Month: November 2013 (Page 1 of 2)


It’s assassination season, amped up 10,000% by this being the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death. I’ve watched bits and pieces of several shows about the assassination over the past week, and plan on settling down with the History Channel later and watching some more.

This is nothing new.

It’s long gone now, but in high school I taped a rebroadcast of the original NBC coverage on Nov. 22, 1963 and watched it over-and-over again, fascinated by history unfolding on live TV. When Oliver Stone’s JFK came out, I viewed it dozens of times, not necessarily buying Jim Garrison’s theories, but engrossed by the mystery of the whole event. How could a murder that was so open be so layered in so many questions?

I’m not going to lay out what I believe and don’t believe here. I do think it’s interesting that as technology keeps getting more advanced, the mechanics of the actual shooting get honed down to a smaller pool of possibilities. I know, I know, skeptics will say that these pieces are biased, ignore other important information, etc. but at least two different technology-based investigations put the most likely origin point of the bullets that hit JFK’s limousine at the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Now that still doesn’t answer the why question, or the who beyond Lee Harvey Oswald, or whoever was in that window, question. But technology does seem to be stripping credibility away from some of the theories that have popped up over the past 50 years.

1963 was just at the dawn of when technology was reaching the masses. Famously Abraham Zapruder’s 8MM film gives us a clear view of what happened in the limo. There were dozens of other handheld film and photo cameras in Dealey Plaza. But there were still enough holes in what those cameras captured to give doubters the opportunity to insert their claims into the discussion.

My initial thought was that would not be the case today. A big event like a presidential visit would be blanketed in both official media coverage and likely hundreds, if not thousands, of regular citizens training their cameras and smartphones and camcorders at the event. In a disaster today, we would have an endless supply of photographic evidence to examine, allowing for easy conclusions. Right?

But then I remembered a moment when I was in grad school. I was writing a profile about a local peace activist, and followed her to an anti-war demonstration at the state capital. I was standing there, taking in the event and thinking of how I could wrap the details into my story, when an older man walked over to me and began quietly explaining how the Bush family flew several members of the Saudi royal family out of the Indianapolis airport after all air traffic had been shut down on 9/11. He rambled on for a while, and the object of my story gave me an embarrassed shrug.

The point is that people will always believe what they want to believe, regardless of how much information we have that seems to point toward a logical explanation. Think about 9/11. We know what happened. But there are countless conspiracy theories out there about “what really happened.”

Israel was behind it, thus there were no Jews in the World Trade Center towers that morning.
The US government was behind it, either as a tool for cracking down on domestic freedoms or as an excuse to begin a broader war in the Middle East. Or the Bush Administration was aware of the details of the attack but let it proceed, again as a way of gaining public support for a Middle East war.
It was the Saudi government, hoping to goad the US into attacking its enemies in Iran and Iraq.
It was an inside job, as jetliners aren’t big enough to create a fire hot enough to cause the Towers to collapse.
No plane hit the Pentagon, it was an American missile that hit it.
And on and on.

You would think technology would curb conspiracy theories regarding public events. But there are always limits to what technology can tell us about historical moments. There are always mistakes made in the moments of confusion surrounding a disaster that can be picked apart, linked together, and turned into something more than they really were. There will always be people who distrust any story told by government, or who see dark plots in even the most explainable of moments. And technology makes it easier to spread these theories.

If November 22, 1963 took place in 2013, with full network news coverage and the added evidence provided by average citizens, there would still be doubters. Even if an indisputable explanation became clear after sifting through the photos and videos and accounts, some, seeking a more definitive explanation, would find inconsistencies and missteps and put them together to create a narrative that fit their needs and soothed their fears.

So as much as I’d like to think the cottage industry surrounding the Kennedy Assassination would be neutered by modern technology, it’s clear that’s not the case. In another 40 years someone will still be sifting through the 9/11 evidence, uncovering new information and “finally settling” the story behind the attacks. And odds are every November, right around Thanksgiving, I’ll be refreshing my memory of the details of that day in Dallas.


