Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dominant College Basketball Players--Early Exits and Beasts




OK, time for another installment of Dominant College Basketball Players. As I mentioned in the last post, this series of entries will culminate in a post examining the 5 most dominant college basketball players since the 1989-90 season.


Category 3: Early Exits

It’s not that these guys were mere flashes in the pan. Rather, their careers were cut short by early entries into the NBA Draft. Because of these early departures and the time it takes for all young players to get acclimated to the college game, their actual periods of dominance were too short for serious consideration for inclusion in the Top 5.

Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse): In just one year, Melo made the jump from Oak Hill high school phenom to the main reason Syracuse finally gave Jim Boeheim a national championship. A big-bodied 3 that could physically dominate other wings and a skilled scorer, Anthony really hit his stride in the tournament. People forget that he was not that incredibly impressive throughout the course of the entire season. One more thing about Melo: he’s a big damn idiot. I’m glad he got suspended for 15 games for sucker punching Mardy Collins and then running away from the physically imposing force that is Jared Jeffries.

Anfernee Hardaway (Memphis): The phrase “upside” may have been created to describe Anfernee Hardaway. An athletic, long point guard, Penny physically dominated his opponents. More than just a floor general, he scored at will in the now defunct Great Midwest Conference (career 20ppg scorer).

Jason Kidd (California): Kidd’s Golden Bears knocked Duke out of the tournament the year after Duke beat Michigan’s Fab Five in the championship game. Kidd was more than a game manager. He was a threat to score and a shut-down defender. He physically dominated other point guards. A real quarterback on the floor. I have no doubt he would have been in the Top 5 had he stayed all 4 years.

Chris Paul (Wake Forest): I was never overly impressed with Paul, but you can’t deny the fact that he is a winner. If anyone questioned Paul’s talent (I know I did), one need look no further than the Demon Deacons’ season last year. With many heralded players returning, including Eric Williams and Justin Gray, Wake didn’t make the tournament and looked like a different team without Paul at the helm. One of the smarter point guards in recent memory. Made everyone around him better.

Jerry Stackhouse (North Carolina): Stackhouse’s sophomore season at Chapel Hill was something to behold. Obviously a physical specimen, Stack could have simply relied on his superior athleticism to get to the hoop. However, Stack had a very mature offensive game and developed an array of moves that would serve him well during his long professional career. While he never seemed to care much for playing defense, he was as skilled a one-on-one offensive performer as I’ve witnessed during my viewing lifetime.

Chris Webber (Michigan): A man among boys in his college days, C-Webb, like Stackhouse, never fell into the trap of relying on his natural abilities to take over games. Still an excellent passer, Webber used to be an excellent finisher on the break and a very explosive player. For all of his athleticism, it was apparent that he would have a long career in the NBA due to his intelligence, passing ability, rebounding instincts, and soft hands.


Category 4: Beasts

These overpowering tweeners were plenty big to play the 4 in college but weren’t long enough, quick enough, or skilled enough to run with the Chris Webbers and Kevin Garnetts of the Association. (Obviously, Elton Brand is an exception here, as he has more than proven capable of being a top tier player in the NBA.) These tweeners entered their freshman years with bulging biceps, thick necks, and broad shoulders (think Paula Abdul early in her career). They were men among boys, and the development of their offensive games may have suffered because of it. Able to rely on their superior strength, they never had to develop go-to offensive moves or jump shots. Unfortunately, in the NBA, the bull rush to the hoop maneuver often results in a charging foul or a rejected shot that lands in the 4th row of the stands.

Elton Brand (Duke): Due to Brand’s leaping prowess and his ability to legitimately play the 5 at Duke, it’s almost a stretch to categorize him in this group. However, few college athletes physically dominated their peers the way Brand did during his stay in Durham. Not coincidentally, Brand's stay at Duke coincided with the only period of my life when I actually rooted for the Blue Devils.

Marcus Fizer (Iowa State): People forget what a force Fizer was during his college career. An almost unstoppable scorer on the blocks or with his face to the basket inside the elbow, he was a career 18.9 ppg scorer for the Cyclones. Fizer admittedly benefited from being fed by Jamaal Tinsley, one of the best college assist men in recent memory.

Danny Fortson (Cincinnati): The transformation of Fortson from college scorer to NBA hack has been pretty much seamless. It’s as if he realized that he would never be a scorer in the NBA, so he just decided to accept his fate as a rebounder and designated personal fouler. As a college player, however, Fortson was dominant on the offensive end. Rather than relying on the bull rush to the hoop (utilized by Fizer), Fortson manhandled weaker players on the blocks. The body language of his opponents suggested that guarding Fortson was akin to being run over by a large vehicle repeatedly for 40 minutes.
Did I leave anyone out?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oh the Humanity

Shaun Livingston could still be running point for Duke, saving all of us from being subjected to Greg Paulus. Most people argue that only a handful of players have been ready to go straight from high school to the NBA. Shaun Livingston wasn’t one of those players, but he is the ultimate benefactor from going pro early. Livingston’s gelatin knees failed him again last night, when he suffered a grotesque injury on a fast break. It’s sad to see that a 21 year old kid’s career could actually be over before he ever really got going. Fortunately, he’s got the guaranteed money from being the number four pick in the draft. If Livingston went to college and suffered similar injuries, he could have just taken his braids out, picked out his fro and gone by Cedric Bozeman. Livingston has tantalized us with his great court vision, shifty ball-handling, and the fact that he’s a legitimate 6’7” point guard. I don’t mean to write an obituary for the guy, but it’s pretty hard to imagine he’ll ever be a star in the league, and this is just more bad news for Billy Crystal, Bill Simmons, and both of the other Clippers fans.

Whenever you draft a kid out of high school, it’s always a calculated risk, but when you keep him for a couple of seasons and start to get the distinct impression that he’s never going to be healthy for more than a month at the time, you’re asking for trouble down the road. Livingston was playing well this year, but the Clippers should have been aware of their star-crossed tenure in the NBA. He was the ultimate trade bait, and could have been packaged with Corey Maggette, a draft pick and reeled in a guy like Vince Carter. Instead, they’ll just have a crippled PG who looks like a girl (with a wispy mustache), an overpaid sixth man (with considerable handsomeness), and another draft pick that they will undoubtedly misuse. Donald Sterling, you may begin kicking yourself in the ass at your ready.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Another Take on Tubby...

Tubby is a good coach. Not a great coach but a good coach.

Good coaches can win with certain types of players. Great coaches can win with a variety of players.

Let's look at the NBA. Coaches are constantly moving around from team to team, many times fired from one team for doing a bad job, only to be picked up by another team where they do a good job. Flip Saunders was fired from Minnesota after two bad seasons. He was hired after one season off by the Detroit Pistons and has them atop the East and looking like the only team capable of defeating any team in the West. Jeff Van Gundy was ousted at New York and is now in a two man race with Jerry Sloan for coach of the year. Did these coaches all of a sudden learn how to coach during their time off? Probabaly not. They spent most of their time doing color commentary and in Van Gundy's case sleeping during the day and drinking blood from young teenager necks. Good coaches can win with players that fit their system, players that respond well to their coaching style. Great coaches on the other hand are always in contention, no matter what type of players they have. They are able to adapt their coaching style to the type of players they have. Greg Popovich, Jerry Sloan ... these guys always seem to get the most from their teams regardless of talent, experience or personalities.

Now back to Tubby. Tubby is a good coach. He has a certain style of play, a certain personality that many players respond well too and he is able to get the most out of these players. Tubby's biggest problem is his inability to adapt. Sadly, this is one of the most important traits in a college head coach to keep his program at an elite level. Tubby coaches one way, a good way. A way that has provided him with enough success to reach a national program such as Kentucky and be constantly brought up in conversations for positions in the NBA. I think Tubby's biggest problem is his ego. He is unable to try new things with a team, and coach a way that he is not used to. This is what makes Krzyzewski and Pitino the two best college coaches right now. Both of these guys speak about the changes they have to make in their coaching styles each year.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Field of 65--version 8

(about 1 week has passed since last version)

