Hoop Hollerin’ – Tournament Pick’em Invitation

It’s time again for the EWM Yahoo! NCAA men’s basketball tournament pick’em – 18th annual-ish. Just like whatever year it was when we did this last, we’re using Fibonacci scoring (2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21), and going with modest upset bonuses, +1 point for upsets in the first round, +2 for upset picks after that. Everyone is welcome to join this pool, which will include some of the most steady-handed dart flingers of all time. There’s no time time for consulting with your local misfortune teller, ordering new bifocals, staring into the sun (never advisable) while wondering about the rate at which your bracket will wither if you choose that team you kind of love.

Sign up! Free, free, FREE, yes, free to you: join this year’s group on Yahoo!, Hoop Hollerin (ID#37368). If you have questions, elbow me with all you’ve got via email at dereknmueller at gmail.com. Invite your friends, frenemies, faux-frenemies, Canadian compadres, social media snobs, wishful critical thinkers, mentors, interim interim interim associate provosts, outrageous sentiment analysts, multicolor kitchen molds, too-long-didn’t-readers, spendthrifts who subscribe to more than three streaming media services, people who can’t ever seem to find the goat yogurt at Kroger, friends of Appalachian folk artists, empirical phenomenologists, people who say they train on a bike but who haven’t trained on a bike in over a month, candy-sneaking flexitarians, Ypsilanti tattoo artists, grandchildren who had a stomach bug last night, attic vermin, septic tank replacement companies in Montgomery County, Va., who will not return a phone call, etc. The group has space for the next 49 who sign up. Nonscopic stakes: reputations are made (and quickly forgotten) right here.

Yahoo! Tournament Pick’em
Group: Hoop Hollerin’ (ID# 37368)
“18th annual-ish.”

Firm up your selections any time between the selection show on Sunday evening, March 13, and first tip of the round of 64, sometime around noon EDT on Thursday, March 17. 🍀

Step Back, Again

In basketball parlance, the step back is a move, not a method. If there is “research,” it is immediate—nothing protracted in the decision to make the move. I have never heard anyone refer to practiced, foreseeable basketball actions as methods. Instead: for individuals, moves, techniques, tendencies, styles; for teams, systems, plays, schemes. The step back introduces sufficient space for a shooter to send one up unobstructed (or with reduced interference from a defender who, because of the step, is now a step away). The step back creates a clearing.

For this step back to be effective, one judges by the space it established—usually a small, quickly opened space. Was it sufficient? And was it quickly enough calculated and executed to become indefensible? I want to be careful in suggesting that this step back compares neatly to the other step back. We do not on the hardwoods, say, in a pick-up game, wish to be running with anyone who noodles on, ish-talking about “did you see my step back method?” No. Time we shoot for new teams.

NULL’s Best Guess – Tournament Pick’em Invitation

It’s time again for the EWM Yahoo! NCAA men’s basketball tournament pick’em – 17th annual-ish. Just like whatever year it was when we did this last, we’re using Fibonacci scoring (2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21), and going with modest upset bonuses, +1 point for upsets in the first round, +2 for upset picks after that. Everyone is welcome to join this pool, which will include some of the most steady-handed dart flingers of all time. There’s no time time for consulting with your local misfortune teller, ordering new eyeglasses, staring into the sun (never advisable) while wondering about the rate at which your bracket will wither if you choose that team you kind of love.

Sign up! Free, free, FREE, yes, free to you: join this year’s group on Yahoo!, NULL’s Best Guess (ID#29676). If you have questions, elbow me with all you’ve got via email at dereknmueller at gmail.com. Invite your friends, frenemies, faux-frenemies, Canadian compadres, social media snobs, wishful critical thinkers, mentors, interim interim interim associate provosts, outrageous sentiment analysts, multicolor kitchen molds, too-long-didn’t-readers, spendthrifts who subscribe to more than three streaming media services, people who can’t ever seem to find the goat yogurt at Kroger, friends of Appalachian folk artists, people who say they train on a bike but who haven’t trained on a bike in over a month, candy-sneaking flexitarians, Ypsilanti tattoo artists, grandchildren dancing to the baby shark video, snail racers, assessment Jedi, the miscreant living in the upstairs apartment who does floor+ceiling thumping Jazzercise in the six a.m. hour every god-blessed day including Daylight Saving Time spring ahead day, etc. The group has space for the next 49 who sign up. Giant stakes: reputations are made (and quickly forgotten) right here.

Yahoo! Tournament Pick’em
Group: NULL’s Best Guess (ID# 29676)
“17th annual-ish.”

Firm up your selections any time between the selection show on Sunday evening, March 14, and first tip of the round of 64, sometime around noon EDT on Thursday, March 18.