Farewell Winamp

Time, and technology, march forward. The first widely popular desktop application that played MP3 files, Winamp, is being shut down in December.

AOL Shuts Down Winamp For Good

I first downloaded Winamp in December 1997. Pearl Jam had a new single, “Given To Fly,” that was getting airplay in advance of its official release. I kept reading on Pearl Jam discussion lists how you could listen to “radio rips” of the song if you had the right software1. I did some searching, found and installed Winamp, downloaded some incredibly compressed rips, and my digital music adventure was off and running.

I kept Winamp around for several years. In the early days, I had a collection of 30 or so Pearl Jam covers recorded at concerts. Eventually, once I discovered Napster and other downloading sites and began ripping my CDs to my hard drive, my library grew. But I believe I stuck with Winamp until our first Mac arrived in July 2004. A lot of good musical memories are wrapped up in that app.

I don’t recall it fondly because it was some great piece of software. It was pretty utilitarian, taking sound files and playing them. I was never into skinning my player the way some fans were. But it served a great purpose as I moved away from CDs and radio as my primary tools of music discovery and shifted to download sites, streaming radio, and eventually music blogs and the iTunes and Amazon music stores.

Farewell, Winamp.


  1. I didn’t really know what a radio rip was, either. Man, were they awful back then, too. I remember the first I downloaded sounded like it was being played on a tiny speaker, shot through a cardboard tube, into a large, tiled room. In other words, it kind of sucked. 

On Pics And Vids

Forgive me as I link to one thing and then take it in a completely different direction.

Esquire has a terrific profile of George Clooney in the December issue. I’ve always been a big fan; he seems like the kind of guy you would almost be happy stole your girlfriend from you.

“So what happened with you and Jane?”
“Oh, she’s dating Clooney now. But I’m totally cool with it. He’s really much better for her. And he’s been inviting me over to play hoops, so it all worked out for the best.”

Anyway, I found this quote rather interesting.

At his villa on Lake Como, he has had, as his houseguests, everyone from Al Gore to Walter Cronkite to Kofi Annan, and still he insists that “at dinner, everyone put the phones away. And so there are not a lot of photos of our times there. Because I want us to live them.”

George Clooney’s Rules For Living

I’ve been putting together the pictures for our annual family calendar over the past week or so. I’ve taken fewer pictures in the past 12 months than I had done in previous years. By a pretty significant margin. And I’ve taken only a handful of videos with my iPhone and can’t remember the last time I took out our actual video camera.

I don’t think that’s unusual. Most parents go overboard with kid #1 and slowly scale back the pictures and videos as they have more kids, the kids get older and add more activities to the family’s schedule. It’s one thing to sit around with one kid who is learning to roll over and snap a dozen pics. It’s another to try to remember to take out your camera when one kid is doing something cute, another is screaming in her bedroom, and you have to get everyone out the door to pick up the third from a playdate.

I feel a little guilty about that, but I was never a parent who wanted to document every second of my children’s lives. There’s a part of my brain that thinks it’s a good thing to scale back how much imagery we take in of our kids.

It seems like everyone has their phones or cameras out at any public event, doing their best to record the moment. And their eyes are pointed not at the field or the dais, but at their screens to make sure the image is framed properly. And, thus, we end up missing the actual moment while we’re trying to preserve it.

It feels like we should flip that equation. Pay more attention to what is happening so we have the memory burned in deep. Maybe hold up a camera or phone and point it in the general direction, but our eyes should be focused on our kid, the guy in the batter’s box, or the candidate behind the podium.

I’m sure I’ll regret not taking pictures of certain events down the road. But I’m also not going to sweat it anymore. We have a ton of pics of our girls. I want those photos to jog my memory of those moments, not make me think of how hard I had to work to get the lighting just right that day. Or, as Clooney said, I want us to live those times.

Late Wrap

The belated weekend wrap up.

