February 14, 2008

An Ode to Wings, Wine and Basketball

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Ah, Valentine’s Day. Look at all you guys, scurrying around looking for last second gifts or scanning the internet, hoping you can find something that will make your significant other feel special. As a matter of fact, my friend is sitting next to me right now, looking up wines to try and impress his girl — even when he knows damn well, he’s never had a Pinot Grigio.
Now don’t confuse my written jabs at this most romantic of holidays as saltiness on my part. This is coming from a man who has gone through consecutive successful Valentine’s Days.
But I have always been more of a guy who did something really special on a random day, like maybe May 2nd for example, and then something nice and simple on Valentine’s Day. The way I see it, Valentine’s Day is all about making a girl feel special — yet how do you make her feel special when everybody out there is buying the same flowers from Trillium during lunch the Wednesday before. Think about it fellas, and take some notes.
But I digress. With Valentine’s Day in mind and remembering that I am a sports writer, I have to somehow incorporate sports into this column or [Sports Editor-in-training] Cory [Bennett] might just throw a hissy fit. Realizing that the day is all about showing appreciation, I think I have found a failry easy way to transition between the two topics.
Ever since the summer when I realized that I was coming to Cornell, I hated it. I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be a Tar Heel, cheering on for my boy Danny Green and the North Caroline men’s basketball team. I wanted to follow in the path of ESPN’s Stuart Scott.
But that’s in the past.
Now, I can’t complain with life at Cornell. The work is crazy, but it isn’t that bad. The weather isn’t ideal, but we still go out anyways, so whatever. You know, the young boy isn’t doing too bad for himself in the girl department. It’s all coming together. U.N.C. would have been ridiculous, but this ain’t bad for an Ivy League education.
And to top it off, I’m having my own personal march madness every time I watch the Cornell men’s basketball team play. And that has really started to make for an enjoyable college experience. I remember telling junior forward Alex Tyler — a.k.a. A.T — after the team’s win over Penn this weekend, that between the social connections, the girls, the working experience and the men’s basketball team, it has really made for a good time up here on East Hill. This might sound weird, but I remember during the end of this past summer, I kept saying, “I can’t wait to get back to school.”
Not to give all of the credit to the basketball team, but ever since they became nice, this has been my mentality. I remember being a freshman and going to all the men’s basketball games and watching then-freshman Adam Gore, Ryan Rourke ’06 and Lenny Collins ’06 battle to be atop the Ivies. For the past two years, however, it was Ibby and the Penn Quakers that dominated the league. But as the former two-time Ivy League player of the Year left, along with three other starters, the chances were looking up. Add to that Ryan Wittman’s willingness to shoot at any time, from anywhere, and you got a chance. I’m not even going to mention the other’s on the team because this column would exceed anybody’s reading stamina.
But this past weekend, as the Red defeated Penn at home and earned a 6-0 conference record, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the hard work those kids have put in to this team. Going to this weekend’s games were crazy. People were standing the whole game, and the crowd was so loud I couldn’t hear myself speak. That’s what I wanted at U.N.C. I’m not saying Cornell will ever be the same, but it has its own little flavor now. So, on this Valentine Day, I’m going to show a little appreciation to the men’s basketball team. Keep doing your thing.
Even though I’m heated that none of them took that last 3-point shot against Princeton on Friday, and junior guard Jason Battle didn’t give me the t-shirt he promised me, I’m still going to show some love. Everybody who had a ticket to this Friday’s game was promised a free half pound of wings if the team had scored 75 points. But with 72 points on the board and the clock winding down with the game in-hand, somebody dribbled the clock out… Disappointment.