91

Illustration from Tom Lavoie, Sr., given as a gift to graduating seniors on the 1991 Beal City Aggies (19-6), Class D Michigan State Quarterfinalists.

While I’m already on that 1991 flight path (x-referencing this FB post), here’s one more scraplet of mid-Michigan memorabilia, a drawing by my hs coach’s dad, Tom Lavoie, Sr. He’d created a series of these for seniors that year, I think. My variation, shown here somehow held on for years from place to place, but eventually it succumbed to the dankness of whatever dark basement tuck-away it was temporarily stored in. I took a photo of it before I pitched it (5-6 years ago?) and then just a couple of weeks ago, reflecting on that 90-91 season, I looked up the photo and retraced it in Procreate. I mean, why forget when you can remember? In particular, I remember Tom Lavoie, Sr., as oftentimes nearby, especially for those winter break practices, which he showed up to during the holidays, joining the workout session by arming himself with football blocking pads, and fouling us as we took turns doing power-ups (could be it was only the bigs who endured this; I don’t quite remember). Possibly sounds worse than it was; it added just a little bit extra to the already-demanding exertions of again and again picking up a ball from the floor, willing it to the upper outer corner of the backboard. I assume this kind of thing–being fouled over and over by football pads–explains the band-aids, dazed-headedness, aching elbows and knees, bloody sock, and lost shoe shown here. We were always taught, if you’re gonna foul, then foul (later at Park, Coach English, too, doubled-down on this defensive philosophy: spend your fouls well, wisely; you only get a few of them to give!). Google gave me a phone number, so I tried calling Tom Lavoie, Sr., this morning, left a message of gratitude on the answering machine for the drawing, for caring enough to show up as he did for us–and, too, for the difference made by his son, who died at too young an age (53) in 2011. 🏀

Added: Tom Sr. returned my call; we chatted for 30 mins about a lot of it remembering basketball, the drawings he made for players at Beal City and also for the women’s programs at Alpena HS, the former BCHS players he still hears from, and also about how–coincidentally–he graduated from Michigan State Normal School before it was EMU, studying Phys Ed and finishing in Ypsi in 1956. Mentioned, too, the anecdote about how he and Tom (his son, my hs coach) had gone to a Dick Baumgartner shooting camp in Indiana and were astonished to learn that the diameter of the rim is twice the diameter of a basketball, and facing much disbelief about that, Baumgartner would have to climb a ladder and show it to be true (empirical evidence being observable and all)…and how he had to do that same thing when he shared that lesson in later years at Alpena.

Triangles Are Tricky – Tournament Pick’em Invitation

Time again for the EWM Yahoo! NCAA men’s basketball tournament pick’em – 16th annual. Like last year, we’re using Fibonacci scoring (2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21), continuing with the upset bonuses, +2 points for upsets in the first two rounds, +1 for upset picks after that. Everyone is welcome to join this pool, which will include some of the surest, most over-confident pickers of all time. There’s no time time for consulting with your local hedgehog farmer, warming the oven to make a pizza on a pizza steel much less a pizza stone, staring into the sun (never advisable) while wondering about the rate at which your bracket will melt if you choose that team you kind of love.

Sign up! Free, free, FREE, yes, freee to you: join this year’s group on Yahoo!, Triangles Are Tricky (ID#97347). If you have questions, elbow me with all you’ve got via email at dereknmueller at gmail.com. Invite your friends, frienemies, faux-frenemies, freegans, Canadian compadres, Facebook abandoners, wishful critical thinkers, mentors, interim interim interim associate provosts, sentiment analyists, green kitchen molds, too-long-didn’t-readers, members of Relationshoppers Anonymous, people who can’t find the nutritional yeast at Kroger, neighbors of Appalachian permaculturists, people who say they train on a bike but who haven’t trained on a bike in over a month, flexitarians, Blacksburg tattoo artists, grandchildren at the frozen yogurt place, honey badger whisperers, assessment ninjas, members of the band practicing on the upper quad now that the weather is nicer, etc. The group has space for the next 49 who sign up. Giant stakes: reputations are made (or treated to eternal lessons in impermanence) right here.

Yahoo! Tournament Pick’em
Group: Triangles Are Tricky (ID# 97347)
“16th annual.”

Firm up your selections any time between the selection show on Sunday evening, March 17, and first tip of the round of 64, whatever time that is EDT on Thursday, March 21.

