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That is what the Appalachian Sports Network's David Jackson said when Appalachian
State won its first national championship on December 16, 2005. On that night
in December, all by myself with the sounds of the game while at work, I was
ecstatic. Never had I dreamed that I would be as close as I was to a team to
win a national title... physically, of course, since Boone is close enough to
be included in all the TV weather maps here in the Tri-Cities.
One year later, they did it all again, steamrolling through the playoffs on what seemed like an easy road to the title. Back to Back National Champions. That was the first time any team I'm a fan of had won two championships in a row since Tennessee's Lady Vols won the last of three straight hoops titles in 1998.
Speaking of the Lady Vols, they were in Cleveland Tuesday night to play Rutgers for all the marbles. Defense, defense, defense. The Lady Vols cranked up the rebounding and defense and only gave up 46 points (that's 1.15 points per minute) to win their seventh national championship.
This victory was more emotional for me than the ASU Back-to-Back titles. In part, because of my previous blog. If you haven't read it, go there and come back. Tuesday night, Sidney Spencer played awesome. Her defense was incredible, and she hit a good number of her shots.
So when the clock ran out, I was a very happy man. Still am, naturally. Mainly because of the fact that the Lady Vols had finally ended the losing streak in the tournament, but also that I got a chance to see Sidney play again, and she did well. I didn't deserve the chance to see her in orange again, but I got it. I'm so happy for her that she got that national championship. From everything I've heard and read about her, she's an absolutely awesome person. That is what makes Tuesday night so much sweeter.
After that, so many emotions went through me, and it's really not possible to explain it. I was a little anxious because the following day was the draft, and all the things that go with that when your team has a senior leaving. Of course, there's the pure joy of being champions again. But then there was a twinge of regret, too.
I'm 110 miles from Knoxville. Every November my dad always says that we should get down there to see the Lady Vols play sometime. And yet, for some reason or the other, it never happens. I'm gonna try my best to get down there for some games this November.
And then Wednesday, the one Lady Vol graduating starter was picked in round two by the Los Angeles Sparks. Now, being a Storm fan, I'm not real happy with that particular development. But, once I get past that, my first idea is a simple one. I hope Sidney makes the team.
Even if she doesn't, and they cut her early, she might have a chance elsewhere. But if not, I don't think it's that big of a deal for her. She's got options many more than I did when I graduated college. So I'm not too worried about Sidney now that she's played her last game at Tennessee. She'll do just fine in whatever she decides to do.
I'm just thankful that I got one more game to watch her play. That's an emotional type feeling, too... at least it is for me. There are so many of them I've felt in the last couple days, it's been overwhelming at times. I'm amazed at how fortunate I am as a fan to have three national championships as a fan in the last year and a half. I have a feeling that this is something that won't happen again anytime in the near future, but I sure hope I'm wrong!
So here's hoping a little of my good luck will rub off on Sidney as she goes out to try to make the roster of the two-time WNBA Champions who interestingly enough, won those championships in back-to-back style as well.
Funny how things come full circle, isn't it? Good luck, Sidney!
And congrats to Pat Summitt and the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, 2007 National Champions!
Being a fan doesn't mean you have a right to be stupid.
It's an interesting life being a sports fan. Sometimes you get aggravated at things and you should. Sometimes, not so much.
Last night I was watching Tennessee play North Carolina, and I was on the boards at the same time blasting Sidney Spencer because she couldn't hit a shot. This was during the worst part of the game when the Tar Heels were leading by double digits. I'd forgotten, and foolishly so, that she was at least trying to take charges and play good defense. In fact, one of the charges was called a block, proving that not all the calls were against UNC.
When I got to bed after the Lady Vols won, I started thinking about myself. I was pretty stupid. Here's a woman who I look up to a lot because of things I've heard of her from newspaper articles and things like that, in life outside the gym. She's playing for the Greatest Women's Basketball Program Of All-Time, a starter, no less, and I was mercilessly talking about her as if she was the worst basketball player in world history.
I'm lucky. My favorite college player gets one more game. That means I can be a fan instead of being a jerk. I went back in both places where I was a pain in the rear and made it a point that my actions were inexcusable. Was Sidney playing terrible on offense? Pretty much. But she was doing on the defensive end what she should've been doing, and Sidney Spencer should be commended for that.
So on Tuesday I get one more chance to see her play before she goes into WNBA Draft mode and maybe she'll get a chance and become a star there, or maybe she'll drift off into a non-public world where she'll get to do some of the many other things she wants to do with her life. I remember an awesome article I read about her, and that she has probably a half dozen options if the WNBA doesn't pan out for her.