Man, was it a crazy weekend. First off, we were lucky that the awful storms that blew through Indiana split before they made it to our house. We had some heavy winds, but nothing like the 80 MPH gusts they had downtown, or the tornadoes that were just to the north of us. The sirens did go off, and we hustled the girls to the basement for a bit. But, amazingly, other than the usual small limbs down and leaves blown around, we hardly felt the full wrath here.

That’s not to say we weren’t effected by the storms. We got a call Monday morning that a tree had fallen down at our LVS and hit a neighbor’s home. We went down in the afternoon, and the tree had already been cut and moved, but it was an impressive site. Our tree, which the crew said weighed 8700 lbs, hit another tree before it landed on the neighbor’s roof. The crew said had it not been in the way, ours would have sliced right through her house. Or, had it fallen towards our LVS, we’d be prepping for a major repair project.

Fortunately no one was hurt, it doesn’t look like there was significant damage to her home, and the insurance companies will make sure everything is repaired. And I guess we need a new tree.

On our drive back we were behind a pickup truck that had a deer thrown in the back bed. The antlers and nose were sticking out over the tailgate. We were either following hunters or roadkill gatherers, I guess. C. and L. a long discussion about whether it was dead or not. I’m not sure why they thought a deer would just be lying in the back of a pickup on the interstate, but they don’t have a lot of experience with deer, either. At one point L. got a good look at it when a tractor trailer passed. “Oh yeah,” she said. “That deer is definitely dead.” I’m glad they got that figured out.

OK, weekend sports blurbs.

Colts dig their way out of another hole Thursday. They really need to stop doing this shit. Seems like they’re more likely to be the 4 seed than the 2 or 3 at this point. Which would likely mean Denver or Kansas City comes to Indy for the Wildcard round. Regardless of what happens between now and then, I have a hard time seeing the Colts winning a playoff game with as many significant injuries as they’ve had. Of course, if Denver comes to town and Peyton can’t move, or KC loses a couple key defensive guys, that changes things. And it’s still nearly two months away. A lot can happen.

First high school basketball game of the year Friday. A nice night for my girls, as they won by 30. Stats were a little shaky, but they always are the first couple games. Everything added up, which is the important thing.

KU gets a Big 12 win! Funny how it took putting a very non-Charlie Weis quarterback in, and a freshman who was supposed to be redshirting at that, while the two most hyped KU football recruits ever, Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps, had been utter failures.

I have a grad school friend who is a WVU alum. I owed him beer for a bet on last year’s KU-WVU games, and after months of trying, finally found a service that would ship beer to him. A week later we break the losing streak against his Mountaineers. Sometimes karma is a beautiful thing.

Speaking of Denver and KC, I stayed up and watched their entire game Sunday. For all the pre-game hype, that was a big letdown. I either wanted Peyton in full video game QB mode, or the KC defense just destroying the Broncos’ offense. At least the Denver-Indy game was exciting. Not sure how Robert Mathis could be on Peyton all night and KC couldn’t get to him with a much better D-line.

Finally, the Pacers got hammered in Chicago Saturday, ending their nine-game winning streak. One game out of 82, so nothing to get concerned about.


In Sickness And Haircuts

It’s a double sick day. C. came home early yesterday with a fever and L., who was already on medication for a bad cough, was burning up this morning. Good times. We’re deep into a Netflix binge that will likely last all day.

I got called to come pick C. up about 2:20 yesterday. When I got to school, M. was sitting in the office with a big, proud grin on her face. After we got into the van, I asked her if it was cool to hang out in the office.

“What do you mean, why would that be cool?” she asked.
“Well, you get to hear everything that’s going on, see everyone that comes through, and know what Mrs. H and Mr. H (the school admin and principal) are up to. And you do like to know everyone’s business.”

She tried to play it off and acted like nothing much was going on.

Of course, later in the night she couldn’t help herself and started telling us all kind of St. P’s gossip. I knew it!

I didn’t hear all the conversation, but a couple nights ago I heard S. telling L. not to use the word chubby, because it can hurt some people’s feelings.

“But Mom,” L. shouted, “chubby people are awesome!”

