My Thesis: Wildcats Terrible, Great, Mediocre

A slightly blurry, downhearted Alex Marcotullio
There are few things grimmer than being the sixth man in the waning minutes of an upset loss

I’m a senior history student, so I have spent the past week studying and writing about a subject completely irrelevant to modern society, a series of events so terrible yet bland that the grief they caused will never be remembered or discussed after I turn my attention away. My inexperienced, clumsily-written accounts of those times will be read once then discarded, a year’s youth wasted for little gain, spent commemorating memories the world’s already decided to forget.

But enough about Northwestern Basketball! (You saw that coming.)

After three and a half years of this nonsense (I’m talking about college papers for real now) I can say with some authority that undergraduate research papers use, objectively, the worst writing style on the planet. And that style is enforced by a cabal of TAs who’ve had their souls extracted and refined into stem cells or whatever until the only pleasure they find in life is taking the papers they have to grade, writing a big “B-” up top, then adding commas and subtracting meaning in bold, red ink.

To drive home the point, the following is a basketball column for this week’s action, presented in the academic style (I don’t really write papers like this, it’s just a George Will impression I’m working on). “Enjoy.”


“Shaq’s a Hack”: The Role of “Big Men” in the 21st Century Northwestern Offense

Alexander Olah (hereafter simply “Olah” or, occasionally, “Alex”) was born in Romania, once called “The Tiger of Eastern Europe.”[1] Olah’s nimble passing and obvious intelligence are certainly reminiscent of Panthera tigris but “the paint” is not his natural hunting ground. Though lacking in the obvious jail cell symbology of the football “gridiron” and the ascriptivist purgatorial cycle of the baseball diamond, the basketball court held much the same dread, so démodé in wildcat cultures such as of Olah’s genius (in the Old Roman Power animal sense), the feeling of being caged, what a common sportswriter might term, unwittingly apropos, the “zoo atmosphere.”[2] With his back to his opposite number, down came the cries from our cozy colosseum; “Turn, dammit, turn!” and “Bust his ass!” and “C’mon, be a man!”, too violent, violet, and soon-to-be violate [adj. usage] to call a chorus and ten years’ north of a peanut gallery, this was a student section of two dozen assistant coaches unafraid to play the macho, gender-expression-questioning archetype with our subject (and subjected) tiger.

No, these Northwestern Cisgender Male “Men’s” Basketball Wildcats operate under a system foreign to the howler monkeys in student sections, a Carmodyite system made for tigers such as Olah. As I term him, “Princeton Bill” prefers centers in the “high post,” and coincidentally, a high post is precisely the object with which I would not touch a florid student section screamer sort. Scream harder for a “big man” and you’ll get “Little Big Horn,” students, as even the seven-footers among national militaries have no answer to bows and hatchets when hilltop-stranded and fully enveloped.[3] Allow our freshman tiger to playmake, pick, and occasionally even roll, and our offense cypress may bear fruit.

Is it coincidence that our faire basketballe squadde lost twice in our Chicago-bordering, center-castigating “friendly confines” and won despite the odds away to Baylor (a Christian university)? If our tiger, Alex, must be caged, let him do his noble work in peace. Leave the “big men” to Sparta, for we are Athens, and our basketball intelligence shall prevail. “ἀγεωμέτρητος μηδεὶς εἰσίτω”



2. Blumenthal, Bob J., “Can We Get a Hand for Alex Gordon?”, in The Bleacher Report, Vol. XLVIII, Issue 4 (August 11, 2010), pp. 17-18.

3. Broadwell, P., and Loeb, Vernon, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, (New York: Penguin Press, 2012), pp. 17-214.

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