1)
UCLA (25-3); Ohio State (26-3); Florida (25-4); Wisconsin (26-4)
*Considering how talented the Pac-10 is this year, UCLA’s 14-2 conference record is all the more impressive. The Bruins' perimeter threesome of Arron Afflalo, Josh Shipp, and Darren Collison is tops in the nation. Combine that with a solid frontcourt and a number of super-athletic, extra-long bench performers, and you might have this year’s national champs. Even with their losses this past week, I really like this Wisconsin team.
2)
North Carolina (24-5); Texas A&M (24-4); Kansas (25-4); Georgetown (22-5)
*If you look at the Jayhawks’ victory margins, it’s obvious they have the potential to make a big run in the tournament. I’m just not convinced that the effort is going to be there every night. Georgetown has now won 11 in a row. They also have about as much post depth as I can remember any team having within my viewing lifetime. Nobody is going to want to play them in the tournament.
3)
Washington State (23-5); Memphis (25-3); Pittsburgh (24-5); Nevada (26-2)
*So, which elite program is going to steal Tony Bennett away from Washington State? Memphis is a total mystery heading into the tournament. They’ve been beating up on C-USA teams for so long that you have to wonder if they know how to compete against the nation’s best. Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon is a very underrated coach. His players play tough defense, and he gets the most out of their abilities.
4)
Southern Illinois (25-5); Virginia Tech (20-8); Oregon (22-7); Texas (21-7)
*This was a big bounce-back week for Virginia Tech and Oregon. Tied for first in the ACC, the Hokies picked up wins against Boston College and Miami. After consecutive losses to Arizona, California, and Stanford, the Ducks picked up a couple of nice wins against Washington State and Washington. However, the fact that Oregon plays with such a small lineup pretty much assures their early exit from the dance. I don’t feel very good about Texas being a 4 seed. Rick Barnes has done an excellent job with this very inexperienced team, but I really think this spot is up for grabs.
5)
Duke (22-7); USC (21-8); Notre Dame (22-6); Virginia (19-8)
*I’ve been sleeping on Notre Dame for too long. Virginia’s loss to Miami really hurts their chances at a higher seed. However, they do have Virginia Tech at home and Wake Forest on the road this coming week.
6)
Louisville (21-8); Maryland (22-7); Marquette (22-8); Vanderbilt (19-9)
*As a Louisville fan, I couldn’t be much more excited about the futures of Derrick Caracter and Earl Clark. They haven’t been playing great as of late, but with their perimeter triad of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Wesley Matthews, Marquette will be a tough team for anyone to play in the tourney. Vandy’s wings (Derrick Byars and Shan Foster) are outstanding. They’re long and athletic. Plus, they can shoot the three.
7)
Boston College (19-9); UNLV (23-6); Butler (26-5); Kentucky (19-9)
*It will be interesting to see what the selection committee does about Butler. Yes, they started out great, picking up wins against Notre Dame, Indiana, Tennessee, Gonzaga, and Purdue, but they have losses to Indiana State, Illinois-Chicago, Wright State, and Loyola-Chicago.
8)
Michigan State (21-8); West Virginia (20-7); Tennessee (20-9); Air Force (23-6)
*Michigan State is this week’s Louisville. The Spartans picked up much-needed wins against Wisconsin and Indiana. Thankfully, Air Force’s losses to UNLV and TCU mean we won’t have to watch the Falcons get an undeserved 4 seed.
9)
Indiana (18-9); BYU (21-7); Arizona (18-9); Villanova (19-9)
*The only good thing about the Hoosiers’ recent troubles: D.J. White will probably be sticking around next year, which means he and Eric Gordon can spend next year dunking on people’s faces…together. Arizona hasn’t played consistently well all season. Yet, for some reason, they will get a higher seed than they deserve. Villanova freshman point guard Scottie Reynolds is going to be special (if he stays in school for at least 3 years).
10)
Illinois (21-9); Stanford (17-10); Winthrop (25-4); Kansas State (20-9)
*Illinois is going to be a tough out in the tourney. Their post pair of Warren Carter and Shaun Pruitt is a beastly combination. Winthrop’s 4 losses are to North Carolina, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Texas A&M. Not too shabby.
11)
Xavier (21-7); Syracuse (20-8); Purdue (18-10); VCU (24-6)
*I’m willing to bet that the selection committee will find some reason to leave Purdue out of the field. This will be one of the committee’s biggest mistakes. The Boilermakers have some nice wins (Oklahoma, DePaul, Virginia, Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, Michigan State, and Indiana) and star power (Carl Landry and David Teague).
12)
Appalachian State (24-6); Davidson (26-4); Texas Tech (18-11); Georgia (17-10)
*Texas Tech doesn’t have a great record, but they have 2 wins over Texas A&M and one over Kansas. They also have Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno, one of the best duos in the nation. I have trouble giving Georgia a bid, but I also have trouble seeing the SEC as a 4-bid league. However, that might be what happens on Selection Sunday.
13)
Missouri State (21-9); Akron (21-6); Long Beach State (19-7); Vermont (23-6)
*Missouri State gets my last at-large bid. And since there will be upsets in the conference tourneys, I really think there will only be 1 bid for the Missouri Valley (unless Southern Illinois gets upset in the MVC tourney). However, the media’s love affair with “The Valley” will no doubt inspire the selection committee to force another MVC representative into the field.
14)
Santa Clara (20-8); Holy Cross (22-8); Marist (23-7); Western Kentucky (21-10)
*The Patriot League tourney may be worth watching if Holy Cross and Bucknell reach the finals. Western Kentucky gets South Alabama's spot after the Jaguars dropped games to Florida Atlantic and Troy this past week. It should be an interesting Sun Belt tourney.
15)
Oral Roberts (20-10); Texas A&M-Corpus Christie (21-6); East Tennessee State (22-8); Austin Peay (19-10)
*I hope Tennessee Tech beats Austin Peay in the OVC tourney.
16)
Weber State (18-10); Pennsylvania (19-8); Central Connecticut State (18-11); Delaware State (17-11); Jackson State (16-12)
*The Ivy League representative always gets seeded too high. I anticipate that this year will be no different.

IN: Georgia; Illinois; Missouri State; Texas Tech; Western Kentucky
OUT: Alabama; Clemson; Creighton; Oklahoma State; South Alabama

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Dominant College Basketball Players--The Scorers and The Defenders


So, since the beginning of the college basketball season, I've been working on a post examining who is the most dominant college basketball player within my viewing lifetime. It is currently about 9 pages (single-spaced). Obviously, no one wants to take the time to read that long of a post at once. So, I think I am going to periodically post different sections of what has turned into a sort of research paper.

A few things to keep in mind:

1) I'm going with the 1989-90 season as my starting date. I was a pretty big UNLV fan and an even bigger fan of the Shark, so we'll start with the year the Runnin' Rebels beat Duke in the Finals. All players that played during that season or after are eligible for inclusion.

2) I have only ranked the 5 most dominant players. The post examining these 5 players will be the last post. Until then, I will post categories of players that didn't quite make the cut. These players are not ranked. Rather, they are grouped together by some sort of defining characteristic.

3) This is all about dominance. For instance, Grant Hill was one hell of a college basketball player, one of the most complete players I can remember. However, I wouldn't consider him one of the 5 most dominant. Dominant players are the ones I couldn't keep my eyes off of, the ones that dictated the outcomes of games, the ones that put together dominant careers. Simply put, they're the ones that you knew no one could stop when they got in the zone.

This first post examines players that exelled at one end of the floor (but not so much on the other end).


Category 1: The Scorers

This group of players excelled on the offensive end of the court, but didn’t much care for the defensive end (with the exception of Kerry Kittles who was a pretty solid defender). Sure, guys like Allen Iverson could turn it on for a possession on the defensive end, but, even then, they were utilizing their superior quickness to attempt steals and make plays. Their lack of defense, and, in many cases, their unwillingness or inability to include their teammates on offense keeps them out of the Top 5. All of these players were truly a threat to score the moment they touched the ball. In fact, you felt confident that they would find a way to score or get to the free throw line, double-teamed or otherwise.

Allen Iverson (Georgetown): Simply unguardable in the college ranks (and almost unguardable in the NBA). AI’s quickness and balance confounded many a defender. His shooting has improved tremendously since making the jump to the pros. Interestingly, because of this lack of a truly consistent outside shot during his college career, he probably isn’t one of the top 5 offensive talents during my college basketball-viewing lifetime.

Jimmy Jackson (Ohio State): I really did consider Jackson for the Top 5 Overall Most Dominant Players. He was physically dominant, overpowering other guards and wings. He controlled the tempo of the game and had a presence on the court that was undeniable. I remember watching him against the Fab 5 and just being amazed by his ability to score, despite the fact that the entire defense was focused on him. He took a lot of shots but never forced it.

Luke Jackson (Oregon): He had a very good career at Oregon, but his senior year was something to behold. An excellent passer, Jackson actually did make those around him better, unlike most players in this category. He had an uncanny ability to recognize mismatches and holes in defenses, which kept teams from double-teaming him on every possession. Jackson had one of the most sophisticated offensive games I’ve ever witnessed in a college player. His face up game was superb. He could shoot the outside shot, and he could do a little posting-up. Jackson wasn’t quick, but he had excellent body control. I’m still shocked he didn’t pan out in the NBA. Playing the same position as Lebron James in Cleveland didn’t help out. Not too interested in defense. He's now toiling away in the D-League.

Kerry Kittles (Villanova): A good defender and amazing scorer. I was a huge Kerry Kittles fan. Probably my second favorite college player of all time (after Jalen Rose). In 8th grade, I wore my socks like Kittles (one knee-high and one ankle-length). Could absolutely fill it up. Kittles was one of those guys that could score 20 a game without dominating the ball on every possession.

Adam Morrison (Gonzaga): J.J. Redick hit 3’s on a team that forced opponents to guard everyone. Morrison hit shots from everywhere with multiple defenders in his face, on a team which allowed opponents to double-team him. Of all of the players in this category, Morrison was the best at moving without the ball. A crafty offensive player, Morrison, like Luke Jackson, knew how to take advantage of being double-teamed and did an excellent job of exploiting mismatches and defensive weaknesses. He also cried during a game.

Lawrence Moten (Syracuse): A lot like Kittles. Ultra thin but wiry strong. Great at getting to the basket off the dribble from the wing. Excellent at getting to the rim against stronger opponents. Probably had to have the ball in hands more to get his numbers than Kittles. I don’t understand how a guy who had such an amazing career in the Big East was a failure in the pros.

J.J. Redick (Duke): Just a brilliant shooter. In fairness to Redick, he did show flashes of a dribble-drive game and a mid-range jumper during his senior year. I can’t think of another player in the last 20 years as athletically limited as Redick who was so dominant on offense. A big time-prick.

Glenn Robinson (Purdue): Offensively, the Big Dog pretty much ruled college basketball for one season. Had an excellent mid-range game, especially for a big guy. Presented a mismatch for every opponent. Very good with his back to the basket. Just found ways to score. One of the most mature offensive repertoires that college basketball has every seen. May as well have stayed on the offensive end of the court while Purdue was on defense.

Steve Smith (Michigan State): Didn’t make his teammates better but such an offensive talent. Very smart one-on-one offensive player. Excellent shooter. Used his body like a big man on the wing. One of the most patient gunners I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame his NBA career seems to have been forgotten so quickly.


Category 2: The Defenders

It is very rare in college basketball that a defensive-minded player dominates. My theory is that the most talented players are required to score for their teams to put enough points on the board to win. Therefore, they expend their energy on the offensive end of the floor and are forced to slack off a bit on the defensive end. These 5 defenders stand out because they were on talented teams that allowed them to work on defense. They didn’t have to carry the entire scoring load.

Stacy Augmon (UNLV): A shut-down defender. Made steals. Blocked shots. The Scottie Pippen to Larry Johnson’s Michael Jordan. With rare exception absolutely took the opponent’s top scorer out of the game. Extremely versatile, Plastic Man could guard a number of positions. As sophisticated on defense as Glenn Robinson or Luke Jackson on offense.

