Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quality CAA Basketball Provides a Welcome Distraction

I  left work Wednesday night and picked up my younger son Jonathan from day care and drove home.   When I got into my house, mentally I crashed.  I think just everything that is going on really overloaded my circuits.   Downtime was needed.  As I had noted in my previous post, there were some good games on the telly this Wednesday night and I planned to watch some of them.

I got Jonathan his beloved milk, had the dog go outside and then fed her.   And then I got caught up on any late work emails and quickly ate, since I didn't have lunch today.   As my wife got home with our older son Matthew, I got changed and planned my evening.  Watch at least two games at once. The first game, I would pay for the monthly ODU pass (figuring that would be a great way to get the Dayton game as well on December 11) and watch the Monarchs take on Richmond.  Then the second game would be watching the ESPN3 feed of USF-VCU.

But I realized that I had to do an errand first.  We were short on milk and as you can see Jonathan loves his milk.  But I also had to get Eggo cinnamon toast waffles as well, because we were out of those and Matthew loves his cinnamon toast waffles.  However, the closer Stop and Shop was out of those a few days ago.  Thus not risking the wrath of a five year old, I made a longer trip to the Pathmark in East Meadow.

Somehow, probably due to my mental overload, a trip that I have made regularly over the years became a befuddled journey.   Completely oblivious to the fact that as I was heading north on Newbridge Road, I had missed the turn for East Meadow Road.  I only realized this until after I had passed North Jerusalem Avenue.   Thus I made the first left I could onto a side street, then U turned in front of cars coming in both directions.  I had become the driver that I had seen in other drivers.  Someone I truly hated.  A clueless person at the wheel of thousands of pounds of steel and plastic.

Finally after I made the turn back south onto Newbridge Road, made the immediate right on North Jerusalem and then the right on East Meadow, I thought I was back on the right track.  But my mind started wandering again.   I was thinking about the next two weeks at work, which are always the busiest time of year for me.  So much so that I can never think about the holidays till those weeks are done.

Then there are the meetings I had tomorrow and the tube implant out patient surgery Jonathan was going to have on Friday.   Would our dog Twinkie make it to Christmas and if not, how would my older son, who adores Twinkie handle it?  I thought about a couple of friends who hadn't responded back to my texts in the last few days. Did I do something to upset them?  Or were they just too busy to respond?   What about what I am getting the kids and Chelle for Christmas?   Then finally, this Saturday, December 4th marks the fifth anniversary of this blog.  What was I going to write about in retrospect?  Would anyone care besides me?

While I had this information overload, once again I missed a turn.  This time the turn into Pathmark.  As I smacked myself in the head to wake up, I made the next turn into the Home Depot parking lot off East Meadow Avenue near the Zachary's part of the shopping center.  I went around the shortcut I know that went into the back of Home Depot and turned onto Front street, then made the right into the Pathmark shopping center.

As I got out of my car and headed to the store, I tried to focus.  OK, oatmeal cookies, milk, Eggo Cinnamon Toast waffles.  Those were the goals.  Get in, get out as fast as you can, then back home and watch good quality basketball on my desktop and my laptop at the same time in the entertainment room.   Immediately I got the milk and cinnamon toast waffles.  So far so good.

Then I hit the cookie aisle.  Unlike Stop and Shop, the cookie selection was somewhat limited.  Downright poor if you asked me.  I didn't see anything resembling the large soft oatmeal cookies that my older son likes.  Looked up and down the aisle.  I was shooting more blanks than typically a team does against ODU and the clock was ticking away on me.  Immediately sensing trouble and forgetting something, I called a timeout and called my wife on my cell.   Chelle answered and I told her the bad news about the oatmeal cookies.  But to make up for it,  I asked if she needed anything else.  Yup, diapers for Jonathan.  Apparently Pathmark had the big size rarely seen for my now 3 year old.

The problem.  The diapers were on the other end of the store.  Briskly as I could, I walked to the other end of the store, cursing my fortune.  The time was approaching 7:15 already and I missed the first 15 minutes of the two CAA games I wanted to watch - ODU vs Richmond and VCU vs USF.   Finally I found the diapers and wisely found a self check out station that was free (a great invention!).  I was at my car and back on East Meadow Avenue at 7:21.

I was driving home, angry at myself for not doing this last night.  But wait, I couldn't have done it last night. Chelle worked late last night and I had picked up both kids and played Mr. Mom.   I had come home to my dog having peed on the rug due to her tumor coming back on her.  Cleaned the rug, got the kids something to eat, then watched them till Chelle got home at 9:00 PM, tired and exhausted from a long day.  I realized now that I never had time last night to run an errand.

