On Chaney Sending in Ingram

Alrighty.  So that last entry about perl/M.Pearl was a bottom-scraper
EWM.  Then let me say something about Temple Owls’ coach John Chaney.  "If you’re going
to use a foul, make it count."  He crossed a line; it’s not excusable.
Fine.  Went too far by coaching 6-8, 250-pound

Nehemiah Ingram
to impact the loss against St. Joseph’s by going in there
and stopping somebody. "I don’t care if you foul out.  You can’t let him
look like an All-American on us.  He’s kicking our ass.  I want
somebody who will play defense.  I want somebody to stop somebody. 
You’ve got just a few minutes to leave a mark."  So I agree that it’s
terribly unfortunate that senior John Bryant of St. Joe’s suffered a broken arm,
and I didn’t even see the play, which means I’m just spouting off about some
stuff I know barely anything about.  But my point is less to defend Chaney
or Ingram than it is call out the resulting spike of oh-my-goodnesses aimed at
college basketball, as if it’s not a contact sport, as if coaches don’t commonly
urge players to play physically, as if intentional fouls are never coached. 

Pat Forde’s column
is especially exemplary in this regard:

I watched one recent college practice that included very matter-of-fact
coaching orders to "stand up" all cutters coming through the lane. Translated,
that’s a forearm shiver to the chest, or higher. It’s such a common off-the-ball
practice today that officials almost never call it a foul.

Impede progress of a lane-cutting player?  That should be a foul? 
How in heck are you supposed to play post defense, Pat?  What is post
defense if it doesn’t involve a heckuva lot of wrangling for position,
especially between the colossus bodies of forwards and centers?  So that’s
all.  Chaney messed up.  Ingram went too far.  And five fouls in
four minutes, including an arm-breaker gives it away.  But coaches urge
extra-physical play all the time (shoot, SU’s Hakeem Warrick has been getting
stood up, pulled down, wrestled all season), and it goes by mostly unnoticed–un-addressed by
officials, little mentioned by reporters, and unflagged as proof of up-trend of violence in sport.  In short, the "stand up" method observed by Forde was inconsequential until it was translatable to a grander association
with Ingram. 

Forming with Small Hands

I’ve been meaning to weave three disparate threads together, triple helix
style; they converged–blink!–for an instant while I was reading the other day, and it seemed like more than another drill. 
Who’s running this time?  Ann Berthoff, Steve Berlin Johnson, and one more
(Coach: I don’t care who goes, dammit.  Fill in the lines.
First, I’ve got to tell you a bit about the weave:

Continue reading →


Chuckle to myself every time I hear the story about

Paige Arena
–the new multi-million dollar basketball arena for the Mizzou-rah
Tigers.  Casters on ESPN2–calling Gonzaga and Missouri hoops contest–just
recapped: 25 million dollars and naming rights from the parents of a 22-year old
co-ed at Southern Cal who–allegedly–doled out several thousand dollars over
three years for various academic "$upport."  Notwithstanding that 25 million buys an
abundance of fog-iveness in middle Missouri–a low-lying region in the
topography of


–objections to the naming of the facility prompted officials to switch to something more mundane, like Missouri Gym or Missouri Fieldhouse or whatever it’s called now.

Ph. and I picked up groceries at Price Chopper yesterday afternoon (D. and I
usually alternate weeks, but she covered throughout the busy stretch of the
semester; consequently, I’m on a pay-back streak).  Now that we’ve returned
from a few days in Michigan–Detroit up to Isabella Co. and back–the cupboards
are bare.  After dropping off
Super Size Me
at the movie rental place, we made our way through PC.  PC patrons tend
to be pushy, determined, oblivious to others.  It’s a busy place.  The
trip is a mad, mad, dash and swerve–weave around the slow-movers and dodge
those carting more vigorously than we.  And the checkout staff, usually
they’re ambivalent, slow, and uncareful with the sack-work.  Bag of sugar
on the eggs, not that I complain.  But yesterday’s checkout was the most
inspiring interaction I’ve ever experienced in my days as a grocery shopper. 
Checker scanned the items, bagged them carefully (crushables, light stuff and so
on, appropriately together), and loaded the cart with the bags with more grace
and efficiency than anyone I’ve ever seen.  Ninety bucks worth of stuff
(c’mon, we had nothing at all to eat at home), and this guy managed it all
without pause. A checkout lane performance like none before.       

Then today, at the Salvation Army store, I lucked into an old Tower tripod
for just under five bucks.  Came with a free bottle of Mountain Dew Pitch
Black.  Feel guilty having such fortune. Only, what is Mountain Dew Pitch
Black, exactly? And what do I need a Tower tripod for, exactly?

Lately I’m busying myself with a course re-dev–a fancy-making and conversion
into eCollege.  Was supposed to have a crack at it last summer, but old
U.’s schedule unraveled, and so I told them I’d get to it only after the
early-December furor.  Means now. And I am getting to it–between
today and Monday.  Also committing to plans for a section of WRT205 this
spring, pouring through possible combos of readings and assignments. 
Loosen-tighten-loosen while down-time affords me that luxury.  Snapped up a
Linksys router w/ wireless for our apartment the other day, too.  The wired
access and wifi came together easily, but the file sharing required more
finesse.  Firewalls were taking turns heading off CMD line pings, but
finally I got it going.  It’ll be nice having added in-apt mobility.

