Month: March 2012

Kentucky v. Louisville: An Observational Diary

The following is a live diary of the Kentucky v. Louisville game from the Below house in Chuluota, Florida.

5:37pm I leave my house in Winter Springs freshly showered, but mildly hungry.

5:56 My first visit to Backstreet Pizza for a large pep and garlic knots. It was not readily apparent if the “backstreet” name was in honor of the Backstreet Boys, or a failed attempt convey an urban, ethnic grit to a suburban strip mall pizzeria. Nary an Italian was in sight, and the two guys throwing dough may have a past that includes dance and vocal lessons.

6:09 Stress mounts as I am stuck waiting for pizza moments before tip off. The Backstreet staff continues “working” as it were in slow motion.

6:12 With nothing better to do, I scan the walls of the pizzeria and learn that the pizza “tosser”, Ryan LaRose, has won 13 “national and international competitions” for his work making him the pizza tossing equivalent of Lionel Richie.

6:16 Passed the Taintsville sign (obligatory smirk) and got first update “2-2 early”. The “early” was superfluous.

6:19 Couple of dodgy moments. Overshot a turn looking for the house, doubled back and almost hit a guy, with a kid in a stroller and a dog the size of a small horse.

6:22 Arrival with the score 10-6. First tv time-out.

6:28 Kentucky comes out of the first tv time-out runs off six straight to lead by 10, but lose MKG to a second foul, and foul Blackshear shooting a 3. Blackshear hits 2/3, and follows with a dunk. Terrance Jones dunks to make it 18-10 at the second tv time-out. Kentucky’s length predictably wreaking havoc on Louisville’s attack. Siva seems the only player capable of penetrating, but appears conversely incapable of finishing at the basket. He is a darkhorse to get tonight’s Peter North Finisher of the Night Award.

6:41 The under 8 time-out and Kentucky is up 22-12 courtesy of an improbable Kyle Wiltjer running-floater-miss-get-my-own-rebound-and-score-the-most-unlikely-basket-of-the-half-move.

6:42 Jim Rome appears in a commercial and I have to fight the urge to behead him.

6:51 Lousiville run cuts the Kentucky lead to 26-20, and Cal can’t wait for the tv time-out and burns one. Russ Smith has been the Cardinal protagonist.

6:52 Time-out well spent. Lamb beats press for an and one to restore control of the game. Touche.

6:54 The March Monotony commercial has just jumped the shark and taken Greg Anthony’s career with it. Let’s have a moment to reflect on what’s lost. Anthony was a great leader of the legendary UNLV team, one of the best on ball defenders of his generation, solid pro and competent broadcaster with occaisional noteworthy observations. RIP Bro.

6:58 Second foul on Jones and quietly we have a game. Lousiville aided by some transition points seems capable of scoring, and it’s now 31-28 with 1:27 to play in the half.

7:08 Wiltjer with a 3 and a steal leading to a foul and Kentucky is up 7 35-28. The final 54 seconds of the half are uneventful and the Cats lead by a touchdown, or as Coach Cal says, “a three bucket game.”

7:11 Tom Sorrells, family man, accoustic quitar player, motorcyclist, and total tool. Thanks channel six for the second worst commercial of the final four.

7:15 A breathless KennytheJet makes some lucid comments on the value of in-game decision making. Still wondering why he’s breathless…

7:17 Ohio State gets off the bus and Thad Matta gets interviewed. He has an enormous nose, and very little interesting to say.

7:19 Close up of KennytheJet’s suit. That friends is one breathless Pimp.

7:23 Start of the second half of this “three bucket game.”

7:26 Cal burns a second time out in what is now a “two bucket game” 37-32. Lousiville has been fiesty, and Kentucky lacks competent ball handling.

7:32 Game over. Kentucky 6-0 run out of the time-out to lead 43-32, and I am putting the fork in this one. Note Kentucky 8-0 scoring coming out of Cal’s time-outs. Pitino’s time-out yields a missed shot and a foul pushing the lead to 13.

