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NCAA Men of Genius

Greg Arbogast | Monday, March 27, 2006

Last Thursday night’s round of Sweet 16 games was just ridiculous. Between Duke forgetting to box out, Texas’ prayer being answered and Adam Morrison flat out losing it after Gonzaga’s heartbreaking defeat, there was plenty to keep viewers entertained.

Yet, there was something other than all the dramatics that stuck in my mind. After Kenton Paulino sank his buzzer beater that put Texas through to the Elite 8, the obligatory pile-on ensued.

The funny thing, though, was the first person to reach that pile-on. It wasn’t A.J. Abrams, who had passed the ball to Paulino right before his shot. It wasn’t LaMarcus Aldrige, who had carried Texas with 26 points. In fact, it wasn’t even a player who was on the court at the time.

The first person to reach the Paulino was some skinny sub-six-foot white kid still wearing his warm-ups. Why in the world was he that excited? It was obvious he hadn’t played a single minute all game. I’ll even go out on a limb and say he made no contribution whatsoever to Texas’ win over West Virginia. Yet there he was, celebrating like this was the defining moment of his career.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that the behavior of “Mr. Anonymous Texas player” wasn’t really that uncommon. We see benchwarmers make fools of themselves all the time in the NCAA tournament.

When the game is on the line, he’s the guy on the bench who looks more nervous than the guy standing at the free throw line. During a timeout, he’s always the first guy off the bench rushing to high five and re-hydrate their teammates. And you can take it to the bank that when a game winning shot is made, he will be the guy who completely loses it during the celebration.

Is it just me or are these guys straight out of a Real Men of Genius commercial? Wait just one second! That’s it. How have those marketing geniuses at Bud Light not come up with this idea yet? Well then, I guess I’ll have to go ahead and do it for them. Call it my ode to the benchwarmer.

Bud Light presents Real Men of Genius

(Real Men of Genius)

Today we salute you, Mr. NCAA Tourn-ament Benchwarmer Guy.

(Mr. NCAA Tournament Benchwarmer Guy)

5’11,” 165 pounds, and without a speck of basketball ability. You can’t dunk, but what you lack in athleticism, you make up for with something no coach can teach … enthusiasm.

(Oh yeah!)

You spend the entire game in your warm-ups. Why? Because you know you have about as much chance of playing as that tuba player in the fifth row.

(Blow on that tuba)

But do you let that stop you from making an idiot of yourself on the end of the bench? No, sir. And when your team scores that basket to take their crucial 8-6 lead, you’ll be there.

(That’s a two-point lead)

So crack open an ice-cold Bud Light, O pioneer of the pine. Because this time, we’ll be the ones cheering for you.