I don’t know where she got that, but I like it.

Tuesday was haircut day for me. I go to a local spot where I can get in and out in less than 20 minutes. I never ask for a specific person, but tend to have one of two or three stylists1 each time. One of them is full of opinions. Once she told me that she refuses to take any medication, including Advil/Tylenol, because she thinks medicines cause more problems than they solve. This week she told me that she didn’t think the Miami Dolphins controversy was that big of a deal because “everyone uses that one word,” and gave me examples of how she used it growing up and “it didn’t mean nothin’.”

It’s always an awkward position to be sitting in a chair while a person cuts your hair with sharp, pointed scissors and they begin dropping opinions that you disagree with. It’s one thing to talk about sports or pop culture or your favorite restaurants. It’s another to get into more political matters. I just don’t want anyone to shave a bald spot where I can’t see it, or “accidentally” stab my skull or nick my ear because I’ve argued that I think medications are generally good things or using racial slurs is never cool.

Like that old man who started talking about race at the football game earlier this year, sometimes it’s easier to keep your mouth shut, nod, and hope it ends quickly.

Speaking of high school sports, I cover my first girls game tomorrow night.

  1. I don’t know the proper term. “Person that cuts my hair” is too awkward, and I don’t go to a barber shop, so they’re not barbers. 

Stirring The Pot

I love it when the Onion says things that are both funny and true. Example: their take on a new (fictitious) ESPN show.

“We’re looking for three, maybe four absolutely reprehensible, know-it-all fucks to sit around a table and share their idiotic opinions about the day’s biggest sports stories,” said ESPN’s vice president of original programming Jamie Horowitz, adding that ideally, the obnoxious, pig-headed pieces of shit will be a mix of annoying national sports columnists, repulsive former athletes, and one prick from Boston.

Yep, sounds about right.

ESPN Searching For A Few Loud-Mouthed Fucks For New Afternoon Program


Wow, that was worth staying up late, and feeling kind of miserable this morning, for.
All the pre-game chatter amongst KU fans, at least the ones I interacted with, was, “Well, I just hope we make a game of it and the kids get some experience that will pay off later.” Funny what a sloppy season opener can do to expectations. Some of that pessimism was because unlike KU, Duke returned several players from last year, and added a transfer with D1 experience. And, to be honest, as much as we all love Bill Self, his teams are often kind of lackluster early and reach their peak after New Year’s Day. We had talent, the thought went, but between Duke’s experience and Coach K probably having his team a little further along in their development, it was looking like a loss for KU.

But it was KU that imposed their will last night in Chicago. They countered every Duke run. Self made adjustments to slow down Jabari Parker. Andrew Wiggins got hot. Perry Ellis was outstanding all night.1 Wayne Selden and Frank Mason showed zero fear. Joel Embiid was good more than bad. And Jamari Traylor started to show some more of that “Little T-Rob” potential many people think he has.

Oh, and KU knocked down their freaking free throws while Duke missed theirs. How often does that happen?

In the end, it was Duke players fouling out while KU made steals, grabbed rebounds, and converted on the other end to put the game away.

It’s only November 12, but man, was that fun.

Other assorted thoughts:

Beating another traditional power is always sweet, no matter what month of the year. But the wins like this, where it’s back-and-forth all night, close late, and then your team finishes out on a big run, might be the best. This one had a KU-Carolina, 2012 feel to it.

It’s weird that KU and Duke have only played ten times, all since November 1985. With the exception of the 1990 game, when KU was on probation and got hammered at Cameron, they’ve all been terrific, important games. Four NCAA games, three in the Final Four, one in the title game. Games in the preseason NIT, Maui Classic, and now Champions Classic. If memory serves, at least five of the games haven’t been decided until the final minute. Hopefully they’ll play again before the next Champions Classic meeting, scheduled for 2016 in New York.

Funny how different Wiggins looks, physically, from Parker and Kentucky’s Julius Randle. Randle is a beast. Parker has an NBA body now. But Wiggins clearly needs to add size and strength. As I said, that’s why he has all the hype. The other two will get better, but the belief is Wiggins has a higher ceiling. Whether he reaches it or not is another matter. At this moment, he looks like a college player. The other two look like NBA guys.