Anyone who read anything I said and was really aggravated at me, you're right and I ask forgiveness. And if Sidney herself ever reads this, someone with the league has full permission to give her my e-mail address and I'll tell her the same thing I said here. I'm ashamed of my actions.
Thankfully, I've been redeemed with another chance. One shot for my favorite team to win a National Championship. I've been a blessed man in that regard… if the Lady Vols win Tuesday night, that will make Three National Championships for me as a college sports fan in the past 17 months.
Judging by Sunday night, I clearly don't deserve it. But if it happens, I'll definitely take it. And I'll have learned a major lesson in the process. Two, actually. For the second one, cue Yogi:
"It ain't over 'til it's over."
It used to be easy to plan vacations for me. Simple, in fact. The past four
seasons, my big vacation was to North Carolina. A friend lives in Winston-Salem,
so I'd stay with him and drive from there to Charlotte to see the Storm play the
Sting. That's the only trip I could ever afford to take, so I took it, and every
year it was so much fun.
Then came two weeks ago. No more Sting. I could type and type and type and use many four letter words about how I feel about that, but honestly, it doesn't matter. It's water under the bridge for 95% of WNBA fans anyway. So therefore most of you don't care either.
What that forced me
into is to try to figure out how to see my favorite team, the Seattle Storm, play
basketball. Every year when the schedule came out, I'd mock-plan a Storm trip.
My goal: find three games played in Seattle in a week's time. Every year that
happens once or twice, so I'd point out my favorite combination of teams and look
at the travel sites to see how expensive the trip would be. And even then, normally
at least four months before the start of the season, I knew I couldn't do it.
This year, and for every year until the end of time, I won't be stepping foot in Charlotte. When I got the schedule this year, I planned lots of things. One was the usual Seattle trip. Second was the All-Star Game in Washington, DC. The thought behind that one is that since I'm at one end of Virginia and Washington is at the other end, that wouldn't be too bad of a trip. Number three was a Texas vacation, with Houston and San Antonio in my sights. Trip number four was to Indiana to watch the Fever up in Tamika Catchings territory. That trip eventually expanded to Chicago, since I'm a Cubs fan.For the first time since I became a WNBA fan in 2002, I had a difficult choice on where to go on vacation. First to be whittled off is Texas, because as one of the Storm fans told me, it's pretty hot in Texas in July. Good point. From there, I really started eyeballing the Seattle trip, and I wanted to go to DC, too, because of all the sights and things that I've never seen. So that by process of elimination took out the midwest trip.
Today, I finally was forced into a decision. Finances and other considerations won't allow me to go to Seattle and Washington. So thanks to some incredible help from Storm fans, I'm going to Seattle this summer. Even my friend from Texas, who I haven't ever seen in person and would have in DC, told me that Seattle would be my best bet. So the evidence is stacking up, and one of my close Storm fan friends is going to be there as well, and we'll be able to hang out some during the off days. Apparently Seattle is the place to be, and therefor, there I'll be in late July. Bring on the Space Needle. The real one, that is.
The NASCAR world lost a legend Tuesday. Benny Parsons won a championship in 1973 and the Daytona 500, but he is more well known for broadcasting the races since the late 80's.
Benny was an awesome personality on NASCAR races because he was just an old hometown boy, and he talked that way. When Benny explained something complicated, if he had time, he'd make it plain to those of us who don't know a thing about race cars. And he never had a bad thing to say about anyone, which is amazing in that world, especially these days. I've heard reports today that he'd bring a lot of strawberries to the press room at Daytona…something that is missing there this year.
Benny passed away on Tuesday from complications from lung cancer. Having paid some sort of attention to racing for the past 17 years, I liked Benny a lot, and would tune to the broadcasts even if I didn't care who won. I'll definitely miss him.
Why, you ask, do I type this here? Well, this is one of the reasons why it's useful that I'm a fan of so many different sports, because I can sometimes get a different angle on some things. My thought here is that the hole that was left in the NASCAR family by Benny's passing is the hole in the WNBA family has now because we don't have a Benny. From what I've seen in my four and a half years as a fan of this league, there isn't anyone involved in broadcasting WNBA games who is a true champion of the sport, and whose mere presence on TV for a game will cause people to watch the Sky play the Liberty even if they're a Silver Stars fan.
We need a Benny. Someone who has been deeply involved in the WNBA and who is someone the fans absolutely love. And we need that person in the broadcast booth. He already is right now, but he is doing college games. From everything I've heard from fans of the league since I've been here, there is one obvious choice in my mind. I'm pretty sure he can handle the job.
I cast my vote for Van Chancellor as full-time WNBA analyst on ESPN and ABC. I think he can fill that role quite well. I've heard Comets fans talk a lot about how great a guy Van is and how he'd always give out candy to people before a game and such things like that. I can only imagine the stories that people will tell at the W's 25th anniversary celebration season about Van and how he would get to games or to help people, or just certain things he'd say that will make people laugh.