Shane Battier (Duke): As a leader, this guy, much to my chagrin, was unparalleled. He almost dominated games by the sheer force of his personality. He really wasn’t overwhelmingly dominant at anything but was very good at a lot of things. Defense was his strength, but I would argue that he was definitely the least dominant of the 5 on this list. Battier was versatile on the defensive end, capable of guarding the opponents’ 2, 3, or 4, and he came up with more loose balls than I care to remember.

Marcus Camby (Massachusetts): While it may be hard to believe it watching him as a Nugget, Camby used to be a pretty good offensive player. Opposing centers, couldn’t run the floor with the fleet of foot Camby and power forwards couldn’t contain him on the blocks. Despite his knack for scoring as a collegiate athlete, Camby’s real strength was on the defensive end where he dictated his opponents’ shot selection. In the A-10, his size and skill allowed him to run roughshod over an entire conference.

Alonzo Mourning (Georgetown): Intimidated opposing players driving to the hoop like no one else during my lifetime (Shaq included). A tremendous shot blocker, Zo could change the pace of the game from the center position. Underrated offensively but really made a name for himself altering shots and games on the defensive end.

Emeka Okafor (Connecticut): Closest thing to Mourning since Mourning. Great timing makes him an excellent shot blocker. Excellent body control made Okafor less foul-prone than many dominant defenders. Moved his feet like a wing defender and blocked shots so that his teammates gained possession. Just swallowed up would-be shooters.

OK, who did I forget? I'm taking nominations.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Gangzta's" Paradise

Here are some comments that recently appeared on a UK message board. The first post is the opening thread and the following posts are the comments that followed. For all of you that loathe UK, enjoy. For those of us that love UK, I'm sorry.

1. A black friend of mine from Nashville told me this. I asked him why, and he said that, for years, light blue has been a popular gang color throughout the United States. Naturally, since UNC has light blue as their primary color, many gangs started wearing UNC merchandise. In short, he said, UNC gear has become a symbol for the "thug" or "gang" mentality.

-- The color ain't cool, it's something babies wear. IMO, it's ugly. Still, I would have never thought of it in a million years as a "gang" color. I guess I need to get with the program.

-- I'm a high school counselor and work with lot's of teenagers who are 'gang aware'. The answer is that yes, Carolina Blue stuff is very popular in gang culture. Our school resource officers (deputies in the school) confirm this.

--According to my friend. He said that it nothing to do with liking the color. Instead, he said it was used as a symbol. I already knew that rap artists wore UNC stuff, but I never put the two together. I can tell you this, you don't see very much of it in the Commomwealth.

--And, no matter how much you liked a particular school's color, why would you wear their stuff if you were not a FAN of that school? Answer: It is a symbol that is percieved as "gansta" or "cool". By the way, my buddy is a teacher down at a public school in Nashville. So, I got this from a reliable source, so to speak.

--Could the Tarheels be a young gang of Crips?

--This is absolutely TRUE. I am from Franklin which is 25 misn south of Nashville. I grew up there and had several friends in gangs and they were members of a smaller gang who had close connections with the CRIPS. They all wore baby blue. They had UNC jerseys, baby blue "soldier rags", and even had baby blue airbrushed shoes. It is terrible but true that UNC colors have become a flag for gangstas, thugs, and drugs.

--How ironic is it that ganb-bangers wear my two least favorite colors: Carolina Blue when they're out, Tennessee Orange when they're back in jail.

I wish I was creative enough to make any of this stuff up. Sadly, I am not. Sadly, these things were really posted.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Jumping Bull Speaks


*The following is a guest post by Jumping Bull, a dear friend of Awesome USA! Through the medium of poetry, Jumping Bull is making a plea to the Indiana Pacers brass to pull the trigger and make a deal for Corey Maggette before the trade deadline. Enjoy.

The Song of Jermainawatha: Corey Maggette’s Wooing

“As unto the bow the cord is,
So unto Carlisle is Bird;
Though he bends him, he obeys him,
Though he draws him, yet he follows;
Useless each without the other!”

Thus the youthful Jermainawatha
Said within himself and pondered,
Much perplexed by various feelings,
Listless, longing, hoping, fearing,
Dreaming still of Allen Iverson,
Of the lovely streets of Philly,
In the land of the Roc-A-Fellas.”

“Trade Jamal and Stephen Jackson,”
Warning said the old Jumping Bull (aka Me);
“Go not westward, but go eastward,
For we need a skillful point guard!
Like a fire upon the hearth-stone
Is the Sixers Allen Iverson,
Like the starlight or the moonlight
Is the handsomest of ballers!”

Thus dissuading spake Jumping Bull.
And my Jermainawatha answered
Only this: “Dear old Jumping Bull
Very pleasant is the firelight,
But I like the starlight better,
Better do I like Los Angeles!”

Gravely then said old Jumping Bull;
“Bring not here an idle Bibby,
Bring not here a useless Gasol,
Hands unskillful, feet unwilling;
Bring a 3 with nimble fingers,
Heart and hand that move together,
Feet that run and jump for face dunks!”

Smiling answered Jermainawatha:
“In the land of the Dacotahs (aka L.A.)
Lives the Krzyzewski protégé,
Corey Maggette, Laughing Water,
Handsomest of all the small forwards.
I will bring him to your wigwam (aka Conseco Fieldhouse)
He shall run and jump for face dunks,
Be your starlight, moonlight, firelight,
Be the sunlight of my people!”

Yet the deadline loomed like storm clouds,
and the trade winds moved beneath them
Thus the wheels were set in motion,
And Dunleavy Jr. was the dowery,
Reunited with his father, balding Chief of the Dacotahs.
Thus it was they journeyed homeward;
Journeyed to Conseco Fieldhouse,
Journeyed to the Eastern Finals

Still unto Jermainawatha,
To the lodge of old Jumping Bull
Brought the moonlight, starlight, firelight,
Brought the sunshine of his people,
Corey Maggette, Laughing Water,
Handsomest of all the small forwards
In the land of the Dacotahs,
In the land of handsome threes.


USC Goalie 'Embarrassed' After Attempt to Recreate Scene from Mighty Ducks 2

In an odd display of events Tuesday night, Mickey Meyer, the starting goalie for the University of Southern California Hockey team, was ejected from the game after dropping his pants, riding his stick around like a horse, and slapping his bare buttocks during a game against Brigham Young University.

At the stoppage of play, after several penalites were being assesed, Meyer attempted to pump up his teammates and loyal fans by recreating the scene from D2: The Mighty Ducks, where the forever-sexy Dean Portman began stripping in the penalty box. "I guess it just goes to show you there are some things left for the movies and some things left for real life," Meyer said after the game in handcuffs. He went on, "Yeah, I went a little overboard. I'm sorry for that. I'm sorry for all of the kids out there who had to see my bare ass. I'm sorry for the parents who will have to explain the incident to their children tonite. But I'm a big fan of the Mighty Ducks, I think all of us are. Excuse me for trying to recreate that moment."

Known for two weeks, after the release of D2, as the A.C. Slater for a new generation, Aaron Lohr, who portrayed Portman had little to say about the incident. "It's just sad. Sad that people think they can translate what happens in movies into real life. I'm an actor. I'm not really Dean Portman. I can do other stuff, just give me a fucking chance."

Meyer was ticketed with obscene behavior and indecent exposure. He will also likely be suspended for several games. "I'm just really upset about the whole thing. I mean have any of you even seen D2?"

Scott Whyte, who played Gunnar Stahl (member of the dreaded Iceland team), thought it was great that someone was trying to honor the movie. "It's great that we made such an impact on today's college youth." And no, for any of you still wondering, he never did get to hookup with Julie "The Cat" Gaffney no matter what the end of the movie might have suggested. "Yeah, I really thought there could have been some sort of spin-off with that," he responded, "at the very least I could have been the boyfriend in the D3, and maybe transfer to the school and play with team. I thought that was at least a possibility."

"Maybe years down the road," Meyer said, "Maybe enough time hadn't passed for someone to try something like this. But I think 20, 40 years from now, when my kids and grandkids see video of this they will repsect what I tried to do out there. That is if any girl will ever talk to me again."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Comments by Tom Brady That Sound Like GOB Bluth

Holding an Elevator:
"Yeah, right. Like the guy who just impregnated Brigdet Moynahan and is currently sleeping with Gisele Bundchen is going to hold the elevator for the guy who will never see either one of them in his lifetime? C'mon!"

At a press conference:
"Ok. Ok. The guy sleeping with supermodels and actresses is going to answer questions from a crowd of reporters now? C'mon!"

In the locker room at a filled to capacity jacuzzi:
"Whoa. What am I supposed to do get my supermodel girlfriend to massage these calves? C'mon!"

In the huddle:
"Run the play. Run the play now. Yeah, ok. The only guy on this team whose sperm is good enough to impregnate model/actresses has to worry about alienating his teammates? C'mon!"

Picking child up from Bridget:
"Right, right, right ... right ... rig.... The guy who will be motorboating a supermodel in a couple hours has to change dirty diapers? Come on."

