Monday, July 29, 2013


If you search instagram or twitter right now for "Mates of State", you'll see me in the background of many photos and videos.

The free, intimate "rehearsal" show they played in the basement of Frank's North Star Tavern was well attended and VERY well documented. Look at all these jokers -- snapping chats and vining their facebooks! Within moments, I felt a strong camaraderie with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

(For the record, I took one picture before the show and two back-to-back pictures during the show. I am perfect.)

I'm glad I chose to stand directly behind them. Sure, I couldn't hear the vocals too well, but this was the closest perspective I will ever have to being in the band. Beyond understanding how rocker could get annoyed by overuse of technology, I was struck by how disinterested many attendees looked. I understand if you don't bop your head or mouth the lyrics, but to stand still without even a smile on your face? That would mess with my head if I were a performer for anything more significant than karaoke. Cheer up, buds! This is fun! This was fun! Good show!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Getting Taipei'd for This!

*this post is written by Gav as a guest blogger. Any complaints can be forwarded to DN.

For most everyone I know, I think there are a handful of things that make them feel alive: skydiving, a child’s laugh, relishing in the last sentence of a good book, completing a marathon… Last week, I had the opportunity to have one of those feelings for myself: navigating my way to a scenic place in a foreign country.

Last Saturday, I woke up, ate some breakfast and took off around 9-9:30 to head to Yangmingshan National Park, which is northwest of Taipei, Taiwan and was my first venture using the bus system. I had to get to Jiantan station to catch Red Bus 5, which would take me straight to the park. This is where the above statement about feeling alive comes into play. I like small international adventures like this. There’s really no real danger, as I’m very capable of handling a map, and it’s a little out of my comfort zone, but not like I’m going Seal-Team 6 and repelling from a chopper into enemy territory. So that morning I looked at a map of how to get to Jiantan and noticed it was a bit of a pain to take the brown line (which Huzhou station is on, which is my stop) to the blue line, to the red line (which Jiantan was on). – There was a stop on the brown line that was about a mile and a half from Jiantan, and not only that, but there was a hiking trail along the way. Cool. Two hikes today. Let’s do it!

The first (smaller) hiking trail was basically a kind of outdoor sports park called Jiantanshan Hiking Trail, and it was super-unique. As I was following the path (there are tons of stone paths in Taiwan that serve as the trails, and I often wonder how many man hours it took to lay them because they are almost perfectly laid and Taiwan is pretty mountainous.) So, as I was walking I saw a little white thingy ascend and descend quickly and discretely through the trees up ahead. As I got closer, I saw it was a shuttlecock. – Flashback: I played quite a bit of badminton as a kid. My parents house had a pretty large yard and every spring-through-fall, we had a badminton court set up. My old-man is pretty salty at the sport, having won intramurals at KU – bear in mind; I know nothing about the competition. – So when I got closer, I climbed a flight of stairs and perched along the mountainside was a large flat rock clearing with two badminton courts and two games going. It was awesome to see. These are the types of things that I love about exploring, and finding: sights totally out of the ordinary to see it in such a cool location.

So with only about three double-backs and sign-checks to confirm I was headed in the right direction, this hiking path it its purpose well and spit me out right next to Jiantan Station.


I completely forgot to tell you about passing Martyrs’ Shrine.

This was by-far the luckiest part of the day, as I had no idea it was there. But along the walk from my stop on the brown line to Jiantanshan Hiking Trail, I passed a heavily military area with guards at every gate (maybe 4 gates total) and up ahead I saw about 7-8 tour buses, so I glanced at my map and saw ‘Martyrs’ Shrine’. When I approached, the shrine looked similar to much of the traditional Asian architecture with the pointy colorful rooftop-looking things and so I went into the courtyard. There were probably 75-100 Chinese tourists lining up along two sides of a red roped area that extended on both sides of two very well-decorated soldiers in white perched completely still on platforms. I looked at my watch and it was 9:57 – At 10:00 there was a changing of the guard. There were 5 (also well-decorated soldiers in white) that came out of an archway off to the side and slowly marched all the way down the courtyard, which was probably 100 meters. I completely lucked into it, and it turned out being one of my favorite photos I think I’ve ever taken. As a friend of mine agreed later; no matter where you are, a changing of the guard is always neat.

So, after locating the metro station, I found the small line of people to board Red Bus 5 and easily got to Yingmingshan Park.

I hiked and hiked to the tune of about 4-5 miles. Had lunch in a small hut like area (water and a clif bar.)

While the changing of the guard was the best photo, I think the highlight of the hike was one of the lizards I saw (out of probably 9. I tried to get a photo of the one with an electric blue tail, but was too slow when trying to grab my camera.) As I was descending a flight of stairs, a family was looking at a lizard that was crossing their path – maybe 5 inches long nose to tail, so not very big – and they were laughing, taking photos, and a boy was yelling ‘Lizard! Lizard!’ Then he saw your’s truly – a white man – approaching behind them and he got so excited when I walked by and was pointing, looking at me, and yelling ‘Lizard! Lizard!’ in English. I gave him the A-OK sign and said ‘That’s Right! Lizard!’

