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Gamecocks or Robots?

USC men basketball

The Jackfruit is a satire column, intended to entertain and not to offend. Please accept the humor in the spirit it is offered.

Following an upset in the NCAA tournament, Duke University is suing the University of South Carolina for allegedly replacing their starting lineup with a physically indistinguishable set of bionic simulacrons.

This allegation represents the latest of a series of attempts to explain what many regard as one of the most literally unbelievable turnarounds in basketball history—in which we are supposed to believe that the same human beings that shot only 20% in the first half, and missed 20 of their 22 final shots before the break, returned to the floor to shoot over 70% against the second-seeded team in the nation, and scored more points in the second half than any team has ever done against Mike Krzyzewski in his illustrious career, resulting in the first major upset of the NCAA tournament.

“That was a different team in the second half,” according to USC basketball coach Frank Martin, in a tearful confession made just moments after the previously inexplicable upset. The prosecution is offering this statement as evidence of the winning coach’s personal involvement in the human-to-cyborg line change.

The defense argues that this statement was never meant to be taken literally. According to the defense, when Martin said they were a “different team,” he means that the same genetically identical group of humans were expressing different and improbable phenotypic behaviors—not that the players on the floor were members of a new animatronic race. And Martin was crying, according to the defense, because he was happy.

To the prosecution, this interpretation strains credulity. “Martin does not mince words,” according to lead prosecutor Mark Sullivan. “When he tells us that was not the same team, he is probably not making some elaborate point about epigenetics and the variability of gene expression.  It’s more likely that he means exactly what he says.  If Martin says that it was a different team, then what he meant was that it was a different team.”

Antecedents to the lawsuit have proposed different kinds of line changes. In wide circulation during the first half, especially among eyewitnesses to the alleged scandal, was the theory that the USC men’s basketball team had been replaced “by a bunch of girls,” as one popular formulation of the theory put it.  This theory was discarded, however, when attorneys representing the USC women’s basketball team threatened to sue for slander.

Another theory proposed that the USC men’s basketball team was exchanged, not in the second half by a race of robots, but in the first half by a squad of toddlers. But this theory had a hard time explaining the similitude in height between the players in the first and second halves. When it was suggested that perhaps the team of toddlers played in stilts, the theory ran into another difficulty.

“Even a bunch of toddlers running around in stilts could have done better than that,” according to one eyewitness. When asked to comment on the new theory, the same witness applied a line from Rocky IV to USC Captain and SEC Player of the year Sindarius Thornwell. “He’s not a man, he’s a machine,” he said.

Experts predict that USC might enter a plea bargain with Duke, in which they confess to a bionic enhancement of the original USC lineup, but one which did not alter any of their original genetic material.  The plea would place the alleged scandal in an ethically “gray zone” occupied by many other kinds of performance enhancers.

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