Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Game That Told Us Nothing About Ourselves as a Team

. . .We began our first game of the season in a full court press. It took less than three minutes into the first half for us to build a 15 point lead. We were playing one of the worst teams in the league. We knew it and they knew it.

Earlier that day The Greying Writer, The Baseball Player and I were sitting in our Cultural Anthropology class. It filled a humanities requirement and the teacher was full-bodied in all the right ways. Otherwise, I didn't really see the point in cultural anthropology. In 20 years it will be similar to taking a Cartography class. It was the beginning of winter, and thus much easier for 18-year old freshman to pay attention in class. Most figures are hidden beneath a deep layer of hooded sweatshirts and Northface fleeces. Extremely full-bodied girls have an advantage in the winter because their figures are much more discernable underneath the sweatshirts and coats. Our teacher was no exception. She had no affect on The Greying Writer, his type is more likely to be found in a boys Calvin Klein ad. She kept my attention, and made the class more enjoyable, but I was thinking more about the game that night. The Baseball Player got the highest grade of his life in that class and broke the record for number of erections in a span of 75 minutes.

After class I met up with Faceman, The Phoenix, and The Puppet Master for a light workout and shoot-around. The Puppet Master spent the time like usual, starting at the top of the key, taking a couple dribbles with a spin move through the lane, and then slamming the ball off the backboard as hard as he could and then laughing. He cared little for preparation that day. The rest of us worked off the rust and all felt confident in our ability to knock down open jumpers later that night. The Puppet Master told me I was one-dimensional, purely a spot-up shooter. I took offense to the statement, but knew it to be mostly true. I decided to prove him wrong later that night.

We had run up a 20 point lead midway through the first half and had not set up a half court offense yet. At the urging of The Baseball Player we slowed down the tempo and decided to work on running an offense, something we thought would be useful against better competition. It wasn't fluid, and resulted in settling for a lot of contested three pointers. I botched my first couple of attempts, and was unable to get in the flow of the offense. I can usually tell when my shot isn't going to fall and will resort to staying along the baseline and set screens for guys who have a hot hand. Slow-Release, a sophomore, emerged as our best and most consistent scorer. He was a reliable three point shooter with an extremely slow release. He had a great shot fake and could slice through the lane and finish around the rim. Faceman and Insane Fifth Year Senior were stalwarts on defense. They both could guard four different players on the court and rebounded the ball without mercy. V-Neck a fellow freshman was also a talented inside scorer who rebounded extremely well. He often tried to shoot from the perimeter, but it was not his game, and after two or three more attempts than we would have liked he would start to dominate the post on offense. I found myself developing into the secondary ballhandler and one of the better entry-passers on the team. I wouldn't be putting up impressive statlines or taking any game winning shots.

We still ran when given the opportunities, and were often afforded them with high pressure on the ball handler. I got out into the open court after a steal and prepared myself for a controlled layup. It caused me to slow down and allow a reckless opponent to catch up and make the shot more difficult than it should have been. He jumped from behind and I shifted my body to draw contact but he avoided any significant disruption. His armes flailed at the ball and my arms, but I got the shot off into the bottom side of the rim. It shot back down at me and ricocheted out of bounds. Laughs poured in from the sidelines as we were all having fun at this point - up by over 40. I chuckled and tried to explain the misfire, but it was lost on deaf ears. It was the first gaffe in what I knew to be a long list of embarassing mistakes. But I knew there would also be more moments to prove my worth to the team, this was just not the game.

We finished with a 50 point victory and a well-enjoyed hour of entertainment. We all had a better understanding of each other's roles, but had no idea how they would fit together to form a team. After a shower and some food I opened the fridge with a bird on the front and pulled out a fifth of our favorite drink, and poured The Greying Writer and myself a shot. He too had not had his best game and we knew only the blood of deer would help us forget. The Once-Balding Italian, our neighbor, crept inside the room, sunk into the orange sectional couch, and started playing FIFA 2003. He had been with his full-bodied girlfriend for most of the night. I was jealous . . .


Blogger jb said...

Once? ...Still...

May 30, 2008 at 12:39 PM  

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