Archive for basketball

lavoris and the wizard people

well dear reader, it’s been a few days since i wrote anything on here.  last semester came and went. and then winter break (or as i rather enjoy calling it, christmas break) came and went (by the way, i happened to have a quite a fabulous break and did some quite fabulous stuff, but i’ll be letting you know about that later.  it isn’t quite the time for that yet).  and now i’m back here at the university of connecticut for yet another extended period of growth, learning, and education (it happens to be my sixth one of those in case you were wondering).  seeing as it’s a new semester with new teachers and new work and new toothpaste (i’m currently using the “original cinnamon flavor” paste that is sold by some company called “lavoris” [which seems to be owned and/or operated by another company known as “charlesflora consumer products, llc”].  interestingly, the company’s website mentions a bunch of different mouthwashes that they sell, but no toothpastes [you can, however, purchase a tube from cvs online. thank goodness].  even more interestingly, i happened to purchase this wonderful variety of paste at ocean state job lot.  that being said, with consideration toward the lack of representation on the company website, there’s a good chance that it’s toxic and/or carcinogenic.  oops.  but the flavor’s not bad.  you always have to take the cons with the pros, i guess), things have gotten a bit backed up.  there’s probably a good deal of laziness involved as well, but we’ll just blame it on lots of stuff to do.  if nothing else dear reader, it makes me look better, and seeing as i’m the one writing, looking better sounds like a good plan.

that being said, we can move onto the important (yeah…) stuff.  it just so happens that this semester, i’m taking my first ever university english class.  technically speaking, everyone is required to take an intro-level english class when they get into the school, but i took care of that requirement in high school, so i didn’t.  it’s been rather interesting.  it’s a fun little class about the bible.  uh oh… he said bible but didn’t have a disclaimer at the top of the page.  how does that work?  well you see, it is a bible class.  but it’s also called “the bible as literature”.  so it’s not really a bible class.  it’s like a normal english class with a normal english book but with many more biblical allusions (seeing as every word, theoretically speaking, is referencing the bible… because it’s in the bible).  that’s the way it’s supposed to work at least.  faith does creep into the discussions occasionally, often by accident, but those flames are usually quenched in a timely manner.  i must say, dear reader, it’s a really different way to take the bible and read it.  it’s kind of like trying to watch a uconn vs tennessee women’s basketball game and appreciate the good play of both teams from an unbiased perspective (in the terms of the laypersons [so politically correct], that means it’s hard to do).

just this past yesterday, we handed in our first essays for the class.  my decision-making skills were shown to be a bit hazy with this paper, dear reader.  basically, i wrote a thesis that contradicts thousands of years of jewish tradition and literary merit (and because i know you’re all so interested and curious, my paper was about how while abraham [normally seen as one of the uber-cool guys and big time patriarchs in jewish tradition and history] did do a lot of good stuff for the jews and set their big long journey in motion, he also cursed them with his mistakes and led to a lot of israelite woes long after he had died.  does it line up to anything that anyone thinks?  probably not.  but hey, college is all about experimenting).  as far as trying to make a good impression with your first paper goes, that was kind of, in a word, dumb.  but i had a genius idea as i was trying to decide what to write about and went with it.  i suppose we can just see how things turn out when i get it back.

the one thing that i really took out of writing this paper, however, was that coming up with ideas (even if they are crazy, and maybe even moreso if they are) and writing about them can be a pretty cool thing.  creativity, in a nutshell, is top-notch.  being in a major of quite a musical degree, dear reader, i don’t get to do that a whole lot.

so wait a minute here.  why the heck does he keep writing the stupid “dear reader” thing?  sure, maybe it’s an endearing thing to say… once.  but saying it again and again is just overkill.  with that thought, i agree.  and as such, an explanation.  i’ve actually been plagiarizing that phrase.  i know, not very nice, but it’s getting proper acknowledgment now, so that makes it okay(ish).  i came across a cute little link recently (with the help of the oh so powerful facebook mini-feed [which i’ve have been known to appreciate and, dare i say, praise in the past]) that happens to incorporate said phrase and that i feel shares and exposes my sentiments on creativity quite perfectly.  plus, it’s got harry potter, so how can you go wrong?  it’s a fantastic multimedia experience by some crazy dude named brad neely.  basically, mr. neely took the first harry potter film (which may involve the stone of a certain sorcerer and/or philosopher) and wrote his own script for it called “wizard people, dear reader”.  simply put, you turn down the volume on the movie, crank the volume on the audio file, click play on both at (approximately) the same time, and let the magic (no pun intended) unfold before your eyes.  i must warn you, our friend the narrator does have a bit of a potty mouth at times, but with exception to that, it’s quite a ride.  i provide you with  the “re-envisioned” (as they call it) audio here so that you can join the adventures of hp, the wretched harmony, and ronnie the bear.  you can “just say no” and leave here untainted or click the dazzling link and go for it.  the choice is yours.  all i can say, dear reader, is don’t choose incorrectly.