You’re Welcome, Coach S.

Got my rear kicked at least six or seven times by this guy. First college game I ever broke into the starting lineup (at center..WTH?  You want me to play where?) was against the Bearcats–1993.  We got busted up, to be sure; was always that way when we traveled to Lebanon, Ill. They were running a sideline break in those days.  Only beat Statham & co. once as a player.  Took ’em down at home during my junior season when they were rated #17 nationally.  Vivid for lots of good reasons; nostalgia added now that
he won praise on Sportscenter this week for being winningest coach. Just glad to

Always more to say, but I’m writing my bleary head off this week.

Oh Those Forgiving Zips

"It is enough for our purposes to say that what a word means is the missing
parts of the contexts from which it draws its delegated efficacy" (Richards 35).

I promise this won’t become a basketball driveller’s weblog.  But it’s
tournament time; the television’s noise is turning a beat in my head, and it
won’t quiet until I attempt this entry.  I saw Keith Dambrot’s name scroll
on the
ticker Wednesday night, and I had to take it up.  Why should Keith Dambrot matter to me?  I hadn’t had a thought about him in years.  He
was in his first year as the hoops coach at Central Michigan U. when I was a
freshman in 1992.  I tried out as walk-on.  Didn’t make the cut. 
Actually, nobody did.  He didn’t take one player from the tryout to add
depth to his short bench that season. Just as well.

After two seasons, Dambrot was dumped (following
protests) for tossing around "motivational"
racial epithets during a halftime rant at Miami (Ohio), in the midst of a game
when the Chippewas’ former coach, Charlie Coles and his team were putting a
whoopin’ on CMU (a
provocative entry
on language control at
Critical Mass).  Who knows exactly how the talk came together in the
locker room that night? According to what reports came of it, none of the
players objected. Of course, in such power-loaded arrangements, open democratic
discourse doesn’t always surface.  The awful terms of Dambrot’s speech were leaked to the media and declared an event, a
happening. The
eventual ruling–Dambrot’s ill-advised choice of
words could cost him his job–rumbled through the academy as if on
tsunami of
free speech defense, countered by an undertow of good sense (sure,
there’s a lot more to it).  Here I don’t want to dodge the wave or diminish the
exigency of free speech in the academy and beyond.  But I do find it
incredibly difficult to put faith in Dambrot’s judgment, sensitivity,
wherewithal, and suitability to return to such prominent coaching ranks. 
In short, I wouldn’t want my son to play for him, and I guess that’s the measure
of my concern at this news. And it’s why I was surprised to see that he was
promoted to head coach at the University of Akron after one season–a mediocre
season at that–with the Zips.  It’s got me wondering about how he
recovered esteemed standing and privileged rank.  I know he was incredibly successful as a
coach at Ashland before heading to Mt. Pleasant and CMU, and I know his most
recent stint was as an assistant for the high school program from which LeBron
James turned to the NBA last year.  Others from that high school team are
freshmen at Akron this season.

I suppose it’s worth noting that I’ve been thinking about Dambrot’s recovery
from an egregious linguistic past while reading the middle chapters in I.A
Richards’ The Philosophy of Rhetoric.  It’s the source of the line I
dropped to lead this thing off.  Richards is concerned, in places, with
what he calls
Usage Doctrine.  About Usage Doctrine, he says this: "It can say and
truly, for example, that we learn how to use words from responding to them and
noting how other people use them" (54).  From here, Richards sifts
some important distinctions.  One problem of acute conformity (narrow delineations
of meaning) is "that it takes the senses of an author’s words to be things we
know before we read him, fixed factors with which he has to build up the meaning
of his sentences as a mosaic is put together of discrete independent tesserae. 
Instead, [the senses] are resultants which we arrive at only through the
interplay of the interpretive possibilities of the whole utterance" (55). 
This is challenging because, in one sense, we don’t know Dambrot’s "whole utterance." 
But it also applies to the sprawling significations of the utterance we do know,
its exhausting range of meanings and usages which expose roots in hatred and inhumanity. More from Richards
(on interanimation and sentence context, but I’m adapting it another way for the
heckuvit): "But in most prose, and more than we ordinarily suppose, the opening
words have to wait for those that follow to settle what they shall mean–if
indeed that ever gets settled."  I can’t think of anything profound to
but I have this: Meaning is conditioned by time and place.  Semiotics and rhetorics
bear, among many qualities, spatiality and temporality.  And this, as I see it,
undergirds Dambrot’s hirability at Akron.  He has a great local reputation in
northeastern Ohio where his rhetorical legacy in mid-Michigan has been–in these
ten years since–overhauled by a surprisingly powerful ethos, made over by
social/regional heroism, a winning record in well-liked programs (this season at
Akron excluded), and access to elite recruiting channels.  And it is
possible that he has done a whole lot more to transform his serious flub into a
forgivable mistake.  I don’t know much about that, which is why the
ticker-tape gave me pause.  And which is why I’ll watch with curiosity what
develops in Akron, Ohio in the years ahead, knowing that I "have to wait for
those that follow to settle what they shall mean–if indeed that ever gets