Wabi Sobby – Tournament Pick’em Invitation

Time again for the EWM Yahoo! NCAA men’s basketball tournament pick’em – 15th annual. Same as last year, we’re using Fibonacci scoring (2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21), continuing with the upset bonuses, +2 points for upsets in the first two rounds, +1 for upset picks after that. Everyone is welcome to join this pool, which will include some of the surest, most over-confident pickers of all time. Take a sip of homebrew kombucha to quell any nerves. There’s no time time for calling your mortgage appraiser, warming the oven to make a pizza, gazing into your half-empty crystal glassware for clues about what tomorrow never wanted to hold.

Sign up! Free, free, FREE, yes, freee to you: join this year’s group on Yahoo!, Wabi Sobby (ID#43578). If you have questions, elbow me with all you’ve got via email at dereknmueller at gmail.com. Invite your friends, frienemies, faux-frenemies, Canadian compadres, Facebook abandoners, wishful critical thinkers, mentors, interim interim interim associate provosts, sentiment analyists, old fashioned pulse takers, motor scooter drivers who have parked illegally in the contact zone, members of Relationshoppers Anonymous, elementary school cohorts, neighbors of Appalachian permaculturists, people who say they do yoga but who haven’t done yoga in a week, distractable sabbaticaleurs, avant-garde tattoo artists, grandparents at the frozen yogurt place, weasel whisperers, assessment specialists, etc. The group has space for the next 49 who sign up. Giant stakes: reputations are made (or treated to eternal lessons in impermanence) right here.

Yahoo! Tournament Pick’em
Group: Wabi Sobby (ID# 43578)
“15th annual.”

Firm up your selections any time between the selection show on Sunday evening, March 11, and first tip of the round of 64, whatever time that is EDT on Thursday, March 15.

Clankucopia

Time again for the EWM Yahoo! NCAA men’s basketball tournament pick’em – 14th annual. Same as last year, we’re using Fibonacci scoring (2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21), though there are upset bonuses, +2 points for upsets in the first two rounds, +1 for upset picks after that. Everyone is welcome to join this pool, which will include some of the surest, most over-confident pickers of all time. Take a sip of whiskey to quell your anxiety. Then get on with it. There’s no time time for calling your bank teller, reading your heart of palms, gazing into your crystal ping pong ball for hints about what the future doesn’t hold.

Sign up! Free, free, FREE to you: join this year’s group on Yahoo!, Clankucopia (ID#59134). If you have questions, elbow me as hard as you can in the sternum with an email at dereknmueller at gmail.com. Invite your friends, frienemies, faux-frenemies, Canadian compadres, Facebook friends, advisees, mentors, interim interim provosts, sentiment engineers, nouveau artists of the contact zone, members of BoredAF Anonymous, grad school cohorts, children of long conners, bracketoricians, distractable sabbaticaleurs, phonies, discount tattoo artists, grandparents at the bus stop, snakes in a can on a plane, Portland edibles dealers, etc. The group has space for the next 49 who sign up. Giant stakes: reputations are made (and ground to what’s finer than such a fine-ground dust it’s invisible) right here.

Yahoo! Tournament Pick’em
Group: Clankucopia (ID# 59134)
“14th annual.”

Firm up your selections any time between the selection show on Sunday evening, March 12, and first tip of the round of 64, whatever time that is EDT on Thursday, March 16.

Dissoi Bracketologoi

Time for the EWM Yahoo! NCAA men’s basketball tournament pick’em – 13th annual. Like last year, we’re using Fibonacci scoring (2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21). Everyone is welcome to join this pool, which will include some of the surest, most over-confident pickers of all time. There’s no time for worrying your picks, no time for calling your fortune teller, reading your horoscope, or consulting your constellations. Sign up! Free, free, FREE to you: join this year’s group on Yahoo!,
Dissoi Bracketologoi (ID#46007)
. If you have questions, elbow me as hard as you can in the sternum with an email at dmueller at earthwidemoth.com (I’m on research leave; it will take me three weeks to respond). Invite your friends, frienemies, faux-frenemies, square dance partners, Facebook friends, advisees, mentors, bots, posthuman malingerers, artists of the contact zone, hystericists, children of the corn hole ringers, bracketoricians, Jimmie Johns addicts, discount tattoo artists, grandparents at the bus stop, etc. The group has space for the next 49 who sign up. Pride-ish stakes: reputations are made (and ground to coarse dust) right here.


Yahoo! Tournament Pick’em

Group: Dissoi Bracketologoi (ID# 46007)
“13th annual.”

Firm up your selections any time between the selection show on Sunday evening, March 13, and sometime (I’m checking) EDT on March 17.

