There are storm clouds on the horizon. Claps of thunder and explosions of electricity. The storm has a name and a face, (all storms are female aren’t they? like ships and dining rooms and mayonnaise. Sleet is male I suppose – like ketchup and burgers. You have no idea how much time I spend worrying about things like this.) She (the storm) is even wearing a cute pantsuit and a misleadingly pleasant fragrance to disguise her intention.

I should have seen trouble coming. My girlfriend (Miss Seattle we will call her) is generally a reasonable woman. But there were omens. A poorly thought out gift on my part (who wouldn’t want a Blu-Ray player and a sweet surround sound system? How is that “Not very romantic”?). My ill-received decision to spend Christmas week out of town and Christmas day at work. The totally freaky weather on Friday.

The weather bothered me the most. I went to work at 5am and it was winter with frost on the windshield. I left at 7pm and it was warm and humid, my coat sticking to my back and sweat forming immediately from saturated air. I remember thinking that the world might end, that the weather was apocalyptic.

Turns out a nice little apocalypse would probably have been more pleasant than most of my Saturday. A woman’s wrath can be an ugly thing.

Since I am here to serve you, Hog Nation, I will pass on just a bit of advice today. Fear the Text Message. That is the advice. Fear the Text Message. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I was in a bad mood Saturday anyway. I was working and sick people during the holidays are, quite frankly, a depressive and hypochondriacal lot. And there are LOTS of them so the joint is way busy. Also, the prescription drug addicts had, as usual, failed to anticipate the holidays and refill their scripts early so they were out in force. (Maybe I should have given Miss Seattle a shot of Demerol for Christmas and all of this could have been avoided.) I was thinking to myself that I should hand out personal organizers to all the junkies so they could start to get things in order. They seem a disorganized lot.

On top of this I was going to miss the Hog’s game - not just miss going but not get to see it at all since I didn’t get off work until 7pm. I was Tivo-ing it and had to avoid all talk of hoops until I got home. It seems I bitched about this in a short text message to Miss Seattle.

“What about me?” was the response. “You miss me? I have only seen you once in the past 10 days. Are you more worried about basketball?”

Now Miss Seattle is a pretty funny woman so of course I thought she was just teasing. And therein lies the danger of the text conversation – the words are clear but the TONE of those words is tough to interpret.

“Well we’ve only been together 8 or 9 months and the Hogs have been my sportswife for 35 years.” I texted back. (It is here that I would recommend others insert an emoticon of some kind. This was an error on my part.) “Plus you never won a National Title” I added. Again no emoticon.

The storm erupted then. There was thunder. There was wind. Trees were falling and cars were in danger. And frankly the language was a touch unladylike.

And so my day went – a torrent of mean and misinterpreted texts flying back and forth on microwaves or through cellular towers or wherever text messages travel. The airwaves were ablaze with acrimony and insults.

So I’m home now and watching the game on Tivo. She is here and she is drinking gin & tonics. She made a tasty 7 layer dip so we have that going for us. She is wearing jeans tucked into boots which is just a bit slutty I think. I perceive this as part of a nefarious plot.

Let’s watch some ball!

FIRST HALF

NW State’s unis are hideous. Purple but not bluish and decent like the Vikings they are more like a color I can imagine Jasper Parnovik wearing on the golf course.

Courtney is in some sort of trouble. He must be a bit of a rascal that one. Stef is in the lineup and I will go ahead and say that this lineup ain’t scaring anyone. I’m realizing just how vital Fortson is to the makeup of this team.

We are down 8-2 off the bat. On the good side Stef seems to have put the headband in permanent storage – this bodes well for his future performances.

Courtney is back in – that’ll teach the kid a lesson. I think the lesson learned was “Hey we suck without me”.

FIRST TIMEOUT 9-8 Hogs

With Courtney the offense suddenly has purpose, a center to its being. Brandon Moore is in the early rotation which is good.

Who are these announcers? All I do is watch basketball and I’ve never seen these fellas. I think they might be the “B” team from the Sun Belt conference and got the gig because they offered to pay for their own gas.

RC and Stef hit threes. Have I ever mentioned my anger with Heath regarding the lack of shooters he recruited? I remain a bitter man.

Andre Clark runs the floor. His stroke is really good. He needs some time but he could be very good.

Apparently Northwestern leads the nation in turnovers. There first and second string point guards are short, scruffy faced and a tad pudgy. Also they are the sons of the coach. I’m just sayin’.

We are pressing after every make. Is this because we know they can’t handle or has Pel been cleverly adding elements to this team’s game every week?

RC gets knocked to the floor and Stef is the first guy there to help him up. Awwwwwwww.

SECOND TIMEOUT 19-12 HOGS

We look good. Easing into an identity. A fast paced but not frenetic team that is led from the point and really needs to shoot well. Defense that is extended and hopes to create turnovers.

Miss Seattle has posed a question. “So if you really had to choose between me and the Arkansas Basketball team which would it be? I’m serious, say you could never see them play again if you stayed with me.”

