Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Missouri Valley, Mid-Continent, Conference USA, and Big Ten Conference Previews: The PunCity Trip

Thanks for the overwhelming response on the last couple posts. This blog is about to embark on a road trip to 4 conference tournaments in the next 2 weeks, so that's probably the highlight of this blog's year. Here's a preview from a basketball standpoint of the 4 leagues.

March 2-5: Missouri Valley Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. The MVC enters its conference tournament with 6 teams having a legitimate shot at going to the NCAA tournament. Most likely all 6 will not make it, but 4 bids are very likely, and 5 is not unlikely either. Wichita State, the regular season conference champion, is in the NCAAs as far as this blog is concerned. Because of this virtual "lock" status, WSU might be primed to be upset in their first game. That might not be the worst scenario in the conference's perspective, as Southern Illinois, Northern Iowa, Creighton, Missouri State, and Bradley would all make fine representatives for the MVC, (as would Wichita State), and taking out WSU would open up the automatic bid for another team without diminishing Wichita's tourney chances (though it would lower their seed).

PunCity's rooting for: Southern Illinois / Bradley
PunCity Picks: Northern Iowa. The #6 Seed faces a tough Missouri State team in the first round. Whoever wins that game will most likely go on to win the MVC Title. This blog guesses UNI, with a dark horse candidate of Bradley.

March 5-7: Mid-Continent Conference, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Mid-Con is certain to be a one-bid league. The top seed entering the conference tourney is IUPUI, though Oral Roberts will be tough to beat in Tulsa, as it is their home city and the crowd will be behind them. Oakland University enters as the 7th seed this year, same as last year when they stormed through the field and won the league's automatic bid. Do not expect a repeat performance. The reasoning behind this ascension was that leading scorer (and future NBA player) Rawle Marshall had not played in a large portion of the conference season, lowering their seed. Upon Marshall's return, OU was a different team, and the Golden Grizzlies were able to pick up the wins they could have had if Marshall were around the rest of the year.

PunCity's rooting for: Valparaiso / Southern Utah (awesome logo)
PunCity Picks: Oral Roberts. "Home Court" advantage will help, after losing last year to Oakland, there's no doubt the Golden Eagles will be hungry.

March 8-11: Conference USA, Memphis, Tennessee. Juggernaut Memphis could possibly be joined by 2 other teams, but most likely only 2 bids will come out of Conference USA. UAB brings their "40 minutes of hell" style to the tournament, with the short preparation time each team has, this will bode well for the Blazers. The only problem is that because this is their conference, every team they face will have seen them before, so the preparation is not as challenging as any potential NCAA matchup would be. UTEP also has a shot here, although losing their leading scorer for the remainder of the year is not a good omen. UCF, which draws support from one of the best fight songs in the country, is looking to shock the world and parlay their back-to-back Atlantic Sun conference championships into a Conference USA championship.

PunCity's Rooting For: UCF / UAB
PunCity Picks: Memphis. Even though they don't have much to play for, having a 1 or 2 seed locked up, and might be better served to rest, there are no likely challengers here. As a result, this blog is going with its heart and picking UCF as a dark horse. The Golden Knights got smoked against good teams, but that was earlier in the year, and they played Western Kentucky, Kentucky, and UAB very close in losses this year. Coach Kirk Speraw has found a way to navigate the Golden Knights through 2 conference tournaments and played Connecticut extremely close in their NCAA tourney game last year.

March 12: Big Ten, Indianapolis, Indiana. Ohio State will most likely enter as the conference champion, though Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin still have an outside chance at the #1 seed. The Buckeyes have found success one year earlier than expected, as highly touted recruit Greg Oden arrives on campus next season. In the interim, Terrence Dials has combined with a very potent outside shooting backcourt to give Big Ten teams fits. That said, this league is its usual competitive self, and based on the first place team carrying at least 4 losses into tournament play, this is really anyone's tournament to win.

PunCity's Rooting For: Wisconsin (of course) / Indiana (very secondarily)
PunCity Picks: Ohio State. The Buckeyes really present big problems for their opponents, and this site can't see another Big Ten team winning 3 or 4 games in a row. Dark horses would be Penn State and Michigan State, even though calling MSU a dark horse sounds weird in any context. PSU would need to get a draw where they don't play the taller teams in the league, like OSU and Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions have been surprisingly competitive with the rest of the league.

