57 minutes in the rematch?5
These guys are so anonymous that I’d bet some Virginia fans didn’t even realize that I made up the name “Sam Spears.”
Yeesh. I bet Wake Forest probably gave Vir—
WAIT, VIRGINIA BLEW THEM OUT???
How? Did Malcolm Brogdon score 30? No? It was a team effort in which seven guys finished with seven-plus points and all 12 players who entered the game scored? And even though the Hoos were without their starting backcourt, they still played their typical “let’s make America worry that college basketball is broken because we’re so dominant” defense by holding an opponent under 40 points for the SIXTH (!!!) time this season?
Interesting. I seem to remember somebody writing a couple of weeks ago about how Perrantes would step up in Anderson’s place because the culture of Virginia basketball is exactly like the plot of The Lion King (which is to say that Anderson’s nickname is “Simba” and that’s pretty much where the analogy ends). And of course, after finishing in double figures twice in his first 21 games of the season, Perrantes scored 10-plus in two of the three full games he played since Anderson went down. So I guess you could say that Virginia’s bench kept the pattern going by stepping up to fill Perrantes’s shoes on Wednesday? I guess you could say there was a little something at play called … THE CIIIIIIIRRRRCLLLEE OF LIFE!!!
When it comes to handling adversity and getting inexperienced freshmen to play big on the road, nobody does it better than Tony Bennett.
Not really. Just making sure you’re paying attention.
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
It’s official — Villanova has been added to the list of teams I think could beat Kentucky even if Kentucky plays well.6 That’s how terrifying Nova is right now. I mean, has anyone else noticed that the Wildcats play in a conference that will get six teams into the NCAA tournament and they’ve really been challenged only three times in conference play? Shoot, has anyone noticed Villanova at all this season? I feel like I’m going crazy trying to convince America that Villanova is a national title threat. It’s steamrolling through one of the better conferences in the country, is riding a nine-game winning streak, and just mutilated a ranked team Tuesday night. If the Wildcats win out from here, they’ll probably lead the country in wins against the RPI top 50. Seriously, why aren’t we talking more about Villanova as a 1-seed?
The rest of that list: Duke, Virginia, Wisconsin, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
We’re taking Kentucky for granted. I understand why it’s happening. In the very first edition of college basketball’s most powerful power rankings this season, I wrote about how I was already bored with Kentucky. Almost three months later, the Cats are still undefeated and show no signs of slowing down. It’s been more than two weeks since Kentucky has even had to break a sweat to win. The dominance is fun to watch on the court, but there’s not much to say about it. It’s more fun to talk about which teams could beat the Cats, whether Gonzaga is overrated, which conference is the strongest, and court-storming than it is to say “Kentucky is really good” over and over.
But let’s fight back against the impulse to breeze over Kentucky’s excellence. Let’s talk about the Cats more. Let’s appreciate what they’re so close to achieving. And I don’t just mean going 40-0. If they win their next six, they’ll be the first power conference team since 1976 to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated. That alone deserves praise. Instead, it feels like every time Kentucky blows out an opponent, nobody cares because that’s what’s expected. And when the Cats need all 40 minutes (and sometimes more) to win a game, college basketball fans hold it up as proof that Kentucky is overrated.
I get why people have Kentucky fatigue. John Calipari’s history, Kentucky’s recent success, the school’s historical success, and the overwhelming size and passion of Big Blue Nation are more than enough to make fans of other teams hope the Cats lose. In truth, I also hope Kentucky loses — just so there’s some suspense about who will win the NCAA tournament. But I’m also not afraid to give credit where it’s due. Let’s not wait to see who cuts down the nets on April 6 to appreciate this team. Even if the Cats don’t win another game this season (spoiler: they will), what they’ve done is remarkable and deserves recognition in the college basketball history books.
The Angry Coach of the Week
During last Thursday’s game against Northern Arizona, Idaho coach Don Verlin provided one of the more unusual moments you’ll ever see when he snapped on assistant coach Chris Helbling. He went so far as to grab the book out of Helbling’s hand, chuck it at a chair, and presumably tell Helbling to get the hell off his bench.
The craziest detail about this incident is that it occurred in the first half! And it’s not like Idaho was getting destroyed either. The Vandals were down only eight, with about two minutes left before halftime. Speaking of which, do you think Helbling was still in the locker room when the team came in at halftime? He had to have been there, right? It was a road game, so where was he going to go? Also, I like to think that as Helbling was trying to calm down, he called his buddies and explained what happened in the same flustered/confused/angry tone that Dave Spritz used to tell Noreen that he got hit with a pop.
The Dick’s Degrees of Separation answer is B. See you next week.