I sneak a look out of the corner of my eye to assess the situation. She is smoking Marlboro Reds even though she doesn’t smoke. She thinks this will piss me off but sadly I think it’s sexy. (I used to spend a lot of time in bars.)

“You’re just drunk” I respond. OOPS!

We are trapping in full AND half court! I’m getting a chubby. I love the way fast, pressure basketball opens up huge cracks in other team’s schemes.

Britt hits a trey. I love Marcus Britt. Stef from the other corner. He really has his shooting rhythm..

CF behind the back for a Washington dunk. This ball is rolling downhill fast. Courtney a deep 3.

On the downside our bigs can’t finish. They are all very slow from the time they catch a ball in deep until they release their shots.

RC is playing the best defense he has played. Sure it might be because the other team has a lttle white guy struggling to run the show but I actually think its because of the traps and pressure. He has good hands.

THIRD TIMEOUT 39-18 HOGS

Schniiikies. This be a whoopin’.

“I’m NOT drunk. I’m just seeing you more clearly now.” Miss Seattle is standing and pointing. She may be seeing clearly but her balance is not so good. She tripped over the coffee table and steadied herself by placing her left hand squarely in the dip. I laugh. OOPS! again.

Miss Seattle excuses herself to the bathroom but takes her smokes, the ashtray, her phone and her drink with her. Hmmmmmmm.

Mike Washington with a pretty drive and dunk. I appreciate that he is playing inside but for the umpteenth time I will insist he is a perimeter player and is best used there.

I just had a vision of this Hog team, with this personnel, playing a form of the Princeton offense. Kind of like Jim Beilien’s system. Open post or high post only. No screens only movement and back cuts, passing and 3s from four or five positions. Then pressure defense to take the heat off our thin bigs on the other end.

Stef with a DEEP 3 from the top. RC misses a pull up 3 but I love the idea. Throw daggers.

RC misses again and this is the first time I have ever seen his stroke off. His shooting rhythm is just a bit funky tonight.

More good, smooth play from Britt at both ends.

Moore misses a dunk but he has a terrific knack for tipping passes on the perimeter.

Britt needs to give our bigs a lesson on how to catch a pass in transition, not be in a hurry but maintain control and go up like you have the advantage underneath..

BTW, RC is way off but his floor game is his best yet. Nice passing.

LAST TIMEOUT 49-23 HOGS

Miss Seattle is still in the bathroom. Trails of smoke are coming from under the door. I tell her to disable the smoke alarm. She yells back but it didn’t seem very nice.

She texts me from the bathroom. We are getting into a weird area here. “U supposed to care bout me first” it says.

“If someone cared about me they would NEVER make me choose. Hog basketball is attached to me, like a siamese twin. We are connected at the heart.” I shout this and smile to myself, believing it to be a lovely sentiment.

Miss Seattle begins vomiting loudly, Gin and pureed beans splattering my bathroom. Women.

Andre Clark with a decent little jumper.

“Stat girl wouldn’t make you choose” she texts. “Why don’t you go buy HER a Blu-ray player?!!”

No, stat girl wouldn’t make me choose, I think to myself. She would love me for me and we would watch hoops all the time and snuggle in my Big Chair at home and eat dip and I would look at her tan, smooth skin stretched tight on her almost slightly chubby figure and dream of the Hog Basketball tattoo that I am quite sure must be on her low back.

I keep this thought to myself. I hear a thud and I assume Miss Seattle is eating porcelain.

Alley Oop to Fortson. Didn’t work but I love it.

HALFTIME 54-25 Hogs

Obviously that was a good half. Stef is hot and CF gets better and better. The defense is the story so far. It has been consistently good.

There is no halftime entertainment at Seattle’s house, unless you consider cleaning up a sloppy girlfriend entertaining.

She looks quite lovely sprawled on the tile floor, asking for a towel but afraid to lift her head because of all the spinning. I throw her one.

“F*** Stat Girl” she says and it echoes through the shower and the tub. I notice she has singed an eyebrow with her cigarette.

SECOND HALF

Early 2nd half is always difficult after a big 1st. No energy. Hogs call early TO.

RC misses deep. Stef hits deep. He has 20.

NW is pressing but we look okay. Stef hits again off the press break. WooHoo!

FIRST TIMEOUT 62-35 Hogs

Stef has 24 now. Jason Henry hasn’t played. I just realized this. Uh-oh.

Stef again with the catch and shoot. He has 27. Wow. Now he is limping.

Britt 3. Playa!

I stop watching the game for a while here, sticking Miss Seattle in the shower is proving difficult.

Miss Seattle has just come out of the shower and she has sobered a tiny bit. Her hair is wet and she is wearing a terry cloth robe and she looks clean scrubbed and very sexy. She trips walking over to my chair and curls up next to me. She smells of soap.

She is whispering apologies in my ear and asks if I want to crawl in bed.

“But you were just puking all over the bathroom.” I say without thinking. “That seems a bit gross don’t you think?” OOPS!


FINAL SCORE 95-56

(Note: I’m scheduled to work the night of the OU game. I’m trying to get out of it and will post if I am able to attend. Go Hogs)


JCK

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