Basketball and Boats

has been much attention in the past few days to an infamous final examination
– 20 questions – which was
administered at the conclusion of a course called "Coaching Principles
and Strategies of Basketball" at the University of Georgia. Not, coincidentally,
considering the subject, most of the students in the course were varsity
basketball players. After finding numerous anecdotes and false leads,
the Dowbrigade tracked down the actual official Final Exam…

The 20-question final exam that Jim Harrick Jr. gave to students in his
Coaching Principles and Strategies of Basketball course in the fall
of 2001:

1. How many goals are on a basketball court?
a. 1 b. 2 c. 3 d. 4

2. How many players are allowed to play at one time on any one team in a regulation
a. 2 b. 3 c. 4 d. 5

3. In what league does the Georgia Bulldogs compete?
a. ACC b. Big Ten c. SEC d. Pac 10

4. What is the name of the coliseum where the Georgia Bulldogs play?
a. Cameron Indoor Arena b. Stegeman Coliseum c. Carrier Dome d. Pauley Pavilion

5. How many halves are in a college basketball game?
a. 1 b. 2 c. 3 d. 4

6. How many quarters are in a high school basketball game?
a. 1 b. 2 c. 3 d. 4

7. How many points does one field goal account for in a Basketball Game?
a. 1 b. 2 c. 3 d. 4

8. How many points does a 3-point field goal account for in a Basketball Game?
a. 1 b. 2 c. 3 d. 4
9. How many officials referee a college basketball game?
a. 2 b. 4 c. 6 d. 3

10. How many teams are in the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Tournament?
a. 48 b. 64 c. 65 d. 32

11. What is the name of the exam which all high school seniors in the State of
Georgia must pass?
a. Eye Exam b. How Do The Grits Taste Exam c. Bug Control Exam d. Georgia Exit

12. What basic color are the uniforms the Georgia Bulldogs wear in home games?
a. White b. Red c. Black d. Silver

13. What basic color are the uniforms the Georgia Bulldogs wear in away games?
a. Pink b. Blue c. Orange d. Red

14. How many minutes are played in a college basketball contest?
a. 20 b. 40 c. 60 d. 90

15. How many minutes are played in a high school basketball game?
a. 15 b. 30 c. 32 d. 45

16. Diagram the 3-point line.

17. Diagram the half-court line.

18. How many fouls is a player allowed to have in one Basketball game before
fouling out in that game?
a. 3 b. 5 c. 7 d. 0

19. If you go on to become a huge coaching success, to whom will you tribute
(sic) the credit?
a. Mike Krzyzewski b. Bobby Knight c. John Wooden d. Jim Harrick Jr.

20. In your opinion, who is the best Division I assistant coach in the country?
a. Ron Jursa (sic) b. John Pelphrey c. Jim Harrick Jr. d. Steve Wojciechowski

Source: University of Georgia

Answer key: Aww. c’mon….

Ah, the sweet smell of athletic/academic scandal. Almost all American
universities have a few courses like this, although usually a bit better
disguised.  In
this case, the professor, Jim Harrick, Jr. (see question 19), got busted
mainly because he
is also an assistant coach on the varsity basketball team and the SON of the
head coach.

The Dowbrigade is risking ostracism from Harvard Clubs
around the world by revealing one
of higher educations dirty little secrets – even the best colleges
have professors,
and even
with less academic rigor than your typical wine-tasting course at a YMCA. At Harvard,
for example, it was not uncommon to see large, athletic bodies moving
in and out of the domain of the East Asian Studies Dept. While we are
certain that much of the jocks intellectual attraction to the field was
sincere, that attractiveness was certainly augmented by the fact
that many of the courses in that department went Jim Harrick Jr. one
better in that they HAD NO EXAM AT ALL. Two short papers and in-class
discussion and that’s it. Everybody gets A’s. Very Zen. This goes a long way towards explaining why the Dowbrigade is such a font of useless information concerning Korean history, Early Chinese Philosophy and Japanese Landscape Painting.

But the easiest course we took in our entire career at
the World’s Greatest University was not in East Asian Studies. It was History course officially entitled "15th and 16th
Century Spanish and Portuguese Navigational History". although it was
affectionately known by proto-slacker undergraduates as "Boats".

took the course at the urging of our obliquely brilliant and artistically
bizarre roommate, Brutus Godspeed. During his teen years,
Brutus’s father had been US Ambassador to Portugal, and Brutus grew up
in Lisbon,
the American School by day and playing Flamenco guitar at the Lisbon
Playboy Club at night.  He had developed a serious interest in,
guess what, Spanish and Portuguese explorers, and knew the subject down
to the dimensions of capacity of each of the ships and the political
machinations and business scams behind each expedition. So we figured
that with Godspeed coaching us the course would be a gut.