A while ago, a friend of mine once described what she loves about New York City, and it is a slight inconvenience involved with getting through daily life. Not to the point that you would move away, but a feeling that you have to put in a little effort for things. I liked that. – Personally, I enjoy those times I have to use the knowledge I have, a simple tool like a map, and some self-reliance to know that whatever the task or venture, it will probably turn out OK. If I had stuck to the metro system last Saturday, I never would have snapped the photos above.

If given the opportunity to take yourself out of your comfort zone this weekend, or anytime actually, I highly suggest it. If it's in Taipei, I highly suggest taking a hike.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

8th Grade Basketball Championship - Overtime

We are tied at 43. The overtime period is 3 minutes.

Keith wins the second jump ball of the day.

After much patience on offense, Jarod finds Ryan in the lane for a jumper. The shot is blocked by Andale #4.

Andale #53 tries a deep two over Ryan on the right wing, which bounces long. Rebound Andale #54, who misses a challenged putback. Rebound is tipped and secured by me.

Justin barely gets an entry pass past Andale #53, and Keith's short turnaround jumper in the lane bounces in.

Andale #42 passes into #51 to post against Ryan, but he's well-guarded. He passes back out to #42 on the right wing, who makes a jumper.

We give it to Jarod on the baseline, and before I can cut through to the other side of the lane, he drives to the basket. I stop my cut, and watch him perform a nifty step-through reverse layup without using the backboard. Some in the crowd want a traveling call, and I'm surprised these Luddite refs allow it. 1:35 remaining, St Mark up 2.

Andale #42 lobs it into #53 at the right block, and he is surrounded by 3 defenders. Keith is called for a foul from behind on #53's shot, his first foul of the entire game.

First free throw is missed short.

Second free throw spins out, rebound by Jarod.

After a lot of ball movement, Ryan misses a mid-range jumper from the right wing. Jarod has his man boxed out, and comes up with the rebound, which he dribbles out to the corner. Everyone goes nuts because he may have carried the ball while doing so. His second dribble certainly got away from him a bit; again, I'm shocked that these refs didn't make the call, considering their conservative nature. Maybe they are fatigued by the extra period and want to wrap this thing up.

Our offense works it to Jarod in the right corner, and we stand around and watch him. This is probably what we should have been doing the entire game - at the very least, I should have been passing it to him and then running the opposite direction so as not to screw up another possession. Anyway, somewhat remarkably, Jarod steps through a doubleteam, gets a very useful but mostly unintentional screen by Keith on #53, and hits a wide open shot a few feet from the basket. After the bucket, Andale #53 makes the "carrying" motion to the nearest ref.

Andale #51 again gets it on the right wing and drives against Ryan - maybe the coaches like the height differential in that matchup? Fine by me, I'm not getting scored on much anymore. Anyway, his drive is cut off by Keith's help at the right block. He pivots, considers a pass across the lane, decides against it and passes back to #4 at the top of the key. In the process, he drags his foot and is called for traveling. Everyone is now convinced of a referee conspiracy, I'm sure. I clap for too long again like an asshole.

St Mark calls a timeout.

Our timeout allows Andale to set up a press. Inbound pass to Jarod, back to me, dribbling up the right side and passing to Keith at mid-court. The pass isn't secured, and Andale #51 gets the ball. Since the camera is swinging right to see the pass hit Keith, I can't quite tell if the pass is bad or the catch is bad. Keith seems to be jumping toward me to make a catch, and the ball goes too far to his right. I'm scoring it as a bad pass by me - what's one more for me at this point?

In the chaos after the steal, Andale #53 gets a shot in the lane after a power dribble. It bounces off to the left, and is rebounded by Andale #54. Jarod is called for a foul going after the rebound.

As Andale readies to inbound from the baseline, I look extremely disinterested in the overtime period of the tournament championship, final basketball game of my 8th grade career, up by 4 with very little time left.

We are playing zone. The ball is lobbed over me to Andale #4. I make little effort to get around #42 and reach him at the three point line, where he launches a shot. It misses short, and #42, who I finally got past, is able to get the long rebound. He passes to #4, still in the same spot, who puts up another three that misses long and bounces out of bounds. It's a two-possession game, so Andale didn't need a three there. They were both open shots, though.

I knew this was coming; I remember it well. In practice against the press, I'd do this thing where I faked pass toward the sideline, then lob to Jarod toward the middle of the court. Jarod and I never discussed it, but we were always on the same page and it always worked. In practice. On this occasion, I lob it directly to #53, who dribbles straight in for a layup. It's my 10th turnover. Andale's entire team has 13 turnovers.

