Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's More Important, A Jets Game or The Holiday Festival? The Choice is Obvious

First, a few days ago I thought I saw Kermit the Frog doing an ad for the "Green Game" featuring Michigan vs. Kansas on Saturday. Since I was falling asleep at the time, I was like "Nah, I must be dreaming". Nope, sure enough, it's Kermit the Frog doing an ad for the game. You know Kermit's tag line "It's not easy being green". Well, it's a perfect segueway into my article for today

I am a Jets season tickets holder. Have been for the last several years. I am a diehard Jets fan. I was too young to remember Joe Namath and the Super Bowl team. I am old enough to remember his bad knees and the tons of interceptions he threw as he got older.


Then there was the Richard Todd years. Freeman McNeil, the New York Sack Exchange and the great 81 playoff season run. Then there was that 81 Championship game against Miami.


Then there was Bill Parcells and I remember being at opening day the season after they made the AFC championship game the season before. Vinny Testaverde ruptured his achilles tendon.

Again, sigh.

Then the last several years all the home games I have seen. I was there, when they triumphantly beat the Raiders in the last regular season game to make the playoffs in 2006. Then they upset the Chargers on the road and then had a chance to beat the Steelers.

Then Doug Brien missed the field goal attempt. The Steelers win in overtime.

Triple sigh.

Then there was new hope last season. The Jets got Brett Favre. Who cared if he was wishy washy, who cared if he was a walking soap opera. He led the Jets to a 8-3 start. Beat the previously undefeated Titans. First place in the AFC East and it looked like it could finally be the year.

Then they faded down the stretch. I was there when they lost at home to the hated Dolphins in the last game of the season to finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs. Brett Favre played like Richard Todd did in 81.

A big deep sigh.

So there was this year. A new coach, Rex Ryan, whose dad, Buddy Ryan was a defensive line coach for the Jets Super Bowl Championship with Namath. An awesome 3-0 start with an inspiring defense including the game I was at over those same Titans. There is new hope.

Then the Jets lose six of their next seven, with the last game I was at, the demoralizing 30-27 loss to Miami where the Jets defense only gave up nine points (two special teams touchdowns and a returned fumble).

Sighs can't even describe the disheartening feeling.

So the Jets have resurrected themselves. Three wins in a row. A fourth staring them in the face with a beaten up Falcons team. I have my tickets way in advance for this Sunday's 1:00 pm game, December 20th.

December 20th...that sounds familiar.

Then I realized several weeks ago, the Annual Holiday Festival at MSG starts the same day. It's unusually early this year because normally this college basketball tournament is a few days after Christmas. This year's Holiday Festival has Hofstra (my home base), Davidson (when they scheduled it, Stephen Curry hadn't announced that he was leaving school early), Cornell, and the host team St John's.

Hmmm, the girl that keeps breaking my heart, the Jets or my true love (well, next to my wife that is), college basketball.

It was a very easy decision. My friend Jessica's mom just picked up the Jets tickets from my house. I gave them to Jessica as her baby shower present (she has a boy due in May 2010). Three tickets plus the parking pass. Enjoy Jess.

So I am spending the day with my true love (again apologies, Chelle). And this promises to be a fun day.

First, the Holiday Festival starts at noon with Davidson and Cornell, then Hofstra and St John's at 2:30. Three mid majors and the one time local NYC bully, the Jonnies.

Davidson has struggled this season with Stephen Curry leaving school early for the NBA and Andrew Lovedale graduating. Well, struggled might be kind as the Wildcats have started out 3-7. But upon closer inspection, Davidson has played a pretty tough schedule. All seven losses have come against teams with winning records, including road losses at ranked Butler and Gonzaga. The Wildcats are led by freshman Jake Cohen who averages 13 points per game while averaging only 20 minutes per game. The Wildcats are coached by one of my favorite coaches in all of college basketball, Bob McKillop.

Cornell, ranked #13 in my Baker's Dozen article, has been very solid this season at 7-2, which is especially impressive when you notice they have only played two home games all year. Road wins at Alabama, UMass and at Drexel (the Dac is not an easy place to play when full) are particularly impressive. Ryan Wittman has been terrific for the Big Red, averaging 18 points per game on 47 percent shooting from the field (including 41 percent from beyond the arc). Wittman leads three other scorers in double figures. The Big Red will be battling current fellow Baker's Dozen member Harvard for the Ivy League title this season.

Hofstra has been very solid, starting out the season at 7-3, with their only losses at Kansas, at UConn and home to a very good Charlotte team (just ask Rick Pitino and Louisville). The Pride are led by Charles Jenkins, the 2009 Haggerty Award Winner. Jenkins, only a junior, is being his usual statistical monster self. Jenkins is averaging 19.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. But what has made Hofstra better this year is how they are handling the ball. The Pride are third in the CAA in assists to turnovers ratio (last season they were at the bottom). Much of that can be attested to terrific freshman Chaz Williams, who averages 4.1 assists to 1.4 turnovers per game. In fact in his last game, Williams had 10 assists and no turnovers vs. New Hampshire. The Pride are looking for their fourth Holiday Festival Title, which would make them the only team with more than three titles other than St John's.

Speaking of St John's, the Red Storm have fallen on hard times since Mike Jarvis burned every NYC connection and left the program in shambles. His replacement, Norm Roberts has been relatively unsuccessful during his tenure with no NCAA or NIT appearances in that span. But this year, Roberts and St John's may have finally turned the corner. The Jonnies are 8-1 with impressive back to back wins over Siena and Temple in the Philly Hoop Classic (just ask Nova how good the Owls are). St John's is led by guard D.J Kennedy, the only player averaging double digits in scoring at 16.4 points per game (Kennedy also averages over 5 rebounds and nearly 4 assists per game). However, the Red Storm have five other players that average 8.5 points or more per game and more importantly, they have ten players who average ten minutes or more per game.

So it should be a very competitive Holiday Festival. But my college basketball day doesn't end there. If you are a regular reader of this site, you know that Coach Tony Bozzella of the Iona Lady Gaels is a good friend of mine. And his Iona Lady Gaels are making a trip up to Connecticut. Yup, to face the #1 ranked Huskies at Storrs. So from MSG, we will be traveling to Storrs for a 7 pm tipoff. Along the way, we'll be stopping at Frank Pepe's for the best brickoven pizza around.

You can't ask for a better day than that. Sorry Jets, but that's the itinerary for the day. Spending the day with my true love (again apologies Chelle :-) ). But it doesn't mean I won't be following the Jets on my cell phone (which will be new because I lost my phone tonight). Somehow you never get over the girl that breaks your heart.

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