That particular semester, however, our involvement in
a variety of illicitly entrepreneurial and extra-academic ethnobotanical
activities almost completely overwhelmed our feeble attempts to hew
the legitimate ivy line, and  we were absent from campus for long
periods both physically and mentally.  After attending the first
few classes of "Boats" and being excruciatingly bored, we somehow missed
the ensuing 12 weeks of classes and basically abandoned any hope of
passing the course.

In fact, we had completely forgotten that the course existed,
until early one enchanted and prematurely dark January evening when Brutus
enquired as to why we were not studying for the "Boats" final, apparently
scheduled for the following day.

"Brutus, old boy," we tried to look him in the eye, but
were having trouble focusing, so we somewhat desperately grabbed his
shoulder, "we’re far beyond "Boats" at this point. In case you didn’t
notice I was out of town from Halloween until Thanksgiving and spent
a week in December naked in the bathroom convinced there were microwave
antennae woven into my clothes."

"Hey, we’ve all got problems, bro.” Brutus was trying to calm me while simultaneously slipping my grip. “But there’s still plenty of
time to pass this course. No need to panic." He was arranging all of
his notes and study materials on the lower bunk, and cranking up "Kraftwerk"
on the stereo.

"But, man, like, I didn’t so to any of the lectures since
the first week, didn’t do any of the reading assignments, and,” (here we paused for dramatic effect and irrefutable logic) ” I
dissolved one of those Mr. Natural blotter acids under my tongue about
half an hour ago." I looked out the window for the familiar signs of
the acid taking hold.  The darkened sky had started to spit sporadic
snowflakes into the yellow cones of street light illuminating the Winthrop House courtyard. The shadows danced
like living things.  It was beginning.  It was hopeless.

"Hey, no problem, shit, you suck on that stuff like breath
mints. Besides, you know that the professor wrote the damn text book,
and he doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. There’s really only three
chapters you need to remember and that’s the
whole course.  If you can wrap your twisted mind around about 75
pages of admittedly boring text, you can save yourself a lot of hassle
and several thousand dollars, which is what you’ll have to pay if you
fail the course and have to make it up."

He was right. "Put on water for coffee."

Well, we managed to trim our sails to the point where we
could read those 75 pages, and after the second or third time through
they started to make some sense. We "studied" through the night, and
sailed in at 9 the next morning to take the exam, along with hundreds of other bright-eyed
young scholars in the vast hallowed cavern of Memorial Hall, and sailed
out about 90 minutes later, as soon as we saw the first few of our companions
start to bail to the right and to the left. As hard as we tried to force
our eyes and mind back to the scrawled figures in Blue Book, at that point the fractal photons
flowing through the spectacular stained glass windows on all sides of
us was much more interesting than pen marks on paper.

The truth is that by that point we had already
regurgitated just about everything
we could
from our perusal of the key three chapters, and any further work would have consisted of transparent rearrangement of cards already
on the table, the academic equivalent of moving your food around on your
plate when you
want to gag
at the
thought of another bite of candied yams.

We were pretty sure we had failed at that point, but we
were glad we had gone through the exercise, as it was a real bonding
experience with our intellectually elusive roommate, and as it always feels
good to
give something your best shot, even when it is a desperate, adreneline-drenched
shot in the dark.

The kicker was that when the grades came back a few weeks
later, the Dowbrigade was rewarded for his efforts with a well-deserved
B-.  Brutus, who had of course written feverishly the entire three hours, cited
numerous additional sources and displayed a comprehensive command of
the field as well as a few original but well-founded theories on the subject, which
in some cases even disagreed with the professor’s, got a C+. We heard later,
from an authoritative source, that the professor let his grad students
grade the exams in his undergrad courses, and they knew the only
answer was lifted straight from the professors book. Divergence was clearly
mistaken and wrong, ignorant if not evil.

This experience pretty much cured the Dowbrigade of the
last vestiges of respect for the illusion of ivy integrity, and about
time. Brutus, unfortunately, fell victim to a Polanskiesque weakness for teenaged
girls, and wound up getting involved with
15-year-old Sheriff’s daughter. As a result he
an extended stretch as a guest of the California Department of Corrections, where
his vast knowledge of Spanish and Portuguese Navigational History probably
proved less than invaluable. Perhaps "Coaching Principles and Strategies of
Basketball" would have been the wiser choice.

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2 Responses to Basketball and Boats

  1. jamesl says:

    The coach even screwed up this exam. The correct answer for question 18 is not one of the choices. As my high school coach told us, you are allowed four fouls. Five, and you’re out of the game.

  2. Pingback: course

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