February 23, 2005

Odd day

Allow me to add my voice to the cry of the masses against the terror and annoyance that is bureaucracy. I have to renew my tags, but there's no way for me to do that without going through hundreds of miles of red tape to receive a duplicate title from TN. The morning was filled with phone calls to confused people in TN, then driving over to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles who told me that I could get a temp. permit with only my registration and driver's license. As it turns out, there's a rule there that states that I can't get a temp. permit with only my registration and driver's license. A monumental testament to how many people care about other people's time.

After work, though, I actually got to watch a VU game on the computer thanks to JP and the fine people at Yahoo! Sports Video. I even got to talk with a friend from school during the game, so it was easily one of the most enjoyable bball experiences this year. Well, it would've been if they'd won...

SEC Quick Wrap-Up

As you know from the last post, we're keeping an eye on UF, VU, USC, and MSU. UF came out the best, beating VU in a game that was close until they pulled away a small bit at the end. VU put up a strong defensive effort, but couldn't hold off three-point barrages from Walsh and Roberson. I thought we played very well, all in all, but couldn't pull one out on the road.

MSU and USC also had tough tasks on the road. MSU trailed most of the first half, but a late run put them up up 20 minutes and they held on to win in Athens. Not a blowout as it probably should've been, but a win's a win (and a road win at that). USC didn't fair as well, trailing 51-28 at the half. They came back in the second half, but 23 points is too large a deficit to come back from on the road (yes, even at UT), and the Vols pulled a huge (and beneficial for us) upset in the 7th Circle of Hell. I mean, Knoxville, sorry. Knoxville.

Anyway, that puts MSU at 7-6 in the conference, while VU and USC fall to 6-7, tied for fourth in the East and sixth overall in the conference. VU's and MSU's RPI shouldn't rise or fall too much, but I have a feeling USC may see a drop.

This Saturday, VU hosts UGa, hoping to get revenge on the loss on the road from earlier in the season. If they play as well as they have been, it should be a big win, and a much-needed statement game headed into a big week for the Dores, hosting USC (after the Cocks host UF on Saturday) and heading back on the road to face a red-hot LSU team. Consensus is that Vandy needs to win each of the remaining games, plus a couple in the tourney, to make the Dance. If Mario Moore can stay away from fouls better than he did tonight, that can be done, but it's going to take a lot of work, esp. in Baton Rouge.

February 19, 2005

I hate Ashley Judd.

Just had to say it. I wish that Kentucky fans and ESPN would focus more on basketball than the fact that Judd (who is a terrible actress to begin with) went to UK and can't stand not having the camera on her.

K, I'm done. Let's talk... SEC Basketball.

Interesting conference this year -- some pundits say it's down, but think it's about the same it always is, they just didn't step it up in the non-conference season. Maybe the teams were too young, coaches not settled in enough, whatever -- they've shown that they have a LOT of good teams playing in the conference, and I'd put the teams top to bottom against any conference in the country ('cept for the ACC. I'm proud, but not stupid).

As I'm typing this, Lorence Roberts -- by far the best player in the SEC and the heart and soul of the Bulldogs -- hurt his knee going for a rebound. Quickie diagnosis from Dr. Meagan says he may have hurt his LCL, and if he's torn anything, that could end his season. That has a HUGE impact on the season, as some people had them as the fifth team in the NCAA's before this game.

As a Vandy alum, you know I'm hoping for a return to the Dance, especially after the excitement we created last year, upsetting NC State and advancing to the Sweet 16. They're one of seven teams with a legitimate shot at making it. Here's how it stands at the moment:

UK: In. If they win the SEC Tourney, a #1 seed.

Bama: In. They could land a #3 if they keep playing well and make it at least to the finals of the SECs.

LSU: Almost there. Two big wins this week put them at 8-4 in conference play and two games ahead of MSU. I don't think they'll lose that lead (esp. with Roberts out for ANY period of time, it's too late in the season). You never know, though.

UF: Not so fast. Had a huge loss today at LSU, pulling them to 8-4. They've got a rough stretch ahead, with three of four teams in the hunt for the Dance, plus Georgia on the road -- seems like a laugher, but ANY team in SEC is hard to beat on their home court.

VU: Coming on. Two big wins, one a comeback that became a blowout on the road, the other a great performance against a dangerous Arkansas team. The Dores seem to be turning it on at the right time, just as they did last year. Mario Moore is coming out of a funk and Foster is quickly becoming one of the best freshmen in the league.

USC: Dangerous. Great team that will be trouble for Vandy. I honestly don't know a lot about them, but they seem to be a hot-cold kind of team (a lot like Vandy). Case in point: Lose to Auburn, then beat UK. Should make for a fun last four games.

MSU: Falling. Ranked earlier in the season, but injuries cause them to fall from the rankings. They've lost two straight, and they may not have Roberts for a little while, which would be a HUGE blow for there chances.

There you go -- the seven teams with a shot at the dance. I'll give the nod to UK, Bama, and LSU, leaving two spots for four teams. Here's the fun part -- Florida, USC and Vandy all play each other in in the last four games of the season. I think if any team sweeps both of the others, they're in.

