And We’re Back…Sort Of…

You know how depressing it seems when you get on a flight and it’s cloudy and dank. Rain is an afterthought, because the mood is set. It’s never cloudy when you are flying to the Caribbean, but it is somehow always overcast when you’re hopping the 6:50am flight to Parsippany, NJ. It’s the three-hour punch in the stomach feeling.

And no matter how many flights you’ve taken and no matter comfortable you feel, there is always that pang of dread. But you press on, take your seat, and prepare to grind it out.

Shortly after take off, when the plane has its, uh, legs underneath it, you rise above the cloudbank to a brilliant blue sky. Only the rainbowed reflection of the plane on the clouds beside and below break the stillness. It is a wonderful congregation of goals and grind, pain and panacea, beast and beauty.

For a moment, just a moment, you raise your eyebrows at the feeling of peace. Nothing in the world can take that split second from you. At that moment you are able to see what is, and what can be.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the voice suddenly gravels, “Captain Yeager has turned off the seat belt sign. You may now move freely about the cabin.”

That is where we all sit today in the CAA. November and December was a punch in the stomach, but we are staring at the bright blue of February. We can see the beauty of the Nor’easter/VCU winner going 9-1 in conference and continuing to roll through Bracketbusters and the remainder of the conference season. We share the fool’s gold vision of that team finishing 17-1 but losing in the conference finals to the second best RPI CAA team, thereby securing an at large bid. Yes, I used those words, primarily because we are looking ahead and dreaming.

But there is an unmistakeable void. It is defined by the clouds, the reality of the weather below and our inescapable place in the world that we must eventually return. It’s asking a lot of The Fates, to have such things fall into place.

So we’ll put our heads down and grind away, flying again and again through the clouds and doing the best we can. But we never forget that we are oh-so-close to flying into that crystal blueness.

And we all hold tight to that dream, because every now and then they come true.

***

Nor’easter at VCU: 9:00 on ESPNU, and this is Must See(ayay) TeeVee. We’ve been all over the importance of just plain shooting the basketball this season. We’ve reached our zenith in this game.

Nor’easter is going to play that big 3-2 zone, which is going to be particularly troubling for Eric Maynor. His game is to get into the lane and create. It’s one thing to create over 6-3 and 6-4 players, it’s altogether different doing that with 6-7 and 6-8 guys. Maynor should end up with a pile of turnovers tonight.

VCU will have to attack from the middle of the zone out. Keys: Kirill Pishchalnikov hitting 15-foot jumpers or finding the off-wing for a three, and lob passes over the top to Larry Sanders. Brandon Rozzell and Joey Rodriguez need to hit shots.

Other end: Nor’easter is prone to vicious scoring slumps, Cap’n Matt and Manny Adako’s 69% FG shooting notwithstanding. Eugene Spates, 13 of his 25 from deep, must knock down jumpers. Matt Smith must continue his hot play, and Cap’n Matt needs to score his 19 points on 13 shots, not 22.

VCU will be changing defenses to confuse Chase Allen and his ability to get Janning the ball in good spots. The Rams will also allow a four-on-four game in an attempt to take The Cap’n out of it. Duh statement is that Nor’easter isn’t winning this game if they fall behind 22-7.

Interesting tidbits: Maynor and Janning shared conference player of the week honors. Nor’easter is giving up only 51.0 ppg against conference foes and hasn’t allowed more than 57 points in a game. The Rams are 9-0 at home this year and 72-11 versus the CAA at the Siegel Center.

I expect blocked shots, turnovers, dunks, and charges. Lots of fun stuff, you know? Vegas builds casinos on people loving a first place team getting six points. VCU 62, Nor’easter 56.

***

Hey, there’s another game tonight. Mason hosts Delaware, a 7:00 tipper on The U. “They” always say the second game after losing a star player is always the most difficult game. Plus, YouDee has that talent that confounds everybody. This is a scary game for Mason, but if I am smart enough to know this, you bet Larranaga knows this.

Mason 78, You Dee 68.

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~ by mglitos on January 27, 2009.

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