Thursday, December 22, 2016

Snider is Star vs. UK, but Others Shine Bright, Too

Hometown hero Quentin Snider, a junior point guard from Ballard, was the star of stars in Louisville’s 73-70 victory over rival Kentucky in the KFC Yum Center Wednesday night, but there was plenty of praise to spread around.

Snider was the undisputed game MVP with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists, but he had plenty of help, too. It seemed nearly everyone who hit the hardwood for the Cards made some kind of contribution to the much-needed victory.

Let’s start with Deng Adel. Adel saved his best game for the biggest stage with 18 points and six rebounds against UK, including six of six from the free throw line. Both Adel and Snider played all but three minutes, underscoring both their effort and importance to the victory. Much of that time, Adel was harassing the Wildcats’ best player, Malik Monk, into shooting just one of nine from the three-point line after 47 points against North Carolina. If not for Snider’s heroics, Adel would’ve been the headline from this game.

Big man Jaylen Johnson continued to showcase his off-season improvement with 14 points and six rebounds, including a couple of thunderous dunks (although not nearly as thunderous as Bam Adebayo’s rim rattlers). However, Johnson’s biggest play of the game was of the softer variety via a nifty reverse put back of Donovan Mitchell’s miss with only 11 seconds left, giving the Cards a four-point lead.

Speaking of Mitchell, it simply was not his best game. He picked up two early offensive fouls that limited his effectiveness. Mitchell shot only three of 12 from the field and missed an open three-pointer with just over two minutes left and U of L leading by four that might’ve blown the game wide open. He soon redeemed himself by coolly delivering two clutch free throws with nine seconds left to give U of L a three-point margin, meaning the Wildcats had to shoot from deep on their final possession. They missed, but credit UK Coach John Calipari for getting Monk an uncomfortably good look there.

On that last shot, walk-on David Levitch, of all people, had his hand in Monk’s face. Levitch also drew Monk’s second foul earlier in the game, causing the Kentucky sharpshooter to miss a large chunk of the first half. On the flip side, Levitch missed two free throws. Because of those misses, I was surprised Cards’ Coach Rick Pitino went back to him late.

While we’re talking about freebies, how about Ray Spaulding of Trinity shooting four of four from the stripe? Sure, a couple danced around the rim, but they went in and were desperately needed in a game where every point counted. Spaulding probably would’ve been even more impactful if not for foul trouble.

Two other U of L big men contributed without even scoring. Mangok Mathiang grabbed five rebounds, but his biggest play came when he blocked De'Aaron Fox’s runner with just over six minutes left and Louisville clinging to a two-point lead. Anas Mahmoud grabbed a key offensive rebound with 3:42 left, tossing it to Adel before falling out of bounds. Adel then found Johnson for a big dunk and a four-point Cardinal lead.

Tony Hicks and V.J. King both played in the rivalry for the first time. Neither made much of a mark other than giving the starters a rest. They have better days ahead. However, this night belonged to Snider … with a lot of help from his friends.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Having a Ball -- and a Fall -- on Bowling Night

If you’re my age, you probably remember Mars Blackmon’s refrain from the popular Nike ads. “It’s gotta be da shoes,” screamed Blackmon, aka Spike Lee. When it came to my near catastrophe at the bowling alley this week, Blackmon was right. It was definitely da shoes.

I bowl once a week in a men’s league.  I have a pretty regular ritual. So regular, in fact, that it’s damn near rote at this point. I sit down, lace up my bowling shoes, polish my bowling ball, place it on the rack, pay the team captain and wait for practice to start.

But this week, my routine was interrupted with disastrous consequences. I spotted a friend from work on the next lane. I was eager to chat with him. So I started cleaning my bowling ball as we caught up. When we were finished talking, I put the ball on the rack, paid the captain and waited for practice to start. See anything missing?

Because it was cold outside, I wore blue jeans to bowling – instead of shorts – for the first time this year. For some reason, I was oddly concerned that I might trip over my pant leg. So, as I stumbled on my first practice ball, I blamed the jeans. Then, on my second practice ball, the stumble turned into an all-out, head-first sprawl onto the lanes. That’s right. I dived onto the oil with all the gusto of Pete Rose into third base with a full audience of bowlers watching.

I scrambled to my feet, took inventory of any personal injury (thankfully, the only bruises were to my ego) and sat down in the same seat where I had sat just moments before so blissfully ignorant of what was to come. I was still trying to figure out exactly what had happened when the team captain came to check on me. He pointed to my shoes. They were sneakers … not bowling shoes. Bowling shoes slide. Sneakers stick. When sneakers stick, you fall … hard.

So Mars was right. It was not da jeans. It was da shoes.

But don’t feel sorry for me. This story has an unexpected happy ending (besides survival). After such an inauspicious beginning, I ended up bowling my best series ever … about 650 actual. Perhaps I concentrated better knowing I’d have to do something to redeem myself. Or maybe I was just lucky. Either way, I’m thinking of taking another header this week … just in case.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Larry David Loves This Idea ... In My Dreams

I happen to think Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld and creator and star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, is the funniest person alive so maybe it’s not all that odd that the comedian recently made a guest appearance in one of my dreams.

Dream Larry lived next door to me. We visited each other regularly. I talked with Dream Larry in great depth about his career and his creative process. He was perfectly accommodating and lovely. In other words, he was nothing like Real-Life Larry.

On one visit, Dream Larry and I could barely hear each other because of the abrasive licks of a heavy metal band practicing outside the widow.  We agreed it was repulsive and a blight on the entire neighborhood. The next time I saw Dream Larry I asked him if he had done anything to address the repulsive metal band problem. He said yes. He had signed them to a recording contract. We both laughed uproariously. I told him this would make a great plot for a future Curb episode. Dream Larry agreed.

So Real-Life Larry, if you’re out there, feel free to borrow that hilarious anecdote for a future episode. I’m not holding my breath though. Unfortunately, Dream Larry also told me he wouldn’t be doing any more episodes of Curb.