Sunday, December 20, 2009

Long Live The King

After dropping a game to Butler last week, we’ve bounced back and won our last two games by 30 and 16 points.  Our first victory came against the Presbyterian Blue Hose and even though they might have the single greatest team nickname in sports today, I think everyone can agree that their nickname would be much cooler if “hose” was spelled differently.  Maybe it’s just me, but the thought of a prostitution ring being the backbone of the Smurf Village economy is much more interesting than some blue tube your grandmother uses in her garden to water her geraniums.  Tell me you wouldn’t have found The Smurfs more interesting if the secondary plot featured Papa Smurf pimping out Smurfette to the entire village.  Hint: You can’t.

papa-smurfPimpin’ ain’t easy

After we beat up some Hose, we defeated the Delaware State Hornets by 16 on Saturday.  Delaware State had no white guys on their team, but they decided to play at an incredibly slow pace which seems pretty counterintuitive to me.  The game turned out to be rather boring because of this slow-paced brand of basketball.  In fact, most of the people I talked to said they changed the channel to PBS to watch Antiques Roadshow because they were so bored.  I’m not an expert on how the human brain reacts to boredom, but I think it’s safe to say that anybody who voluntarily watches Antiques Roadshow is practically bored to insanity.  (I’m just kidding, Grandma!  I’m not suggesting that you lead a boring life.  Ok, so maybe I am, but I still love you and any food you might want to send my way.)

Even though our past two games featured a blowout (in which we actually scored fewer points than Presbyterian did in the second half) and a snoozefest, a nice little side story has developed during the hours leading up to each of our games.  Five hours before every game our team goes to the gym for shoot-around, or as I like to call it, “just another reason I have to get out of bed”.  Our coaches believe (and rightfully so) that if there was no shoot-around, we would just lay around watching a Mythbusters marathon all day, which would cause us to play lethargically come game time.  At the conclusion of each shoot-around, a free throw contest is conducted with all the players on the team.  The contest rules are simple—each guy shoots one free throw per round and if they miss, they’re out.  If after a reasonable amount of time there are still a handful of guys left, the “swishes rule” is put in place by Coach Matta.  This rule treats a made shot that touches any part of the rim as a miss, forcing us to hit nothing-but-net shots or “swishes” as they are sometimes called.  That is absolutely all there is to the game.

My freshman year, when I was at least 20 pounds overweight, I was clawing to establish a reputation on a team full of future professional players and therefore took the free throw contest more seriously than my first marriage.  I wanted so badly to be labeled as a good shooter and I thought that winning the free throw contests would help make this happen.  I won seemingly every other time during my first year and considered it to be a bigger deal than it probably was.  But as my career wore on, I took on a larger role in practice and started spraying my wet jumpshot all over the faces of my teammates on a daily basis.  I no longer needed the free throw contest to prove that I had superior shooting ability which is why I kind of just stopped caring about free throws.  After all, why would I care about making shots from 15 feet away with no defense when I consistently got buckets from 25 feet away with a hand in my face?  It just didn’t make sense to me.  Because of this developed lack of motivation, I didn’t win a free throw contest my entire sophomore and junior years.  This year, though, is a completely different story.

During the previous two seasons when I simply wasn’t caring, Jon Diebler won his fair share of free throw contests and has since done his fair share of reminding me about this.  Like me, Jon prides himself on being a good shooter but he takes the free throw contests infinitely more serious than I do.  He loves to rub it in my face that he is dominating the free throw contests, but what he fails to realize is that I’m giving Randy Moss effort while he’s giving Daniel Ruettiger effort (I like to think that the comparisons hold true in another fashion in that my shooting ability is like Randy Moss’ talent and his is like Rudy’s talent).  It’s kind of like the David Kalb vs. LeBron H-O-R-S-E game every time Jon wins.  Sure Kalb and Jon might get the victory, but LeBron and I are focused on figuring out why AT&T decided to make those awful Luke Wilson commercials (more importantly, why Luke Wilson is so fat) and could care less about winning some juvenile shooting contest.  But after hearing Jon continuously smack talk about free throws (free throws? really?) for the past two years or so, I decided to shut Jon up by taking the contest a little bit more seriously the past two shoot-arounds.  Spoiler alert: I won both times.

Since I’m the back-to-back defending free throw contest champion heading into our game against Cleveland State on Tuesday, I have decided to let just about everyone affiliated with the team know about my free throw shooting prowess.  I refer to myself as the free throw king and can be heard saying things such as “long live the king” with each made free throw in practice.  As the king, I rule with an iron fist and taunt inferior free throw shooters (like Jon) whenever possible.  What’s interesting about my current reign as free throw king is that I actually missed a free throw during the Presbyterian game, but this had less to do with my ability and more to do with the fact that I couldn’t feel my left arm after I got clotheslined by a Presbyterian player and landed on it.  There’s a good chance that I’m jinxing myself with this post, but I’m not going to use the jinx as an excuse should I lose the upcoming contest (note: I’m going to use the jinx as an excuse should I lose the upcoming contest).  I plan on focusing all my efforts towards this next free throw contest so I can make myself a three-peat champion heading into Christmas break. If I’m able to pull off another win and extend my reign as free throw king at least one more game, it will undoubtedly supplant the time I scored 19 points in a practice last year as the crowning (pun absolutely intended) achievement in my career.

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Mark Titus

Club Trillion Founder