The persistent rumor a year ago was that Randle loved KU. On the day he announced, I read through a list of recruiting “experts” predicting where he would go. It was like 80% KU. Then he shocked everyone and picked Kentucky. And then Wiggins, who pretty much no one thought would pick KU, ends up in Lawrence. How are things different if Randle picks KU and Wiggins goes to Lexington? Not that I’d trade, but it will be a fun “What If?” game to play all year.

I love Frank Mason. So cool and steady and clutch. And this is a kid who was a couple points on a high school test away from being a sophomore at Towson right now. I told my buddy E in Texas that he reminds me a lot of a dude we watched play when we were in school: Adonis Jordan. Similar build and size. Deceptively quick. Probably will never be the best point guard in the country, but does everything better than most. If he can get to being a consistent shooter the way Adonis was, I might have found my new favorite player.2 Another freshman who had huge plays late, and he was playing against older guys. Oh, and he’s a Bill Self player. Self will keep recruiting point guards for the next three years, but no one is moving Mason off the starting line once he claims a spot.

Brannen Greene has a lovely shot. As I predicted, that will be important this year. I don’t think he’s ready to contribute more than a few minutes a game yet, but he’s going to be a big player in the future. And he has a little Ron Kellogg in his game, another of my all-time favorite Jayhawks. And he wears my favorite number. And he has a great (if slightly misspelled) first name. OK, two guys in the running for my new favorite Jayhawk.

Who am I kidding? I love all these guys.

I don’t mean to be cruel, as I know he’s had health issues, but it’s really hard to listen to Dick Vitale. Most of the game I kept the volume turned down a lower than normal just so I had to make an effort to hear him. He miscalled Wiggins first basket,3 then went on for several minutes wondering why Wiggins wasn’t in the game before someone reminded him that it’s because he had two fouls. Dick’s done a lot to help make college basketball popular and deserves immense credit for that. But he’s been a chore to listen to for years for a variety of reasons. Age and health are making it harder to tolerate him.

In general, ESPN does a crappy job of letting you know the details of the game. The broader narrative is always more important, regardless of who the announcing crew is. How often do they miscall who a foul is on then not correct it? It’s almost to the point where you have to keep a live box score up to see the foul situation.

One shouldn’t get too up or too down for a game in November. Winning last night doesn’t guarantee anything for this squad, and they’re sure to have nights when their youth is a burden. But seeing how almost all the young cats responded in a game like that was a beautiful thing. It’s scary how good this team could be if they all figure it out and harness their individual and collective potentials. Of course, it’s even scarier how good Kentucky could be if they do the same. But I stand by my preseason belief: this is going to be one fun-ass year, even if they look like crap some nights.


  1. I TOLD YOU! 
  2. Some of you may recall my first ever email address was RexandAD(at), for Rex Walters and Adonis Jordan, the KU backcourt from 1991-93. 
  3. “THAT’S HIS FIRST COLLEGIATE BASKET!!!” ignoring the game last Friday. Dan Shulman had to awkwardly correct him. 

Weekend Sports And Weather

Ominous skies here in Indy today. We’ve had a couple of small snow events already, nothing that accumulated, but tonight we may get as much as an inch. And then the temperatures are expected to to tumble for most of the week. I guess Mother Nature still has some bitchiness left after the (seemingly) endless winter of 2012-13. We have a clear view of those skies, too, now that most of our leaves have fallen. I do hate that about fall. Suddenly seeing our neighbors behind us after being hidden for five or six months is always a shock.

Those skies match how sports went over the weekend. KU got trounced again in football, Big 12 loss #27 in a row. I’m beginning to think that Charlie’s not going to get things turned around this year. Then the Colts shocked the world by coming out as flat as they possibly could against the Rams yesterday. I haven’t gone back and looked yet, but setting the 2011 season aside, when Peyton was injured, I do not recall a loss like that to a bottom feeder team during our decade in Indy. The Colts have generally been pretty good about not losing to bad teams, and certainly never in that kind of fashion. Exception that proves the rule, I hope, rather than an alarming sign of how important Reggie Wayne was and how over-rated Trent Richardson is.

