Sunday, March 30, 2008

And So It Goes

Brethren: We Sports Brethren have a pretty close connection to the Davidson community. The Cap't was a Florida boy who rocked the Davidson, NC, campus back in the late 60s/early 70s and one of my best friends did the same the past four years. These close ties have made me extremely connected to this March Madness ride that Stephen Curry and Co. have taken us on.

And, man, what a ride.

That's what I'm choosing to remember about the past few weekends of basketball. Not the questionable last play selection, not the fact that big bad Goliath eventually won out, not that a boring Final Four of all #1 seeds is what we've got. I'm going to remember the fact that alumni and friends of Davidson packed a Murray Hill bar in Manhattan to its gills on a glorious Friday night and Sunday afternoon. That this crowd cried out its hokey "Daaaave-iiiiddd-sooooon" cheer and adopted "Sweet Caroline" for a glorious three weeks. The fact that the media fell in love with this
team, with this school. That Dell Curry is back in my life so notably. That LeBron James wishes he had a Stephen Curry on his team. That Jason Richards is the player I honestly wish I could have become (seriously -- Friday night, against the Big Ten champs, he had 11 points, 13 assists, and zero turnovers -- in my head, that's the kind of the stat line the point guard I always believed I would become would produce in March on an Elite Eight team). That on a Sunday night, I'm extremely sad it's over.

Davidson, you have the basketball team we all wish we had -- and for that, I am extremely grateful. More sentimentalities and Wildcat lurve, desde:

Brethren (cont'd): I think the phrase I used the most this weekend was, "That's just absurd! This is ridiculous!" I said it mainly to my buddy, Steve, who wrote about his excitement on this here sports blog when the Cats made it to the Sweet Sixteen.

Because, honestly, what else can you say?

This 1700-person school did some amazing stuff this weekend. Don't let their heroic -- nay, tragic -- loss on this Sunday afternoon diminish what they accomplished. They dominated Wisconsin -- a team from a school 20 times their size. They shot, what, 54%? When you're used to watching basketball and seeing teams shoot 35-45%, and then you see a team shoot 54% for an entire game, it seems like they're making every basket. It's unreal. I feared looking at the really cute girl I met at the bar Friday night while I was talking to her, because fuck, I didn't want to miss anything!

But it's really beyond their amazing run of basketball that's the legacy this team will leave behind. They've helped shine some light on a really good school that produces top-notch people. In my native Southern tongue, quite simply, Davidson is good people.

They played so well. They smiled. They inspired. And even if the second half slipped away and they heroically fought the good fight, I'm not going to let that asterisk this weekend. I understand Kansas won today, but for me, the 2008 NCAA Tournament belongs to Davidson.

Thanks, Davidson. Thanks, Bryant Barr, Jason Richards, Bob McKillop, and of course, Stephen Curry.

I remember why I'm a fan.

Nacho: North Carolina's a little like Florida, where even the ones that don't make the big programs can still go toe to toe with all comers. Like South Florida this past football season.

What Stephen Curry did over these past two weeks will probably inspire a handful of kids to shoot another 50 J's during practice, which means in, like 7 years, college basketball's gonna be wikid amazing.

The Jump

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It Got Hot In Thurr

Nacho: The sun shines pretty bright out here in Southern California, but on a day like today, it shines even brighter. Last night, I got to witness the Charlotte Bobcats come in and destroy the Lakers at the Staples Center. It was glorious, despite the no-show on Adam Morrison's part. It's cool though; I still wore my Morristache shirt into the office today. Neat factoid: I played as many minutes as Adam did in both games played in LA this season. Hooray, season-ending injuries!

It was a glorious evening, one surrounded on all sides by Laker fans. I like Laker fans. They're not egregious assholes and their extreme knowledgeable. I sat next to a pair of fellers who consistently pointed out all the failings of the Lakers and their breadth of info kept me both informed, and immensely pleased with the Cats performance. I tried to keep the relish from my hotdog off of them.