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return of the tooth squand

well… believe it or not, summer is long gone.  long gone-ish, i guess.  i’ve been at the lovely university for a week worth of class now and was here for a week of band camp (yup, this one time… well, i’m sure you already know the drill) before that, so to me personally, summer’s been done for a while.  and i’ll just put it out there (i don’t like making big speeches.  i’m a straight shooter.  i call them like i see them. what you see is what you get.  ain’t nobody gonna break my stride.  ain’t nobody gonna slow me down. [that’s from the ever-chuckle-inducing “not another teen movie”, by the way]).  i like summer.  a bunch.  i like being at home and not having a million (and a half) things to worry about every moment of my day.  so the end of summer, for me, is a bit of a sad time.but anyway.  the start of school does have it’s perks.  one such perk just so happens to be the purchasing of a brand new, shiny (or not so shiny) tube of toothpaste.  i scoured the shelves of walmart for the best paste possible and ended up going back to the old favorite, crest pro health.  but!  it now comes in several delicious flavors.  so i’m now the lucky owner of cinnamon flavored tooth squand, instead of the obsolete minty tooth squand.  such excitement, i know.thankfully for you, however, today’s words will be about more than just tooth squand (though trust me, i could go on and on about it).  today’s wonderful focus will instead be on rules.  yes, rules.  specifically, how they are dumb.  now, not all rules are dumb.  take the “you can’t call timeout as you’re falling out of bounds” rule that was recently instated in the game of college basketball.  that’s a solid rule.  you can’t be diving for a ball, have little or no control of your body, and also claim to have enough possession to call a timeout.  it just makes no sense.  so yes, definitely a good rule.the problem is that many rules aren’t as logical as that one.  so many times, “the man” (as we will hereby refer to anyone deserving such recognition) will formulate rules for ease of control and administration that are downright silly. and believe it or not, the reason i’m bringing up this regulatory topic is that i have recently found such a rule. an unjust and unnecessary rule that the man has tossed into my path (not to mention the paths of so many others) for no reason but to scoff at me (and/or us). this rule is about candles. it is found in section 18, paragraph g of the university of connecticut housing contract and reads as such: “the burning of candles and/or incense is prohibited in all university-owned housing. candles and/or incense are prohibited in all university-owned housing. residents found responsible for burning candles and/or incense may be removed from university-owned housing.” ridiculous, i know. now to make sure that i’m not hiding any true feelings or biases about the issue, i’ll come clean right here from the get go. i would like to have and burn a candle in my dorm room. it would be nice. otherwise, it’s going to have no chance but to smell like dirty laundry, sweat, shoes, and other not-so-pleasant things. the only real smell-producers are bad ones. so a good smell to counteract those would be fabulous. especially if it was something like a fruit smoothie scented candle (which i may or may not have purchased at the beginning of the year before being informed of the newfound regulations). it’s not like i’m asking for the world. just a decent smell to live in.but no. i can only live in filth. this is what the university students pay for. living in filth. of course, i do understand the initial reasoning behind this new rule (and by the way, the whole rule isn’t new. you were never allowed to light candles [or anything else for that matter] in your room before. but they added the complete candle ban this year). if there are no candles then there are no lit candles. if there are no lit candles then there are no burning candle wicks. if there are no burning candle wicks then the fire safety issue (for candles, at least) disappears. it is a bit understandable. but then again, it just goes back to the man trying to make it easier on himself. i have never had a candle burning in my dorm room. and that unlit candle has thusly never caused a fire. so why should i be punished for doing what i was told? seems a little sketchy to me.and since we’re on the topic of lovely section 18, paragraph g, i’d like to take a step back and look at it a little more closely. it first prohibits burning candles and incense in your housing. alright. and toward the end, it states the punishment, that having a candle in your room can get you kicked out of your housing. sure. but how about the middle line. “candles and/or incense are prohibited in all university-owned housing.” um… wait a second. if you can’t have a candle, how are you supposed to burn one? seems like with line two there, line one becomes a wee bit redundant. yeah. oops for sure. kind of. for you see, this is from the 2007-2008 housing contract. a quick look at the 2006-2007 housing contract (which is substantially less stylish than its descendant) shows us where our little problem comes from. the older version states only as follows (in what was at that point section 15, paragraph g): “the burning of candles and/or incense is prohibited in all university-owned housing. residents found responsible for burning candles could be removed from the residence halls. possession of previously burned candles is prohibited.” you see, they only had the burned (or “burnt” depending on your grammatical preference) candle bit. they had to add the sweeping candle ban line because of the new sweeping candle ban rule. so they did. of course, they could have been intelligent students of writing and removed the unnecessary line afterward. but why? that would make too much sense. what do you think this place is for? smart people?while we’re here, i think it would be helpful for us to take a peek at section 18, paragraph t. it’s a doozy. within this portion, there is a small bit found within parentheses. as anyone who has read any post on this blog knows, such parenthetical use is found mostly (if not always) in unneeded times of overkill and repetitiveness. so for your sake, i will leave that part out. with that addendum, it reads as follows: “any activity which could cause personal injury or cause damage to property is prohibited within university-owned housing. snow ball throwing and/or fights is prohibited in or around residential facilities.” if you happen to disregard the snow ball portion (which seems really strange and random, considering that it is the only activity mentioned on its own), you are left with quite a statement. “any activity which could cause personal injury or cause damage to property is prohibited within university-owned housing.” wow… so we had a “welcome back” floor meeting the other day, and the hall director told us to be careful in the shower because someone had cut his hand somehow while in one of them. now i’m thinking that slicing open my hand sounds a bit like personal injury to me, so according to the rule, showering is now prohibited (thank goodness i’m already living in filth anyways or i might have been a bit upset). just thinking about it for a moment, i’d have to say that basically anything “could cause personal injury”. it probably won’t. but it could. and that’s what the rule says. oh man.so unfortunately, i cannot continue our lovely sharing time. apparently, staring at a computer screen for too long isn’t really very good for your eyes. i hope nobody finds out i’ve been looking at it. i’m not sure where i’d go if i got kicked out. though, on the bright side, i could probably bring my candle. and that would be nice. regardless, i leave you now with this line of inspiration by the fabulous jack black from his performance in the cinematic classic “school of rock”: “give up, just quit, because in this life, you can’t win. yeah, you can try, but in the end you’re just gonna lose, big time, because the world is run by the man. the man, oh, you don’t know the man? he’s everywhere. in the white house… down the hall… ms. mullins, she’s the man. and the man ruined the ozone, he’s burning down the amazon, and he kidnapped shamu and put her in a chlorine tank! and there used to be a way to stick it to the man. it was called rock ‘n roll, but guess what, oh no, the man ruined that, too, with a little thing called mtv! so don’t waste your time trying to make anything cool or pure or awesome ’cause the man is just gonna call you a fat washed up loser and crush your soul. so do yourselves a favor and just give up!”true story. ish.

