The Big Sky Conference Tournament has come and gone. The Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Cinderella run of 2023 ended at the burley hands of Danny and his Montana State Sprinkles... er um Bobcats.
Read more on that and how much I personally loved the NAU run here.
What captivated me though, aside from the on-court stylings, was the always off-beat, sometimes downright homey Joe Cravens. He sounds like he belongs in a different time, and that time might be the 1960s Midwest. (He is from Scottsburg, Ind.) He is the Big Sky’s own personal Bill Walton that they trout out for Big Sky in Boise. I enjoy it, even when he gets a little...let’s say not politically correct.
This is also a man who, while coaching high school girls basketball in the Salt Lake City area, was arrested for hitting a guy in the shins with bat in a Black Bear Diner parking lot. Reports indicated it was because of a car accident between Cravens’ daughter and the dude who took a bat to the shins, so maybe Joe was just being an overly protective dad.
Anyways, here are some of my favorite Joe Cravenisms from the Big Sky Conference Tournament in no particular order:
- Used in all close games: “This one’s tighter than a banjo string.”
- Surprised he didn’t get a talking to about this one: “They were on the ball like a bum on a ham sandwich.”
- Basketball, simplified: “Put the brown thing in the round thing.”
- Describing NAU: “One foot in the grave and another on the banana peel.”
- My personal favorite: “Growing up in Indiana, if you can’t shoot a jumpshot by 14, they make you move to Kentucky.”
- About Carson Towt missing a dunk: “Sawmill strong.”
- Dagger free throws: “If he hits this, Elvis has just about left the building.”
- Long time for ISU: “Idaho State hasn’t beaten Montana since Moby Dick was a minnow.”
- Little bit of body shaming: “This game is as rare as a fat postman.”
- This is a great mental picture: “Trying to stop him once he gets going is like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.”
- Out of context this sounds like a fetish: “Put a saddle on him, and I’m riding him to the finish line.”
- Long arms: “He’s got arms from here to Hoboken.”
- Describing all five-year guys this way: “He has been around (insert school) forever and a day.”
- Same, Joe: “If that went in, I was going home.”
- We’ve all been there, buddy: “Just like the three years I spent in fifth grade.”
- Lastly: “You let him catch it that low, you better bring a lunch and a lantern cause it’s gonna be a long night.”