The rest of the recap, and an explanation as to why Pam Anderson didn't want her child watching this sort of filth, after...

Nacho cont'd: The Cats went 2-0 this season when playing in Los Angeles on weeknights with me in attendance. I'm no statistician, but even I can clearly see how much better I make this team. I dress in full uniform (thanks for coordinating with the blue, guys. I looked like an ass at the Clippers game.) I really feel like what I bring to the table is vital and inspiring. These titans travel across an entire continent to play a game, and when they arrive they're greeted with disdain and inherent hatred. It does their soul good to see a fanatic from their hometown, all the way out here. It warms the cockles of their hearts, and it makes J Rich wanna drain threes.

And drain threes did J Rich.

The game was exceptionally fun for both Bobcats fans (I count me and Nelly.) The refs let a lot of fouls on both sides go, but the truth was inescapable: the Lakers, sans Bynum and Gasol have NO ONE who can match up in the middle. Nazr and Mek had their way with Tiny Turiaf and I'd have to take off my shoes cuz I'd run out of fingers if I tried to count the times Matt freaking Carroll drove the lane with positive results. On defense G Wall shut down Kobe, who had J Rich sniping at his ankles every time he touched the ball. Their double-teams obliterated whatever offensive game plan Phil Jackson had. Combine that with terrible shot selection, usually pretty early in the shot clock, by Vlad, Sasha and Rony and you've got yourself the fixin's for a down home, ol' fashioned Bobcats win.

As the final buzzer sounded I'd already positioned myself in a prime spot for high-fives. I knew without Morrison there was little need for me to have brought the camera I had borrowed, but I doled out hearty fives all the same. Ryan Hollins saw me, laughed, and exclaimed "Hey look, Adam dressed, too." Matt Carroll gave me his arm sleeve. It looked, smelt and felt like an oversized, soiled condom, and I will treasure it with all my heart. With Carroll's arm sleeve and Jeff McInnis's headband I'm slowly constructing the perfect Bobcat/Frankenstein hybrid.

So to all the fans that came out and got to watch Kobe creep ever closer to that fateful one-game suspension for too many Technical Fouls: sorry. Your team is 1-5 against the Bobcats in their history. We absolutely own your ass, and we're not giving it back any time soon, as evidenced by the great play of Jared Dudley, Carroll and Ray Ray.

Extra special sauce goes to J Rich who not only elevated his team, but also a couple of my fantasy teams as well. We're in the playoffs here, people, respect where it's due.

Pam sat real close to where I was. I'm guessing
this pic has more to do with Laker girls routines than
Vlad Rad's horrific shooting, but could be either.

The Jump

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New York Knows Davidson

Brethren: I live in New York City, where a close childhood friend who went to Davidson also lives. This past weekend ranks up there as one of the best sports weekends he's ever experienced, as the country embraced his small school on a level never known before. His words:

Steve "HB" Kaliski: In moving from Davidson College to New York City this past summer, I realized I was changing a lot more than my address. I was changing my entire universe. From the friendly confines of the Sweet Carolinian liberal arts to the big bad city, not much would survive in transition. These two worlds have as much to say to each other as a Village hipster and a downtown banker, as Cunningham Fine Arts and Martin Chemistry, as a Ewing dunk and a Curry three. Yeah, not a whole lot in common.

I bring this up simply because it’s impossible to talk about my Wildcat bliss this week without talking about New York. My life as a sports fan has been all about cheering for the underdog, and nothing—not Robin Ventura’s grand slam single in 1999, not the Panthers storybook road to the 2003 Super Bowl, not even Dell himself pouncing on Alonzo in the Hornets’ first playoff run—compares to the totally bizarre pride I felt at the New York Post headline “HOYA DESTROYAS!” Or the New York Times front-page “UNEXPECTED GUESTS.” Or a stream of text messages from 917 and 212 area codes reading “CONGRATULATIONS!”

Man, this is weird. New York knows Davidson.