Adding to the gloom is the prospect of tomorrow night’s KU-Duke game. Friday’s KU season-opener was predictably sloppy.1 But with Duke hanging 111 on a decent Davidson team, I’m pretty sure tomorrow night will be ugly for the Jayhawks. The Champions Classic comes to Indy next year, and KU will play Kentucky. I’d love it if KU could enter one of these things without working four or five new starters in.

There was good sports news, though. The Pacers ran their record to 7-0 with two more wins over the weekend. I missed Friday’s win over Toronto while watching the KU game, but it’s worth mentioning the Pacers lost a November home game to the Raptors a year ago. And then Saturday they went to Brooklyn, took the Nets’ best shot and made some huge defensive plays late to remain undefeated.

Paul George appears to have filled some of the holes in his game. The upgraded bench is performing as expected. Lance Stephenson seems poised to take another step in his development. The Pacers blew open a tight game against Chicago a week ago with a huge run by the second squad early in the fourth quarter. Perhaps I sold the Pacers a little short when I said they weren’t quite elite. I know, I know, it’s still early. But so far, they look like the best team in the league.

  1. This two-and-a-half hours for a college basketball game shit has to end soon. I understand referees are charged with calling the rules as written, in an effort to clean up the game. And I expect teams to adjust as the season goes on, and referees will likely loosen up a bit as well. But games that last that long because of endless stoppages is what the NCAA was trying to get away from, not turn every game into. 

Lift Off

Finally, the games begin.

It’s been a long run since that sad Friday night in Dallas last March when Elijah missed, Trey hit, and Michigan knocked off the #1 seeded Jayhawks out of the NCAA tournament in overtime. Given how last season ended, this has been a surprisingly un-angsty off-season. Well, there was angst plenty of angst until May, but then for some reason a lot of that went away.

But after the Andrew Wiggins announcement, the celebration, the anticipation, the heaps of hype, KU finally tips things off tonight.

So what to make of, likely, the most talented team but least experienced team of the Bill Self era?

Well, first let’s acknowledge this year begins a whole new era of Kansas basketball. I’m not just talking about Wiggins’ time on campus. I’m talking about Self going all-in with chasing the top recruits and the Jayhawks beginning to look more like Kentucky, where new crops of freshmen show up each fall to be replaced by another group of kids straight out of high school the next year.

To be honest, I’m torn. I don’t think Self will ever go full Calipari. I think he will always do his best to balance the roster and also recruit guys who are talented and can be All-Conference caliber players, but who will spend more than one or two years on campus. Perry Ellis, for example. I love having Wiggins, Wayne Selden, and Joel Embiid on this year’s team. But it bums me out they’ll each likely be in Lawrence one season. Some of the fun of recruiting is imagining how multiple classes will mesh over time. And much of the fun of being a fan of a college team is watching guys come in talented but raw and turn themselves into complete players over three or four years. Andrew Wiggins won’t play with whichever of the stud big men, and possibly point guards, Self signs for next year. He’ll be catching lobs in Boston or Salt Lake or Philly.

Anyway, enough of that. Let’s talk about the team.

Yes, Wiggins will not live up to all the hype he’s received. That was always unlikely and as the hype has reached ridiculous levels, I think it’s become impossible. I would wager he won’t even be the best freshman, statistically, in the country. I think many people who only pay attention to college basketball forget he’s a ridiculous prospect because of the player he will be, in three or four years. He has crazy athletic ability and a terrific fundamental core. But he’s also a slender 6’8’’ kid. He won’t overpower people the way Michael Beasley did. He isn’t a good enough shooter (yet), nor big enough, to do what Kevin Durant did his one year at Texas. Nor does he seem to have that assassin element to his personality that will lend itself to averaging 25 a game. And KU doesn’t need him to score 25 every night. His stats will be modest, he will have games where you wonder what the fuss is about. But he’s still going to be really freaking good, and he’ll get better every game, every week, and look like a completely different dude in January and February than he is now.