7:44 Despite some valiant offensive rebounding, Kentucky is up 46-38. I am not retracting my “game over” declaration as Kentucky is not led by taco-thief and crunch time cretin Irv Walker.

7:46 Watch the tacos, lead is down to 4, 46-42. Impressive showing by the Cardinal. Keeping themselves alive when shots aren’t falling. 17-2 advantage on the offensive glass.

7:51 TV time-out. Kentucky up 48-42, but Louisville on the line shooting two.

7:58 Tacos are gone and so is the lead. 49 all.

8:00 MKG, who’s pro stock is dropping in my estimation, scores to go up 51-49, and Kentucky gets a turnover. MKG with a screw you Pink spinning drive and dunk to double the lead to four.

8:03 Pretty shaken by seeing Peyton Siva’s dad. Sort of a felonious cross between Don Ho and Perez Hilton. This was quickly followed by MKG doing a split at the foul line and writhing around holding his groin while play continued. Kentucky up 4.

8:06 Missed bunnies at both ends, but Miller nails a 3 to put Kentucky up 58-51 with 5:04. 9-2 run Cats.

8:12 Under four minute time-out Kentucky up 60-51.

8:15 Terrance Jones has had exactly two contributions to this game. Both mighty dunks. I don’t like him.

8:17 Cardinal resistance shines again. Smith cuts the lead to 63-58 with 1;23 to play. Costly miss on the second free throw, and Davis dunks. Lead seven. Siva air balls a three, perhaps his father’s highlighted hair hampered his vision.

8:22 Game over as I told you 50 minutes ago. 69-62 69-61 (edit by Mr.Charm). Monday night.

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Winning v. Development

A quick aside. I admit the photo above hasn’t a damn thing to do with this post, but I typed “winning v. development” into the google images engine and up popped Halle Berry, call it karma, but I am not passing on the opportunity to include her in the blog.

There is an apparent debate over the role of winning in the development of young players. The anti-winning proponents posit that winning at all costs comes at the expense of development. They offer over-reliance on prematurely developed ogre-athletes, the outright use of ineligible, overage athletes, questionable recruiting and vaguely-defined dubious tactics of examples of a cancer that eats away at proper development. Make no mistake this argument is seldom made without an enormous dose of self-righteous indignation and self-professed claims of doing things the right way.

I staunchly oppose the use of ineligible players as much as I do self-righteous indignation. I do not buy the argument. Winning is a part of the developmental process. Players and teams work on technical skill, conditioning and tactics to perform better in games. Winning is a measuring stick of that development. With flukish exceptions aside, you will win when you play better than the other team. When you win, you will leave the field with greater confidence in yourself, and greater passion to train and improve. The game provides situations that force development, managing a lead, responding to falling behind, coping with superior physical aggression or an aforementioned, prematurely developed ogre-athlete. These game lessons train athletes not just for their development as players, but for the larger inequities and challenges of life.

Losing is the ass end of winning, and is not without value. In defeat, there is a clarity to individual and team shortcomings that can in context sharpen the focus of development. In proper circumstances, teams lose because they fail to execute what they are trained to do, or lose their poise in the face of adversity. These failings should be addressed honestly, and subsequent training should be directed to tangible improvement in these areas.

It must be accepted that every team assembled does not have the talent or skill to win a title or even win a considerable amount. That said teams should compete in a league of comparable talent so that games are played competitively. No one benefits from a blow out, or a prolonged, uninterrupted series of ass-kickings. Ego should be put aside on both ends, teams playing up when they clearly lack the capacity to do so, and teams that play down to rack up meaningless wins. Competitive games are necessary to spur development and stoke the passion to play.