S"HB"K: And nobody loves it more than the 100-strong contingent of Davidson alumni who gathered at the Eastside’s Mercury Bar this past weekend to watch our cats slay some serious dog. When people asked me where I watched the Sunday game, I said, “At a Davidson bar.” A Davidson bar? Like a Gator bar? Or a Hokie bar? Does such a thing exist? On Friday and Sunday it did, and I’ll never forget it.

You must understand: we ‘Cats are a frenzied population, workaholics and playaholics, avidly ready to cheer for our friends when they’re achieving something remarkable. But most of the time, we settle for localized frenzy, a bubble of fun we save for ourselves, telling others, “You shoulda been there.” Now, this whole “nationwide” idea…this is something different. At least for this week, when people ask me where I went to school, I won’t have to say, “Davidson College…North Carolina…just north of Charlotte…small liberal arts school…yeah…” A simple “DA-VID-SONNNN!” should suffice, and even if I have to clarify with, “You know, Stephen Curry,” I won’t mind at all.

And though I’m thrilled to welcome the world to momentary knowledge of my education, the most meaningful consequence of Curry and Company’s March magic is that I’ve never seen the Davidson community itself so united in enthusiasm. Whether on Facebook or Gmail or AIM, every Wildcat status this week says something like “SWEET 16!!” or “DETROIT ROCK CITY!” or simply “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” On a campus where academics loom large, it takes a force mightier than a four-point play to inspire this kind of pandemic pride. It takes a four-point play as the ignition for one of the most inspiring underdog comebacks of all time, a comeback guaranteeing that the ’08 Hoyas will never hear “Sweet Caroline” again without a sweet sweet pang of “How did that happen?!”

Wisconsin, beware. No one wants you to succeed.
The Jump

Of Man-Babies and Perspective

Nacho: Cap'n Pappy graduated from Davidson in, like, 1912 or something. He gives us his take on his beloved Wildcats, whether we ask for it or not...

Cap'n Pappy:
Back in the spring of '69, just a couple of months before Neil Armstrong would take "one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind", I thought I would check the roundball team of the college I would be attending in the coming fall. I mean, how good could they really be? A small group of their students with Rhett Butler accents had just won the College Bowl (kind of a nerd's version of Jeopardy) where college students competed against each other in answering obscure questions about history, archeology, and literature, beating Harvard, Yale, Penn and others. So I adjusted the rabbit ears, the vertical and horizontal on the TV set, and then WALKED BACK ACROSS THE ROOM to sit down (yes our version of the remote at the time was to get your little brother or sister to walk up to the TV and change the channel).

Cap'n, cont'd: Well, it turns out that it was Lefty Driesell's last season at Davidson and Charlie Scott of Carolina would score at the buzzer over the outstretched arms of Wildcat defenders at the top of the key to advance Carolina to the Final 4 from the East Regional (back in the day when ONLY the conference champion went the to the Big Dance). Terry Holland took over from Lefty and my school of 1170 students would continue what would become its perennial advance to the NCAA tournaments during my tenure there. Since I was a Floridian, I had me some learnin to do about ACC basketball and Davidson basketball. Yeah I knew the SEC and Adolph Rupp and the Duke teams of the mid 60's with Marin, Vacendak, and a guy named Jeff Mullins (who would later coach at UNCC). When I got to Davidson I had to memorize the local traditions: Snyder, Hetzel, Huckle, and yes, Terry Holland. I'll never forget the road trips into the Olde Charlotte Coliseum (a 50's vintage building that looked that the UFO that Michael Rennie emerged from in "The Day the Earth Stood Still") to watch Cook, Kroll, Kirley, Malloy, and Bryan Adrian match up against South Carolina with Roach, Riker, and Ribock, and the Tar Heels when Dean Smith had hair. We loved having Carolina students visit the Davidson campus so we could whistle and shout out "Here, Dean" to the lab running around campus (Terry Holland named his dog Dean Smith). Mike Malloy's fro was way better than Will Ferrell's.

