I took a break from hoops – and everything else – for the last few days with a trip to Charleston. OK, not exactly true. I DID go to Charleston, but I didn’t really take a break from basketball. Not completely.
Saturday, I had to chance to hang out with broadcaster Debbie Antonelli, a Charleston resident – when she is home and not flying all over the country calling games. Debbie and her husband, Frank, have three sons – all sports-crazy, of course.
I saw a picture of Debbie – then Debbie Mulligan – from her playing days at N.C. State. Before I could stop myself, I said, “Well, that’s not exactly a mullet,” of her hairstyle in those days.
Debbie and I talked a lot about the upcoming hoops season.
She brought up the fact that five Big 12 teams received at least one vote to win the league, which may well be unprecedented for any league.
I think the Big 12 is going to be a lot like last year – a lot of parity, plenty of ups and downs for even the top teams, quite a few exciting games … but no Final Four participant.
Debbie often comes to Big 12 media day, but this year it’s the same day – Oct. 22 – as ACC media day. She already had made a commitment to the ACC, so that’s where she will be. Meanwhile, I’ll be in Oklahoma City at my 13th Big 12 media day.
Check back in over the next couple of days as I’ll try to give you whatever low-down from the Big 12 that you can’t get just by just reading the quote transcripts on the league’s web site.
But back to my South Carolina trip … Saturday night’s amusement was a Ghost Tour in Charleston, which our group’s guide informed us was, “The most haunted city in America … and perhaps the whole world.”
So here were the “ghosts” we were told about: A couple separated in death because she was buried in the cemetery for Charleston natives and he was put in the one for non-natives; a woman kneeling in a graveyard whose image “mysteriously appeared” in a photograph in the 1980s, a dog (friendly) and old lady (not-so-friendly) in a restaurant, a Quaker who seems to show up in the back seats of cars at a parking garage that was built on a Quaker graveyard, South Carolina’s first so-called serial killer (an innkeeper who robbed and disposed of wagon drivers along with her husband), and a doctor who lost a pistol duel.
Of course, I saw all of these ghosts … oh, wait, actually I saw none of them. I really wanted to, and believe me, I was looking all over for them. But at least it was a very windy, chilly, creepy night and the guide certainly did his best in telling the stories.
My “favorite” of these ghosts – well, besides the dog, obviously – was the “grouchy” old lady, who as far as I could tell just got a little riled up when people used the bathroom at the restaurant that is now in the house where she used to live. I really got the sense that I would have gotten along just fine with her.
Now, as to how “ghosts” relate to women’s basketball … I think we all wonder if past Final Four disappointments live on for coaches who have endured more than one of them without winning an NCAA title. Georgia’s Andy Landers has been to the FF five times with no championship. C.Vivian Stringer (Cheyney State, Iowa, Rutgers) and Gail Goestenkors (now with Texas, but her FF history was with Duke) have both been to four, and Debbie Ryan to three.
Landers once told me that not winning the NCAA title only made him want to work that much harder to try again. But you have to think that sometimes, those “phantom” championships keep all of these highly successful coaches awake at night.