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Archive for April, 2009

   Arkansas Auburn BasketballIn December, I wrote for ESPN.com about Nell Fortner at last really finding a home at Auburn after moving around a lot while coaching at the college, pro and international levels, plus doing broadcasting. There had been quite a few stops.

  So many that I even forgot one until a reader reminded me that Fortner had taken the Wisconsin job _ for about four days in May 1994 _ but then changed her mind.

  The wanderlust, if one could call it that, wasn’t surprising when you considered that Fortner had moved around a lot growing up as her dad climbed the ranks in his job. Still, it’s interesting to contrast the “two” Nell Fortners, as it were: the one who never seemed quite settled vs. the one who now is planting deep roots at Auburn.

  After a 30-4 season _ which made her record over five years with the Tigers 101-57 _ the time was right for Fortner and Auburn to further cement their relationship. They did that with a contract extension, announced April 17, that goes through the next six seasons.
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  100_0035-12 

It was very difficult, that December day in 2001 when Ivy Gardner knew she needed to tell coach Kay Yow that she was stepping away from the N.C. State basketball program. But Yow, as was her way, didn’t make it more difficult.

   Gardner was a junior guard, a defensive whiz who had battled through injuries her first two seasons in Raleigh. Yow and assistant coach Stephanie Glance had recruited her out of her home state of Virginia even though she didn’t play AAU ball and wasn’t considered a top prospect.

  “They were taking a chance,” Gardner says now. “I was a nobody.”

  Of course, nobody was ever a nobody to Kay Yow. She cared about Gardner when she had yet to prove she could play Division I basketball. She cared when Gardner competed for her program for two seasons. And when Gardner left the team with still a season and a half of eligibility left, Yow didn’t stop caring. 

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   boardThis was not a blog post I intended to write … it just happened. Sitting at my desk, preparing to write a post about Kay Yow, for some reason I pulled out a book from a pile on a nearby shelf. 

  I don’t know why. I wasn’t looking up anything. I not only had no reason to get this book … I didn’t even know for sure what book it was until I pulled it out. My office is not the tidiest of places, and well … suffice to say, I could only see an edge of the book when I reached for it. I knew it was one of my “history” books, but that was it. I could have been about baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, the Oscars, famous disasters … I’ve got all kinds of these books and love them.

 At any rate, as soon as I pulled it out, I recognized it right away. It was, “The Olympic Games: Athens 1896-Athens 2004.”

  It is mostly a book of photographs of the Summer and Winter Games, and I started idly flipping through. At this point, I guess you could say I was just dilly-dallying, which should have been my major in college (except, inexplicably, they didn’t offer it.) 

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  When writing about Kay Yow’s death in January, I used a passage from the uplifting Robert Frost poem, “The Tuft of Flowers.” To paraphrase, it was about how people can work together even when apart.

  But there is another Frost poem that comes to mind when trying to sort through feelings about how N.C. State and its women’s basketball program is proceeding after her death. It is a very different sort of poem – a doleful, brooding, tragic one called, “Home Burial.”
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2dfaa220a9840c5cyes, I’m really trying to get mine done on time this year, and do them myself. We’ll see if I succeed or surrender in the next two days. 

At any rate, there is much to discuss _ such as the coaching carousel, the inevitable spring transfers, etc. _ and I’ll be getting to all of it. The blog won’t be quiet for very long.

Speaking of which, I started this blog last fall and have concentrated only on content, not look, since then. But now that the college season is over and I have more chance to think about  the structure of the blog  (after taxes are done, that is), it’s time to figure out what this thing is really supposed to look like. 

So sometime in the next month, I hope to actually have a new look to it.  And if you have suggestions or requests of what you might like to see here _ in terms of look, content or both –  please post them.

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   79b2d251e20b9bda I mentioned in a previous blog entry that I am not big on predicting things. I’m continually reminded I’m odd in this way.

  For instance, I took one of my nephews to see the movie of his choice on Wednesday, also known as “The Day after the Season When I Don’t Really Know What To Do With Myself.”

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coming on. I won’t be in Secaucus today, but will be watching, Twittering and will write for ESPN.com and blog about it later. The uncertainty about a lot of things in this draft makes it rather compelling to me.

 I’ve been to Secaucus for the draft a couple of times, and attended it the last three seasons when it was in the Final Four city. Especially with the economy the way it is, the WNBA found it more cost-efficient (and efficient in every way) to do it back in the NBA studios rather than in St. Louis.

 It’s an exciting day for the kids, but then reality sets in pretty quickly. It’s still difficult to make a roster.

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