I never thought I'd live long enough to see the Cats challenge the power schools again. I cannot tell you how much I love that the Hornets legacy of Dell Curry/Stephen Curry whipped the butts of Ewing Jr./ and JT3. I ran into a die-hard Hokie fan in an airport last weekend who was disconsolate that Va Tech's coach Greenberg offered the younger Curry a possible scholarship beginning in the sophomore year if he would walk on as a freshman. That's only 30 ppg (or is it per half) the Hokies are missing this year. Not to men tion a very nice character antidote to Michael and Marcus Vick. I also love it that Bob McKillop is following in the tradition of Lefty Driesell and Terry Holland in recruiting outside the box. Lefty was one of the first guys to comb the entire country to find a few guys who wouldn't mind moving from Ohio, Florida, NYC, or Australia to Davidson NC to play college hoops and drink beer at Hattie's Truck Stop. McKillop has just expanded Lefty's Davidson horizons to become a global recruiter (Europe/Africa/Australia). Just a note to the Badgers (the next bowl of Cat-food): how many languages can you talk trash in?
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Sunday, March 16, 2008

This Day in History: Three Weeks Ago

Brethren: This day, three weeks ago, I attended my first NHL game. I had been to professional hockey games to see the ECHL's Charlotte Checkers play, but I hadn't ever been to the game played at its highest form. Needlesstosay, I was not disappointed.

I went to Madison Square Garden three weeks ago and saw the New York Rangers play the Florida Panthers. First off, it was weird to root against a professional sports team named the Panthers, but after ignoring my quick-triggered sports concscience, I enjoyed the experience immensely. I like to do things right when I do them for the first time (a la staying at the MGM, playing golf, and being rowdy on my parent's dime when I went to Vegas for the first time). And one thing I can sure say about that Sunday night: I did my first NHL game right.

Some fine thoughts, a quick note about the beginning of March Madness, and perhance some Nacho musings, desde:

Brethren (cont'd): First off, my field trip to Madison Square Garden was courtesy of a buddy's parents, with whom I share this island we live on. They are Canadian. They are very Canadian. My friends and I simply call our buddy, "Canuck," because he's a dirty, dirty man who hails from Toronto. Canuck's dad is the CEO of Bank Of New York Mellon -- and I'm his boss, as I own 11 shares of that fine company. As the saying goes, he's kinda a big deal. He's also one of the most fascinating persons I've ever met. He's unapologettically Canadian, extremely quick-witted, and used to tell his son, Canuck, that they like his sister better every night Canuck went to bed when he was 8. This is the kind of father I aspire to be: a baller, hilarious, and kinda a dick to my kids, in that loving way.

So Canuck's dad was sick and I got called up from the proverbial bullpen to accompany Mrs. Canuck and Canuck's two (even more) Canadian cousins to the game. When I got the call that I'd be attending the game, I immediately assumed our seats would be kick-ass. They were. We were sitting on the 6th row, center ice, opposite the benches. At hockey games, sometimes you don't want to get too close so you can't see the entire rink. We weren't too close. It was just right.

After depositing ourselves in the club seats, our waiter immediately showed up and we ordered beers. He punched in the order, which was electronically sent to the concession stand, far away. I like that our waiter himself didn't have to deliver our order himself. It kinda made me think that soon enough at sporting events, I'll just be able to muse that I'd like a Bud Diesel, and it'll show up.

The two teams entered the ice, and then we had the national anthem. Sung by a deep-voiced New Yorker, I knew before the end of the song that this was not your typical NFL or NBA game. People were hootin and hollerin throughout the duration of the rendition, and cheers poured throughout the arena. I had never heard a crowd so excited about the national anthem. At SEC football games, people go crazy for the tradition, but usually remain somewhat quiet during the singing. Not hockey fans.

As the game started, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that hockey fans pay attention quite well. Because the game is so fast and a scoring play can unveil itself so quickly, you're pretty much forced to keenly pay attention, and the MSG crowd did not disappoint. The game itself was a blowout, with the Rangers winning 5-0. I had no idea Jagmir Jagr was even still in the league, and he scored a goal.