We have a 2 point lead. Tensions are high. Can we hold on? I've just committed my TENTH turnover, and must inbound again against the Andale press. I look up at the scoreboard. The ref bounces the ball to me. I consider passing to Justin, but why? The clock is still running. The buzzer sounds. St Mark wins as time expires as I am holding the ball out of bounds. This is quite unorthodox, and I have no idea if this is how the clock is supposed to work in our league, or if the person working the scoreboard screwed up by not stopping it after the made basket. The camera is stopped almost immediately, which is unfortunate, because we can't see if the Andale coaches are mad (scoreboard error) or not (no scoreboard error). I assume I would remember a big argument, so maybe that's just how our crappy little league did things.

"Hi, future self!"

Speaking of coaches, our coach was not very pleased with our play. In the locker room, he told us that he wasn't happy with the close game. I think he wanted to crush them, because when we beat them earlier in the year, people (?) claimed it was because they were missing their point guard due to an injury. He did say that he'd get over it soon, and sure enough, by the time we saw him at school that week he was genial.

Instead of recording traditional basketball stats, I marked them the same way we used to back then, with the same turnover categories.

Andale committed 13 fouls to our 11, but shot 9 free throws to our 1. No players fouled out, despite early foul trouble for Andale. Andale only hit 3 of 9 free throws; Keith missed our only free throw attempt.

The stats might be off, but I only credited Andale with 9 steals. That means many of our 19 turnover passes went out of bounds.

I had 10 of our team's 25 turnovers. Justin was the next highest, with 7, but he had 9 assists.

Andale dominated the offensive glass, 13 to 5. All of #53's 5 rebounds were on offense. Total rebounds were close - St Mark had 23 and Andale had 20. Jarod led all players with 8 rebounds.

We were able to stay in the game despite turnovers because of our high shot percentage. We were 20 for 35 (57%) through four quarters, and were 3-5 (including Ryan's blocked attempt) in overtime.

Justin was 1 for 2 on threes. Andale shot 42%, including 0-3 for three, but did get 13 of those misses back on offensive rebounds.

St Mark had 17 assists on 24 field goals. Andale had 13 assists on 22 shots.

*  *  *

So that was the end of my run as a starting basketball player. I went to a different high school than all of my teammates, and I did make the freshman team there. I got a bit of playing time here and there, mostly as a punishment for whatever player (Phil) screwed up, because I wasn't very good. I improved most, I think, in the couple years after that, when I regularly played pickup games with other high school kids on Sundays. I hadn't been exposed to many 5 on 5 games prior to that, simply because all of my grade school classmates lived in rural areas, and it was hard to get everybody together for a game. Then in college, playing constantly at the rec center really improved my basketball knowledge and skills. My intramural league team won its division, and lost the tournament final. I wasn't a big part of that, but I was on the team as a 6th or 7th man, depending on how many of our studs showed up for the game. We won a T-shirt. Which was more than we won for this 8th grade game -- we only got one trophy for the school, not individual ones for each of us.

Monday, July 08, 2013

8th Grade Basketball Championship - 4th Quarter

Start of the 4th quarter. Andale ball. #53 is back in the game with 4 fouls. Matt is in for Ryan.

Andale #42 finds #51 under the basket for an open layup. I'm pretty sure it's my fault. We might be in 1-3-1, so he'd be my responsibility.

Jarod drives baseline, dishes to me while eveyone yells for traveling, I get a shot blocked but it doesn't matter, because Keith or I was called for a 3 second violation. I'm guessing Keith, because my 3 seconds should have reset when I got Jarod's pass. No shot attempt recorded.

Andale #51 misses the same shot he made last time. Keith was there this time to adjust his shot, and Keith gets the rebound.

Jarod shoots from the right wing before the offense or defense is settled. Sweet J.

Andale #4 passes to #51, posting me up on the left block. Turnaround/baby hook is good. Looks like we're in a 2-1-2, not a 1-3-1.

Matt's pass is stolen by Andale #51, then I get it right back when he tries to pass upcourt. I wisely decide not to drive, and wait to reset the offense.

Hey, fuck that noise, I'm going to take this pass and drive past my man, then take an awkward runner that airballs over the hoop. Rebound Andale #54.

These bad shots are contagious. Everyone wants to take over the game, I guess. Andale #53 misses a deep baseline jumper. Offensive rebound by #42, who is fouled on the putback. We're going to have free throws! I think the foul is called on Matt. Ryan subs in for him - he's been waiting to sub in for a few plays.

First free throw missed. You can see me bending over, uncomfortable. I recall having some phlegm or something. All the bench players drank all our water, so we had nothing to drink. I was parched.

Second free throw made.

Extreme close up on me. Lord knows how, but I now have possession of the ball.

Keith hot streak ends, as he only hits backboard on his jumper from the lane. Rebound Andale #42.

Andale #51 misses one shot in the lane, then gets the rebound and makes his second attempt. They are find a spot in our zone, and that spot seems to be me. I can't tell you how fun it is to watch myself get dismantled like this.

We are actually patient on offense, and I make an open shot on the right wing. Assist Justin. Both point guards have 6 assists.

