Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Basketball Weekend

Yesterday's post was getting long, so I left out one of the central themes of our (extended) weekend: basketball. Starting last year, Lauren and I have entered a bracket in her brother's good friend's annual pool. Before the weekend started, although our brackets were fairly thoroughly busted at that point, we had some hope that an Ohio State national championship could get us through to make some money. Friday night, as those of you following the tournament already know, busted that hope. But Shaka Smart and his VCU Rams pulled out a tight win soon after OSU's defeat to keep them going in the tourney. So that was kind of cool.

Saturday, we left my mothers internet-free zone to visit my in-laws and their high-speed internet plus borrowed projector to stream the Boys 3A Indiana State Finals, in which our school's boys were present for the first time ever. In fact, this was the first year that the school's team won Sectionals, much less Regionals and Semi-State. So it was a pretty big deal. My mother-in-law put together a dinner of really good pulled pork sandwiches, mac 'n' cheese, and broccoli slaw and we settled in for the game, against the defending champion Washington Hatchets. Our opponents got off to a faster start, but by halftime our boys had taken a 1-point lead. Sadly, the Hatchets came out of halftime fired up, rattled off perhaps a dozen unanswered points, and our boys could never quite make up the difference. We were pretty disappointed but, of course, it really is an honor just to be there and marks quite a successful season.

On Sunday, as we were returning to Indiana to get ready for today's trip, we were unable to watch the NCAA game we really wanted to watch, but we were very excited when we saw that VCU not only upset #1 Kansas, but did it convincingly, by 10 points.

Naturally, we're not the only Kenyon alumni on the bandwagon, so I've seen a lot of buzz about it over on the book of face. There were links to a couple great articles on Shaka. This article says a lot about who Shaka is as well as what so many of us love about Kenyon. One quotation says a lot, I think:

Just having players graduate isn’t enough for Smart. He challenges them as intensely in the classroom as he does on the court.
Haley recalled Smart telling him that he needed to make a 3.5 grade-point average this year.
“And he means it,” Haley said. “He’s serious.”
Even the New York Times, in a shorter article, has taken notice. And then there's Sportscenter which had him on the phone recently. This interview is probably the least interesting thing I've linked to, but hey, it's SportsCenter. I wanted to smack the interviewer at one point when he got a look on his face and asked Shaka why he choose Kenyon over Harvard (and, he might have added but didn't, Yale and Brown). Didn't this guy get the memo? Kenyon is one of the New Ivies. More to the point, I think, is a quotation from one of the several Kenyon posters that graces my office. I can't remember exactly what it says, but it amounts to the way that personal interaction shapes the experience. Certainly, that sounds like Shaka's experience, whether that's with the coach who made him and his teammates write letters home and who would also eventually give him his first coaching job or with the history professors who wanted to see him go into academia and eventually return as their colleague, central to the Kenyon experience are relationships with remarkable individuals, from faculty and staff to one's fellow students. And, as one of those fellow students, I salute you, Shaka. Good luck in the Final Four!

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