Of course, the true highlight of the night was the fact that the Rangers got into two fights. The first one was a strict 15-minute penalty because the two kept fighting after the refs tried to separate them after they hit the ice. The second one was interesting because it seemingly escalated out of nowhere. Each fight wasn't particularly rough or had a great punch, but grown men being allowed to fight is always awesome.
Hockey fights rule.

I also appreciated all the line changes more in person. As Canuck's cousins explained to me, ideally, each player would like to play in 30-60 second sprints, because that's the optimal way to play. You need to be at full bore the entire time, and you need a talented team to pull off a solid three lines. All-in-all, I feel much more knowledgeable after one live hockey game, and I hope to be back soon.

NCAA thoughts: Unless UVA's in it, I'm not much of a watcher of Selection Sunday. I don't get real excited about whether or not Drake's a six seed and whatnot. Just get me those brackets, let me dissect 'em, and take people's money.

One thing that did tickle me green this afternoon was during the ACC Championship game. Clemson grad JLew was up in NYC for the weekend, and he and I were watching the game. I'm sure somewhere else in Blogfrica (I'd imagine Awful Announcing's on it) this will be documented, but I had to mention it: sometime in the second half, Mike Patrick was talking about Tyler Hansborough's missing contact. In an attempt to tell a related story, Dickie V started off a story by saying, "Let me tell you about that -- my wife was on her knees this morning..."

Now I'm sure the story had something to do trying to find a contact on the floor, but neither JLew or I heard the rest, as we couldn't stop cracking up at Dickie V's intro. I'm sure his wife hasn't blown him in years, but here he was on national TV, lying about it to the watching sports world. I would have loved to seen Mike Patrick's face when he heard that story intro.

Good old Dickie V. Great to have him around.

Nacho: I'll say this and only this: Gonzaga, Davidson's gonna be a helluva game.
The Jump

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cats on a roll!

Brethren: Lots of action going in our Cats world. The boys at the Panthers Headquarters are sticking to their game plan: cutting high-priced veterans who we can get better value for and signing under-the-radar free agents who have a history of producing. They had a busy day on Friday, adding the Bengals' leading tackler, versatile LB Landon Johnson and a big back (who doesn't fumble!) from Jacksonville, LaBrandon Toefield.

But the real news round these parts is the YOUTH MOVEMENT going on with the Bobcats. Our Cats are in the middle of their franchise-tying four game (take that, bitches) winning streak, led by Ray-Ray Felton, Matt Carroll and Jared Dudley.

And although this has all come from almost a direct result of cutting my appointed basketball equivalent, Jeff McInnis, I must say, I was at the Knicks-Bobcats game last Wednesday, and it was very apparent this team was lethargic and needed a shake up.

More thoughts and Nacho's musings after..

Brethren (cont'd): The Knicks game was, in a word, pathetic. Neither team was playing well. The Knicks used a late second quarter run to put the game out of reach. We were down 2, then all of sudden, the Cats were down 20. It lasted like that for much of the rest of the game, and then it was thankfully over. I was sad we lost, it was disappointing to see our team suck like that, but the most annoying thing was that in a garbage time bucket, Matt Carroll sent us over the "over" and I lost my bet on the game. All in all, I was more apathetic than actually upset. I then went and played some darts and drank some beers.

But now, I'm wrapped back in! Within a week and a half, we're in the midst of our franchising-best winning streak and I'm quite excited.

Yes, the Cats YOUTH MOVEMENT has taken down The Dinos, the TWolves, the Warriors, and the Hawks. Three potential playoff teams in there. The swagger, the confidence that this team has shown with RayRay, Jim from The Office, and the Rook leading the way is contagious. They're playing the way a loose team does, and while they're still 16 games under .500 at 23-39, here's the kicker:

The Charlotte Bobcats are 3 games out of the final Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Hey, some Southern brethren can dream, right?

Nacho: Halfway through my first sentence I got the text:

Fifth in a row! Franchise record!