That said, I’m sure, at some point, there will be a slew of “What’s Wrong With Wiggins?” columns and blog posts if KU struggles early and he’s only averaging 11 or 12 points per game. In the one-and-done era, there’s no time for patience.

The same goes for the other two super-frosh, Selden and Embiid. They’ll have rough patches, Embiid especially. But there will also be moments where they look like men among boys.

Perry Ellis is going to be really good. Maybe the best player on the team. He’s done what so many guys his size have done during the Self era: struggled through their freshmen years then come back stronger, more confident, and much better as sophomores. He looks like a different dude this year. When defenses collapse on Wiggins, he’ll be the beneficiary. He will quietly get work done and be good for 16 and 6 just about every night.

The one failing of Bill Self’s recruiting in recent years has been at point guard. He’s finished second or third for just about every one of his top targets since Sherron Collins.1 Thus, point guard seems like the weak spot in this year’s lineup. But I’ve liked what Naadir Tharpe and Frank Mason have shown in the exhibition games. Yes, D2 opponents. But they’ve both pushed the ball, kicked off the offense, made smart plays, and not tried to do too much. That’s all KU needs from the 1 spot this year: smart, efficient play. Plus, Selden and Wiggins are perfectly capable of bringing the ball up at times. By February they’ll be adept enough to run the point for extended periods if needed.

I think Andrew White III and Brannen Greene will both see limited, but important minutes. Wiggins, Selden, and the points can all shoot it, but these two guys have size, athleticism, and gorgeous strokes. If they can get on the court, they’re going to get lots of open looks when defenses collapse on Wiggins and Selden slashing. I love White’s attitude and what he did to his body and game over the off-season. I hope Greene follows his lead.

This team is big, fast, can jump, and has ridiculous upside. Will that be enough over the Big 12 season to extend the title streak and then make a long run in March? I still think Oklahoma State is the Big 12 favorite, simply because they’ve been through the battles already. KU matches up well with the Cowboys, and I expect those two games to be amazing battles. But as much as things always seem to work out in KU’s favor in the Big 12 season, whether it’s another contender not being able to handle the road or losing a fluke game somewhere down the stretch, I think this is the year KU loses a dumb game or two while OSU takes care of business. I don’t think Marcus Smart lets OSU lose too many games this year.

As for March, who knows. It all depends on match ups and locations and who is hot and how the chemistry of each team is. Two years ago Kentucky blew up the idea that a team dominated by freshmen couldn’t go deep into the tournament and win a title. Then last year’s Kentucky team lost in the first round of the NIT.

KU has massive amounts of potential. The question is do they have enough time to put it all together. I hope so. And unlike recent seasons, when I’ve been fine missing a game here and there, or even actively avoided games if my stress level was too high, I’m going to watch as many minutes as I can this year. The nights it all clicks, it’s going to be pretty spectacular.

I think you know what’s next.

Rock Chalk, Bitches


  1. Tyshawn Taylor was committed to Marquette and only took a look at KU after Tom Crean left for Indiana. Elijah Johnson was recruited as a two-guard. Naadir Tharpe and Frank Mason were both back up plans after preferred options signed elsewhere. 

Soccer Wrap Up

It’s been a nice, relaxing week. With the exception of C.’s Daisy Scouts meeting yesterday, we’ve not had a single event outside of school. Which has been nice after two-plus months of soccer practice and games.

M. and C. wrapped up their seasons on Sunday. M.’s team had a great game against an opponent that had not lost all season. It was a tense affair, as the coaches for the other team were being very aggressive, throwing all their defenders forward the entire game, in an effort to clinch the undefeated season. M.’s team went up 1-0 in the first half, trailed 2-1 late in the fourth, and got a tying goal on a free-kick just outside the box with less that two minutes to play. It was a fun, entertaining game, and all the parents were super into it.