It's time we got a Benny. Mr. Van Chancellor would be just perfect.
Well, it's been a wild week, that's for sure. I got home on either Tuesday or Wednesday to read on the boards that the Sting were as good as gone to Kansas City. Then someone said they're staying, then they're leaving, then staying, then leaving. I even wrote an entire blog about the leaving part, but I'll reserve judgment on that until something actually happens.
It hasn't happened since the Sparks in the WNBA in '01 and '02. It hasn't happened in I-AA football since Georgia Southern in 1999 and 2000. And I know the only thing the university has to do with anything on this particular site is that their women's hoops coach, Adrienne Shuler, played for the Mystics in 1998. And buried a shot with 3.8 seconds left to take down the Sparks that year. I love anyone who has done that.
The entire purpose of this blog, other than to talk about their women's basketball team again, is a shout out and huge congratulations to the Appalachian State football program, who just took down a very good Umass team for the 2006 Division I Football Championship. Back to back championships, no less.
Hopefully this doesn't become a trend in other sports. I'm not a big Shock fan. I could handle it if Maryland repeats, but I'd rather the Lady Vols get #7 this year. It's been forever since #6. I'd be okay if the Hurricanes repeat, but I'm not sure the state deserves it if the Sting leave, which is something we'll surely know about by the time we reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
Anyway, congratulations to the Mountaineers! Now let's Go for 3!
Since my sister and I are hockey fans, I spent Wednesday evening looking at the NHL shop online to see what I can get my New York Islanders fan of a sibling for Christmas. I think I'm getting her a remote-controlled Islanders Zamboni. Just don't tell her that.
Anyway, I was browsing through that site, and I noticed a few things. First, I really wish the WNBA store had stuff like that. I'd love to have a Seattle Storm sleeping bag. Or a Charlotte Sting light to hang over my pool table. Or a set of Silver Stars coasters. How about a Storm vs. Sparks checkers game? That would be too cool.
Also, why not alternate jerseys? I'd love to see Seattle's jerseys look like a storm, kind of like the Tampa Bay Lightning's rain jerseys from a few years back. Or maybe bright yellow Sun jerseys or put the Liberty in red. Use alternate logos for some of those things.
throwback jerseys for the teams that have moved…let the Sun wear Miracle
jerseys or Utah for the Silver Stars. The league has enough history in its ten
years to make sure that all of the 14 current teams could have an alternate without
much problem. The Sting would be easy, just drag out the old teal once in a while.
I don't know what would have to be done to accomplish such things, but I'd love to see them happen. I think that if there was a bigger variety of stuff for fans to buy, that would increase revenue.
I'd also love to have a Bill Laimbeer dart board. Or should I not say that here?
First of all, I've heard about the warmth of Texas. Yeah, yeah. I get that. For a meteorologist, it's more fun living in East Tennessee. The mountains here make the weather do strange things, especially in a rain or snow or sleet situation where you have to predict where it's gonna be 32 degrees not only on the ground, but up in the air, too. That's why they get paid the big bucks, friends.
I'm looking forward to college basketball. I'm a Lady Vols fan, naturally, but I'm going to try to keep up a little more with the ladies up on the mountain at Appalachian State. As a trivia item, the Mountaineers have won a game against Tennessee before. No kidding. According to the ASU media guide (which only goes back to 1970), they beat Tennessee on March 11, 1976, in Chapel Hill, 88-71. They lost the other four games.
The Tennessee record book has it differently. First of all, that game was in the AIAW Region II Championships, and was played in Cullowhee, North Carolina. The scores are the same, though.
Also according to Tennessee, the Mountaineers apparently have a winning record all-time against the Lady Vols. ASU says they're 1-4. Tennessee says the Apps are 5-3 against the Lady Vols all-time. Given, all of those games but one were played before I was born, and four were played prior to the Summitt Administration.
So, it's funny how interesting things get when you do research. For example, my alma mater, East Tennessee State, is 2-17-1 against Tennessee. I know what you're thinking. "A tie?" Yep. February 2, 1925. Tennessee 25, ETSU 25. Apparently they didn't play overtime back then. Which makes sense since I think that was during the "each team has six players on each side of the floor" era.
No, I'm not a history buff about the game. The thought of Appalachian State ever beating Tennessee at basketball was just too intriguing. I just didn't know it's happened five times.
And no, I'm not talking about Tennessee's record against Connecticut. Don't even go there.
Thus endeth blog number 1. I'll get back to current basketball life next time, since there are so many things happening around the women's basketball world, of which I'm thankful to be a fan.