Andale #53 misses from the right elbow. Keith rebounds.

Keith makes a bad pass while driving, Ryan can't catch it. Out of bounds to Andale.

My aunt decides to focus on me and narrate, not realizing this would be embarrasing when seen on YouTube in 20 years.

Andale #42 throws a bad lob that is luckily retrieved by #54, who sinks a mid-range jumper from the left wing.

We are again patient, and I get fouled when grabbing a pass by Andale #42. Timeout St Mark. Andale has cut the lead to 37-33.

I miss an open baseline jumper, rebound Andale #42.

Andale pushes it upcourt, and #54 is fouled by Ryan on a shot attempt. #53 is very pumped. Emotions are high. Ryan has 4 fouls.

This guy is left handed! And he misses his first attempt.

Second free throw made.

Again, I decide I'm the best, and take it toward the lane where I promptly turn it over when trying to pass to Keith. #53 takes it coast to coast and sinks a short jumper.

AGAIN, I lose the ball driving toward the lane. Andale is playing zone, and I am dribbling straight into 3 dudes. I am the worst. #42 comes up with the ball, so I score a steal for him, although #51 may have poked it away.

Jarod is called for a block as #51 tries a layup.

First free throw is good. Tie game. They are pumped.

Second free throw missed, rebound Ryan.

I actually pass! The ball is worked into Keith for 2. Assist Justin.

Andale #4, bringing the ball up, decides to drive down the middle, takes a contested shot at the free throw line over Ryan, and sinks it. It's his first points of the day.

I give it to Keith again, he scores again. The kid knows how to post up. He's 7 of 8.

We're in man defense. Andale #4 throws a deep lob to #51, who pump fakes to get Jarod up, then makes a layup over him. Tie again. About one minute left.

Justin fakes to me, and I slip behind the zone defender who came out to intercept the pass. Then Justin hits me on the right wing, and I somehow have the indecency to take another shot. It may seem like I was some kind of me-first, Sam Marbury type player who only cared about his own stats. This may look like a play from a kid with big brass balls that wanted the game on his shoulers. This is not accurate. I was always timid, in basketball and in all other aspects, until I was 27 or so years old. Still, for some reason I shoot with confidence here, and I am open. Swish. We go up by 2 points.

Andale #42 is kind of isolated against Justin at the free throw line, drives right, and airballs the layup long. Rebound to Jarod, who dribbles a bit and is fouled by Andale #51, his fourth foul. Both #51 and #53 have four fouls. They account for 30 of Andale's 41 points.

Press! But we inbound ok.

After some back-and-forth passing, Keith is fouled by Andale #42. The crowd seems very pro-Andale and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because they're the underdog, maybe more of their fans/parents showed up, or maybe it's just where the camera is situated.

Timeout Andale. 23 seconds left, free throws coming for Keith. Their coach looks kinda like Danny McBride.

I mean, some girls are doing the R E B O U N D cheer for Andale! Where's our cheer section?

Keith misses the 1-and-1, but there's a whistle. Andale #4 came in the lane early. Redo.

Keith misses again, rebound Andale #51, just as the girls predicted/wished. Timeout Andale, 18 seconds left.

Andale is inbounding from the backcourt sideline. We have Jarod guarding the inbound passer, and Justin is there to defend the two guards. Out of frame, Ryan is also up to provide pressure. I can't see the inbound passer, but he must fake a pass back toward their own basket, because both Justin and Ryan start in that direction. #4 gets the inbound pass heading the right direction, with 3 St Mark defenders behind him. Keith and I are left to defend the 3-on-2 break. Every indoor recess, we practiced 3-on-2, and Keith and I were great as the two defenders. He's play back, I'd play up, and we'd often prevent a score despite the disadvantage. Here, though, Keith is caught playing the ball, and I'm caught toward the left sideline, struggling to run back under the basket. #4 drives and dishes to #53, who puts in the layup. Tie game.

Jarod is triple teamed, and misses a buzzer-beater short from the left wing. Overtime!

8th Grade Basketball Championship - 3rd Quarter

Our ball to start the second half! I take a dribble on the right wing and put up a not wet jumper. Rebound Andale #4. A foul is called on Ryan, who fell down trying to get that board. I don't know. It really seems like these refs would prefer only two people try to rebound - one from the offense, one from the defense, each on a different side of the lane, just wait for the ball to roll toward you please. That's 3 fouls on Ryan.

I think we're still trying a 1-3-1. I remember practicing this defense once, but I thought it was so that we'd know what to do when someone sprung it on us, not so we could use it. Andale #4 takes a shot from the free throw line and misses; I get the rebound.

After they knock the ball out on the sideline, I inbound to Keith, who dishes to Jarod in the corner. Jarod casually dribbles between his legs to get past his man, shoots at the block, swish.

Andale #53 can't handle a pass, and the ball is dribbled off his foot and out of bounds. I'm scoring it as a misc. turnover for #53.

