You know the song. But I’m not talking about Christmas.
I’m talking about BASKETBALL!!!
College basketball practice begins next week. NBA training camp starts up soon. (Yes, I care about the NBA again, thanks to the Boston Celtics hiring Brad Stevens away from Butler.)
I’ve already checked the schedules of all my favorite teams and am planning to attend a few games. My time is limited, due to having a husband, three kids with activities, and a job (and a house, laundry, dishes, etc.). Also, I am not independently wealthy, and sadly, I’m not even employed as a sideline reporter, so I can’t jet around the country from one game to another. However, in this blog entry, my real world and my fantasy world are gonna collide.
Here’s what the upcoming basketball season has in store for me…
The game I might be attending: Boston Celtics at Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, Nov. 4. Sports road trips for me during the week are not ideal due to kids and jobs and real life, but it’s awful tempting to see one of my favorite college coaches, Brad Stevens, as he begins his journey with the Boston Celtics. I can’t list everyone on the roster (okay, I barely know anyone on the team), and I don’t know if they’re going to be any good, but I really want to see them. At least I do know the Celtics drafted Kelly Olynyk from Gonzaga, and he was a boss during summer league, so there’s that. Go Celtics!
Kelly Olynk. Summer league boss. Fantastic hair.
The game I wish I was attending: Baylor vs. Dayton or Gonzaga in Maui, Tuesday, Nov. 26. I’ve never been to Hawaii, but I sure would love to go, so why not take in some college basketball while I’m there? That would be a dream come true! Baylor coach Scott Drew is one of my favorites, even though his brother is former Valparaiso player and current Valpo coach Bryce Drew, the Ole Miss dream-crusher from 1998. I’d certainly prefer a matchup with Gonzaga over Dayton as I’ve admired Mark Few and the Gonzaga program for years. But hey, it’s college basketball in Maui. I wouldn’t complain.
*If, for some reason, I could not make it to Maui, I’d choose Vanderbilt at Butler, Tuesday, Nov. 19 or Kansas vs. Duke, Tuesday, Nov. 12 in Chicago. Although Stevens is no longer at Butler, I’d still love to watch a game at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse. I’ve never been to Chicago, either, and a matchup featuring Bill Self and Mike Krzyzewski going head-to-head doesn’t get much better.
The game I’m attending: Wichita State at Alabama, Tuesday, Dec. 17. Tuscaloosa is a mere three-hour drive from where I live in the outskirts of Jackson, MS, and I’m pretty sure I’m more excited than anyone in that Nick Saban-worshipping town about this game. I jumped on the Shockers’ bandwagon last season during their run to the Final Four, and although they will be missing big man Carl Hall and guard Malcolm Armstead, I am thrilled to see Cleanthony Early, Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker with my very own eyes. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to hear Gregg Marshall yell “PLAY ANGRY!!!!!!!!!” I don’t have tickets yet, but I’m not expecting that to be a problem since 99 percent of Bama fans will still be in full football mode and not realize basketball season has even started.
Alabama’s basketball arena, Coleman Coliseum. Nobody really cares. Roll Tide!
Also…I plan to be at Louisiana Tech at Jackson State, Sunday, Dec. 1. So I might be the only non-JSU fan in Jackson who would get pumped about this game, but Louisiana Tech’s coach is former Ole Miss guard and all-around good guy Michael White. He’s done a fantastic job at La Tech, and it will be fun to see him again.
The game I wish I was attending: Baylor vs. Kentucky at Cowboys Stadium, Friday, Dec. 6. The super-cool thing about this game is that it’s a double-header with the women’s teams playing before the men’s. So yeah, if I’m going to Arlington to see Drew’s veteran crew vs. John Calipari and his roster of fabulous freshmen, then sure, throw in a women’s game with it. That’ll do. Can’t you see me doing the three-goggles when Baylor’s Brady Heslip hits a three? I’d make SportsCenter for sure.
The game I’m attending: TBA. I hope to get away to Oxford to see my alma mater Ole Miss a couple of times, but if not, you can catch me at the gym at First Baptist Church of Jackson. I’ll have two kids playing rec ball and another one trying to keep up. Marshall Henderson will make the Rebels’ season much more interesting, but as of right now, nobody knows if he’s playing or not. So stay tuned.
The game I wish I was attending: Baylor at Iowa State, Tuesday, Jan. 7. Did I really just say I wish I were in Ames, Iowa in January?!?!? YES! Well, as long as I don’t have to drive in the snow. But since this is fantasy, I’d fly there and have someone drive me around. I’ve been a fan of Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg since I first saw him firing threes for the Cyclones back in 1995, and Hilton Magic is reportedly something very special. I’d love to experience it, and I’d certainly enjoy watching Hoiberg go up against Drew. Maybe I could participate in a game of knock-out or horse with them. I’m not a betting person, but my money would be on The Mayor. Dude can still shoot it. Sorry, Drew.
You want to see me in Ames, Fred? Okay! Sounds perfect.
The game I’m attending: see what I wrote for January.
The game I wish I was attending: Gonzaga at Memphis, Saturday, Feb. 8. ESPN’s College GameDay is heading to Memphis for this game, and it will be an amazing atmosphere. Memphis fans are insanely basketball-crazy, and the expectations for Josh Pastner and the Tigers are high as usual. Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos is one of my favorite guards, and the game has an interesting side note as the Bulldogs’ guard Drew Barham is a Memphis native and played his first two seasons for the Tigers before transferring. There is an outside chance I could attend this game, or at least be in the arena for GameDay, as Memphis SID Lamar Chance is one of my best friends, making me a true FOTP (Friend of the Program). However, I’m sure he’ll get hundreds of requests for tickets, so it might be best if I stay home. But if Lamar needs someone to fetch Pastner some water, I’m ready.
The game I’m attending: Boston Celtics at New Orleans Pelicans, Sunday, March 16. A Sunday game works well for our family, so if we don’t make it to Memphis in November, I have to wait four LONG months before I see Stevens and the Celtics with my own eyes. But four months in between games could show marked improvement for a team that’s not expected to do much. Or they could be terrible the whole year. I have no idea. But don’t EVER underestimate Stevens.
The game I wish I was attending: Duke at North Carolina, March 9. Does it get any more classic than this ACC matchup? I’ve never been to a Duke-UNC game, so this one would be a dream come true. Coach K and Roy Williams are not going to coach forever, so I’m kind of running out of time.
Second choice would be Texas Tech at Kansas, March 5. Tubby Smith is one of the classiest coaches in college basketball, and while I attended Midnight Madness in Lawrence a number of years ago, I’ve never done the Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant at an actual game at Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
I don’t even know what this is, but it’s adorable. Tubby’s the best!
Also, I’d take a conference or NCAA tournament game any day. March is awesome.
The game I’m attending: none, unless I win the lottery.
The game I wish I was attending: Duh, the Final Four, April 5 & 7 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. I don’t even care who is there. I would go no matter what. But I’m not making picks yet. That’s another blog for another day.