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Heroic figures

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Basketball:

How about WV and Butler in the final four? Duke could be the only no. 1 seed in the final four, if you were somehow oblivious to this fact. This has all been chronicled with excellence by the incomparable Kevin Berger over at marchtomarch.fantake.com

West Virginia knocking off the Wildcats was a shocker for me but it reinforces the importance of the 3-pointer in the college game. If Texas had any kind of consistency from deep they could have been great on offense. In fact, for the random screening offense if there is one thing that is essential from the personnel it's having lots of shooters.

West Virginia has Devin Ebanks inside, an athletic and capable forward who you might recall considering Texas at one point in the recruiting process, and several other long athletes. Texas has struggled against exactly this type of team frequently relying on 3 guard lineups with none of the guards over 6-2. When 2 of those guards couldn't shoot from deep...

Anyways, beyond length/athleticism and shooting ability all over the floor, for Texas' style of offense there are certain qualities you want from the Center or main big man.

The ideal looks like Bill Russel on defense: challenging shots, using blocks to initiate fast breaks, making outlet passes and generally patrolling the paint as a help defender. On offense, you want to look for some level of excellence in the pick'n'roll game either as a shooter or athletic finisher, or both. Having a back to the basket game distracts from the overall offense and clogs the lane too much unless you have someone down there drawing in defenders and then nailing open shooters on the perimeter. Those types of players are harder to find and take time to develop. It was 3 years before Pittman could play as a starter and then he still lacked the necessary skills to build the offense around.

The more likely and easier solution for creating driving lanes and ultimately 3 pointers and free throws is the pick'n'roll. Enter Tristan Thompson, the brightest hope for 2010.

I don't think he's, umm, exactly a Bill Russell on defense just yet but his the 7'3" wingspan and athleticism suggests some upside and he's already a tenacious rebounder and effective shot blocker, making him probably the best interior option already. He's effective away from the rim and is strong as a finisher with either hand which makes him a strong pick'n'roll option and he has a jumper from 15 feet out.

His offensive game is probably already beyond that of Wangmene, Chapman or Hill so if he takes quickly to screening and college-level defense Texas might be pretty strong in the frontcourt despite losing James. Of course we've seen how far that gets...

Art:

That's right, a return to the classical Nickel Rover everyone has been inundating me with requests for.

As I'm sure you were all aware TCM was showing the original "Clash of the Titans" on Friday night which I grew up with and took some time to enjoy again. Director Louis Leterrier, who brought us Transporter 2 and the newest Incredible Hulk, has done the world a friggin service and provided a remake of the 1981 classic with Sam Worthington starring as the hero Perseus.

At first I thought this was a horrendous start as Sam Worthington, a homeless man's Jason Statham, may be popular right now in Hollywood but he's not engaging or compelling as a lead character. Rewatching the original I realized that wasn't truly the issue. The original Perseus isn't particularly interesting either, at least not to a straight man, and doesn't carry the movie through his delivery.

However, the original tale was of a courageous man seizing what could be realized under the watchful eyes of the true characters, the gods. Laurence effing Olivier provided the acting as Zeus, pulling the strings from Olympus.

Remaking a classic movie should be based around one of two things; a differing take on a universal story or serious advances in cinematic possibilities.

If you've ever seen the original Clash of the Titans you know that the 2nd is definitely in play. The first also rings true as well since the new film seems to be the story of man overcoming the gods without help and realizing his potential as Leterrier skips the introduction of Christianity in the history of theological thought.

I'm not sure if I buy the story of Perseus as a bad-ass taking on the gods like I did seeing beautiful Perseus seizing opportunity from the gods to overcome, as strange (gay) as that may sound. Especially since the former asks Sam Worthington to be at least a poor man's Jason Statham to be a successful picture, a doubtful occurrence. Neeson's appearance in this role is puzzling...is Christopher Lee still alive?

Also of note is the portrayal of hell's minions in Middle Eastern fighting garb. This may very well be a more clumsy and unintentionally hilarious attempt than the clay-mation foes in the 1981 original with the poor man's Zach Snyder teaming with the homeless man's Statham to make a worthy action film out of an epic of classical scope.

I hope to God that someone worthy is in charge when they finally make a mini-series out of The Silmarillion. I don't love the post-modern versions of classical stories like we saw with Beowulf but I'm sure it's easier than writing new myths.