That does my soul good. This streak comes at a time when I need something to keep the hopes up. I feel like a new inmate at Shawshank, being told the ol' Dufrense story for the first time. I don't want to do anything to jinx it. Sure, one could make a case, in this semi-late doldrums of a long and punishing season, that those potential play off teams don't mind losing a game or two, especially if it means your team leader *cough*Chris Bosh*cough* gets to sit out said meaningless game, I might be forced to at least acknowledge the possibly....but instead...

The Jump

Monday, March 3, 2008

Don't Bring Your Fists To A Whiffle Bat Fight

Nacho: While it pains me to write this post, it had to be done.

People, we've been over this. Don't bring your fists to a whiffle bat fight. That's right, the esteemed learning institution that the SportsBrethren owned is in the news, and it ain't good publicity. Seems some kids got in a fight over a whiffle ball game and one dude ended up unconscious.

Naturally, the Chattanooga PD put their best cop on the case, Kim Noorbergen. Nice try, Kim, but we all see right through your alias:

Kim Noorbergen's dad?

More shenanigans, after...

Nacho cont'd: Tempers flare and emotions run high in the valley below Lookout Mountain. You've got a deadly mixture of hormones, boner-inducing scenery, and rednecks. It's a cocktail of a powder keg of high gravity situations. It was only a matter of time before someone snapped and some kid ended up in the hospital.

I did expect better from the whiffle ball crowd though. Sure, you expect these kind of tiffs on the high-octane fields of Flickerball or the Football Jumbo Jamboree, but not whiffle ball.

This is a message directly for the fine, young men of McCallie: shape up, or you will not receive......A BIG COOKIE
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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bobcats Win and Other Oddly Interesting Things for a Sunday

Nacho: Here we are in the doldrums of late-winter/early-spring, going about our days attending prom-themed parties and drinking spiked punch and the sports world up and gives us something interesting to talk about. How insensitive of them.

In between a Bobcats win and Kobe entertaining us all the way through overtime, we've had a flurry of free agent activity. Looks like the Falcons' old tight end, and Tar Heel, Algernon Crumpler got himself a job with the Titans. To compensate, the Falcons took LaDanian back up Michael Turner off the Chargers hands. And to finish it off, Carl Edwards won his 2nd consecutive NASCAR race. People, I'm trying to recover from prom here, I can't take all this action.

In summation, I'd like to formally extend an invitation for Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper to visit Charlotte. I love me some Matt Moore, but we could use some more experience at back up QB, not to mention how effing scary our receiving corps would be with Smithy and Moss. So c'mon on down and try some sweet tea. We'll make it worth your while.

Brethren's Sunday thoughts, after...

Breathren: Couldn't agree more with Nacho -- how silly of sports to be relevant in late February/early March. How wise he is. I, myself, was in our nation's capital for the weekend, hanging out with Sisterin, JLew, and my UVA boys. Sisterin works at a fake company, called Corporate Executive Board, and the company had a Prom on Saturday night that I crashed. Awesome times.

As for our sports world, The Offseason Overhaul continues at Carolina Panthers headquarters. If Fox/Hurney say shipping Jenkins for 3rd and 5th round picks was a necessary move, I'll believe them. I was always a Jenkins fan, but it's been apparent for some time that he wasn't the best fit on this team. I especially liked that he called out Warren Sapp for having a stanky soul and I liked that he called out this team's heart in the beginning of the year last year. But we got some value out of him and I'm happy about that.

I second Nacho's request for Culpepper and Moss to visit the QC. Ask Jake and Smitty: we got Bojangles'! It's amazing!

And in the best news of the weekend, Sisterin is moving to Chicago in April, and she'll be living 3 blocks from Wrigley field. That's all sorts of awesome, as the Cubs home field is one of the best MLB stadiums I've been to. I'm looking forward to making a trip this summer and getting drunk in the bleachers.

We got a big few weeks of sports coming up: college basketball heats up, MLB starts back, NBA sorts out, and the NFL free agency continues on! Be good, sportsfans.
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