Alt Bracketdemic Careen

Time for the EWM Yahoo! NCAA men’s basketball tournament pick’em – 12th annual. Like last year, we’re using Fibonacci scoring (2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21). Everyone is welcome to join this pool, which will include some of the surest, most over-confident pickers of all time. There’s no time for worrying your picks, no time for calling your fortune teller, reading your horoscope, or consulting your constellations. Sign up! Free, free, FREE to you: join this year’s group on Yahoo!,
Alt Bracketdemic Careen (ID#23161)
. If you have questions, knee me gently in the sternum with an email at dmueller at earthwidemoth.com. Invite your friends, frienemies, faux-frenemies, neighbors, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, bots, posthuman colleagues, hystericists, bracketoricians, Jimmie Johns addicts, discount tattoo artists, children at the bus stop, etc. The group has space for the next 49 who sign up. Pride-ish stakes: reputations are made (and ground to coarse dust) right here.


Yahoo! Tournament Pick’em

Group: Alt Bracketdemic Careen (ID# 23161)
“Makes no difference to us what you studied in college.”

Firm up your selections any time between the selection show on Sunday evening, March 15, and 1:00 a.m. EDT on March 19.

Right Foot, Right

Exactly five weeks ago–and I do mean exactly…at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, September 3–in the middle of a pick-up basketball game I leapt many many inches (±3) into the air to intercept a three-quarter court pass. The ball reached my hands, it stopped there, and gravity brought me back to where I’d started. Only, the landing, settling down on Earth again, dear ground control, didn’t go so well. Right landing gear crumpled, an old black shoe sole gripped and wrenched counter-clockwise against the freshly polyeurethaned floors, many thickly tackily coated planks, cork-screwing my shoe+foot and the bones inside until the fifth metatarsal said, “Fuck it. I give up.”

Sometimes bones give up. They break.

Landings are so common in jumping sports that I would guess on any given night, through 90 minutes of pick-up ball, there are 1,000 successful landings by any given player. And years ago, the tip-toe landing would have resulted for me in a sprained ankle. I’ve had tens of sprained ankles, mostly on the right side–so many in fact that I had a knuckle-sized bone spur surgically chiseled off the south-most tip of my right tibia in 1995 because so many bone chips had rustled and rattled in there, nomadic calcifying teasers making the bone think it needed to grown even though it didn’t need to grow. But grow it did until sprain sprain sprain, I couldn’t lift my toes toward my knee without bone-bone pinching. I’m not complaining, only historicizing the ways some ankle area bones try to retrieve their loose chips, advancing gradually as if to bring them home again. The spur was with a couple of knocks taken away and the ankle more or less as good as new. Refurbished, at least.

But the broken fifth metatarsal was new, a first. I’d only broken any bone once before, my left wrist during a 1990 high school basketball game against Leroy-Pine River, a game we lost, a game I continued to play in after halftime despite having fractured the wrist you guessed it intercepting a goddamned three-quarter court pass. A pass I caught. A landing I flubbed. I recall Pine River (the Bucks) had a couple of giants in the post, immovable trees who we kept fouling and fouling but still could not overcome.

Last month’s broken foot popped audibly, a long-faced spiral fracture that left me in a huddled pile on the sticky floor, polyeurewincing with the sensation that something extra was in my shoe–a feeling similar to when, as a kid, my brother and I rode bikes (without helmets!) up Winn Road to the Kountry Korner to buy a Sunday newspaper but didn’t have pockets and so carried home loose change in my shoe. That’s what it reminded me of: shoe as coin purse, jangling. At least two quarters in there.

Back on September 3, an hour and three wins into our weekly run, I told my teammates I was through, that I’d felt a bona fide pop, and then hobbled to gather my gym bag, fish out five dollars for Brandon “The Commissioner”, and without peeking inside the shoe to count the coins (dime and a nickel?), wobbled out to the Element and drove straightaway to Canton’s emergency care outfit. They took three x-rays, but they only showed me this one:

“You might need surgery. This is a very serious break. I’m sorry your basketball career had to end this way.” They said more, but this is most of what I remember.

By the following Monday, after a five day wait, I finally sat down with an orthopedic surgeon who assured me that it wasn’t as bad as I was led to believe, that I would be fitted for an orthotic walking boot, and that I was only to listen to my pain and to return in a month. Before the boot, this:

And after:

And so I’m taking a few minutes here–tapping out a few lines–to commemorate the ordeal because tomorrow is that one-month follow-up. The foot has, as far as I can tell, mended to a point of allowing me to walk (but not jog) without pain. I’ve been on campus for the last two days without the boot, negotiating the craggy asphalt around Pray-Harrold and having an okay time of it. I hope to retire the walking boot officially and to shift next to a physical therapy regimen that will, whatever else comes of it, get me back to a more runnerly routine and, if I’m lucky, eventually give me the choice to take another trip or two up and down the hardwoods.