Category Archives: basketball

There’s no ‘I’ in TEAM, but there is an ‘M’ (Meyer), or, No one is inVincible..

I recently finished Buster Olney’s wonderful book on former Lipscomb coach Don Meyer.  I’ve always been a fan of Meyer (never met him) from the time my dad and I were talking on the phone when I lived in Brooklyn.  He said, ‘there’s something really odd going on with the basketball program…i’m not sure how the team is going to do under this new guy (Meyer), but it’s going to be interesting to watch’.  I followed the program from afar, and when we moved back to Nashville, I probably watched the man coach over 100 games.

He is, and was rather odd and off-putting.  He has a perennial scowl and doesn’t appear friendly.  He barked at his players and paced the sidelines like a chained pit-bull.  He also coached basketball at a different level and was watching a different game than I (a huge college basketball fan) and many others ever notice.  Underneath that scowl and bundle of eccentricity was one of the most interesting and humble men I’ve ever read about.   If you get Meyer, you understand how a man can be humble but not weak, tenacious, but not addictive.

Read the book, (and check out a former Northern Dakota player’s book about Coach Meyers* as well).  What the Coach weaves in an almost mystical tapestry of aphorisms and stories is that no one player on a team, no matter how incredible or how untalented is any more or less part of a team than any other player.  You understand that Meyer has influenced hundreds if not thousands of young people to treat everyone as if they were the most important person in the room, no matter their so-called station in life.  You read the testimonials of the men who played for Meyer and you understand that Meyer made them better people (or actually help them understand what they had inside them to be better).

You read about former player’s tragedy and how the Coach and many former teammates traveled long distances to be support their teammate.  Some of the things you read make you think the man is crazy and destructive, but then you realize he’s doing what needed to be done to bring a person down to earth or just to realize how fortunate he really is.

You read about a man who lost a leg in a car wreck and then cancer was discovered when surgery was performed on the leg and how that didn’t begin to bring the man down.  The book is not hagiography or idolatry, but you begin to understand a man of immense faith who didn’t just talk about doing the right thing.

I once heard him speak on what was supposed to be parenting..instead we got time management, the importance of not drinking sodas and the difference between religion and spirituality (first time I heard anyone describe the divergence so well), and how to live properly you live in the moment.  What I at first thought was a rambling collection of odd (and interesting) thoughts became a brilliant lecture on parenting, not because he spoke one word about raising kids, but because he was talking about being healthy on every level.  You take care of yourself, don’t squander your time, and live in the moment and you will be one heckuva parent.

I once saw the man call a timeout with two seconds left in the first half when his team was leading by 28 points.  It was one of the most illogically timed time-outs ever, but like I say, the man wasn’t watching the same game as most of us.  He saw something he didn’t like, and he didn’t want to wait until half-time to discuss the problem.

He wanted to win, but playing well and playing the game correctly, living life well and living it in the moment and living in a state of humility and strength were what he taught.  Once you got that, winning was a brilliant side effect….good parenting was a brilliant side effect.

I really don’t have anything to add to the Vince Young saga that has dominated our city for the last couple of days.  I read about Meyer’s players and how they learned to handle adversity and how to treat others, and it just makes me sad that Young didn’t have someone like Meyer at an early age to channel that incredible talent.  I’m sad that concepts like team and handling adversity apparently don’t mean the same thing to Young as it does to the young men I read about in Olney’s book.

Much more importantly, I realize how I’ve squandered time, have been thoughtless and ranted and raved about my computer not operating quickly enough (among other things).  I think about the anger I’ve expressed towards the people I love more than anything in the world, and I know that none of those people I’ve talked about are perfect, but how fortunate we can be, if we just see what is right before our eyes.

“Happiness begins when selfishness ends”

“A fool despises instruction”

“Do the ordinary things extra-ordinarily well”

“You can measure somebody’s character by how they treat people that can’t do them any good or can’t fight back”

*The book about playing for Meyer is ‘Playing for Coach Meyer’ by Steve Smiley

Olney’s incredible book is ‘How Lucky Can You Be’ deserves to sell brilliantly..




Filed under basketball, books, golden rule stuff, sports and education

Thudddd…what was that loud noise?

It’s a number ONE ranking clanking to the ground. It’s always a pleasure to beat the Orange in basketball. It’s always fun to see a number one team come into Memorial Gym and leave with their ranking tucked between their legs. But, when it’s the UT crew coming in with the number 1 necklace, it’s the making for a deliriously happy evening.

I got to Memorial early. The Vandy crowd had been asked to wear white..(the game was on ESPN and a sea of white garb tends to stand out). Normally, the students comply, but the older folks, especially the Belle Meade crowd in the padded seats, tend to ignore apparel requests. Not tonight, t’was a sea of white, with a little orange thrown in for contrast.

The noise was nearly deafening 30 minutes before the game even started, and nearly unbearable when the game was underway. Sadly, the referees decided that they needed to demonstrate their mad whistle skills and over-called the game by about half. It’s pretty bad when fans yell at refs for making calls in FAVOR of their team, begging to let the game unfurl naturally.

It’s amazing to me that UT beat Memphis with Chris Lofton largely missing from the game, because tonight he showed how he can carry a team on his back. Some of his shots were launched from a different zip code and somehow parted the nets as if guided by some kind of Naismithian GPS. Luckily for Vandy, Shan Foster had a broader back and managed to carry a foul-ridden Vanderbilt squad to victory.