Cart Before the Horse

Much like my earlier obsession with sports psychologist Dan Abrahams, I have fallen hard for the writing on Last night, Jay Caspian Kang posted a terrific article on the broken brand of UNC player, Harrison Barnes. I have included the link at the bottom of this post and would encourage you to read as well, but the bottomline of Kang’s piece is that from the last two years of high school through present, Barnes has seen himself as an NBA-bound brand. As precocious as this maybe, and certainly Lebron James was much the same, it becomes problematic when the performance fails to measure up. This is where Barnes finds himself.

Manchester United coach, Sir Alex Ferguson,had a great quote near the end of David Beckham, another notable brand over substance guy, was reaching the end of his time with United, “You can’t hide from the pitch.”

It is a simple truth. Any athlete will ultimately be measured by what they accomplish on the field. No amount of hype, branding, community service or good humor will save them. Is Kang’s piece on Barnes a final judgment? No, Barnes has the power to change it, not with public apologies or PR manuevers, but by working on his game, and playing better when it counts. Over the last two years, no athlete has taken more heat (ouch) than Lebron James, but winning a title this year, and maybe next, and who knows one after that corrects all of that. Kobe Bryant’s rehabilitation from Colorado was culminated by winning an NBA title without Shaq.

An athlete should never forget how he is measured, nor forget that he controls that measurement through his own hard work.

Carnelius Whip Green

Here’s a clip of our former player Whip Green at Green Mountain College.

Whip played at oviedo for four years.  His freshman year he might have had the worst jump shot ever.  He routinely threw up air balls from fifteen feet on the baseline.  Thanks to hard work, he made great strides as shooter, player and person.  A few quick stories.  My first year on JV Whip was ready to be my top player.  After practice the night before our first game, he takes his shoes off walks to the parking lot and breaks his toe on the curb.  Out for six weeks.  He returned after Christmas and played great for us.

In a game against Lake Brantley, we were up 38-30 in the fourth quarter.  Whip was on the bench having gone about 2/9 on the night.  Brantley started pressing and we got shaky.  I refused to call a time-out.  Even when they tied the game we quickly inbounded to midcourt to John Boston and I thought we were fine.  Unfortunately, we missed a lay up and Brantley had the ball with a chance to take the lead.  We forced a jump ball on the other end and got possession.  I put Whip back in, he jogs down the left side of the floor catches it in the deep corner and casts up a three….WET!  We got the lead, and never looked back.

Who needs a time-out when a timely subsitution will carry the day?

Day 2 State Cup Final

The Motel 6 did me few favors. The old school air conditioning unit generated an unpleasant arctic chill even on “low cool”, I spent most of the night lying in the fetal position unable to sleep. The same fortunately could not be said for Bryson, who by most accounts managed several spells of deep sleep. The alarm sounded at 6:15, I was in the cramped shampoo-less shower by 6:20, and on the way to the game by 6:55.

The field made for a surreal scene on arrival. The early hour and heavy clouds resulted in the field lights being illuminated as though we were playing a night game. There was considerably less dew on the ground, and the game started brightly for us with a spell of sustained possession. We were up for the challenge of a strong opponent, but conceded in the 12th minute after a slick set play from a free kick. Unlike so many moments in the last seven months, our heads did not dip and we played on.

The rain started falling before the half and reached full fury in the early part of the second half which coincided with a 7-8 minute stretch where the game was played in front of our goal. Resolute defending against our opponent and the elements kept the game at 1-0. It was a showing of character so absent in our team history. As they half wore on the weather didn’t relent and neither did our resolve. Fairly late, Bryson had a well-positioned free kick, but hit into the wall. At the final whistle, we lost, but didn’t fall. We will be in Naples in three weeks time to play again for a birth in the sweet sixteen.