Justin's lob pass over the half-court trap is grabbed by Andale #53. He dribbles right all the way in for a 2. Very sportsmanlike of Keith not to use a flagrant foul there.

Foul called on Andale #51 as Justin crosses midcourt

Travel on Justin after the inbound. He started to pass, decided not to, and dragged his foot.

Andale #4 gets it to #51 inside the free throw line, his turnaround J is bounces in.

We swing it around to me, and I'm allowed to drive baseline. Reverse layup is good. If you're hoping to see any more instances of me behaving like a competent sportsman, I have bad news for you.

They dump it off to #51, who can't make a contested shot under the hoop. Rebound by Jarod.

The first three-point attempt of the night, and possibly all season, is good. Justin drains it. Assist by Jarod. We have a 9-point lead, and are shooting 65%

Why are they passing to their huge center in the left corner? He's bracketed by me and Jarod, and is called for the charge as he tries to get past Jarod going baseline. That's 4 fouls on #53, who has 14 points. I clap enthusiastically like a really cool guy would. He is benched. My brother is working the camera now, providing sarcastic comments and the occasional look at the scoreboard, which shows that we are the home team. The quality of this VHS is not great, but it seems there is no apostrophe on our "SAINT MARKS" banner, which outrages me. It's St Mark. It's casually called St Mark's, because nothing is in the town except for the church and the school. "I'm heading to St Mark's," is correct usage, if and only if you are heading to the school or church. If you are just going to the (unincorporated) city limits, you should say, "I'm going to St Mark."

Justin's heat check from 3 is no good. Rebound Andale #4, who drives but pulls it out to run offense.

Andale #51 hits a short baseline jumper over Jarod. Assist by #44, who does not look comfortable with the rock. We've almost played 3 quarters with zero free throws. Strange.

Jarod is triple teamed, and overthrows Ryan on the other side of the court. Someone, I assume St Mark, calls timeout.

Ball knocked out of bounds by Keith, Andale inbounds from the baseline.

The ball hits #44's foot after a bad pass from a teammate, so the ref calls kicking. Kicking is supposed to be called on intentional kicks by the defense, not accidental foot contact by the offense. I guess that's a passing turnover on #4? He's now tied with me for the lead in turnovers (6), a hollow triumph considering this last turnover was bunk. St Mark ball.

Keith tries to get it to Jarod under the basket, but it's tipped by Andale, then by Jarod before going out. Andale ball.

Andale #4 picks up his dribble at the top of the key, so Justin and Jarod back off him. He does this weird move and sticks the ball out in front of him, as if to say, "Look how far I can stick this ball out in my hands. No one is around me."

Andale #42's jumper from the right baseline bounces in, his first bucket of the night (he had been 0-5). Assist #4.

I squeeze a pass in to Jarod under the basket. He misses, gets his own rebound, and is shockingly not called for a foul, because there are three defenders in front and around him. Instead, Andale #51 is called for a foul.

Jarod is inbounding it? Where am I going to get my assists? He lobs it to Justin, who immediately sends it to Keith posting in the lane. Turnaround is good. "Good play, excellent," says my aunt in the background. Not sure if the "excellent" is a Wayne's World reference, but this is February 12, 1993, so I'm gonna lean toward yes.

Andale #4 misses a jumper from the right baseline. I should have just made a macro for the word baseline -- maybe I still should. There's still a quarter left. Rebound #42. #4 tries the same shot again, no dice. He's 0-5. Rebound Keith. That's the first rebound I have scored for our 6'2" center. Over-the-back called on Andale #51, which might be the first correct rebounding foul call. Three fouls on #51.

Andale hasn't tried the half court trap much this half. Maybe no one on their bench was counting how many turnovers I was giving them. Anyway, we're back to our standard offense, which runs smoothly here. Point to wing to baseline, back to point, in to center for a short turnaround 2. Andale is really missing their post presence, and you can see how teams in our league without the benefit of tall athletes suffered. Keith has not missed a shot - he's a Christian Laettner-like 5-5. That is the most precise reference, since the Duke/Kentucky game was about 10 months prior to this game.

Kicking is correctly called when I kick a pass. Or so it seems - they call kicking on Andale #51, whose foot was next to mine. I can't tell. Neither of us seem to argue it, but you can hear my dad saying I kicked it. Turnover marked for Andale #54, who threw the pass.

Justin throws it behind me on the wing as we're setting up our offense. Out of bounds to Andale. I'm scoring it as a turnover by Justin; I don't know why we were mixed up there.

Andale #42 misses a three, but it's thrilling to see another one attempted. Rebound me.

Jarod tries to start a break, and his pass in the lane is deflected out of bounds. He gets to pass it in again.

Inbound to me, right back to Jarod, whose turnaround at the block bounces out. The rebound is tipped by many and Jarod recovers it. His baseline jumper at the buzzer is no good. St Mark leads 33-24 going into the final quarter.