As one might expect, PunCity's going to be on hiatus for the next week, this blog imagines it might make a half-assed attempt at finding a public library next Tuesday or something, but it's not going to sweat it. Should return by March 14th though, have a good fortnight.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lindsey Jacobellis: American Hero

This blog decided it'd write an editorial comment tonight. Let the complaints and dissents begin now.

The subject of this editorial is Lindsey Jacobellis. At this point, she is fairly well-known as the girl that showboated and cost herself a gold medal in Snowboarding - Cross. It would be very easy to take this opportunity to pile on, as is the common reaction. But this blog will say it: PunCity would have done the same thing. To err is human, and that's pretty much what Jacobellis did. What was extraordinary about Jacobellis was that she handled an obviously trying situation with class and dignity. It would have been easy for Jacobellis to go into seclusion and refuse to speak to the media. Instead, she answered questions head-on, displaying surprising maturity for a 20-year-old.

"I was caught up in the moment," Jacobellis said in NBC's studio just hours after the gaffe. “I was having fun, Snowboarding is fun. I was ahead. I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the crowd. I messed up. Oh well, it happens.”

Realistically, how could you not get caught up in the moment? Jacobellis wasn't just winning, she was blowing the field out. Even after wiping out, she was able to stay reasonably close to the eventual gold medalist (Tanja Frieden) and well ahead of the bronze medalist (Dominique Maltais). Snowboarders have a tradition of showmanship, so trying a "backside method grab" (or so this blog hears) wasn't too great of a reach. This is especially true in Jacobellis's case, since she is experienced in the halfpipe, where stunts like the method are rewarded.

This blog would also argue that it's just as likely she'd have fallen if she had taken the jump normally. Even though she landed on the edge of her board, there's a reasonable chance that this unfortunate landing would have happened without the method.

Getting back to snowboarding's history of showmanship, this blog thinks that Jacobellis was faced with an interesting paradox. Because snowboarders rate style as paramount, Jacobellis could either attempt the stunt, risking a loss and media fallout; or not attempt it, all but ensuring victory but most likely losing credibility within the somewhat "anti-establishment" snowboard community for not taking the "golden opportunity" to gloat and show off a trick.

In the end, the decision is really a microcosm of snowboarding in general. While Jacobellis and snowboarding receive the most gain from taking the "establishment" route (blandly sliding to gold in Jacobellis's case, and fitting in with other winter events by accepting the Olympics' invitation); there is a segment of the population that is alienated. Interestingly enough, in both cases, the alienated group consists of long-time snowboarders, those that believe snowboarding should not be hyper-commercialized and easily digestible to the masses. This segment of snowboarders believes that above all else, snowboarding should be fun. Based on Lindsey's reaction, this blog thinks that she is of the "fun above all" mindset, and this blog isn't about to fault her for it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Nerve Taxation: Now With Representation!

Uh, if you saw the title, it means that this blog taxes your nerves. But the point is that you can now vote for which hat this blog will wear with the pictured sweatshirt! Bear in mind that there's plenty of time to vote for this. The sweatshirt, at present, is on pace to be worn Friday, March 24th. That has a standard deviation of about 5.0 days.

The options are (top row, beginning from top left):

1. New York Mets mesh hat. It's black, this blog got it at a Foot Locker about 4 months ago for $3.00. Not a huge story behind this one. Hasn't caught on with a shirt in the order yet. This blog is a fan of mesh hats, so it would be cool to wear this one. Has an added bonus of a foam-padded front, which this blog also likes.

2. Cincinnati Bearcats flex-fit hat. Red one in the back. Got it at Hat World in Columbus, OH for $5.00 1 month ago. Also has not caught on with a t-shirt as yet. This blog isn't a huge Cincinnati fan, but the price was right, and it's a quality hat as far as craftsmanship. There is an off-chance that the hat will be relevant, although this blog would be totally floored if Cincinnati made it to the Sweet 16.

3. Marquette Golden Eagles adjustable cotton hat. Navy blue. Got it on hat night at the Bradley Center for the Marquette-St. John's game February 1st. Another hat that is unmatched at present. It's kind of a neat hat since it's got the new Marquette logo, as well as the new Big East logo on it. Another hat that has some chance of relevance since MU could theoretically get to the Sweet 16. Though slightly more likely than UC, this blog would again be astonished with that turn of events.

4. New York Jets flex-fit hat. Green one. Was a Christmas gift from my uncle. Hasn't gotten into the order just yet. It's a really cool hat, it was the official sideline hat for the Jets this year. NFL Draft isn't until April 29th, so it's not likely to be very relevant. On a day when this blog had its choice, this would probably be the one it picked for the shirt, since it's high-quality and this blog doesn't have too much green in its repertoire.

