I’ll admit it: I didn’t watch the game between my beloved Rutgers and Villanova on ESPNU last night, which started out promising for the Scarlet Knights (they built a 31-21 halftime lead) and ended… quite differently (Villanova rallied in the second half for a 71-63 win). Well… what’d you expect to happen, good things? Come on, this is Rutgers athletics we’re talking about. Long-suffering Rutgers basketball fans being filled with a sense of [ultimately false] hope from an exciting Villanova win is so two years ago.
But enough of that pity party. Despite that the end result of last night’s game was one more disappointing loss in one more disappointing (and at times embarrassing) season, I wish I’d watched. Why? Well, this is why:
Those there are game announcers LaPhonso Ellis (left) and Adam Amin (right), dressed as Abe Lincoln and George Washington, respectively. Amin wondered if the stunt would spell the end of his career, but it is just beginning. How else were they going to drum up interest in a Monday night matchup on a lesser-known ESPN network between a fringe NCAA Tournament team and… another team? I, for one, am all for this, and not just because there’s finally a sports-related photo that’s already been top-hat-enhanced before I get my hands on it.
Oh, and also, Joe Lunardi was there dressed as Ben Franklin, which many have noted is an odd choice for Presidents’ Day, since Franklin wasn’t ever actually president. If it were Founding Fathers’ Day or Guys On Money Day, then sure, but on this night, it was out of place, even if the game was being played near Philadelphia.
Oh, and if you’d like to see Ellis and Amin actually talking basketball while essentially wearing Halloween costumes, see the video below. Your challenge: what I mentioned in the headline. Watch them and take their observations about basketball, their very viability as an announcing team, seriously. As much as I say I like what ESPNU was going for here… it’s not easy.
Wonder how Jay Wright and Mike Rice felt about their teams getting the “screw it, let’s just have our announcers dress up, not like anyone cares anyway” treatment.