8th Grade Basketball Championship - 2nd Quarter

Andale #51 misses a turnaround in the lane. Another offensive rebound to #53, who sticks it in.

Andale #42 tips a Justin pass out of bounds. Our ball on the baseline.

I inbound to Justin at the elbow, who sinks an unguarded J.

We're in man-to-man! This might have been the first time we ever got out of our zone defense the entire season. They set a pick on Ryan for #4, who misses a baseline jumper long. #53 gets yet another offensive rebound thanks to the long miss. #51 hits the side of the backboard on his shot attempt, but Andale gets another offensive rebound. #4 takes the rebound and goes back up, but misses. Rebound to #51, another put-back miss. He is 1-for-6 now. Rebound Jerod.

Jarod misses a layup but gets his own rebound.

Jarod causally dribbles between his legs, even though it's basically the equivalent of dunking to his peers in this game.

Jarod throws it over my head. Turnover. We have 9 turnovers to Andale's 4. We have 7 shot attempts to Andale's 19.

Andale #4 can't lob it over Keith, who snatches it from the air.

They call a carry on Jarod as he is driving toward the rack. It's probably to teach him a lesson for his fancy dribbling skills. Well, he actually calls traveling, even though it's a carry, and it's also closer to a double dribble than traveling. I'm marking it as traveling.

A very quick whistle for a jump ball, which goes to us. I'm scoring it as a miscellaneous turnover for Andale #42.

Jarod misses a reverse baseline layup. The rebound is knocked around before it's handled by Justin, who dishes to Keith for a turnaround J in the post. This ends what feels like a very long scoring drought.

Keith swats a shot by Andale #51

Keith creates a fast break from his own block, but is about to lose his dribble, which is unfortunate because he had a clear path to the basket. He passes to Ryan, who is bumped. Foul on #54, his third. #44 comes in for him. Andale timeout.

I throw it directly to Andale #53 on the inbound. It looks pathetic.

#42 misses a baseline jumper coming off a pick. Rebound goes long again, to #53 again, but he's whistled for a foul. The ref says it's a push (against Keith I assume), but it seems to me the ref had a bad angle. Sucks for them, because that's the third foul on #53, who has 10 points and 5 rebounds (all offensive) with 3:15 left in the 2nd quarter. He stays in the game.

Our new offense works great, but those crisp passes go for naught when Jarod misses a short baseline shot. He's 2 for 7 so far. Rebound out of bounds, Andale ball.

Justin denies #4 the ball on the inbound, the first time St Mark has shown any kind of full court pressure. Whoever is working the videocamera uses zoom for the first time. Andale #44 misses a shot from the elbow, rebound to Justin.

Justin is doubleteamed under the opponent's basket after his rebound, and throws it to Andale #51, who puts in an easy layup. Justin now has 4 bad passes, but he will have to keep working to surpass my 5.

We execute the same play as the last possession, and this time Jarod scores from the same spot on the floor. Assist by Ryan.

Andale #51 loses the ball on a drive, but the resulting jump ball stays with Andale. No turnover recorded.

Andale #51 throws it over #4's head and out of bounds. It looks like he was trying to go in the paint with his inbound pass, changed his mind at the last second and made an off-target heave to the wing instead.

Again, we carve up the half-court trap. Keith with the assist to Jarod, whose shot is good from the right block. This is the first time we've been tied since 0-0.

After more full court pressure, Andale #53 gets free on the right side and drives to the hoop. Ryan is called for a block, his second foul. Maybe this time there will actually be free throws?

Nope! These refs don't like fighting for rebounds, fancy dribblin', or the act of shooting. Andale #42 misses off the inbound from the left block, Justin gets the rebound. Our point guard is now our leading rebounder, with 3 defensive and 1 offensive board. #42 is 0-5 from the field.

I look so awkward dribbling. I mean, I am only helping bring the ball up because of this half-court trap. Normally I ran the baseline, tossed it into Keith, and watched him score. Now I'm in the backcourt and I'm terrified. Andale should have been forcing me to my left - it looks like I'm not even aware I have a left hand. But that could be said for most every right-handed kid on the court

Jarod gets a pass too far under the basket, and kicks it out to me for a shot from the left wing. My J is so wet. First lead of the game for St Mark.

Ryan was subbed in because he improved a lot during that season, and he is looking tenacious so far. He gets picked, switches men with Justin, and swats a pass from #4. He gains possession, outruns #42 to the rack and makes a contested layup. He continues the streak of players using their right hands on the left side. St Mark is on an 8-0 run.

Andale #4 dribbles too far down, and gets trapped by Ryan and Keith in the corner. Keith gets a hand on the ball as #4 tries to pass, and as Jarod starts to control it, Keith comes up with it and drives down the left sideline. (I award the steal to Keith.)

Keith rises to shoot the layup with each hand on the ball, and then he kinda shuffles it slightly and banks it in with his right hand. Reminds me of a volleyball player who set up his own spike.

Timeout Andale. St. Mark is on a 10-0 run and now leads 20-14.