5. Western Michigan Broncos adjustable cotton hat. Black with gold and white logo. Got it at Steve & Barry's maybe 6 months ago for $4.00. Has not gotten into the order as yet. Decent hat, price was right. They have virtually no chance of making the NCAA tournament, much less winning 2 games there, but they do have a pretty cool Bronco logo, and they also did beat Marquette last year in the NIT. Not a bad hat when hanging around MU fans.

(Bottom Row, starting far left)

6. San Diego Padres throwback fitted hat. Brown and yellow. Got it as a Christmas present 2 years ago from my brother. This is one of this blog's all-time favorite hats. It is matched up in the order, but this blog just loves wearing the thing. Matches with absolutely nothing, not even itself, but that's what makes it great. Best of all is that it's historic, the Padres wore this for several years in the 1980s. Another strong candidate if this blog was picking the hat on its own.

7. Imperial Cerveza adjustable cotton hat. Black and yellow. Got this as a Christmas present from a friend this year. Apparently this is the most popular beer in Costa Rica. It's not a bad hat, fairly innocuous. It's not officially paired with a shirt right now, but it has a high likelihood of catching on by 3/24 since it matches well with a pre-existing shirt, and this blog will be getting some shirts between now and then, opening up new slots for the current hat to move to.

8. Arizona Cardinals mesh hat. Maroonish-red and white with black brim. Got it for $10.00 about 8 months ago. It is matched in the order, but not especially well, so it may be knocked out of the order by 3/24. This blog likes the particular hat for a few reasons. First, it was the official draft day hat of the Cardinals 2 years ago. Second, this blog wanted to purchase it for a couple years, but waited for the price to drop, figuring no one was going to want a Cardinals hat. This blog was vindicated when it found it on sale in July, the only team available in that style.

9. Cincinnati Bengals adjustable brushed cotton hat. Black & orange hat on the far right. Got it for $10.00 on 9/18/2005 in Cincinnati. Currently matched in the order, will likely be moved when the Imperial Cerveza hat gets put into the order. It's an alright hat, this blog got it because it had 3 other teams' hats in the same style. If memory serves correctly, it was the official 1996 pre-season hat. Possibly 1997 though.

10. Pacific Tigers fitted hat. Black & orange hat in very front. Got it for $15.00 at the Pacific bookstore last March. It is matched in the order. One of this blog's favorites as well. Last year's run by Pacific was a neat season to pay attention to. Pacific also a pretty picturesque campus. From this blog's perspective, Pacific can do no wrong.

Well, there you go. Let the voting begin. Just post a comment with your favorite option. Ideally everyone signs in with their name so there's no "ballot-stuffing," but this blog is content to wear whatever, so it's no big deal either way. In the event of a tie, this blog will cast the deciding vote, among the tied entries.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

How To Eat Right

This blog often gets questions about its diet. It is a rather mysterious diet, so here's this blog's "food diary" from the last 6 days. Bear in mind that this blog doesn't eat breakfast. This site finds breakfast to be a waste of time. The key to acclimating one's self to a breakfast-free life is just getting through the first week. After you do that, you don't really miss breakfast anymore. Another key tenet of this blog's diet is this: if it tastes good, eat it. If not, don't. The following should offer a window into the best way to get the 4 basic food groups: soda, pizza, chips, and dessert. It will probably also drive some folks up the wall.

2/7: Lunch - Rocky Rococo's Sausage & Pepperoni Super Slice, Cherry Pepsi & 2 refills from Arby's.

Snack - 1 can of Vault soda and a caramel brownie

Dinner - Cheetos, milk & chocolate cookies.

2/6 - Dinner - Tostitos, milk

Snack(s) - 2 cans of Vault, 1 X-tremely hot bbq potato chip (mistake)

Lunch - Cheeseburger, Cherry Coke & 5 refills, french fries, pickle.

2/5 - Dinner - 2 ham sandwiches, potato chips, strawberry margarita, 24 oz. Cherry Pepsi.

Lunch - Dr. Pepper & Tostitos

2/4 - Lunch/Dinner - Whole sausage pizza, milk

2/3 - Snack - Movie popcorn & Sno Caps

Lunch - 2 slices of white bread, Doritos, Chips Ahoy, 1 can of Vault Cola, 1 can of Pibb Xtra cola.

2/2 - Dinner - Whole pepperoni pizza, Chips Ahoy, milk

So there you have it, now you can try this at home, you can be just like Pun City.