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The Kickoff

April 05, 2006|By DAVID STEELE

CBS really does a brutal job with the post-game interviews at the NCAA title game. As we in the press work room gathered around the televisions to watch the interviews - unfortunately, because those are often the only quotes we can get into the paper by deadline - we saw and heard Jim Nantz and Billy Packer drone on with ultra-long questions to coach Billy Donovan and listened to his slow, deliberate answers. The players, meanwhile, were gathered around them, goofing off, making crazy exclamations and showing the kind of joy you'd expect the newly crowned college champs to make, the sort of thing you think America would enjoy seeing and hearing. But if either Nantz or Packer asked one coherent question of any of them - particularly Joakim Noah, the Most Outstanding Player - none of us heard it.

The reason: the unrestrained love for the coach in college ball, at the expense of the players. Packer does it, Vitale does, Digger does it, all of them do it. They lionize the coaches and treat the players like disposable parts. It's why you keep hearing things like, "An incredible 20-5 run by Coach K and Duke!" as if he had seven points and three rebounds during the spurt.

By following that tired script, they shortchanged the viewers on the real heroes of the night - not Billy Donovan and how he built the program over a span of several years, but Noah and Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey and Al Horford, who won the game.

As for the game itself, you saw it. This won't exactly go down in history as a gem, and it couldn't possibly have made for great television.

david.steele@baltsun.com

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