It looks like we came out in a 1-3-1 zone. I am more shocked at this than Andale was, as they calmly work the ball in to #53, who makes a jumper a few feet inside the free throw line. Assist #4.

Justin completes a long, arcing pass to Jarod in the left corner. Andale #44 just misses getting a hand on it, Jarod gets by him, challenges #53 in the lane with a hanging shot, and gets the bucket. Assist Justin.

Confusing sequence. Andale #42 loses it, Ryan comes up with it, passes to Justin, and the whistle comes in to call a travel. I assume they're calling it on Ryan? I'm marking a turnover for #42, steal for Ryan, and travel for Ryan. I just don't see how it could be a travel on Justin, so I have to assume it was a travel on Ryan while the camera's view of him was obstructed by the Mennonite lady.

Andale #53 misses a buzzer-beating half-court heave off the inbound. End of half. St Mark up 22-16. There was a three-point shooting contest at halftime. Kent participated from our school; I think he beat me out for it. It's just as well, because I usually sucked at 3's, plus I had to strategize with the coach and whatnot. I think a Menonnite girl won the women's competition. Those ladies were also great at softball.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

8th Grade Basketball Championship - 1st Quarter

On February 12, 1993, my basketball team, Saint Mark Elementary, played Andale for the tournament championship. The teams consisted of 7th and 8th grade boys; in our case, only 8th graders played, because we were better than the younger kids.

We were really good. Our coach was very good, and had been coaching boys and girls of that grade level for years. Good tall kids are a rare commodity, and we had one: our center Keith, who was 6'2". I was a good, maybe the second-best player in our 7th grade class. Then, a year later, Jarod's family built a home across the street from Saint Mark church, on the site of the old general store, moving to town from southeast Kansas. Jarod's older brothers played for a division II school, and later Jarod would, too. He was immediately our best player.

We were dominant and undefeated during league play. I don't remember any of our games being very close. We were a small, rural school, and when we played against even smaller schools. We played against Mennonite kids who probably didn't have enough free time to develop their game. We played against schools that used wooden backboards in their gymnasiums. They were outmatched. Still, we were legitimately good. We played against slightly larger rural schools, too, and beat them. In one case, with our starters held out for half the game, we held a peer school to four points. We played a scrimmage against a few elementary schools in Wichita and won those, too.

Unfortunately, I don't have any proof. I have paper copies of the statistics from the games played during our 7th grade year, but not 8th. I think I transferred those stats to an Excel sheet on my family's 386 Gateway desktop and lost the file to history. Why did I have any statistics? Because one bench player would be responsible for tracking shots, one tracked assists, and so on, and our coach would sum everything up and hand out the resulting "box scores" at the next practice. The only hard evidence that I know exists from our 8th grade year is a plaque the school made to honor our undefeated year, and the VHS tape my aunts recorded at the 1993 tournament championship.

This pains me for three reasons. First, my love of personal history. Second, my love of statistical analysis. Third, my ego. The 1993 tournament championship is the only game I have a record of, and it was without question the worst game of my life.

Our offense was structured with a point guard, a center, two wing players, and one player who stayed along the baseline. I played baseline from the beginning of 7th grade through almost all of 8th grade. I was switched to wing late in the year, or possibly specifically for this game, because of the half-court trap Andale employed. In our newly installed offense to combat the half-court trap, I was to work with our point guard Justin to bring the ball upcourt. If everything went to plan, neither or us would be doubleteamed by defenders, and I could easily pass over the defenders to an open teammate. And everything did go to plan, except for my nerves. I threw the ball away early and often. Let me show you:

Keith is listed at 6'2". I'd like to tell you how big his matchup of Andale #53 is, but my family paused the recording during Andale's introductions. Gotta save precious VHS cassette space.

Keith pumps his fist when they pronounce my name correctly, which must mean they had been doing it wrong the previous two tournament games. I'm listed at 5'8".

Keith wins the tip, I pass to Justin

Justin telegraphs a pass to Jared, which is stolen by Andale #4

Ball knocked out of bounds by Matt

Justin called for foul on jump shot against Andale #42. Questionable call.

No free throws awarded, confusing everyone. There was clearly no contact prior to the shot. Weird ref. Andale takes ball out of bounds.

Jarod called for push on the inbound stack against Andale #53. Speaking of weird refs, check out that guy.

Andale #4 passes to Andale #53, power dribbles left, scores on short turnaround

First appearance of a Mennonite girl walking by the camera. On the drive home we saw a family  riding back to their home in the cab of a tractor, which the community allowed.

I miss an easy bank shot in the lane after some nice passing. You can tell our coach scouted Andale's half court trap defense well.

Andale #51 makes an uncontested jumper at the elbow. Assist #42.

I normally wouldn't handle the ball out at half court - this is the new play we put in because we knew they would try the half-court trap. Matt is open, but I throw it over his head.

