Monday, February 10, 2003

Dirty Planet, Sympathy for the Huskies 2.10.03

Something has worked its way inside me. Like so much chum in a bucket. I find myself on a Monday night thinking the University of Connecticut basketball team is not only good to watch; I find myself learning about some guard named Anderson, listening for information about shot-blocker Emeka Okafor, wondering how Ben Gordon is handling his new responsibilities with Talik Brown sitting with his broken finger.

It’s that damned Jim Calhoun’s fault. Him and his prostate cancer.

For the non-sports fan, this may mean little. For the active sports fan, know that I have been born and was raised in New York City. Connecticut is like the far reaches of hell, where you get hijacked to camp, where your father’s company has their lame family picnics where there are never any girls (or boys) your age, so you run around in the fresh air (which is bad for you after breathing the NYC pollution. We’re built for it now, adaptable lungs). Connecticut is a bad place in general (Stamfiddy notwithstanding); but when it comes to college basketball…

Those hosers in Eastern Connecticut, at that cow-town University of Connecticut, they’re always big. Physical. Year in and year out they’re obnoxious. And they run over the boys at St. John’s University, the kids at Rutgers, the players at Providence. It’s not fair. They’re freaking thugs. No style. No scoring. And the championships? They are a mountain to climb. They’re not the Yankees, but they do rock white and dark blue uni‘s. Close enough.

This year they’ve managed to spot at least three teams twenty point leads out of the gate. That made me laugh. The sign of a bad team-- an inexperienced U Mass team puts a 25-point lead on you. Being U Mass, they lost. Boston College did much the same and held on. That made me laugh hard.

And then. They announce that Coach Jim Calhoun has prostate cancer. Won’t be coaching for about 4 weeks. Attacking it aggressively. Hunting down the rival Syracuse coach, Jim Boeheim, for the latter’s experience with cancer. Puts a mellow coach in place. Loses his starting point guard.

Perhaps it’s because St. John’s is starting a spiral into the crapper, called the bubble. Maybe it’s that sentimental part of me. Maybe this is a sign of declining Pico, one who can’t keep his dander up. Ladies, I assure you that’s not true. Really. Maybe it’s just interesting watching a team put their pants back on and start playing as well as they can. Maybe it’s great to see a team perform organized hellish chaos successfully.

Whatever it is, I’m sure I’ll get over it.

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