I would be remiss if I didn’t rant again against the powers that be for our miserable scheduling. Within fifteen minutes of our final whistle the rain stopped, and thirty minutes after that it was difficult to describe to anyone who wasn’t there the conditions we played in. So not only did we play twice before th crack of daw, we did so in the only games effected by rain. Why? The answer is dark and whorish. We had the misfortune of living 2-2.5 hours from the venue. This put us on the outskirts of the range upon which it would make better sense logistically and economically to drive to the games, and but for the hour of our games this would have been a better option, a fact well known to the organizers of the event. Thus at their corrupt logic we were compelled to pump collectively a few thousand dollars into the local economy. It is my hope that a cancer of great pains seeps into core of their whorish existence for their crimes against decency and a soccer community the pretend to serve.

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State Cup Day 1: Middle Finger to the Scheduling Gods

This weekend Orlando Futsal competed in the State Cup in Bradenton, a 2 and half hour drive from home. The scheduling Gods somehow saw fit to schedule our two games at 8:30 am Saturday and 8:00am on Sunday. This meant that I had the options, as they were, of driving from home at 5am both days, or getting on overpriced hotel for one or both nights. For Friday night, I got a hotel in Tampa.

On arrival it was evident that our hotel was not in the best part of town, and somewhat run down. The lobby featured an animated discussion over directions for leaving a nearby prison between the overweight desk clerk, and a skinny guy that alternately identified himself as a former inmate and a “casino-holic”. The decisive blow in the argument came from the skinny guy when he flung his arms wide, and yelled, “as many times as I have been to prison I know”. With that I was able to conclude the check in process while the obese desk clerk blatantly hit on two middle aged obese casino-bound women. Getting from the car to the room was complicated by the appearance of an unleashed dog. I didn’t bother to ask about wifi and passed out for the night watching Kentucky beat Indiana.

The alarm sounded at 6:15 and we made it to the vast Lakewood Ranch soccer complex at 7:30. The game kicked off at 8:30. We started well passing smoothly on the dew covered grass, and went up a goal in the first 15 minutes. The game meandered along as we squandered chances until the final 15 minutes when we took advantage of a dubious penalty to win 2-0. The game was notable mostly for the performance of the linesman, who had to have been either blind, retarded or a combination of thereof, and missed an extraordinary amount of calls, but mercifully had no role in the outcome of the game.

As is Bryson’s way I was forced to sit in the hot sun watching two other games that had nothing to do with our bracket. We did stay for the first half of a third game that pitted our freshly beaten opponent against our opponent of tomorrow. The new opponent wore AC Milan uniforms, and while not playing like the Italians pushed four goals over the line before halftime, which all, but qualifies us for the next round and pushed me to Chic-fil-a for lunch. I despise the waffle fry particularly whenit has potato skin on it. Sloppy work in the back room.

Finished the day by booking a room in Bradenton at the Motel 6. This was an upgrade for no other reason than the dog in the lobby was leashed.

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Reflections on the First Four in the Elite Eight





The night started with top-seed Syracuse playing Wisconsin. Syracuse played unevenly through the first two rounds and narrowly avoided an historic upset in the first round. Wisconsin is the veteran fighter lacking the transcendent qualities of a potential champion, but who’s resolve and durable chin serves as gatekeeper to the crown. Surprising no one that just read the previous sentence, the honeyless Badgers battled to the final horn before allowing Syracuse to pass through the gate to the final eight.

Ohio State road the ample back of Jared Sullinger past a game, but inferior Cincy team.

There was a time when Rick Pitino was John Calipari, maybe better. He has led three teams to the final four and actually won an NCAA title. At Kentucky, he built a juggernaut that had he not been seduced to the Celtics may have rivaled only Wooden. Sometimes that gets lost in the back of an Italian eatery or the wrinkles of his aging face, but last night Pitino’s Lousiville Cardinal knocked off top-seeded Michigan State rather easily.

The nightcap was a bit of a downer. Over the last week, I have developed a growing fodness for Buzz Williams, but his team couldn’t buy a basket or disrupt the Gators and fell by 10. After an early Marquette lead, Florida made a 19-4 run and the game was never in doubt. Credit to Billy Donovan, who has his team playing their best basketball when it matters most.

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