Monday, February 19, 2007

Field of 65--version 7

(about 1 week has passed since last version)
1)
Wisconsin (26-2); Florida (24-3); UCLA (23-3); North Carolina (23-4)
*How is it possible that Wisconsin is my overall number 1? They play hard every game. Plus, the Big 10 is a little down this year. Moreover, it’s a testament to Bo Ryan, Alando Tucker, and hard-nosed defense. However, I’d be willing to bet that they won’t be in this position at the end of the conference tourneys.
2)
Ohio State (24-3); Texas A&M (22-4); Kansas (23-4); Washington State (22-4)
*Question: Why do I have Ohio State as a 2 seed and North Carolina as a 1 seed, despite the fact that the Tar Heels lost to Virginia Tech at home this past week? Answer: Ohio State’s second-half performance against Penn State. The Buckeyes were outscored by 19 and ended up with a 2-point win.
3)
Pittsburgh (23-4); Memphis (23-3); Nevada (24-2); Georgetown (20-5)
*Is Memphis tournament-tested? Well, Memphis has won all but one of its C-USA games by double digits. This past weekend they squeaked by a Gonzaga club that I don’t even have in the field this week.
4)
Southern Illinois (23-5); Air Force (23-4); Virginia (18-7); Butler (24-4)
*Let me be the first to admit that, with the exception of Southern Illinois, none of these teams deserve a 4 seed. Unfortunately, with all of the upsets this past week, no one deserves these slots. Virginia, tied with North Carolina for first in the ACC, has one of the best backcourts in the nation. Both J.R. Reynolds and Sean Singletary average 18.4 ppg. Plus, the Cavaliers are 9-1 over their last 10 games.
5)
West Virginia (20-6); Virginia Tech (18-8); Marquette (21-7); Oregon (20-7)
*Virginia Tech had an opportunity to become a legitimate 4 seed after beating North Carolina on the road. Then came a 25-point loss at North Carolina State. How exactly does a team that sweeps UNC get swept by the Wolf Pack? That being said, I still think the Hokies could be dangerous come tournament time (unless, of course, the NC State loss was the beginning of the end). They have 3 seniors that play more than 20 minutes a game, 4 guys averaging at least 11 ppg, and they play unselfish basketball. Definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Marquette is still 8-5 in the Big East, but Tom Crean’s team had a horrible week, with losses to DePaul and Louisville.
6)
Boston College (18-8); Texas (19-7); Duke (20-7); Vanderbilt (18-8)
*Well, I guess all that Duke not making the tourney talk is over. They bounced back with wins over Boston College and Georgia Tech. I love Vandy’s Derrick Byars. He’s one of the most versatile players in the nation, and I’m starting to think he might be the SEC player of the year.
7)
Maryland (20-7); Kentucky (18-8); Notre Dame (20-6); Stanford (17-8)
*Last week, I predicted that Maryland wouldn’t make the tournament. Well, the Terps proved me wrong. They’ve won their last 3 ACC games by double digits, and 2 of those were on the road. I won’t even go into the Kentucky situation. For more on Kentucky, see the immediately preceding post by Runs with Two Horses.
8)
BYU (20-6); USC (19-8); Indiana (17-8); Villanova (18-8);
*Like Virginia Tech, USC also missed a chance to move into a 4 seed. They completed the sweep of Arizona earlier in the week and then fell to Arizona State, giving the Sun Devils their first conference win of the season. It hurts me to give the Hoosiers an 8 seed, but they’re really struggling. After beating Wisconsin on January 31, Indiana has lost away from home against Iowa, Purdue, and Minnesota. Their only win during that span came at home against Illinois. Fortunately, they close the season out with back-to-back games against Northwestern and then at home against Penn State.
9)
Louisville (19-8); Alabama (19-7); UNLV (22-6); Arizona (17-9)
*Louisville might have had the best week of all. At the beginning of the week, the Cards were a respectable 7-4 in the Big East but lacked any signature wins. One week later, Louisville has added road wins against Pitt and Marquette to its tourney resume. Plus, that Syracuse victory is starting to look a little more respectable, as Jim Boeheim’s team has started playing better.
10)
Clemson (19-7); Oklahoma State (19-7); Kansas State (19-8); Tennessee (18-9)
*Oklahoma State has gotten worse over the course of the season. Plus, they can’t win on the road. I think these guys are just exhausted. Apparently, they’re playing with 7 or 8 scholarship players. It would be a real shame (for the viewing public) if Mario Boggan doesn’t get an opportunity to do his thing in the Big Dance.
11)
Michigan State (19-8); Purdue (17-9); Syracuse (19-8); Xavier (19-7)
*Michigan State makes a return to the field after picking up double digit wins against Michigan and Iowa. Drew Neitzel may be the Spartans’ MVP, but freshman Raymar Morgan is the key to their tourney chances.
12)
Winthrop (23-4); VCU (22-6); Akron (18-5); Creighton (18-9)
*I finally got a chance to see Winthrop in action, and they didn’t disappoint, as they picked up an 11-point road win at Missouri State. They won’t be seeded this high, but, for now, they deserve to be.
13)
Appalachian State (21-6); Davidson (21-4); Santa Clara (20-7); Long Beach State (18-7)
*How can I justify giving the Southern Conference 2 bids? I probably can’t, but I’ll try. Based on Appalachian State’s Bracketbuster win at Wichita State, the Mountaineers’ stellar record, the fact that they beat Davidson at Davidson earlier in the season, and their wins over Vanderbilt and Virginia, I think Appalachian State is the best team in the Southern Conference, despite the fact that they’re 2 games back in the conference. Still, I’m giving them the Southern Conference automatic bid. Davidson gets the last at-large by virtue of their 21-4 record. That leaves Illinois as the first team out. Santa Clara’s 11-point victory at Gonzaga made me a believer. Steve Nash U gets the nod over a Gonzaga team that is really going to miss Josh Heytvelt.
14)
South Alabama (20-8); Vermont (21-6); Oral Roberts (19-9); Holy Cross (20-8)
*Well, Runs with Two Horses, your South Alabama Jaguars picked up a pretty good win against Houston this past week. Unfortunately, they turned around and dropped one to lowly Florida International, which snapped the Jags’ 13-game winning streak. So, I had to drop them down to a 14 seed. Still, I must admit, they deserve the Sun Belt bid over my Hilltoppers.
15)
Marist (21-7); Austin Peay (18-8); Texas A&M-Corpus Christie (19-5); East Tennessee State (20-8)
*I think it would be awesome if the selection committee matches 2 seed Texas A&M against 15 seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christie in the first round of the tourney. Does anyone else think that would be awesome?
16)
Weber State (18-10); Pennsylvania (17-8); Central Connecticut State (17-11); Jackson State (16-11); Delaware State (15-11)
*I don’t have the energy to try to make up an imaginary team joke about Central Connecticut State this week. I’ll try again next week.

IN: Appalachian State; Louisville; Michigan State; Santa Clara; Syracuse
OUT: Florida State; Gonzaga; Hofstra; Missouri State; Washington

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Back to the Woodshed, Tubby

Dear Tubby,

I’m not finished with you yet, my friend. I know I just vented my frustrations a week ago, but after UK out-underachieved Alabama, more input is needed. What I would really like is to spar with you a la Richard Gere and Louis Gossett Jr. in Officer and a Gentleman. Finish the deal once and for all. Until then, I’ll just post meaningless blog entries that you will never read.

I’ve mentioned my disdain for Tubby’s failure to properly utilize his talent, but let’s walk through this slowly. Kentucky’s top five players are probably Randolph Morris, Joe Crawford, Ramel Bradley, Derrick Jasper, and Jodie Meeks. That’s four guards and a center. What style of play would be best suited for this personnel? You probably want to get them out in the open court and really extend your defense to take advantage of quicker players that can cover a lot of ground. I know the fans always want to see their team running and gunning, but most teams simply don’t have the personnel for that to be plausible. This team has the horses, but they’re not using them. The Cats walk the ball up the court and set up the most painfully stagnant half-court offense in the history of the universe. Tubby is trying to feed me gorgonzola but it’s clearly brie time, baby. While I’m bashing the Alabama game plan, I have to give Perry Stevenson an obligatory shout out. The Cats have shown a propensity for giving up baseline leading to easy lay ups. Stevenson does a few things that make me wonder why he doesn’t play more. First, he is the only guy on the team that looks like a power forward. Second, he’s the only guy on the team with the size and mobility to play post defense to take away penetration when a perimeter defender’s man gets by him. Third, he continuously produces more per minute than Bobby Perry and Sheray Thomas. Against Alabama, Sheray and Bobby combined for two points and one rebound in thirty minutes of action, while Stevenson had two points and three rebounds in nine minutes. UK also went on that 8-0 run to get back within three points while Stevenson was in the game. Then Tubby promptly removed him and the game started to slip away. Seriously, Tubby’s two senior power forwards combined for two points and one rebound in thirty minutes. Why do they keep getting to play so much? Do they have naked pictures of Tubby and John Amaechi? Is Saul Smith bound and gagged in their dorm room? I don’t understand.

I know, I know, I’m just one of those crazy UK fans that freaks out whenever the Cats lose a game. Well maybe I am crazy….crazy like a fox! You want some history? I’ll throw the damn book at you, let’s take a look at the rundown:

Aside from the probationary times of 1989 to 1990, when UK lost a combined 33 games in two seasons, the most combined losses in consecutive seasons for UK basketball was 21 games in 73 and 74. Tubby’s Cats already met that mark this year, and considering he still has to take the Cats to Gainesville, compete in the SEC tournament, and the NCAA tournament (I’m assuming), he’s going to set the new precedent for non-probationary futility.

Ten loss seasons by coach:

Adolph Rupp: two ten loss seasons in 87 years as UK’s head coach

Joe B. Hall: four ten loss seasons in fourteen years

Eddie Sutton: two ten loss seasons in four years

Rick Pitino: one ten loss season in eight years

Tubby Smith: five ten loss seasons (counting this season) in ten years

It’s a good thing Tubby has been blessed with UofL’s recent futility, or else people would really be dogging him. Of course UofL beat more ranked teams last week than UK has defeated in the last two seasons. You want that again? Louisville beat Pitt and Marquette last week, and in the last two seasons UK has one total win against the top 25. That’s not going to help things out for Orlando.

UK’s current record against the RPI top 50 this season is 3-8.

Looks like this Junior Class is not living up to it’s billing as the number one recruiting class in the country. Remember the last time UK landed the top recruiting class? That’s right, 1993. Those guys compiled 14 NCAA tournament victories (19 if you count Prickett’s redshirt senior season) and two Final Fours (three counting Prickett). So how does the present class stack up? Four NCAA tournament wins…AND COUNTING!! I figure they’ve got a solid three wins left in them for the next two seasons, so they might be able to get half as many NCAA tournament wins as our last number one recruiting class. I know that’s a tough comparison for Randolph and friends to live up to, but that’s what Kentucky basketball is supposed to be.

