Friday, June 18, 2010

Basketball Without Whistles

The life of a "baller" on the pickup court years after any meaningful competitive action can sometimes be a rather pathetic existence. We cling to any remaining trace of skill that once existed and occasionally test the boundaries of old...sometimes it's an aggressive shot selection that completely misses iron (airball) or a move to the lane that once worked (that is, until you forgot how to dribble with your left hand), or it could be a lefty hook that you never had the balls to shoot in a real game but now take with reckless abandon without the slightest regard for "time and score"...19 out of 20 times these attempts end in total disaster and can severely impact interaction with your friends for the evening...buuut, just like that perfect 7 iron to 2 feet on hole 11 en route to shooting a 117, there's always one shot, no matter how bad things are, that keeps you coming back for more every time.

Ultimately, we all find ourselves at some point during the 'afterlife' falling victim to something that is even more pathetic than the actual spectacle itself - actually thinking about and reliving the experience post mortem. It isn't enough that we waste two hours of every week playing the game....nope, we waste even more time daydreaming about it. Might be that perfectly tossed pass in transition or it could be a game winning jumper...OR, maybe it's a really bad turnover that lost the game (possibly a full court pass attempt from under your own basket with 3 seconds left, up 3 that hits the ceiling eventually resulting in a made three at the buzzer from your opponent and a loss in 2OT...idk, just a random example)...the point is - basketball remains a pretty highly anticipated weekly event for us has-beens and the results can often induce a "wish I had that one again" type of a reaction... one that's been known to linger... it's widely believed that Steven P. Erfle's experience at his own wedding was a 9.5 (out of 10) because he went 0-fer at Ursinus that morning...and it would have been only a 9 if not for the ride of his life during the "Hora" (chair dance)... See, I told you - really, pretty pathetic...

So the other night, immediately following the IPO, I received a call from an old colleague (who happens to be a self-titled Associate Head Men's Basketball Coach). It was a call in direct response to the blog posting and began with a very pointed question, "So, how much are you looking to get from MTV for dropping their show in your blog?"...I told you, this guy definitely spends too much time out here...Annnnyway, after explaining that there are no financial incentives behind this blogger's motives (so far. make me an offer) and after getting through the standard pleasantries that former colleagues typically share, I soon learned that he was "Ranging" down to the shore (he drives a white range rover) with his brother sitting shotgun. His brother, who happens to also be a good friend, is a newly minted college grad. I told him to say hello for me and I asked him how he was doing...a question to which the reply came back without a moment's hesitation: "He's doing pretty good...tough out there but he's working real hard to make his own opportunities...things are going to come together soon for him...his guy scored on him a couple of times but he went to the rim solidly at least twice tonight". It was only halfway through that I realized he wasn't talking about his kid brother trying to land a job during double digit unemployment...No, much more importantly, it was a coach's/brother's interrpretation of his play only minutes earlier...(with the honesty that only an older brother could deliver). Even sadder, I quickly forgot, myself, all sense of reality and started to ask details of the game...pathetic? Definitely. But a welcomed interruption to a night of statistics and accounting homework.

