For Love Of The Game
Tonight, our beleaguered Wildcats hoops team faces #13 Ohio State (17-6,7-4) in Columbus (6pm ct, BTN). Most of the water cooler talk among Wildcat fans has been focused on the level of cursed program we are this week. We’ve beat this topic pretty soundly, yet it won’t do much to relieve the pain of watching a ‘Cats team featuring seven scholarship players and a pair of walk-ons with two of them still dealing with nagging injuries (Marcotullio back, Cerina ankle). Depending upon your point of view on Valentine’s Day it underscores a)the life is unfair motif b)you’re glad you have a significant other in your life to hug or c)I already despise this day and the misanthrope’s united club can now add said basketball deity to the mix.
I’ve been a one man advertisement for Rodger Sherman and Sippin’ On Purple this week, but I believe he may very well have produced his very best work ever in back to back days. Earlier this year, I took the long view lens on the historical bad luck/curses/inexplicable amount of pain as I called for an excavation of the ground below Welsh-Ryan to see if indeed it was built on some unknown ancient burial ground (actually, I didn’t, but I’m now thinking of doing so). Yet, it was humorless. Meanwhile, Rodger manages to rattle off the string of almost unbelievable circumstances inflicting pain on NU basketball and captures it through comedy (or is it Carmody?) with superimposed images of Simpsons’ scenes. Bravo, Rodger.
Screw hate. I’m going to flip to Mr. Glass-Half-Full guy and focus on some love. No, I’m not going to predict what would be one of the biggest upsets in NU basketball history. I’m going to embrace the spirit of the day and overlook the fact it’s a contrived Hallmark/Choclatiers of America concoction through some DC lobbyist wonks. Nope, no cynic here. Just a good old-fashioned bear hugger of all things Northwestern. So, let’s roll-out the Top Ten Things I Love About Northwestern Athletics as of this moment.
#10 Kelly Amonte Hiller & Women’s Lacrosse – Newsflash – I’m not a lacrosse expert, by any means. However, whenever in need of an NU sports pick-me-up, just look lakeside. The ‘Cats crusade for their 8th NCAA national championship in nine years is underway. For those of you far better versed (get it?) than I am in the sport, tomorrow we have a guest post from LaxPower.com on the 2013 Wildcats.
#9 – Administration’s Out Of The Box Moves – Regardless of your view of playing games at Wrigley (and by the poll on this blog, I’d say it’s a mixed bag), you have to respect Jim Phillips’ bold approach to at least trying to do things differently. Creating the marketing partnership, boxing out potential competitors, leveraging non-revenue sports to play there and the like are unique. Bold. Innovative. Add on the collaboration (err…love?) necessary to galvanize NU to greenlight the Ryan Fieldhouse lakeside project along with a host of other deals (ex – Under Armour, ticket pricing experimentation, Chicago’s Big Ten Team marketing campaign) and I for one stand and applaud the approach.
#8 – The Prospects for 2013 Football – What’s not to love? Sure, the cynic will play up the fact we historically haven’t been successful in years of high expectations. The cynic is on vacay. With such a bevy of returning talent on both sides of the ball AND still being relatively young, this season shapes up to be the most anticipated since, well, likely 2011, but perhaps since 2001. We all know the offensive line has some big shoes to fill, but other than that, man do we seem to be set to build off the 10-win season. With the likes of Syracuse, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State coming to Ryan Field and road games at Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, the week to week drama and build are going to be unreal.
#7 – Fitz – Can’t say much more here that hasn’t been said about the fortune we have to have him. Michigan and Wisconsin came knocking and he didn’t really even flinch.
#6 – Venric Mark – I feel as if Venric’s on-field performance embodies the program. He’s got the speed we’ve rarely enjoyed which shows the uptick in talent. Everyone (including me) speculated he was too small to make it between the tackles in B1G play. He’s versatile at multiple positions (RB,PR) and seems like the human underdog, yet he’s a winner. It will be fascinating to see what he does for an encore with teams now dedicating their gameplans to stopping him.
#5 – Reggie & Sobo – The heart and soul of NU basketball. I admire these guys as one was a walk-on who Rudy-ed his way in to our hearts and has become a huge contributor to the program (un-Rudy like). The other, Sobo, brings it every night against the top talent in the country and more than holds his own while leading like a veteran. They’ve got the heart (see a theme, here?) and motor that just never stops.
#4 Morty’s Support – We touched on this a bit with the administration support, but our fearless president gets it when it comes to students, athletics and the ideal experience. He’s a hard core fan at heart and knows his stuff, yet you know he won’t lose sight of the bigger picture that has led some other major programs to stray down dangerous paths.
#3 Fantasizing About What’s Next For Facilities – I’ve got a top ten improvements to the current Ryan Field list all ready to go, but today is about love. I’m hoping one of you will step up and say “got it” to funding the balance of the lakeside practice facility so we can really start talking about action on Ryan Field and Welsh-Ryan Arena. I’m really curious to learn the plan and timeline here, because there are some “musts” at Ryan Field that need to be addressed immediately.
#2 Increased Expectations – Gone are the days of settling for relative success. Fitz and the 2012 team have raised the stakes for fans to finally be expecting title contention. Before you blow up the comments section about Bill Carmody, remember, today it’s about the love of NU. We’re back to the point where an 8-win season is a disappointment and we’ve removed one of the last stigmas of NU football’s Dark Ages hangover.
#1 You – Yes, you. Thanks for continuing to contribute by commenting, emailing or simply just reading your daily drip of all things purple.