Mr. Wendell

There are days, and then are days.

I awoke this morning a bit early, knowing that the workload in front of me was daunting. I needed to get out early and get an interview taken care of for the book and then try to hit the road by 1:00 for Newark, DE. I want to see some guy named Nana play.

I hear he’s pretty good.

But then along comes a note: a friend emails me late last night and tells me Brandon Johnson, key point guard and defensive standout for Old Dominion, has been shot in the arm. This is not shot in the arm as in burst of energy. This is the real life, gun-went-off shot in the arm.

This morning, Rich Radford, who covers ODU for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, filed this report on the newspaper’s web site:

“Brandon Johnson, a sophomore guard on Old Dominion University’s men’s basketball team, was shot late Wednesday while entering his apartment building in The Village apartments, which house students behind the Ted Constant Center.
An ODU official said Johnson was shot from behind and sustained a fractured right clavicle. The injury is expected to keep him off the court for 4-6 weeks but is not considered life-threatening. The assailant fled on foot and local authorities are continuing their investigation.”

Thankfully Johnson will be okay, and while further details will emerge, today, in my mind, they are unimportant. The reality of the world has just hit the bubble that is college basketball square in the teeth.

I think about how every coach from every basketball program preaches good decisions. I think about the randomness of violence in America today. it is an odd paradox. Whichever side of the fence describes Brandon Johnson matters not. He is a 20-year old kid who will make his own decisions, and it is not mine to judge.

You see, people always forget that these kids are just that—kids. They are students and brothers and have girlfriends. Many times they are away from home for the first time, having to adjust to new surroundings, course loads, and basketball pressures. I refuse to get caught up in the blather of what Brandon Johnson should or should not do or what his responsibility is or is not. It is irrelevant to me and quite frankly not my business.

But why I enjoy college basketball became strikingly clear this morning. There is a purity to it that evokes everything that is good in our country. I am fortunate to attend games two and three times per week, and for those two hours I don’t think about the ills or struggles of the world. I don’t even think about the ills or struggles of big time college basketball. I watch the players and the coaches and the fans and suck in the energy. I appreciate those two hours. I leave the arena in a better mood than when I entered.

The underlying theme that always remains unsaid: possibility.

EDIT ON BRANDON JOHNSON:

From the web site of WTKR in Norfolk:

“Old Dominion University Basketball Player, Brandon Johnson, was shot in the shoulder Wednesday night outside his ODU Village Apartment. Coach Blaine Taylor told us Johnson’s injury wasn’t too bad but he won’t be able to play basketball for a while.

About 10:30 Wednesday night, Johnshon was heading back to his apartment on 44th Street after a player study hall. He was alone in the parking lot when he was shot.

The coach and players are eager to get onto the court for Thursday night’s game.

“The thing we need to do is return to normalcy…We need to understand things happen. We need to go on,” said Coach Taylor

Old Dominion University Police and Norfolk Police are investigating. As of noon Thursday they did not have any suspects. Johnson’s friends said he didn’t know the gunman and didn’t think he was an ODU student.

Brandon Johnson is 20 years old. He is a sophomore at Old Dominion University. His family lives in Orlando Florida. “

***

Yes, the standings are an incredible quagmire. How much? Here is a stat I love, gleaned from a poster on the CAA Zone web site. Take it with the appropriate grain of salt, but enjoy it for the hubris it evokes regarding “midseason predictions:”

“With 56 regular season games to play in conference, there are 72,057,594,037,927,900 possibilities for the final standings. (That’s 72 quadrillion) But don’t worry it’ll be down to 17.6 Trillion by Sunday!”

***

The Slate
A job is a job…

Drexel at ODU: It will be an odd evening at the TED, but it will be a predictable result. ODU 64, Drexel 57.

Towson at Hofstra: Frankenstein is beginning to wreak havoc on the townsfolk. A barrage of Gary Neal threes late makes this one look close, but it is not. Pride 77, Tigers 70.

Nor’Easter@ Georgia State: At some point, a bottom four team is going to upset a top seven team. (Towson representing the Mendoza Line…). This game is almost the best chance for that to occur. Almost. Huskies 72, Panthers 69.

William & Mary at George Mason: The first time through GMU blasted the Tribe 65-46 in the Burg. I’m calling instant replay.

VCU at Delaware: Can’t wait to see the Fighting Nanas in person. Neither can Jeff Capel. Too many folks are saying “But Delaware is good.” That’s the sure sign that “Delaware is not good.” VCU 83, Delaware 71.

UNCW at JMU: I’m not supposed to root for anyone, but I’ve got to admit I want to see the Dukes win, for Dean Keener’s sake. Unfortunately, they won’t tonight. The Dub 63, The Duke 55.

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~ by mglitos on January 26, 2006.

2 Responses to “Mr. Wendell”

  1. You seem rather confident that the result in Norfolk tonight will be ‘predictable’…

  2. I have to say, from what I read in the article, I see no reason to think that the kid’s “decisions” played into the shooting at all. If it went down as reported, he could have been a victim of random violence (which I understand Norfolk has plenty of), so why are we dancing around the issue as if maybe he had some hand in it? I need to see proof before I go there.

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