M. got better over the course of the year, but still struggles with the physical part of the game. It’s frustrating for us to watch her start from zero again when each season begins and have to slowly build confidence and remember technique. The thing is, as I’ve said every year, is that she loves being out there with her teammates. She never really gets down when she messes up, or when her team loses. But, as the other kids get bigger and improve, she’s also going to be the target of harsh words from teammates if she’s the weak link. There were a few times this year when some of her male teammates yelled at her. I have a feeling she won’t be able to shake that off much longer.

In her defense, even the girls on her team who are more skilled than her exhibit some of the same on-field behavior: standing around staring at the sidelines instead of watching the ball, talking to their friend next to them, or getting caught flat-footed when a faster player runs right by them.

Most of M.’s teammates from the past two seasons are moving up to the U-13 league in the spring. She’s not old enough, or skilled enough, to go along with them. So we may hold her out of soccer in the spring, and beyond that we’ll just have to see.

C. scored another goal and had an assist in her game. Her team came a long way this year. They were awful the first couple weeks. In one early game I don’t think they ever got the ball near the other goal. By the end of the season they had figured it out and were consistently pushing forward and getting scores. We thought it was cool that C. and the other Kate on her team scored the first two goals this past week.

C. kills me on the soccer field. She’s always running and always giggling. As long as she doesn’t get kicked or take a shot in the stomach, she’s constantly working to get close to the ball and has a big grin on her face. We’re not sure if we’re going to do soccer for everyone in the spring, but she will move up to the next league in the fall. I’ll be really interested to see how she fits in at that level. She’s fast and can control the ball, but does get frustrated and upset more than M. does.

L.’s season ended a week earlier. She was excited to get her trophy and team picture, both firsts for her. I lost track of how many goals she scored this year, but she had at least three five-goal games. She was the only player on her team who knew to go to the goal when she got the ball. She almost always kept the ball in the middle of the field and worked towards the center if she was outside. She was persistent, getting in the middle of the scrums and kicking to force the ball out. And she understood that when the other team breaks out, you run to the ball and take it away rather than running all the way back to the goal. As a coach, her most significant accomplishment this season was only crying once, by far a team low.

Seriously, I know we had a bunch of kids that began the year as just four-year-olds, but there was a lot of crying. In practice. In games. Crying because they got kicked or knocked over. Crying because they didn’t get to play. Crying because they had to play. Crying because they didn’t get to take throw-ins. Crying because we were using their ball. Crying because we weren’t using their ball. And I’m sure there were tears for other reasons I’m forgetting.

One kid clearly had some issues. He was the biggest kid on the team, was fast, and when he focused could kick the crap out of the ball. But he was really reluctant to get in and mix it up, generally content to stand just behind the action. If the other team took possession, he would run full speed back to the goal and turn to guard it. Even with me yelling, “Come back to the ball!” he’d just keep running.

And he didn’t deal with negativity well. One game we gave up two-straight goals after he did his turn-and-run act then failed to try to stop the ball. His mom yelled something to him about getting in there and playing after the first goal. I didn’t hear what she said after the second, but as I was walking the ball back to midfield for the kickoff, I saw him running, full-speed, off our field, across the next, then through the baseball fields and towards the parking lot. Dude just took off! By this point in the season I had seen this a few times so I calmly looked to the sideline and yelled for one of our other players to come in. Good times.

The league has a nice socio-economic mix, with both well-off families and working class ones, with a decent number of black and Latin families. L. had one teammate named LaMont and another that preferred to go by Juice. Both were white. Perhaps my favorite details of this season.

L. had a great first year of soccer. She was aggressive, had lots of fun, and lived up to the Wiggins-like hype from those who saw her dribble around while her sisters played last spring. I kid. Kind of. The parents who watched her last spring were not surprised when she would march over and tell them how many goals she scored after each game this fall. No truth to the rumor I’m repurposing our garage this winter so that L. has cones to dribble through and a full net to fire on.

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