Musings from 2009
For my final blog of the decade I'd like to turn my attention back to a few of the quirkier basketball moments and happenings from this last year that stick out in memory. To each event I have assigned a title that you will no doubt find cheesy and serving as further proof that there is a reason why I shoot photos and don't regularly write headlines.
ONE TOUGH "COOKIE" (Jan. 28, Lincoln, Neb.)
What happened: Kansas forward Mario Little (6'5", 210 lbs.) and Nebraska guard Cookie Miller (5'7", 165 lbs.) are separated by teammates and game officials after wrestling for a loose ball at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb. Looking to excite the crowd, Miller boastfully gestures to the NU student section while being pulled away by teammate Paul Velander.
In 31 years, I'll be the first to admit that I've suffered plenty of delusions and haven't always had an iron-fisted grip on my emotions. However, I have been acutely aware of how short I am (Miller's exact height and weight) especially in moments when I felt my temper was gaining momentum. Based on obvious differences in size and Little's expression, this one could have gotten really ugly for Miller had both sides and referees not intervened. In a perfect world, Paul Velander would get a nice big fruit basket this holiday season from his former swollen-headed teammate (now with West Virginia State) for saving his behind and sparing him further humiliation.
MAN IN THE PLASTIC MASK
What happened: From the same game as the aforementioned skirmish, center Cole Aldrich suffers a broken nose. Aldrich reemerges in subsequent games wearing a protective face mask.
Sure it was little more than a few elastic straps and a piece of hard plastic, but it did kinda have a Hannibal Lecter quality to it.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU? (March 1, Allen Fieldhouse)
What happened: In the sequel to the 62-60 heartbreaking loss that Missouri handed to Kansas on Feb. 9 at Mizzou Arena, the Jayhawks returned the favor with a 90-65 blistering of the Tigers at Allen Fieldhouse. The payback was one that Jayhawk fans could feel warm and fuzzy about, but the gold star for the day went to the student section situated in the north end zone, which displayed a 14-foot wide, modified version of John Steuart Curry's "Tragic Prelude." The mural featured famed abolitionist John Brown, arms outstretched, with a Beecher Bible in one hand and the national championship trophy in the other.
I've always been impressed with the wit and sometimes the gall of some Missouri fans, especially the lengths they are willing to go to make their point. However, printing off 170-plus sheets of paper, assembling them into a fourteen-foot-wide banner and all the while relating it back to the historical roots of the rivalry takes some serious effort fueled by ... let's call it a deep-seeded distaste for the other bench.
DUNK YOU VERY MUCH (Nov. 10, Allen Fieldhouse)
What happened: Kansas forward Marcus Morris sends Pittsburg State guard Andy Smith to the floor with a tomahawk jam that should grace the pregame highlight reels for years to come.
The "dude you got served" award for the year goes to Andy Smith of Pitt State. As I was captioning my images after the game I paused for a moment when I came upon his name. It rang of familiarity and I couldn't decide whether I went to high school, college or neither with an Andy Smith. I did, however, decide that whichever Andy Smith I did or didn't know would have had more sense than to walk blindly into that dunk. Cheers to him, however, for taking the hit.
Happy Holidays to all.