The refs took both teams out of their rhythm more than once, with excessive whistling. And I’m not saying this as the biased fan (guilty). The refs, like an inept bi-sexual, were bad both ways.

Much more importantly, the magic that seems to permeate Memorial in big games is back in town, thanks to the fans, the wondrous shooting skills of Shane Foster, and most importantly, thanks to the ball-handling skills of Jermaine Beal, the point guard who matched his uniform number with turnovers (as in ZERO). UT’s press was scary good and especially frenetic in the second half. Thanks to Beal, Vandy turned the ball over only eight times…a season low for teams playing UT.

College basketball would still be magical, even if Vandy had lost tonight, but a Vandy win against the number-one-ranked UT Vols makes the word ‘special’ seem banal. Life, it’s of the good…


Filed under basketball, Vandy

About last night..the Vandy fan’s dilemma

If you live by the black and gold you can’t really have any kind of sports crush on that Orange team dwelling roughly 200 miles east of Nashville.  A true Vandy fan chortles at the Knoxville police blotter’s daily UT football arrest report.  We may respect their coaches (well, at least their basketball coaches) and the talent that continues to roll uphill (somehow), but we love it when they lose.

Though, last night something different this way came.  Tennessee men’s basketball, unusually ranked as high as their womens team, was playing the number one team in the country: University of Memphis.  And, those very same orange dribblers are going to visiting Memorial Gym this coming Tuesday night to meet the ‘Dores.

Soooooooo, do you want UT to win the game so that they will be number one in the nation when they jaunt into Nashville?  Do you want them to be perched on that throne, so that the Vandy squad can do their usual number on number ONE teams visiting the old home court (see Indiana, North Carolina, and last year, Florida).  It’s a Lot more Fun to dump Number 1 (there may be a better way to phrase that…).

Watching the game last night I was thinking…you CAN root for UT  because then it will make Tuesday night deliriously fun.  Despite the inane comments that the ‘little brother’ wants to rain on the UT victory parade, I’m happy to let UT and their fans revel in the ranking.   It’ll just make it sweeter on Tuesday night.

And before you accuse me of lacking the milk of human kindness, let me just say that I do hope that the good gendarmes and jailers in Knoxville allowed the inmates to watch TV last night. I’d hate for the football team to have missed such a fun game.

The game wasn’t particularly executed well, but it was riveting down to the last drop…dispite the historical exhortations of Public Enemy…You COULD believe the hype.


Filed under basketball

The King James version, or why sports still matter..

The last couple of days have pretty much reeked.  NIT reeling, Brittney being unfairly lambasted and ultimately resigning, troubles at work that depress me greatly, my friend Ginger in a car wreck, Bush still President..I could go on, but I’d depress myself further.

Normally, I really don’t care about the NBA playoffs.  By this time of the year, basketball should be done with…baseball is in middle-game and walking outside in the evening is a wonderful sport of its own.  But, this season is different.  If you care at all about basketball, you know and appreciate Lebron James, like him and his team, or not.

The NBA finals start tonight.  King James and his Cavaliers face the defending champs, the San Antonio Spurs.  The possible new boss meets the old experienced boss.  I love the threshold seasons in any sport..when a long-standing champ may be on his or her last legs, but hangs on for one more encore in the sun.  Magic Johnson and Kareem against Isaiah Thomas, Joe Frazier against Ali, Nicklaus winning the Masters at age 46…Borg and McEnroe. Those kind of clashes bring out the best..courage, tenacity, leadership and understanding that winning is more than a marker on a scoreboard.

I’m fully aware that not everyone is into sports (d’oh, I live with someone who couldn’t name one Tennessee Titan with a gun to her head), but those of us who do, people like Lebron, the Titans, Vandy (or UT), the Preds, a big series, the French Open finals all bring a lot of us together..the noise of politics and blogflames dissipate and eventually fade.  That bad day at the office suddenly doesn’t seem so important.  Living vicariously isn’t always so bad…bring it ON.

Photo credit 


Filed under basketball, the shiznit list

Will Superman stay in the sunshine? Hint: The odds of pleasing all the blue-grassers most of the time is as futile as trying to catch the wind..

To the tune of the Clash…should I stay or should I go…

heh heh

HT: Josh Hutcheson

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Filed under basketball, heh heh

As a staunch Vandy fan, it pains me to say this..

But, congratulations are in order for Tennessee’s Lady Vols and Coach Pat Summitt.   Recruiting Ms. Candace Parker may be one of the most brilliant moves of your coaching career!

If I’m Arkansas, I stop licking my wounds at the reneging of the Creighton coach and offer Coach Summitt millions of dollars to coach my team.  There is no reason in the world why she couldn’t coach men just as well as women..the locker room dynamics might be a bit different, but a good coach is a good coach is a good coach.


Filed under basketball

One brief shining moment, or, walking the walk..

If you watch the NCAA men’s championship game each year on CBS, you know that they feature highlights of the tournament at the end of the broadcast, with the Luther Vandross song ‘One Shining Moment’ playing under the hoop-lights. Vandy got a lot of face-time in this year’s revue, including the heart-breaking game-winning shot by Georgetown to send the Commodores home. The only good news about this cruel reminder is that Green (the guy who hit the winning shot) is shown to have clearly walked, just like ‘we’ knew he did. Of course I’m totally over the loss*..

You-tube won’t let me embed this…watch the last 15 seconds to see the double pivot walk….THANKS ya blind bastid refs.

*If totally over the loss can be defined as shrinking the bitterness to merely heart-size.


Filed under basketball, really really bad odors