OK, so before signing off, I leave with a quick story about the 1 out of 20 that keeps you coming back...earlier this week I received an invitation to summer pickup from our classmate in the MBA program, Tim Abromaitis...quick bio - he graduated in three years and is making use of NCAA eligibility by pursuing a graduate degree...oh, and he'll probably be with your favorite NBA team next season...(a little different than ballroom dancing classes while Mom hangs out on scholarship in SoCal...btw, the BushPush has now been officially eradicated from the books. Never happened. ND won.) ... getting back to the story - I said that I'd be happy to play as long as they weren't looking for anything more than just another body to make 10. Ok, Great - Monday afternoon at 5:30 it is. I end up meeting Mr. NBA at about that time. Takes me back through the lockerroom; pretty sweet digs - plasmas, video games and leather couches for the "lounge" (I mentioned we were fundraising for a new lockeroom rug back in C-ville). We suit up and hit the floor. It's a smattering of current players, buddies still on campus and some alums back from playing overseas looking to stay in shape. Ends up being a good run and I hold my own (not completely embarrassing the family name) until an opportunity in transition materializes...I receive the outlet off a miss at the right hashmark. Just me and the 6-10 guy who's got a pretty good start and is defending the very hoop that I have my eyes on...I can see him salivating in my peripheral vision...I'm lining up the layup and I know he's asking himself if I'm really going to attempt it...hell, I can feel everyone else in the gym thinking the same thing (Think Sandlot scene where first fly ball is hit to Smalls in left and everyone else watches with one eye closed)...I bravely go up for the attempt - take off from the left foot...ball in right hand...he leaves the floor fully anticipating the spike....Then, a quick shift from the right to the left and I sneak it in for two. The classic lefty layup from the right side of the court!!!!...if there's such a thing as a patented move for a washed up DIII whiteboy, mine is this. Every once in a while you can catch an unsuspecting poor this case - the victim was the 6-10 kid who plays in the Big East.... 0-5 from three? Slept like a baby that night.

1 in 20. I'll take it every time. So, when are we playing next?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


OK, so I must admit - never thought I'd ever be a "blogger"...always kinda thought of the "blogspot" as a place for computer geeks to leek images of the next iPhone or where rumors of political sex scandals started...a place where the likes of Mike McGarvey go to waste endless hours over lunch breaks or "film" sessions...(had to give my boy a shoutout in the maiden voyage)...needless to say, haven't spent much time over the years out here in the ol' blogoshere...until now that is. I've come to learn that there's some good that can come from it all and that it can serve many different purposes....hell, with a couple clicks of the mouse, they'll let anybody set one up for any old reason. So here goes - my attempt at publishing in the public domain...

Let me begin briefly with a purpose. After 4 years of undergraduate studies at the U (Ursinus College for you many followers accross the country) and another 4 years down the road at SEI Investments, I've now taken this show on the road out to South Bend in pursuit of an MBA from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame (in case it wasn't self-effident through my witty title...gotta love BusinessSchool). Mendoza, by the way, is the #1 ranked (undergraduate) business school in the country according to Bloomberg's BusinessWeek. And just walk through any one of the may halls here - there are constant reminders that us MBA'ers are total slackers (though if you leave out the whole undergraduate thing, it can sound pretty impressive)... but bragging about something I've had no part in building is not why this whole blog thing started. No, It started because I was in search of an outlet to write about the "Domer" experience and to document a short stint out here in the land of...well, what is this the land of, anyway? Underachieving and over-emphasized athletic programs??? Ok, you're right, a low blow from just a 2-week'er...In fact, the truth is that it doesn't take very long at all to realize just how special this place is and why it presents the opportunity of a lifetime. Looking forward to every moment...another 6-6 football season included.

So in case you didn't know, Indiana's state motto is "The Crossroads of America" (yea, there's a big sign that lets you know at the border) and I don't exactly know what they (the state's founding fathers, of course) were going for when it was coined but to me, it just sounds like some place in the middle of nowhere where nothing cool (or state motto deserving) ever happens...and I can confirm that it's definitely not a place with any beaches...So what's a guy supposed to do out here in the middle of the summer? Well, after taking part in a kickball tournament this weekend (no, that's not a typo. We really did play kickball...and I'm pretty terrible at it. SEE PICTURE for evidence), I would be lying through the keyboard if I said there wasn't the slightest moment of reget. I miss you already my friend, the Jersey Shore...though, thanks to MTV, you now mean something very different to everyone I meet...(deep sigh)'s a very sad reality that I have to introduce myself and my hometown with a disclosure that there's no affiliation with Mike "The Situation". F'in MTV producers - THANKS A LOT.

OK, first entry out of the way. Bottom line - this is a man-diary and I'll post if anything noteworthy happens. Be back soon enough....