Vandy at UF Wednesday, UF at USC Saturday, USC at Vandy the next Wednesday. If Florida wins even one, I think that they should be in, but I'm not sure if they will. If they don't, they have to beat Georgia on the road AND UK at home to make 10 conference wins, which seems to be the magic number into the tourney. Lose either of those as well, and they have no more than 9 wins and are probably tied (if not surpassed) by VU or USC for 2nd in the conference as opposed to having it all on their own AND a downswing in momentum which the tourney committees never look favorably upon. They still have the advantage, though, as they're two games ahead of both teams and will probably be invited in the fourth spot -- just don't stamp their ticket quite yet.

I think the battle for the fifth spot lies between VU and USC. I just don't see MSU as a lock, especially with two road games, a rivalry game, and a game v. Bama as their last four -- not easy competition, esp. without Roberts. As far as VU-USC goes, they have the game against each other, game v. UF, a tricky home game (VU v. UGA, USC v. Ole Miss) plus a scary road game (VU v LSU, USC v UT). I don't see an edge either way.

It's gonna be a fun last two weeks of the season, and hope the Dores can come out on top and keep their dancing shoes on for another year!

February 08, 2005

Quick note

Pam Schneller, director of the Vanderbilt Concert Choir amongst a host of other choral groups, was seriously injured in Los Angeles after being hit by a van while she was out for a jog. Pam is recovering, and her family has set up a blog which I'm posting here so that anyone who knows Pam can keep up to date and offer support.

Pam is a marvelous woman, and if anyone can pull through this, it's her. Please, from all of us who have been touched by her (and there must be literally thousands of us), please keep her and her family in your prayers.


Super Bowl & Mardi Gras

Another competitive Super Bowl, making three close games in the past four years (and four in the past six if you include the Rams win, though my Nashville brethren don't like to be reminded of it). To me, this year's game, while close, wasn't really remarkable. There were some spectacular catches, TO lived up to the hype, and the defenses stepped up huge, but all in all, it was a pretty underwhelming night. Meagan stopped watching at 10 so she could catch a Desperate Housewives rerun (in her defense, she hadn't seen it, plus that act TOTALLY justifies having a TV in the bedroom). Even the commercials this year were underwhelming.

But who's surprised? If we wanted a shoot-out, we should've hoped for a Colts - Rams Super Bowl. FCC backlash caused FOX to choose a legend who would draw more attention with his music than with his nipples and could still pull off a decent halftime show. And with the endless, meandering, pedantic media attention, I think we were sick of the Super Bowl before it even started. This is my one gripe with the Super Bowl -- two weeks between the Championships and the big game. Not that it's bad for the players, persay, but I think fans have a rhythm set up during the football season.

Sunday: Watch games. Best day of the week.
Monday: Talk about games with buddies.
Tuesday: Do some work. Make your boss happy.
Wednesday: Wrap up the work week. C'mon -- your boss does the same thing.
Thursday: Analyze injuries, weather, and check fantasy team(s).
Friday: Get excited about college games. Buy groceries for Sunday.
Saturday: Watch college games. Replace groceries for Sunday you ate while watching college games.

Rinse and repeat. However, with two weeks to prepare (and no college football), the schedule is thrown out of whack. Indeed, some fans were found on their couches on the Sunday between games watching only reports of what TO was wearing and the Pats' construction of a Freddie Mitchell Voo-Doo Doll. More shockingly, though -- rumor has that some people were actually working on Thursday, though these reports have yet to be confirmed.

Before this turns into an all-out humor column (too late!), let me just say that the season was a disappointment for a lot of teams, but honestly, what season isn't? Only one team is truly happy at the end of each season, anyway. Thirty-one cities hoist the battle-cry, "Wait til next year!" and the team that waited the best gets the parade. Congrats to New England, to their fans and players, for a great season. To the other teams, congrats on a great season, and we'll keep waiting.

On a serious note, today is Mardi Gras. Very rarely is that a serious note to anyone but those who take it seriously, and no one takes it more seriously than New Orleans citizens. It's a time to celebrate and let off a little steam, but this years dubloons have lost a hint of their luster. One year ago, ironically to the day, a great New Orleans citizen, James O'Neill, my grandfather, passed away. He was a man that you never saw without a smile on his face, someone who always had a joke you laughed at, even you've heard it from him before. He was a man that undoubtedly lived a full life, but always wanted more. His dream was to go skydiving on his 80th birthday, just as he had when he served in World War II and earned a Purple Heart amongst many other medals.

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with him a couple summers ago, and it was a week I won't forget. It was before the cancer came back, and he was in great spirits, going golfing with us and taking us to parties around Aspen the like of which we'd never been to. His father was a baseball player, and I won't forget the look in his eyes when he saw me hit two long home runs at a softball game (which was heavily aided by the thin air). Having to say good-bye a to loved one is never easy, but I think that that week was far better than I could've ever hoped for.

Mardi Gras is to be celebrated, for sure. If you're fortunate enough to be in New Orleans, or Mobile, or anywhere with a celebration or parade, do not miss it. Go there with loved ones, and stand with each other as you scream to revelers and bead-throwers.

"Throw me something, mistah!"

Tell 'em to save one for Jim, too.