Thus I calmed myself down, reassured myself I did the right thing as a good husband, and focused on getting home and planning out my Wednesday night viewing of games.  My Macbook Pro laptop would have the Richmond-ODU game which I had setup the paid access for and the desktop would have the USF- VCU game.  Then a stroke of genius hit me, which mind you is extremely rare for me.  I would use my netbook and watch the free St-Joe's Drexel game on the netbook.

I got home, put away the groceries and grabbed my laptop and netbook.  Within minutes, I had the laptop playing the ODU game, the desktop with VCU and the netbook with Drexel all running.  I felt I had my own mini studio in my entertainment room, which brought my befuddled self some comfort.  It was CAA Central and I had to get one of my two Bally dolls and took the above picture, which I tweeted.  I am sure Whelliston liked that one.

As for the games, well the netbook was only getting the Drexel feed so-so and the Dragons seemed to be comfortably up on the Hawks.  Thus I didn't pay much attention to it.  The MacBook Pro was getting the ODU feed beautifully and that game was my main focus.   The first half and the start of the second half had been pretty close, with a good number of lead changes. But Richmond was starting to take over in the second half.  Cedric Lindsay and Kevin Anderson were doing damage and the Monarchs were down eight with nine minutes left.

Meanwhile, VCU's shooting from the field had been brutal from the outset vs. South Florida.  The Rams had been down 28-10 with 6:19 left in the first half and things didn't look good for VCU.   But the Rams defense started bothering the Bulls and VCU actually went on a 10-0 run before trailing at the half down ten, 30-20.  Both teams struggled from the floor in the second half.  But the Rams chipped away and the USF lead that had been 18 was down to one, 40-39 with 10:22 left.

The Monarchs started coming back mainly due to a monster second half by Kent Bazemore, who was seemingly everywhere on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.   What had been a Richmond 56-48 lead with 8:39 left became an Old Dominion seven point advantage, 68-61 with 2:21 left, as Bazemore scored 12 points during that six minute stretch.  ODU extended it to 70-61 before Lindsay and Anderson helped the Spiders to get within 74-70 with 30 seconds left.  But Richmond would not score another point the rest of the way and Old Dominion had their comeback win 77-70 in front of loud, happy fan base at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

While the CAA chalked up one big win on the night,  Drexel had little problems making it two, as they defeated St Joe's at the DAC 62-50.  The Dragons were up 31-28 at the half and then put the defensive clamps on the Hawks.  St Joe's would only score ten points in nearly first fourteen minutes in the second half as Drexel doubled them on the boards, 46-23.  The Dragons will now have bragging rights over their Philly Hawk brethren for the next year.

VCU was desperately trying to make it the trifecta on the night.  They had whittled the USF lead down to one, but over the next nearly nine minutes they had only scored four points.  Fortunately for the Rams, the Bulls were struggling from the field as well, having only scored nine points.  The score was 49-43 USF with two minutes left and the Bulls had the ball.  Suddenly Ed Nixon stole the ball, then rebounded a Brandon Rozzell miss and hit a layup to make it 49-45.  After a USF miss, Jamie Skeen hit a layup, then Nixon stole the ball again and Joey Rodriguez buried a three.   A 7-0 mini-spurt had put the Rams up 50-49 with 46 seconds left.

But USF broke the VCU press and Jawanza Poland hit a layup and Nixon going for the charge was called for a block.  Poland hit the free throw for the three point play and again the Bulls were up 52-50.  But again, Nixon came up huge with a driving layup to force overtime.

In overtime, USF again went out to a lead, 60-54 but once again VCU would come back.  A Rozzell jumper and three Skeen free throws put the Rams down one, 60-59.   VCU forced a shot clock violation and the Rams had the ball with nine seconds left and a chance to win.  Bradford Burgess had a good look at a driving layup but missed.  VCU could not get another shot off and lost 60-59.  So much for the trifecta.

It was still a very good night and I topped it off watching Butler hold off previously undefeated Loyola on the Ramblers home court.  Butler still rules the roost in the Horizon for now.   As I decided to check on the kids, then my work email and call it a night, I realized that this was actually fun.  It kept my mind off all my worries and I was spent enough so that I could sleep through the night.  Well hopefully with two kids.  

I don't think I will make it a habit watching three games at once.  And I'd rather watch one game live, than watch three games being streamed.   But every once in a while, it might be a very good distraction.  Last night was one of those nights.

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