So I’ve already lobbied for John Pelphrey to become the next UK coach, and I think UK should also look at Tom Crean and Billy Donovan. But I know UK’s AD, Mitch Barnhart, is a Pacific Coast type of fella. I’m thinking he might want to go with Ernie Kent, Mark Few, or Tony Bennett. What do you guys think? I want answers damn it. My address hasn’t changed, so you can still send all fan mail to

Runs With Two Horses c/o Awesome USA!
Clock Tower, Apt. 1
Cynical Valley, USA 49023

Bacardi Gras

This saturday I attended Mardi Gras in St. Louis down in the Soulard neighborhood. We all woke up around 9 o clock to start drinking a little, and then headed down to the party around 2 o clock. Though I carried around a milk jug of rum and coke, I remained sober to be sure I could remember all of the details from the day. To set the story up I took a cab to the area with friends Tony, Pete, Scott, Pops, and Megan. We were walking down the street, headed to a party held by a guy Tony knew from college, and stopped in the street to look up at a house with three second floor windows. Out of each window there were at least two girls hanging out flashing the crowd while drunk men and women threw beads up to them. This is when Tony turned to me and said, "Alright here's the party we are going to." We went inside and I made sure to make a mental note of everything that happened. However, my friend Scott wrote a blog that perfectly captured our Mardi Gras experience. With his permission I am posting it to this blog. It tells the story of our friend, Pete, who just drank way too much.

My Mardi Gras Experience (the Pete part)
Alright, Pete was one of my favorite people at Mardi Gras this year. He got fucking hammered before we even arrived at the scene. Since we had to split up the group into two separate cabs, I first saw Pete down there from the second floor window while standing next to some flashers. Pete seriously looked like a little kid at Disneyland who had just woken up from a nap. It was hilarious to watch him wandering around with this glazed look in his eyes. And members of our group kept having to yell, "Pete, come on." If he had gotten lost, God bless his little soul, I am afraid we might not have ever heard from him again. Anyway, once he got up into a window next to some flashers, that was it. We couldn't fucking pry him away. We ended up leaving the party and Pete was still at the window. What he didn't seem to understand though, was that no one wanted to see him. We went down to the street and watched the mayhem unfold as Pete kept agitating the crowd but remaining in the window. I know people were launching at him at least the following: ice, dirty snowballs, beer cans, broken bead necklaces, and a beer bottle. This last one caused the entire party to be shut down by the cops simply because Pete was agitating the crowd so much. My good man, Tony, rescued Pete from himself, and craftily hid Pete under his own ski cap as he made his way back down to the street. Oh yeah, in his haste, Pete left his milk-jug of beer open on the window sill, which he would later return to retrieve and subsequently consume. So we ended up going back to the same place later after the party resumed (meaning after the cops left). Here Pete kept wanting to go back to the window even though he continued to get pelted with flying debris. He literally had welts on his face from where he had been struck. We finally got hungry around 6pm and went to get some pizza. On the way back to the party, Pete walked straight through a lower-calf deep puddle of frozen slush without flinching. Obviously he was oblivious to pain by this point. Of course, he lacked common sense as well because he dropped his pizza slice onto the fucking disgusting snow in this alleyway and picked it up and ate it. It was the most extreme thing I saw all day, hands down. So, of course, when we arrived back at the party, Pete went back to the window. Goddammit, Pete. Now it was getting annoying. We left him and caught a taxi back. I told Taylor the whole day, "Pete is going to get his ass beaten before the day is over." I swear, we weren't in the cab for five minutes before Pete called to say that he had just gotten punched in the face and his nose was bleeding everywhere. When asked why, Pete replied, "No reason, he just punched me in the face."
"So, he just walked up to you and punched you."
"Basically, yeah."
"You didn't say anything at all to provoke him?"
"Well, I said,'Why you gotta act like such a fucking idiot.'"
"Well, that's probably why he punched you."
"But that's not a good reason!"

Oh Pete.

*(Editor's Note - For the people who know Natty well, this was one of those scenes were Natty would have laughed so hard at the drunken idiots he wouldn't have been able to breathe. We really did stand in the street, amongst 100 drunken men, and watch them throw anything they could find at Pete. Once Tony smuggled Pete past the cops, past the angry mob, and finally to safety, I noticed he had welps on his face where he had been hit with the beads. The lesson learned: Don't get in the way of drunk men trying to see young girls topless.)

*(As a side note: The creepiest part of the day was looking down at old men with telephoto lenses, digital cameras, and disposable cameras trying to capture girls flashing the crowd. A close second was finding out that the girls flashing the crowd from the party we were attending had boyfriends at the party, who were standing behind them laughing at all the guys getting to see their girlfriend's breasts.)

This will either be my last Mardi Gras, or the first of many many to come. All I need is a girlfriend to pimp out and a telephoto lense.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

YES I THINK THEY DESERVE TO DIE, AND I HOPE THEY BURN IN HELL!!

So apparently Tim Hardaway isn’t copacetic with this whole “gay” thing. Hardaway delicately articulated his feelings when he stated, “You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known…I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States." Duly noted, Timothy. For the record, Hardaway would like to add that the Timmy Two-Step no longer describes his legendary cross-over…it’s the way he kicks dirty gays in the face. John Amaechi referenced his big gay thesaurus when he responded to Hardaway’s comments with, “Finally, someone who is honest. It is ridiculous, absurd, petty, bigoted and shows a lack of empathy that is gargantuan and unfathomable. But it is honest.” Amaechi went on to add, “The reprehensible comments of Mr. Hardaway are in no way scrumtrillescent, and if forced to describe a hypothetical embodiment of him in the form of an inorganic reagent, I would refer to him as 4-phenyl-thiophenyl-diphenyl-sulfonium triflate.”

My favorite part of Hardaway’s diatribe was when he said gays shouldn’t be in the locker room. Sounds like Timmy honestly believes the only gay people in the world are like The Sisters from Shawshank.
I’ve heard that Hardaway is still somewhat involved with the Heat, which opens the door for great fun. Jason Kapono and Dorrell Wright can’t possibly fill all their free time, so I think they should form a sham gay relationship between the two of them. They should keep fuzzy navel wine coolers in their lockers, hang up posters of guys, and give Hardaway really long hugs when they see him. Maybe even a kiss on the cheek just for good measure.


In all honesty, I know Hardaway isn’t really fag hater. Isn’t it a little weird that he has the same last name as Anfernee, but they aren’t even related? Pretty obvious the two of them eloped long ago, and Tim is still just trying to cover his tracks. We’re not judging you, Tim, come on out of that closet, and dip your toes in that vast pool of gay tranquility. The water is fine.








*Editor’s note: Run’s with Two Horses is accepting submissions for the current players in the league who are most likely to be gay. Fire away faithful readers.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day Ideas Not Approved By My Hypothetical Girlfriend

1. watching Boston College play Duke, drinking beer, eating chips.

2. renting "The Departed", drinking beer, eating chips.

3. sex, then sleep.

4. dinner at a fancy place downtown, dancing to jazz at a local club, walk in the park, but not buying flowers.

5. attending a party thrown by friends, falling down drunk, vomiting out of car window.

6. watching "Dog the Bounty Hunter", falling asleep

The Valentine's Day Idea Approved By My Hypothetical Girlfriend

1. flowers, asking "Will You Be My Valentine", walking to an italian bistro and spending 100 dollars, holding hands all day, watching "Music and Lyrics", discussing how Drew Barrymore "isn't really that cute" for 30 minutes followed by "you are much prettier than her", cuddling and talking, cuddling and staring into each other in silence, denial of sex, sleep, sneeking out of the room to write a blog.

Man in the Middle (A Jerry Sloan/Karl Malone Sandwich)

Bored yesterday, I read an excerpt from John Amaechi's new book "The Man in the Middle," and found it quite interesting. Though instead of an overwhelming sense of sympathy for gay athletes, I found myself just being really really scared of Jerry Sloan. If you are a gay athlete, especially a basketball player, Utah might be the last fucking place you ever want to be. Karl Malone used to use "Queer Eye for the Strait Guy" fatheads as target practice ... in the locker room ... with shotguns ... and a cowboy hat. Mistakenly, I thought most of the hatred would have retired with Karl Malone. An excerpt from Amaechi's book:

"When I brought up the ways the system didn't work for me, Jerry looked like he wanted to shoot holes right through my heart. During one home game, I got slapped with a three-second violation. 'Stupid f---ing c--t!' he screamed at me."

Based on his excert, Amaechi's book will do less to explain the psychological struggle of being a closet homosexual in the NBA, and more to making grown men piss their pants when they watch Jazz games. Another excerpt:

"Jerry raged against players who he thought didn't play hard enough. If we lost two or three in a row, he'd stride into practice yelling, 'You f---ing a-- holes are trying to get me fired!'"

This all said, I really enjoyed the small portion of Amaechi's book that I was able to read. Besides giving me nightmares about Jerry Sloan, it looks as though this book will explore the secret life Amaechi was forced to live during his playing days in Utah. I do, however, have a hard time believing Amaechi when he says he felt Greg Ostertag would have been sympathetic toward his lifestyle. (At one point in the tunnel before a game, Ostertag said to Amaechi, "You gay, dude?") When I look at Greg Ostertag I think of Bryant Reeves. When I think of Bryant Reeves I think of Big Country. When I think of Big Country I think of my hometown. The excerpt did make me like AK-47 a lot more. (He sent Amaechi an invitation to a party and told him it was fine to bring any partner he wanted). Amaechi and AK-47's relationship shows just how secret Amaechi had to be while in Utah. He was confined to his home and was unable to visit the gay bars he liked in Orlando and LA. (A testament to how little he got out, because there are no gay bars in Utah).

I would defintely recommend reading the excerpt from "Man in the Middle" found on ESPN.com. I would probably even enjoy reading the entire book if I had the time. But then again, (in case Sloan is an AwesomeUSA fan) it's most likely filled with a bunch of icky, sin-filled, gay speak.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hey Tubby..........FUCK YOU!!!