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the big dance

i don’t know what kind of person you happen to be. especially considering that the “you” that is being referred to is actually an infinite number of people all believing that i’m talking directly to them. but that doesn’t really matter. because it’s me we’re here to talk about. and i do know that i happen to be the kind of person that likes to watch the university of connecticut huskies basketball team play (believe it or not) basketball. the soccer team is cool and the hockey team isn’t too bad either. and football…well, we’ll just say that they’re not quite “on par” as of yet. but the basketball team, that’s top notch fun. i’ve grown up watching both of the teams (men and women) since i was but a wee little youngster. and it’s good stuff.

i’ll let you know that i’m writing these wonderful words of praise in the midst of having watched many ncaa tournament games in the past couple of days, and interestingly, one thing that has been conspicuously absent thus far has been any presence of uconn players on the court. of course, that conspicuosity will be ending later this evening when the uconn women take the court against the basketball super power known as the university of maryland – baltimore county retrievers at the hartford civic center sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 pm (it’s marked differently depending on which newspaper, television station, or website you happen to be checking. plus, it really just depends on when the game before it ends, so there is actually a very slim possibility that it will start much later). but after the women take the court tonight, the absence of the uconn men will continue. and it will do so throughout the college basketball postseason, as those same men had a bit of a rough year and didn’t exactly get into either of the postseason tournaments. and i remind you that this was a men’s team that began the season as the eighteenth ranked team in the country and climbed all the way up to to the number nine ranking in the espn / usa today poll courtesy of their 10-0 start. sometimes, though, reality sets in and really blows. unfortunately, they had to start playing mediocre (and occasionally good) teams instead of bad teams and went into a bit of a freefall throughout the rest of the season, finishing up with a rather un-uconnesque 17-14 record. so no tournament for those boys. i guess they’ll just have to go back to stealing laptops or whatever it is they do in the offseason.

