Hickory, dickery dock. Three 6-8, jam-slam forwards ran up the clock. The clock swatted one - and the others escaped with bruised egos.
It's basketball against Brigham Young's 7-6 center Shawn Bradley. He leads the nation with six blocked shots a game.It's Bradley against big, strong senior guys who refuse to learn their lessons, and who continue to proclaim, "I'm not going to alter my game for that mere freshman. I'm goin' right between his eyes, I am."
Silly them, the fly-high dunksters, as they mouse back down the floor looking very sorry for themselves. Silly them, the board-boppers, as their shot at goal disappears into a swirl of ghostly time.
Shawn Bradley is not your ordinary real-big guy. He comes equipped with as much dexterity as any 6-6, goat-leaping forward. He's not your chuff, chuff, chuff of the steam engine. He's your ye-yeahhhh of reggae. This shooter-passer-dribbler can do a samba.
Jabbar and Chamberlain were real big guys who could do that, too. Like Bradley, they were forces who sent out waves.
But because Bradley is only an 18-year-old freshman, just a long 210-pound slice of skin and bones, the upperclassmen Eddie Rickenbackers of the college basketball figure they can out-rev him to the basket. A rev-fake here, a rev-fake there.
"I'm going at the basket, and no long, tall Ichabod Crane is going to stop me," proclaims Luke Rimwalker.
It's for that reason, alone, that Bradley is getting so many rejections. These guys don't realize it's Ichabod "Construction Crane" they're dealing with. It's just impossible to reach destination's goal when a 7-6 man, with half-as-long arms, does the windmill.
They'll learn, just as Bradley's high school opponents around Castle Dale, Utah, learned long ago. In a lot of little towns, the cowboys shot layups less and enjoyed basketball more once they ceded the area around the basket to Bradley. In fact, Bradley averaged fewer blocks a game in high school (5.4) than he is in college.
In time, they'll learn that Bradley is more than just a shot-blocker. He's a genuine blockade if you let him set up his cruiser-size shoes under the basket.
Texas-El Paso coach Don Haskins has been using reverse psychology on his Miners, who played Brigham Young Saturday. Haskins says he's more afraid of BYU senior Steve Schreiner, a 6-7 senior, than he is of Bradley. When the teams met earlier this year, Schreiner scored 24 and had 12 rebounds while the Miners were trying to play lumberjack around Bradley's knee.
BYU won, 83-67. That's when the Miners figured they could soar like eagles - only to end up being stuffed like turkeys.
(Joe Muench is sports editor of the Herald-Post in El Paso, Texas.)