You know the feeling when it’s just four days before that one holiday where, sometimes, you buy stuff for people or send cards … and yet you have not really done any of that?
Oh, no, I don’t know that feeling, either. Ha-ha. Nope, not me. My motto is, “Always think at least two months ahead.”
Well, that is my motto starting today, actually, which means I should have any gifts purchased and cards sent no later than Feb. 25. That way I can just add in another major holiday like Presidents Day, too.
OK, the truth is, it’s not like I’m ever really on top of it … but I can’t remember when I’ve been less ready for Christmas. I’m pretty certain even in December 1964, when I was six months along in the womb, I was more prepared. I knew a lot fewer people then, though, so that helped.
Anyway, let’s hope the Stanford Cardinal contingent has its act together more than I do – which is a safe bet – and has already done any present-purchasing/card sending that needs to be done. The Cardinal players/coaches are going to be cutting it too close if they wait until after Wednesday’s “BIG GAME” at Connecticut. (Unless, of course, they are also doing the Feb. 25 plan.)
Let’s also wish the Cardinal good luck in getting in and out of the Winter Wonderland of the New England, lest they be stuck waiting for Santa in beautiful downtown Hartford.
Which reminds me of a story from a terrific couple I know, Bob and Mary. No, those aren’t pseudonyms; their names really are Bob and Mary. They were born well before the era of Justins and Ashleys. Anyhow, Bob and Mary were driving up from Tennessee to see Mary’s family in Wisconsin for Christmas a long time ago. Except terrible weather intervened, and they got stuck spending Christmas Eve and Day in the vicinity of Kokomo, Ind.
(I can’t recall how or why they strayed off Interstate 65 to get that close to Kokomo, but apparently they did. Unless I’m not remembering the story right … but I’m this far along, so I might as well finish it.)
Bob’s a great guy. However, he doesn’t necessarily do “tears” that well. Mary was mostly holding it together, but something happened – “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Miracle on 34th Street” or a similar holiday tearjerker came on television – and the floodgates opened for Mary.
“We’re spending Christmas in a dumpy hotel room hundreds of miles from our family! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
The saving grace, I think is that the Beach Boys’ 1988 hit “Kokomo” – one of those songs that can implant itself in your brain and potentially drive you insane, like the eel/leech things in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” _ had not yet been released.
Therefore Bob couldn’t get the song stuck in his head to add to the sounds of Mary’s intermittent sobbing. Thank goodness. Otherwise, I’m afraid a “Shining”-like incident may have befallen them. In which case, I’d never have heard the story of “The Kokomo Christmas.”
For Stanford’s sake, let there be no “Cardinal’s Connecticut Christmas.”
Both teams come in undefeated, with UConn moving to 9-0 after making mincemeat pie of Iona, 90-35, on Sunday. Stanford’s tune-ups of the past week came against infinitely more marquee opponents, but weren’t exactly heart-stopping games, either.
The Cardinal also is at 9-0, after a 16-point victory over Duke and a 15-point win against Tennessee. Incidentally, if there are any Orange Crush fans out there really upset about that loss, I’m just warning you now that Santa will not even slow down over your house because he is disgusted with your gluttony. Sorry, you don’t get to be mad about a still-young Tennessee team losing to the veteran power of Stanford.
Yes, Tennessee is still learning daily. If they were the Baby Vols evolving into the Toddler Vols last season, then this year they are the Grade School Vols hoping to age as rapidly as soap-opera children and by season’s end become the Young Adult Vols.
In all seriousness, let’s remember that one of Tennessee’s starters is still 18. Taber Spani doesn’t turn 19 until Jan. 27, which, of course, is about a month before my new Christmas.
*-PLAYER/PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: It’s impossible to choose just one. And no matter whom I list, somebody’s going to be offended. Because I might not have noticed all the great performances. (Although I have no good reason not to; as stated, it’s not like I’ve been shopping.) Still, here goes.
I was in Lincoln, Neb. on Sunday, to see first-hand Kelsey Griffin’s 30-point, 14-rebound outing against LSU. But the Big 12 also had other really good production, too. Kansas’ Danielle McCray had 30 points, eight boards and four assists against UC Riverside.
And in Baylor victories against Oral Roberts, Gonzaga and Arizona State , Brittney Griner averaged 26.3 points, 11.7 rebounds and 9.0 blocks. I vote on the Big 12’s weekly player and rookie of the week awards, and am finding that – as was the case with Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris in 2005-2006 _ it’s hard not to pick Griner as the top freshman every week. Heck, she’s shaping up as the top player every week, too.
Another noteworthy Big12 accomplishment came from Oklahoma State’s Andrea Riley, who broke the school record and tied the Big 12 record for single-game assists with 17.
Elsewhere, James Madison’s Dawn Evans showed she could light up even the top team in the ACC, getting 31 points vs. Duke. However, unlike against Virginia Tech and Virginia, Evans’ firepower wasn’t enough to propel JMU over the Blue Devils, who won 79-65.
Georgia’s Jasmine James continues to make the case as perhaps the second-best rookie in the country behind Griner, as she had 17 points and 10 rebounds in a 69-53 win over Virginia. That moved the Bulldogs to 10-0.
Kayla Pedersen continues to spark Stanford, getting 22 points and eight boards against Duke and 16 and eight against Tennessee.
And Middle Tennessee’s Alysha Clark got her diploma in graduation ceremonies Saturday, then had 37 points and 16 rebounds Sunday in a 68-54 victory over Western Kentucky.
*-ANNOUNCER OF THE WEEK: My friend Brenda VanLengen is finishing up broadcasting 12 games in three days for UNLV’s Duel in the Desert, which was shown on-line at B2TV.com. The last four games are today/tonight. I hope she took her throat lozenges to Vegas.
*-TIGER UPDATE: Missouri players Amanda Hanneman and Jessra Johnson were reinstated to the team after no charges were filed in an altercation with a male cheerleader. They’ll miss Monday’s game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff but be able to play Dec. 28 against North Texas. That seems fair to me. The moral of this story? Drink less alcohol, get more sleep. Good advice for everyone.
MY BALLOT: 1. Connecticut, 2. Stanford, 3. Tennessee, 4. Notre Dame, 5. Baylor, 6. Georgia, 7. Duke, 8. North Carolina, 9. Ohio State, 10. Texas A&M, 11. Nebraska, 12. Xavier, 13. LSU, 14. Arizona State, 15. Vanderbilt, 16. Texas, 17. Kansas, 18. Florida State, 19. Oklahoma, 20. Michigan State, 21. James Madison, 22. Oklahoma State, 23. Virginia, 24. Pittsburgh. 25. Wisconsin-Green Bay
You’ll notice I did not drop Tennessee out of the third spot. I think if a No. 3 team loses to a No. 2 that’s as good as Stanford is (and the game was on the better-ranked team’s home court), there is no reason to poll-punish that No. 3 team.
Especially when No. 4 Notre Dame’s only game of the week was less competitive than an intra-squad scrimmage. The Irish forced 43 turnovers – how glad am I not to have watched this? _ against overmatched Charlotte in a 90-31 victory Sunday.
This doesn’t mean the Irish aren’t a strong candidate for being in the spot behind the Big Two. But they’ll have better chances to prove that than by clobbering Charlotte.