while it would be nice to have a male team in the march madness mayhem (hooray for alliteration), it’s been quite a learning experience for me. being in the women’s pep band and getting to travel wherever they happen to travel throughout their tournament, i’ve been anxiously awaiting tonight’s game and the (hopefully) awesome couple of weeks that it will kick off. but the way they set up the tournaments, i had to wait through a couple days of men’s games before getting to the women’s games. and i’ll admit, i wasn’t too excited about the men’s tournament this year. usually i’m all over the whole filling out brackets and trying to be the cool kid that picks all the crazy upsets of the year (like back in the 2005 tournament when i watched kevin pittsnogle single-handedly carry my bracket with number 7 west virginia beating number 10 creighton and then upsetting number 2 wake forest and number 6 texas tech in the albuquerque bracket). and i did that for the women big time. i went through and checked out the teams and filled out the maximum five brackets in the espn.com tournament challenge and all that (though it’s tough with the women because you always want to pick good upsets but not as many happen in the women’s tournament). with the men, though, i filled out one bracket and was in a definite “whatever” kind of mood about it. without my team in it, the whole thing seemed a whole lot less exciting.

and then the tournament started. luckily, i had signed up for “march madness on demand” from cbs (which lets me watch any and all of the men’s ncaa tournament games live on the internet) back before the big east tournament when the uconn men still had a chance to get into the ncaa tournament (if all of the other big east teams had eaten bad shellfish, causing them to become too sick to play and thus giving the huskies the big east title [and the corresponding automatic ncaa tournament bid] by default). because of that luck, i was able to watch the games if i wanted to. and it just so happened that back on thursday, when the tournament started, i had a project that i wanted to procrastinate on. so i decided to watch a game. so i did. and then i watched another. and pretty soon i was jumping back and forth between games, and well, basically, i got sucked in.

by the time the evening came and the duke/vcu (virginia commonwealth [because we all know that virginia is technically a commonwealth and not a state] university) game was on, i was gone. i had caught the tournament bug. and it just so happened that in my one bracket i had picked vcu to upset duke. so i’m sitting there watching the fuzzy internet feed of the game, while listening through my headphones (because somewhere in the several hours of watching, my roommate had come back and was doing something else), and loving it. of course, i could have walked over and turned on the game on the actual tv and my roommate wouldn’t have minded at all, but i was too into it to move. i probably even stopped blinking at some point. it was that cool. if there had been any chance of me just watching the tournament that day and then deciding it was just a one-hit wonder of a day for me, this game crushed any thought of that. as i watched vcu strategically tire out duke in the first half and pull to within two points at halftime (after having been down thirteen early on), i just couldn’t wait for the second half.

now you have to understand. i go to uconn, so i’m a uconn fan. but way beyond that, i’ve always been a uconn fan. my parents are big uconn fans, and i grew up with my normally calm and composed father sitting there screaming at the televsion during uconn basketball games. so i just kind of grew up with it and grew up into it.