3 seconds in the lane called on Andale. I assume he's calling it on #53. Our coach calls a timeout, probably because he can tell I am going to ruin this game for us.

I once again throw a bad pass against the trap. Andale #42 comes up with it and dribbles to the right block.

But he shoots an air ball! We're still in this thing! Rebound Matt.

Justin is trapped. You can hear our coach yell, "Dribble!", but we are not really accustomed to a lot of dribbling. I mean, you can tell neither team is. We don't shoot from long range, and we don't dribble around. We pass. Justin passes to Andale #53, who takes it coast-to-coast for a layup and the foul. A twisting, using the right hand on the left side of the glass layup. Foul on Justin.

Andale #53 misses his free throw moments after my aunt is scolded for being in the camera's frame. Rebound Matt.

I dribble into trouble, Andale #4 steals what I think is a pass, and immediately travels. 8th grade basketball, feel the excitement!

You can tell my family is recording this, because the camera shows me about to throw it in from the baseline, and none of my teammates are in frame. So how did Keith become wide open under the basket for his quick 2? It's lost to history.

Baseline jumper missed by Andale #42. Keith can't handle the rebound, ball to Andale #53. He misses a turnaround, rebound to me.

I dribble up the right sideline, passing an opposing guard, but #53 is still running with me. I take it to the rim and (I think) attempt to pass it to Keith instead of get a layup blocked. It's tipped by #53, and we get the ball back on the baseline.

No one guards our future Division II stud, so I pass to him for a wide open jumper. Swish. If this game was nothing but inbounds plays, my stat line would be off the charts.

Poor job by our 2-1-2 zone. Fun fact: that zone worked best on our home court, because our home court was not full-sized. You know how the 3-point line curves around the top of the key and down the sidelines? On our home court, the sidelines made the court much skinnier, so the only 3-pointers you could shoot were above the free throw line. Keith fronts Andale #53, so #42 lobs it to him. Matt is late to help, easy layup for #53.

Our new offense kind of works. Keith is fouled by Andale #53 when receiving a pass.

Andale #42 almost steals a pass from Justin, then Andale #4 really steals one when he can't get a bounce pass past him.

Andale #4 attempts the first three-pointer of the game! Haha just kidding, it's a pump fake. We are very white kids.

Andale #51 either shoots it behind the backboard or has it blocked. (I am scoring it as a block for Keith, because I can't imagine the shot taking that trajectory without a block.) The deflection goes to #42, who saves it from going out of bounds and hits #54 at the free throw line, who misses a jumper. Rebound to #53, whose shot is thown by Keith. Eventually the ref calls a kick on Justin and it's Andale's ball on the baseline; I am pretty sure the ball only touched the shins of an Andale player, so nothing should have been called.

Ryan subs in for Matt, the first substitution of the game for St Mark. I recall Ryan got a lot more playing time as the year went on.

Andale #51 inbounds, then receives a pass and attempts a baseline turnaround. It misses long. Ryan blocks out #54, who is called for a foul on the rebound.

It is clear that Jarod is our only player who can dribble in a composed and competent fashion.

Jarod misses a layup. Rebound to Andale #51.

Andale #42 misses a baseline jumper. Ryan is called for a foul as #53 grabs the rebound. I am pretty sure these refs automatically call a foul if someone is behind the rebounder, regardless if they actually go "over the back" to foul.

Andale #51 airballs a baseline jumper. At this point, my advice to all non-giant 8th grade children is to practice the baseline shot, because it's about all either team has attempted. Rebound to Justin.

Justin doesn't force a fast break. We swing the ball around to Jarod who nails a -- you guessed it -- baseline jumper. Assist Justin.

That white padding that is hanging over the cinder block behind the basket looks very thin and sad. This game is being played in Partridge, a town I know nothing about. In fact, there were several schools we played this year that we had never played in the past, either in basketball or in our summer baseball league. There may have been some kind of realignment.

I steal a pass from #4. It's our first steal of the game. Andale already has 5.

Jarod is fouled while driving baseline by Andale #54.

I try to inbound it to myself off of an opponent's back, but my feet are touching the line when I collect the ball. My fourth turnover in the first quarter.

Andale #53 can't use his left hand, I guess, but he's using the right just fine. Another twisting right-handed layup on the left side of the basket. He made some contact with Ryan but no charge was called. Assist by #4.

Welp, this is the one of the plays I remember clearly. I throw a baseball pass over Ryan, who was not far enough away to warrant a launch like that.

Andale #52 can't handle a pass from #4. I'm scoring it as a #4 turnover.

Keith is fouled by Andale #53 on a long pass by Justin. 2nd foul on their big man and the game's leading scorer. He's left on the court. We play four six-minute quarters, and it was rare for players to foul out. Justin has been on the court with 2 fouls for a long time now, as has Andale #54.

Jarod shoots and misses a rushed baseline jumper as the buzzer sounds. End of the first quarter. Andale leads 10 to 6. Andale #53 has 8 of their 10 points. Jarod has 4 of our 6.