Thanks Tubby. Thanks for taking the one thing that I truly love in this world and turning it into…not that. Thanks for unofficially renaming “UK” the “University of Moral Victories.” Wow, maybe one day I’ll tell my kids about the time when UK almost beat Florida and Tennessee in a 72 hour span….in basketball. And before I really get into this rant, fuck you, Jimmy Dykes, for saying that Bernard King might have been the best basketball player the SEC has ever seen. You just better hope Pete Maravich doesn’t go Pet Sematary on you for your historical ineptitude (for the record, other than that completely unnecessary twisting of the knife in my stomach just after UK lost to Tennessee, I rather enjoyed your commentary). For those of you scoring at home, in the last week UK has given up a combined 188 points to Tennessee and South Carolina. That’s ball line defense at its finest.

I’m tired of the excuses, I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. What does Tubby have to do to get on the hot seat? He inherited a program that worried about slipping out of the top 10, and now he has one that fights to stay ranked. Tubby has three seasoned juniors and a talented freshman class. He has depth, he has shooting, he has athleticism, and he has perhaps the best offensive big man in college basketball. What’s that good for? Apparently not getting blown out, and it stops there. I’d like to think I could coach a team with those assets and find a way not to get beat the shit beat of me either. Of course if I was coaching the team, I’d do it for free, smoke a cigar the whole time, and wear a Tom Landry hat. If Tubby could claim any of those traits, I’d be a little easier on him…but he doesn’t. All he does is suck the life out of basketball.

Really take a step back and look at this UK team and explain to me why they aren’t better. They may not have first-team All American talent at every position, but these are “Tubby’s Guys.” He’s proven that he doesn’t win with the blue chip talent (Jason Parker, Rashad Carruth, Marvin Stone, Rajon Rondo). So these are the guys he thinks he can win with. Listen to me, UK fans: THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT IS GOING TO GET. We aren’t soaring to new heights with Tubby anytime soon, and for a while I used to say there was no sense in complaining about Tubby because there was no one else out there that could do a better job and would be willing to come to UK. Not the case anymore. Billy Donovan has officially passed Tubby, Tom Crean has to be itching for a better stage than Marquette, and John Pelphrey would make this program exactly what it is supposed to be, a cold-blooded ass kicker that kicks opponents right in the taint and then spits in their mouths. The most winnable game UK has left on the schedule is when Georgia comes to town…the same Georgia team that already beat UK. Enjoy, Big Blue Nation, I’ll be up in the clock tower.

While on the subject of UK, what the hell is going on with Ramel Bradley? I felt sorry for him when he talked about beefing up in the off-season (he put on over 20 pounds of muscle) so he could be a little more like Chauncey Billups and Stephon Marbury. Just like everyone else, I knew Ramel was fun to watch in college but had no chance at making it to the League. Now I think his stock has quietly risen higher than Joe Crawford’s. Don’t believe me? Watch the Phoenix Suns and think Ramel Bradley the whole time Leandro Barbosa is in the game. I’d imagine there are more than a handful of teams out there that could use a guy like that. He plays very solid defense, seems to be a student of the game, and has a complete offensive arsenal. Plus we know he’s capable of coming off the bench and making shots immediately. He also has a great attitude and is allegedly one of the most coachable guys on the team.

I have no idea what about the veracity of this statement, but I heard that at halftime of the South Carolina game Tubby asked Randolph if he could speak Japanese, then informed him that he better learn because that was the only place he was going to be able to play considering Morris’ sorry defense. Not quite like wearing a Tom Landry hat, but it makes me like Tubby a little better (still in the clock tower, if you need me though).

How about this whole Andy Reid thing? Taking a leave of absence to deal with his two crazy kids. I just imagine his kids being Bill Murray’s twin sons from Rushmore. Seriously, Andy has one son who’s doing heroin and the other pointing guns at people in the street (no, neither son is Stephen Jackson). So Andy Reid had these two psychos for kids, but he just couldn’t handle Terrell Owens? I can’t even really put that together. I hate TO, but I think I’d rather hang out with him than a couple of armed lunatics on smack. As a Cowboys fan, I was thinking it would be really great if the Eagles decided they couldn’t wait for Andy to return, and just impulsively replaced him with Marty Schottenheimer. It would be the worst possible pick for their personnel. Poor little Westbrook out there, running 40 times a game, completely hitting a wall after Week 6…yeah, I know, my team already hired Wade Phillips, so I couldn’t make fun of Philly even if they brought in Paterno, but thanks to complete mismanagement of the Cowboys and UK basketball I live in world of hypotheticals to avoid the pain of reality. I need another beer.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Field of 65--version 6

(about 1 week has passed since last version)
1)
Florida (23-2); Wisconsin (24-2); North Carolina (22-3); UCLA (21-3)
*After seeing Florida play in person, I am a believer. Kentucky played really well for about 30 minutes, and Florida played great for about 10. Noah and Horford gave sub-par performances, and the Wildcats had a chance to send the game into overtime. Still, these guys are so impressive it’s hard to put into words. A few things I was impressed with: the way Noah and Horford run the floor; the fact that Chris Richard could be a stud on another team; the way Noah passes the ball (I already knew Horford could pass); pretty much everything about Corey Brewer; and the fact that none of these guys seem to care that they’re not putting up 20 a game (about the most unselfish team that is this talented that I can remember). Before everyone starts talking about UCLA’s loss to West Virginia, remember 2 things—the Bruins were playing without PG Darren Collison and the Bruins aren’t the first team to have some trouble figuring out the gimmicky Mountaineers.
2)
Ohio State (22-3); Texas A&M (21-3); Pittsburgh (22-3); Kansas (21-4)
*I know everyone talks about UNC, but Ohio State is also freakishly deep. Pitt is a lot better than I thought.
3)
Memphis (21-3); Washington State (21-4); Nevada (22-2); Oregon (20-5)
*Some people seem to think Nevada is a one-man team. However, Marcelus Kemp (18.2 ppg) and Ramon Sessions (13.2 ppg) provide options besides Nick Fazekas (20.8 ppg and 11.7 rpg).
4)
*Marquette (21-5); Butler (23-3); Georgetown (18-5); Kentucky (18-6)
Georgetown had a good week, picking up wins against Louisville and Marquette. I think they’re one of the hottest teams in the nation. After watching Kentucky’s loss to Florida, it’s obvious that the Wildcats are one post player away from being a real contender. On the offensive end of the floor, Randolph Morris couldn’t be much more effective. I don’t know why he doesn’t touch the ball every possession. For anyone who thought Joe Crawford had a future in the NBA, I would suggest watching him get absolutely embarrassed by Corey Brewer.
5)
Indiana (17-6); Boston College (18-6); Oklahoma State (19-5); West Virginia (19-5)
*I didn’t think BC would play this well without Sean Williams. Oklahoma State is really struggling. Their lack of depth really hurts them. West Virginia’s victory over UCLA legitimized their tourney resume.
6)
Clemson (19-5); Southern Illinois (21-5); USC (18-7); Texas (17-7)
*USC moves up to a 6 seed from a 7 seed, and all they had to do was lose to UCLA.
7)
Arizona (17-7); Air Force (21-4); Virginia Tech (17-7); Duke (18-7)
*If freshman Jordan Hill continues to emerge for the Wildcats, we might not be able to write off Arizona just yet. This Duke team just isn't very good. They have absolutely no presence in the post on the offensive end of the floor. Josh McRoberts isn't a back-to-the-basket type of player. Gerald Henderson is being under-utilized.
8)
Notre Dame (18-6); Stanford (15-8); Virginia (16-7); Alabama (18-6)
*Just when you think things are starting to shape up for the Crimson Tide, they drop one to Ole Miss.
9)
BYU (19-6); UNLV (21-5); Tennessee (17-8); Florida State (17-8)
*BYU is 1 of 3 Mountain West teams in the field. With Chris Lofton back, watch out for Tennessee.
10)
Villanova (17-7); Vanderbilt (16-8); Kansas State (18-7); VCU (21-5)
*K-State’s 27-point loss at Kansas proves that, despite their impressive record, the Wildcats have work to do before joining the Big 12’s elite.
11)
Creighton (17-8); Gonzaga (18-8); Xavier (18-7); Maryland (18-7)
*Xavier gets the A-10 bid after destroying George Washington at GW. Maryland’s win over Duke keeps them in the field. However, I can’t see the ACC getting 8 teams in, and I think the Terps are the weakest of the group.
12)
Missouri State (19-7); Hofstra (19-7); Washington (16-8); Purdue (16-9)
*With the exception of Missouri State, I don’t feel good about giving any of these teams a bid. Hofstra lost to Drexel this past week. Washington picked up a good win against Stanford, but the Pac-10 is not getting 7 teams in (I don’t think). However, I will say that I am more impressed with the Pac-10 than any other conference this season. Purdue gets the last at-large bid. They’re one game under .500 in the Big 10, but they have more solid wins than the other Big 10 middle-of-the-packers. The Boilermakers have wins over Oklahoma, Virginia, Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, and Michigan State. With their last 4 games of the season against Minnesota and Northwestern, look for the Boilermakers to rack up some late-season wins.
13)
Akron (18-5); Winthrop (21-4); Davidson (21-4); South Alabama (19-7)
*Well, Runs with Two Horses, you were right. South Alabama gets the nod over Western Kentucky after winning their most recent meeting. But give me some credit—the Hilltoppers had demolished South Alabama by 22 earlier in the season. We’ll find out who’s going to the dance in the Sun Belt Conference tourney. I would have trouble not giving Winthrop an at-large bid if they lost in their conference tournament.
14)
Long Beach State (17-6); Vermont (19-6); Oral Roberts (18-8); Holy Cross (19-7)
*The America East Conference tournament will be interesting if Vermont and Albany make it to the finals. Well, kind of interesting.
15)
Austin Peay (17-7); Marist (19-7); East Tennessee State (19-8); Texas A&M-Corpus Christie (18-5)
*Austin Peay may deserve to be seeded higher.
16)
Weber State (17-10); Central Connecticut State (15-10); Pennsylvania (14-8); Jackson State (14-11); Delaware State (13-11)
*In imaginary basketball news, Central Connecticut State got two more wins this past week.

