The NCAA Tournament is great not only because you get to see some great basketball, buzzer beaters, and heartbreak, but also because you get to see some great TV announcers ply their trade.
Some people like Dick Vitale, some people like Bill Raftery, some people like Jay Bilas — but for my money no announcer is so perfectly matched to a sport as Gus Johnson is to college basketball. He is knowledgeable, and professional, but what really makes him great is that he gets as pumped about the great games, the great plays, and the great finishes as everyday fans do. Listening to Gus Johnson call a game, his voice rising as the adrenalin surges, always makes that game more exciting and memorable.
Ohio State fans have been privileged to have Gus Johnson call a number of Buckeye games, and this year he has worked games for the Big Ten Network, so I’ve had the great pleasure of hearing him even more than normal. As a Buckeye fan, one of my favorite Gus Johnson calls is of Ron Lewis’ legendary last-second shot to propel the Buckeyes and Xavier into overtime in a 2007 NCAA Tournament game. To this day, members of Buckeye Nation debate exactly what Gus Johnson said as Lewis’ shot found the bottom of the net. Was it “bangs it home”? Was it “pizza dough”? We only know that we like it.
It is still brisk here in Columbus. Today the temperature hovered near 40, and last night we got a light dusting of snow. Still, the signs are unmistakable that the season is finally catching up to the calendar and that spring — glorious spring! — is not far away.
One leading indicator is the red buds that have appeared on the flowering trees along Alpath Road. After a long winter, they are a welcome sight, indeed.
In an era where so many people seem obsessed by the notion of celebrity — by the prospect of getting their face on TV or their name on a building — it is heartening and refreshing to see that there are still people out there, in Kalamazoo, Michigan at least, who see the virtue and value in anonymous philanthropy.