if you hadn’t noticed (and/or this happens to be the first post of my weblog that you find yourself reading [and if that’s the case, salutations]), i also happen to be a somewhat religious kind of person. and with these two things (namely uconn basketball and christianity) being rather formative in my childhood, i’ve learned that life can be lived in it pretty legitimate (if not very good) manner by following one simple instruction: “you must love one another as god loves you and love your neighbor as yourself, unless she is a tennessee volunteer.” i’m really not much of a bible scholar or anything, but i think that’s in the book somewhere. and if not, it was probably just edited out due to length issues (i mean, you had to milk a lot of squids to get enough ink back in those days). but anyways, the rivalry between the uconn and tennessee women’s basketball teams is pretty much unquestionably the greatest rivalry in women’s basketball. regardless of rank or team status, it’s a great game whenever those two teams get out on the court. unfortunately (for whatever reason), many more people go to watch men’s basketball games (in general) than women’s basketball games. being in the pep band and going to the games, i got to witness firsthand how few people went to a lot of the women’s home games (both at gampel pavilion and the hartford civic center). but let me tell you, when tennessee came to town back in january, the civic center was packed to the brim and people were going nuts. it was cool. (at this point, you may have no idea where i’m going with this paragraph, but here it comes, the tie-in.) so with such an incredible rivalry on the women’s side of things, it would be hard for the men to match that. and honestly, they don’t come close. syracuse is a big east rival, but it’s nothing like tennessee. in my opinion, the closest that the men have to such a rivalry is with duke. it is true that the uconn and duke men don’t play each other all that often. but it’s also true that when they do get to play each other, it’s almost always a game to remember. in addition to having live feeds of all of the tournament games, the “march madness on demand” webpage from cbs that i mentioned earlier also has a “historical highlights” section with twenty-five classic tournament highlights spanning from 1983 to 2006. if you take a semi-close look at those clips, you’ll notice a few things. first of all, uconn and duke are the two teams with the most number of highlights (five and four, respectively). second, they are the only pair of teams that have multiple highlights playing each other (one from 1990 and one from 1999). does that tell you something? maybe. maybe not. something else to remember is that the two times that the uconn men have won the basketball national championship (in 1999 and 2004), they’ve had to go through duke to get there. in 1999, they played each other in one of the grittiest national title games (dare I say) ever, and in 2004, they played in a semi-final game that basically everyone in the country agreed was pretty much the title game (with the winner just having to beat a decent, but not great, georgia tech team in the final). so with all that in mind, i don’t know about you, but i smell at least a bit of rivalry.

and finally, that brings us back to thursday’s matchup. as i sat there, it was great. even though they’re now j.j. reddick-less and aren’t all that duke-like this year (along the same lines that uconn wasn’t very uconn-like this year), it was still a pretty nice feeling to watch them struggle against the eleventh-seeded vcu. those darn blue devils came out in the second half and gained their lead back and it was a little depressing, but with around eleven (coincidence, i think not) minutes remaining, the vcu rams decided to stage a comeback. and they did. and it was darn exciting. as i sat their watching both the minutes on the gameclock and the duke lead dwindle, the madness had taken full control of me. in the game’s final minutes, there were several occasions when i cheered and pumped my fist in the air in excitement, and my roommate probably thought i was nuts (considering i was still watching the fuzzy internet feed with the headphones on, and he couldn’t see or hear any of it). but it was worth it, big time. basically, vcu: 79 – duke: 77 says it all. if i couldn’t watch uconn win on that day, watching duke lose was definitely the next best thing.

so i guess i have to thank the virginia commonwealth university rams for reminding me about how ridiculously awesome college basketball can be. even when your team isn’t in the mix. unlike the pros, college basketball is about teams that are like families. it’s about school pride. it’s about those kids on that virginia campus now being able to talk about that one game for the next twenty years. the players and the coaches aren’t there because they get paid millions and millions of dollars. they aren’t there to become superstars and set records and do all those things that the professionals get caught up in. the college players are there to grow up, play basketball, and enjoy themselves along the way. while i’m still about as anti-tennessee basketball as anybody, the two coaches at that school (pat summitt and bruce pearl) showed this season exactly what i’m trying to say. in short, they get it. in an age where a lot of coaches like to stick to their suits and offices, bruce showed up to a women’s game shirtless, painted orange, and cheering as loud as anyone in the front row of the student section. pat summitt then thanked him by showing up to a men’s game dressed like a cheerleader, leading the arena in the school’s unofficial fight song “rocky top”, and climbing to the top of a cheerleader pyramid.

Bruce Pearl

Pat Summitt

that is what college sports are all about. and basically that’s the reason why i love college basketball and could care less about the nba. it’s just not the same. and so with the uconn women’s opening round game fast approaching, i just hope that they’ll be able to make up for the men’s rough season. watching them win the national championship from probably about ten feet away from the court (which is where the band gets to sit [or stand, rather, as it’s way too exciting to sit]) would be pretty incredible. though as long as they win their first two games and i get to skip some classes and fly out to fresno, california, for the third and fourth rounds, i guess i won’t really be able to complain all that much even if they don’t win it all. and who knows, maybe we’ll get to play against tennesssee for the championship.

but regardless, march is here. the madness has ensued. and i’ve caught the fever that is “the big dance”. i don’t know what the prescription is, but i don’t think i’d want it anyway. luckily, my pep band doesn’t use a cowbell.

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