In: BYU; Missouri State; Purdue; South Alabama; Washington; Xavier
Out: George Washington; Louisville; Michigan State; New Mexico State; Texas Tech; Western Kentucky

Thursday, February 08, 2007

If Law School Career Services Coached Your Son in Tee-Ball...

Bobby! Bobby! Now just keep your eye on the ball, ok. I need you to let me know what you’re looking for, ok Bobby. I’m always open, metaphorically. The door to my office is always open to help you with anything you need. You wanna talk? Talk … right now? Ok. Timeout!

What are you looking for out there, Bobby? What are your interests when you are stepping into the batter’s box? The first thing we need to do is a little research. We can look at some options that you would best be suited for. No, of course it doesn’t matter if your batting average is .012. It’s still important to get out there and try to make some connections … with the ball.

Our best bet is for you to bring a resume and a cover letter back to me in a few days. I’ll look it over and make some suggestions towards your font size, and choice between bold and italicized words. This is going to give us some ground to work with concerning your batting stance. After that, write a letter to everyone you know who may know what the sport of baseball is. Who knows, something might turn up. Great story … a student was in here last year and now he’s playing centerfield for the Raccoons, who placed second in their league last year. Anyway, after you write these initial letters it would be a great idea to write a few more letters to people you don’t know, but that you do know are really into baseball. These letters should include general information about yourself and what you are seeking from them. Who knows, this might turn a few stones over. If time permits, you can write a few professional baseball players, just to get your name out there. And just as a general rule talk to as many people as you can. See what is out there. You’d be amazed at how many of these things turn up just through informal meetings.

Come back to me when you start to get some feedback and I’ll tell you how not to say the words fuck or boobs in any meetings that might get set up.

Also, on a side note, you’ll want to include a writing sample in each letter. Of course make sure there are no errors (no pun intended).

Now get back out there. It’s the bottom of the ninth and we’re getting our asses kicked.

A Message from Joakim Noah to the Inhabitants of Kentucky



Greetings. This Saturday my Florida Gators play your Kentucky Wildcats in a game of basketball at Rupp Arena. I realize that many of you do not like me. I have been visiting some of your message boards and discussion forums on the internet. Apparently, you find me unattractive, question my sexuality, and think I am an idiot. Well, that's fine. I do not hate any of you. I understand that Kentuckians are rabid fans, as dedicated to your Cats as Floridians are to their Gators. As an elite college athlete, I should get used to your criticisms and mockery. Hey, I understand that I'm kind of an easy target. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I have nothing but respect for your basketball team and for your beautiful state. Unfortunately, I will be required to dunk on your players' faces repeatedly. I may even send one of Joe Crawford's ill-advised jumpers into the fifth row of the eRUPPtion zone. I'll see you all then. Take care.
P.S. Will Lukasz Obrzut be inbounding the ball? Just joking. I'm not trying to be a jerk. I just couldn't help myself.


LATE BREAKING NEWS

WADE PHILLIPS HIRED AS COWBOYS HEAD COACH
-This will either send Runs into a diatribe of blogging or a five hour porn-viewing session.

ANNA NICOLE SMITH COLLAPSES IN HOTEL ROOM, ANNOUNCED DEAD
-This will most definitely send Natty into a hedonistic laughter.

LANDIS AGREES NOT TO RACE IN TOUR DE FRANCE NEXT YEAR
-This will most definitely not cause a reaction from anyone on the face of the planet.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Inside the Actors Studio with Eric Devendorf





(Syracuse Guard Eric Devendorf’s interview of Daniel Day-Lewis if Devendorf was asked to sit in for James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio)

Eric: What up Danny?

Daniel: I’m sorry?

Eric: I said, what up Danny? What’s really good?

Daniel: Um…I…don’t know.

Eric: Ah’ight, Ah’ight.

Daniel: I’m sorry. I'm afraid I don't know...

Eric: I saw you in Last of the Mohicans, dog.

Daniel: Did you? Well, I was in that movie.

Eric: Dude, you was kind of holdin’ it down out there. I was like, “What?”

Daniel: What?

Eric: When you had that British army guy burned alive, I was like, “Shit is deadly, son. Are you serious?”

Daniel: Serious about what? And Nathaniel did not have Duncan burned alive. Duncan decided…

Eric: Whatever, man. I’m just messin’ wit' you.
Daniel: Oh…

Eric: Who wrote that shit?

Daniel: What shit are you referring to?

Eric: You know, the movie. Stop playing.

Daniel: Well, the movie was actually based on the classic novel by James Fenimore Cooper. The screenplay was…

Eric: James Fenimore who?

Daniel: James Fenimore Cooper

Eric: (laughing) Sounds like a fairy.

Daniel: What do you mean?

Eric: Aw, so it’s like that?

Daniel: Like what? I assure you that I have not the faintest clue what you are talking about.

Eric: So, next you were in My Left Foot.

Daniel: No, actually My Left Foot was released three years before Last of the Mohicans.

Eric: And I heard you pretended like you were in a wheelchair in that movie.

Daniel: Well, yes, my role called for…

Eric: Have you seen me ball?

Daniel: What?

Eric: Have you seen me play ball on TV?

Daniel: I’m afraid I have not. What sort of ball do you play?

Eric: Aw, you real funny. You a comedian. Danny’s got jokes.

Daniel: I truly don’t know what you are talking about.

Eric: Someone told me you quit acting to cobble shoes.

Daniel: Yes, I stopped acting for a period of time and took an apprenticeship as a cobbler.

Eric: That’s crazy.

Daniel: Actually, not at all. I needed something real in my life. I needed to get away from all of this (gesturing at the set and audience with his hands).

Eric: What?

Daniel: I needed something I could touch, something I could feel.

Eric: Aw, that’s straight. I feel you. This guy…he lived down the street from me where I grew up…he had all this crazy talent. One of the smartest cats I knew. No doubt. Crazy smart. Like Einstein, dog. Anyway, one day he was applying to all these schools. Trying to get his grind on, you know? And next thing you know, he’s like, “forget all this shit.” And I’m like, “Holla at a playa all day,” you know?

Daniel: I suppose…

Eric: So what’s next for Daniel Day-Lewis?

Daniel: I will be appearing in There Will Be Blood, a film adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s…

Eric: (laughing) Shutup, man. You stupid.

Daniel: What?
Eric: I just remembered a scene in Last of the Mohicans that messed me up.
Daniel: Yes?

Eric: When that Indian tears the heart out the old white dude’s stomach. Shit’s crazy right there.

Daniel: I can see…

Eric: Indian was like, “I’m going to wipe out all your children.” And then I think he takes the heart and eats that shit. I’m sittin’ there like, “Oh damn. This dude is crazy.”

Daniel: I think we’re done here.

Eric: That’s straight. (Daniel stands up, takes mic off, and begins to walk off the set.) Yo, Danny, keep grindin’. Hold me down, baby! Hold me down!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Grammy 2007 Headlines

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE PROMISES TO LOOK “EVEN MORE LIKE MOS DEF” AT THIS YEAR’S GRAMMY’S

In a recent interview with Justin Timberlake, the artist responsible for making girls all over the world expect too much fashion sense from their boyfriends, has promised to make a fashion statement at this year’s Grammy’s. Nominated for best album with his sophomore hit “Future Sex/Love Sounds,” Timberlake is hoping to look “even more like Mos Def” at this year’s award show.
“In the past, I have considered my fashion sense a 50/50 mix between Michael Jackson and Mos Def,” says Timberlake, “but this year I’m going 90% Mos Def and 10% Michael Jackson.” Timberlake will be flying solo this year at the awards after recently splitting with his way overrated girlfriend Cameron Diaz. This gives him a 100% chance of sleeping with anyone he wants.

When asked to explain his outfit, Timberlake responded, “Well, it’s a secret. I can’t give it away just yet. But look at pictures of Mos Def from previous award shows, album pictures, and googled images. You’ll find my style.”

“Small brimmed hats, a bandana over my face, a small goatee. These are signatures of the Timberlake/Def style that is so prominent in American culture,” said Timberlake. It seems as though Timberlake will make several outfit changes throughout the night. He is performing with a special fan guest during the show. “I have several brim hats, a couple bandanas … the only question now is how to match them up. I’ll probably call Mos for any help with that.”

JAMES BLUNT WORRIES HAIR WON’T “CURL PROPERLY”

Nominated for his first Grammy’s, James Blunt has a chance to win Best Record and Best New Artist. However, those are the least of Blunt’s concerns for his special night. “My hair will curl. That’s not really the problem. I just hope it curls properly.”

Blunt is well known for his hit single “You’re Beautiful” which catapulted him onto the international scene after brief fame in his United Kingdom home. “Listen, I’m sure my hair will be fine. I mean why would it all of a sudden act up on the most important night of my life? That doesn’t happen, does it?”

Blunt’s video for “You’re Beautiful” features him taking his clothes off and jumping into an open body of water, for reason that are unknown to Blunt, his fans, or the girl he mistakenly thinks is an angel. “I’ve already been through the whole thought process with my hai,” Blunt said, “Do I highlight? Do I dry it with a towel or let it air dry? Or maybe blow dry? Shampoo, Conditioner? Who knows?”

“I promise my fans out there that my hair will be in my eyes. It will look slightly messy, and I will not, I repeat not use a comb. I’m just worried it won’t be received well on the red carpet,” Blunt continued, “But it is on my mind. I will do my best for all of my fans.”

STANDING OVATION FOR REUNITING OF "THE POLICE" REPORTED TO ALREADY BE TOO LONG

When the 2007 Grammy’s are concluded February 11th “The Police” will no longer be Sting and a bunch of other guys who used to be famous. “The Police” are planning a performance that reunites the old band for some of their favorite hits including, “Roxanne”, “So Lonely”, and “Message in a Bottle”. There have already been reports of a standing ovation that will last entirely too long.

