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Inspirational Reads

Almost Perfect

January 21, 2007

Wow. What a nice day yesterday.

First of all, I stumbled across a Brainiac marathon on G4 yesterday. It's just the sort of offbeat, bent approach to science and the scientific method that I think more people should embrace. It might make science less "icky" to school kids. Or not. Mainstream media seems to paint a picture of "you can't be a scientist unless you're really, really smart! Or Asian!" That last part might sound racist (sorry Jim) but it's not, really. Think about how many times growing up as a kid that you saw a show or something, and the smart kid/science kid was always the Asian. I'm just trying to reflect that here.

Anyway, once Brainiac was done, my daughter, being inspired by the bent angle to which Brainiac approaches science, she decided to figure out which of the toy hammers was better for knocking the wooden pegs out of the wooden boards that you can hammer the pegs into. It was kind of funny, because she would repeat her experiments over and over again. She decided that the plastic one was better, until I stepped up and launched the peg across the room with the wooden hammer. Granted, I also whacked the hell out of it. I figured it was good to show that not everything works out like you think it should. I'm setting her up for a fine career in chemistry. It's too bad, too, because she has beautiful hair, and I don't want her to rip it out at the roots due to frustration.

Anyway, after Brainiac, I switched over to the Indiana-Connecticut game, figuring that, since Indiana was on the road, Connecticut would be handing it to them. Quite the opposite, actually. This enthused and excited me. To cut a long story short, Indiana went on to win (more on this later).

I immediately turned it over to the Texas Tech-Kansas game (which I had been flipping back and forth to during the IU game) to see Tech pull it out against the hated Jayhawks. That was marvelous, but I wish that fans would allow the players and coaching staffs to get out of the way before storming the court.

Back to Indiana. My two biggest complaints from the pre-Big Ten season have been largely fixed. yesterday, IU missed only 1 free throw. Sure, they shot about 10 less than Connecticut (but since UConn sucks from the line, it didn't hurt them that much), but that's beside the point. Indiana's ability to knock down free throws, especially down the stretch when Connecticut was using the hack-and-time out defense, is what won the game for them, more or less. Also, the turnovers were way down (I think they had 10 for the game and Connecticut had 11 or 12 or something like that), despite Joey Shaw making a couple of freshman mistakes when he was playing point. They could have been critical mistakes, but Indiana remained poised and Connecticut kept bricking free throws. Team fouls were WAY up, but this was UConn's court, so the bias will naturally lean toward them. UConn also kept pounding the ball down low by the basket to try and foul out DJ White, but instead he stood strong and didn't get into a lot of foul trouble (he sat about halfway through the half to be as fresh as possible toward the end of the game). Lance Stemler continued to be a non-entity. I'm wondering just how badly he was hurt when he got the concussion prior to the Duke game during practice, as he's not played well since then. He's slow to react on help defense, he can't hit a three pointer and he's constantly out of position for rebounding (instead, opting to fly in at the end of the play, putting himself further out of defensive position on the other end and/or earning a stupid foul).

Unfortunately, AJ Ratliff was also not much of a factor yesterday. I've been a critic of his several times in the past, and most of it has been well-warranted. However, I do owe him an apology as he's come up big in several games recently. All this with torn ligaments in his left hand. Yesterday, he was rolled like a defensive end trying to rush the quarterback (and there was a foul called...amazingly enough) and he reaggravated the injury. Here's hoping for a quick recovery to number 20. Or he can keep sitting the bench and sucking up fouls off players who are on the floor (a foul that should have been called on DJ White was called on Roderick Wilmont, who was about twenty feet away from the action, so the referees got together and decided it was on Ratliff...who was sitting next to Kelvin Sampson, icing his injured hand).

Overall, I think this week's matchups will be interesting. A win on the road at Illinois, which is going to be about the most hostile environment anyone could want to go to, would be least as big as the road win over the Huskies. I'm thinking that Indiana could pull it out, as Illinois seems down this year. It's an ESPN game, so I'm guessing it will either be Lavin/Musberger or Vitale and a mop handle calling the game. I'm hoping for Musburger because, even though he's a senile old idiot, he brings along Steve Lavin, who is a pretty decent announcer, and the oh-so-delectable Erin Andrews. A home game against Michigan could also go a long way to securing Indiana a lock in the tournament. That, of course, would mean that the following game (if IU wins both) would be a potential top 15 matchup at home vs Wisconsin. And ESPN, I'm guessing, is going to move that one from ESPN Full Court to national broadcast. Or maybe they'll pull the big dick move and dump it onto ESPNU. God, I love ESPN.

Wherever it's broadcast, that will be a huge game for both squads. It could also put Indiana on the inside track to winning the Big Ten (they only play Wisconsin once...and Wisconsin has to travel to Columbus to play Ohio State before the end of the season). That would be huge to put Sampson on the map.


Ψ*Ψ said...

I hate Kansas. Anyone who beats them, I like. Unless it's Duke or--god forbid--Florida.
I might also be developing a grudge against the Huskies. Too early to tell, though. Doesn't look like we play them this season.

Chemgeek said...

It's too bad we have to be mortal enemies. But, we are Big Ten adversaries. What with you being an Indiana fan and me being a Minnesota fan and all... wait, that was weird.

I'm not sure the words "Minnesota" and "fan" come together too often when talking about Big Ten basketball. If it wasn't for UM Hockey, there would be little to respect as far as sports go. Seriously, being a third tier Big Ten team is demoralizing.

Ψ*Ψ said...

oh, and indiana...mmm. no. not as much a rival as that in-state school that must DIE, but still.

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I actually can't stand Duke, myself, but I DO appreciate it when they smack the crap out of NC State. When NC State threw the football team a parade after they beat Notre Dame in the 2003 Gator Bowl (with at least 12 of ND's starters out or not playing AND Radio coaching the team), they pretty much sealed the deal as a team I will root against under all odds. Even Purdue and Boston College get the nod over NC State.

As far as mortal enemies...wouldn't we be more at each other's throats if I was a Badger Backer? Isn't that the posh new thing to do in the Big Ten? Praise Alando Tucker and poo poo everyone else? Pah. I hope Indiana whips them by 6 or more at the end of the month (good thing they play on payday).

However, I do remember a couple of fantastic Minnesota victories over Indiana...most notably the 105-55 whooping they put on them at Minnesota and the erasing of a 12-point lead with 1:30 left to go in the game. Too bad Clem Haskins had to get caught.