Disclaimer: If you're looking for play-by-play accounts of the games and a bunch of stats, you've landed in wrong place. There are a few really good sites covering metro area prep hoops in a professional and thorough manner, but this is not one of them. Don't get me wrong, I am lifelong player and fan of the game, and an Elite Basketball Mind, but this column is about looking at the game and all the peripherals in an interpersonal and sometimes comedic manner. If you want to know which team has the best jerseys, which players have cool haircuts or need tans, how basketball makes me feel, and what I might purchase from the concessions, well then, I'm your guy.
Well, on the coldest day of the year so far, I dragged my butt off of the couch and out the door to brave arctic temps to take in what amounts to only my sixth game the season so far. That's counting four Wolves games.
I don't mean to imply that I was being lazy, because in all actuality I had already had pretty productive day. One that included making breakfast with two types of meat, eggs and cheese; washing the dishes; folding laundry that consisted mostly of old punk tees, various flannel pajama pants, and Smart Wool and Nike basketball socks; assembling some zines; watching The League season finale (which is actually kind of lazy;) and working out for the first times since I threw my back out on some Hindu squats a week and a half ago.
How does one throw their back out on Hindu squats, you may ask. Well it's called being old and not stretching. AKA treating your body like an asshole. Basically I was cramped for time and wanted to get a quick workout in before heading off for the night to drink beers with my friends. I didn't do any sort stretching or warm-up; instead choosing to jump right into a WOD, and boom, wouldn't you know it, there goes my back. Anyway, it felt good to be able to get some work in again. It's also the first time I've actually been a gym in several months, as I prefer to do my WODs outside. I'll push myself right up until the snow falls before I go back to the stuffy confines of "the gym."
I had originally planned to drive down (and over) to Eden Prairie for the Lakeville North vs. EP game. But plans changed when the terrorist attack known as a Minnesota snow storm prevented that from happening. (BTW it's been rescheduled for Sat, Jan 11th, 7 PM. See you there?) So instead I opted for my second choice, Holy Family at Washburn.
I have sort of adopted Washburn, along with DeLaSalle and sometimes Apple Valley, as my makeshift "home teams." As I have previously discussed, De is an easy, and pretty much non-negotiable choice. Apple Valley happens because of, well, Tyus Jones. Duh. And Washburn, ah, I'm not totally sure. But I'd guess it probably has something to do with that fact that I have lived near it in some capacity for over a decade now.
My uncle went to Washburn. He was the only one on my mom's side of the family that was able to break away from the private Catholic school tradition that my grandfather had laid out for them. He still has a tee shirt that says "Washburn Millers: The Original Cake Eaters." Rather than get into a discussion about economics and cultural diversity, I'll just say that terminology like that implies different things these days than it did in the '60s, and in no way whatsoever is applicable to the present-day Washburn Millers.
I took a community education oil painting class there back in 2006, where I re-discovered how much I dislike structured art classes and/or anything remotely close to "classically trained" instructors. I like my art the same way I like my music: loud, fast, and fucked-up. On the last day of class we were doing a portrait study and I finally lashed out, painting our subject in KISS makeup and dreadlocks. It earned a few chuckles from ladies, but the instructor was flabbergasted at my lack of discipline. A few years later I took all the bullshit still life paintings I had done in that class and wrote graffiti over the top of them with bold black magic marker. I don't think my mother was very impressed with that, as she had paid for the class as a Christmas gift. Anyway, there was something strangely familiar about being there. In many ways it reminded of an inner-city version of the old Bigfork High School; where I spent grades 7 through 12 as a rap music-craving white boy trapped in the middle of the woods.
Walking into the Washburn gymnasium, hearing A$AP Ferg over the PA feels a little like coming home.
-Things got out of hand rather quickly. It didn't take long for the Holy Family Fire (which, religious implications aside, is a great name) to pull away. At 9:10 of the first half the score was only Fire 22, Millers 13, but it was apparent that the distance was only going to swell, and quickly.
-I always like to how much Washburn uses their bench. In the first half alone they had already gone 10 guys deep. Growing up playing for a coach that wouldn't dare extend the rotation beyond six, maybe seven guys unless we had 40 point lead with only a minute and a half left on the clock, the idea of frequent substitutions still blows my mind. Up north, back in the day, the only schools that we played against that I can remember employing a large rotation were Deer River and Remer-Northland. And us Huskie bench mobbers were envious, believe me.
-Gopher football commit Jeff Jones swung a high elbow that caught his defender in the face, knocking him to the ground. In disappointing fashion, he then threw the ball to his downed opponent, earning him a technical foul and a seat on the bench for the rest of the half. He would return in the second half but it seemed as though his desire to compete had been stifled.
-At halftime the Fire had already nearly doubled the Millers in points at 57 to 29, and I had determined that the best shoes on the court were in the form a pair of camouflage Jordans belonging to Holy Family senior forward Joe Hanel. Washburn does a get a shoutout for their matching blaze orange Nikes though.
-Speaking of apparel, I have to also give it to Holy Family on the unies front because of their Adidas-made ones. They are a crisp white, with dark green trim ala Michigan State or the less-popular Beavers of Bemidji State. Color-wise, Washburn's orange and blue combo is much more aesthetically pleasing to my eyes, but their Jordan brand unies are showing the wear 'n' tear of that last few seasons now.
-As for the 2nd half, there's not much to report. It was straight blow-out style. Fire 67, Millers 37 at the 9:37 mark. Out of boredom rather than hunger I went the concessions where I bought the Miller Combo. It's a hotdog, chips and soda for $3. Chili Cheese Fritos and Diet Coke for me. At one point shortly after eating it I thought I was going to have diarrhea, but luckily I escaped it. I haven't done the biz in a high school bathroom since Mr. Molland's study hall in 10th grade and I intend to keep that streak (no pun intended) alive.
-Final score was Holy Family 84, Washburn 50. Of note was the absurd foul count, which had the Millers with 10+ and the Fire with just 4.
-In the best haircuts department, we have a four-way tie! Washburn junior guards come through strong with Even Shepherd's wavy fade, and JoBreil Powell's shoulder-length dreads. Meanwhile Holy Family's senior guards are holding their own with starter Kyle Schumer's Cali surfer-meets-Mad Men thing, and bench mobber Evan Stedronsky's curls that are very reminiscent of Oregon-era Luke Ridnour.
-As for who needs tans, well that award goes to ALL of Holy Family. Come on dudes, I know there's a tanning booth in Chaska.
-Nathan G. O'Brien
I'll be in Hopkins at the girl's Breakdwon Tip-Off Classic most of the day on Saturday, trying to secure a seat for the big DeLaSalle vs. Apple Valley boys game that headlines the event. If you feel inclined, come on out and say hi. Look for the middle-aged dude that's dressed like a twenty-something. I'll be sitting next to him; older and dressed like a teenager. Or just tweet me and we'll meet up for some popcorn and jokes. Or, even better, you could save me a seat!