“I’ve heard that no one is sitting down or quitting clapping until it just becomes ridiculous,” friend and fellow artist Elton John said, “We are going to try and make it the greatest moment in television.”

Britney Spears, who admittedly doesn’t know of “The Police” thinks it will be a moment the whole world remembers, “I just can’t believe it’s going to happen ya’ll. Kevin used to watch him wrestle every Monday night, and now he’s performing at the Grammy’s. I usually protest the Grammy’s, but I’ll make a conception [sic] and watch this year.”

Standing ovations are the norm at award shows when bands reunite, lifetime achievement awards are presented, or Dick Clark is seen. “It’s just a shame the [Rolling] Stones haven’t broken up yet,” Mick Jagger said, “Our reuniting would really keep people standing and clapping for abnormal lengths of time.”

In other news:
- I am attempting to sublease my apartment for the summer. I posted it on Craig’s List to try and get some interest. I’ve already received about 10 emails from people, mostly from Canada and Africa. Apparently most of the people don’t read the headline stating, “Sublease for May-July” because they all want to move in now and live with me. They all give me an extremely long description of their personality and what kind of roommate they are looking for. Apparently, they also fail to read the description stating, “I am moving out in May after finals and would like to find someone to live in my apartment for the summer.” I also have suspicion that Craig’s List is a forum for homosexual men to meet, because all of the guys tell me real weird stuff like how much money they make, what they enjoy doing, and why they want to live with me. They also want pictures of me and want to know what kind of things interest me. I don’t have a problem with it, but I don’t know how to make my advertisement any more clear. Here is a sample email that Joe sent me:

ABOUT ME:
Name: Joe Wyne
Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Blue
Age: 25yrs
Height: 5' 6" (167cm)
Weight: 122 pounds (55.0 kg)
Body Style: Athletic/Fit
Activity Level: Active
Smoking: No
Drinking: Socially
Marital Status: Single
Children: I have no kids
Zodiac Sign: Virgo
Languages I speak: English
Ethnicity: Caucasian/White
Religion: Not Religious
Grew up in: Canada
Education: MCSA/MCSE
Occupation:Free Lance Research Consultant
Annual Income: Over $100,000US
ALSO
I'm a quiet and easy going person to live with. My families lives here in Canada and i have no friends in US except you lol. I am currently running a post graduate course here in Canada and hope to end my current post graduate course this month and will love to come down as soon as possible to explore my talent,and i would be coming to do a research work. and hope to have a more profitable job. I do not have a pic presently on my system but will try to attach one to my next mail.
My favorites are;
My favorite cuisines: Barbecue, Chinese/Dim Sum, Deli, Eastern-European, Fast Food/Pizza, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Japanese/Sushi, Mexican, Seafood, Soul Food, Thai, Vietnamese
My favorite music: Dance/Electronica, Disco, Easy Listening, Pop/Top 40, Rap/Hip Hop, Soul/R&B and Soundtracks.
My favorite physical activities: Basketball, Working Out, Dancing, Swiming and Hiking/Walking
However, based on your mail i will be making a payment of $750 to move in. I must confess i'm comfortable with the cost and its quite reasonable and affordable. I had like to make the payment for the first month ahead of my arrival, and then i will make subsequent payment thereafter as i plan to stay for more than 12months. So i'll client to see you'll get the payment prior to my arriving date.
The things i will be moving in are as follow;
my Mercedes (C-class 2004 model) metalic green.
suite case containing my books
my 26' DELL PLASMA TV and DVD Home theatre
my clothes in three luggages
my desk top computer (COMPAQ) and pieces of furnitures.
Hope to hear from you soon

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Man With No Friends


It started off like all the Archibald County summers that had come before it. Leonard, Runs with Two Horses, and I would wake up, meet over on Simon Street by the maroon fence advertising ladies’ undergarments, and head over to the baseball diamond for a little stickball. At lunch, we’d return to our homes for sweet tea, honey dew, carrot sticks, and whatever sandwiches our mothers were making on that particular day. Eating quickly so as not to waste a second of our glorious summer, we’d usually meet back up before an hour had passed. But our post-lunch excursions always included an additional pal—our good friend Thelonius Monk. In the mornings, he’d help his uncle, Sour Mash, the town silversmith, in his shop. But his afternoons were reserved for whatever adventure we could find in this sleepy little town. Our imaginations carried us away in those days. Big Knot Hill became Mount Kilimanjaro. Widow’s Creek became the Nile. And the squirrels in the park became a band of gypsies trying to paralyze the local economy with a combination of trapeze acts and black magic.
About a month into this particularly humid summer, though, we started to pal around with a couple of dames. Ismerelda the Poop Queen moved into the house that sits atop Big Knot Hill. One day when we were climbing Kilimanjaro’s summit and hoping to do so without triggering a deadly landslide, Ismerelda’s dad walked out onto his front porch and called us over. He told us his daughter had just moved to Archibald County and that he would be much obliged if we would let her into our circle of friends. Runs, Leonard, Thelonius, and I, frightened at the thought of a summer without our weekly expeditions to Big Knot Hill, eagerly introduced ourselves to Ismerelda. The Poop Queen’s best friend, Lizzie Quisenberry, also tagged along, as both of her parents had died of measles the previous winter and she was living with Ismerelda for the summer. While we were happy to have Ismerelda’s company, Lizzie was a real creep. When she had a moment alone with one of us, she would say, “Last night I watched you while you were sleeping.” On several occasions that summer, I actually woke up and saw her through my bedroom window staring at me. Thelonius told us that, on one rainy night, Lizzie threw a soaked squirrel that was still alive through his bedroom window.
Anyway, as the summer entered its last month, all of us tried to find new games to take our minds off of our dwindling summer. Much to our delight, Thelonius talked his uncle into letting us stop by his shop on Mondays and Thursdays to watch him work for about an hour at a time. We couldn’t believe our luck. Sour Mash allowed us to keep bits of silver shavings and encouraged us to put those shavings into our eyes to preserve our youth. Sour Mash also told us that humans were born to eat meat and that eating anything else led to weakness and eventually death.
One day on the way to Sour Mash’s shop, we came across a stray dog. The frail little thing looked like it hadn’t been fed for weeks. None of had any food to give it, so we asked Sour Mash for a handful of the beef jerky bites he kept in the large silver canister on his workbench. The little dog loved the chewy, meaty goodness, and we named her Lovely Ms. Pettigrew. Over the course of the following two weeks, Lovely Ms. Pettigrew became a part of the gang, and we loved her like a sister.
On August 15, we took our normal route to Big Knot Hill for a climbing expedition. On Jericho Street, we passed Old Man Mecklenburg’s house, just like we did everyday. All of a sudden, Lovely Ms. Pettigrew took off, as if stung by a hornet. About half way up the hill, Lovely Ms. Pettigrew collapsed. We shrieked in horror, as our beloved companion had seemingly died right before our eyes. We ran for Sour Mash’s shop, certain that he would know what to do. After listening to our story, Sour Mash calmly told us that the dog had probably just eaten something that wasn’t meat. All we had to do was give Lovely Ms. Pettigrew some beef and she would be fine. He gave us a handful of jerky and sent us on our way, exclaiming, “That’s what happens when you don’t eat meat!” As we turned up Jericho Street, we could see Lovely Ms. Pettigrew’s lifeless body right where we had last seen it—halfway up Big Knot Hill. As we drew within about 75 yards, a lanky figure emerged from Old Man Mecklenburg’s house, went halfway up the hill, retrieved Lovely Ms. Pettigrew, cradled her in his arms, and returned to his house. The door closed behind him. We ran to his property, stopping at the fence separating his lot from the sidewalk. We’d all been told to never go into Old Man Mecklenburg’s yard. Everyone said that he didn’t have any friends and that he hated children.
We didn’t know what to do, so we went back to Sour Mash for help. Upon hearing what had happened, Sour Mash became very stern. He told us that Old Man Mecklenburg was made of dirt and that, under no circumstances, were we to go near his house. He said that we should all eat more meat but that there was nothing we could do for Lovely Ms. Pettigrew.
We left the shop in utter despair. But Runs wouldn’t have it. He told us we were all a bunch of “yellow scoundrels” and that, if Lovely Ms. Pettigrew was a human, she would help us out. Sufficiently embarrassed by Runs’ accusations and determined not to let our friend down, we all gathered our courage and headed back up toward Big Knot Hill.
We quietly approached Old Man Mecklenburg’s property. Almost without thinking, we followed Runs’ lead, stepping over the fence, climbing onto the porch, and hiding under the window sill just outside the old man’s house. Runs told us that he was going in and coming out with Lovely Ms. Pettigrew. He told us to count to 50 and then stand up and look into the window. He said that if he died, he wanted us to witness his murder so that Old Man Mecklenburg would be punished. Before we could protest, Runs had disappeared behind the house. We counted to 50, just as we had been instructed to do. Slowly, one by one, we stood up, putting our faces to the window to see in. About 4 feet from the window stood Old Man Mecklenburg. He was standing over what looked to be a makeshift cradle. Positioned inside the cradle was Lovely Ms. Pettigrew's tiny dog body. Runs stood next to Old Man Mecklenburg, petting the dog’s head. Runs said something to Old Man Mecklenburg, and the old man looked up at us with a surprisingly kind face. He smiled and then went back to caring for Lovely Ms. Pettigrew.
At that moment, a door in the back of the room opened. Sour Mash, wielding an enormous battleaxe, entered the room, and killed Old Man Mecklenburg. We were horrified. We rushed into the house. All of us were sobbing. Leonard yelled, “Why? Why would you do that? He was a nice old man. He was nursing Lovely Ms. Pettigrew back to health!” We looked up at Sour Mash, waiting for an answer. He smiled his toothless grin and said, “Old Man Mecklenburg was made of dirt. This had to be done. Also, you all should eat more meat. Let's get out of here. It smells like celery stalks in here.”
That was probably both the worst and the weirdest day ever in the history of the world.