Thursday, July 19, 2007

Diamonds in the Rough

The Queen City Jewels polished us off tonight in a 52-48 game. It went down to the wire, with the Eclipse fouling them to try to get back possession and score. Just not quite enough time down the stretch as they made their free throws.

Anyway, the Eclipse girls played great and left it all on the floor. Struggled some with shots falling but played aggressively and with heart, never giving up. Queen City's No. 14 scored 25 of their 52 points--21 of them with her seven 3-pointers! Wow!

So we finished in seventh place. Not the Final Four appearance we had hoped for and become accustomed to the previous three years. Still, very respectable and we are very proud of the girls and their 110% effort. After all, not many teams can claim Elite 8 showings for four straight years.

Thanks to you all for your well wishes and support!

And Then There Were 8

Big Daddy sitting in for Mother Basketball at the keyboard. She's napping, trying to keep pace with our two-games-a-day schedule.

And the good news from this morning is ... Eclipse 68, Lady Monarchs 43. Coach Knight told the girls to get on 'em early, since our opponents lost last evening and landed in the Loser's Bracket. A team's psyche can be very fragile at that point. After that first loss you think the world has ended. I know I felt pretty low after we lost to the Indy Wildcats the other night. So, the Master Psychologist pushed the right buttons this morning and our girls came out with guns blazing. We jumped to a big lead and never looked back.

Hannah "Sue" Novaria has been playing with a broken toe for two weeks now, so the postgame ritual is "I and I" - ice and ibuprofen. (I made that up.) Then more ice and plenty of rest for her feet. It also seems she's getting that foot stepped on in games. This afternoon the girls are either napping or playing Apples to Apples. Our room happens to be the focal point for recreational activity. The game is in full swing.

Last night was another short night. I think we all had a tough time sleeping with an 8:30 game staring us in the face. Of course, an 8:30 game means you're up by 6:15, you try to eat some breakfast and be ready to board the War Wagon by 6:50. The drive to the gym at Fairfield High School is 20-30 minutes, and you always want to arrive early enough to do lots of stretching and shooting. Pregame drills usually begin 20 minutes before gametime. Parents wander in around that time, as we drive separately.

I feel the girls have hit their stride, rattling off three straight wins in the loser's bracket. And as the title above suggests, we are in the "Elite 8". Can you believe it? The top 8 out of 94 teams. We had a friend in our hometown who used to say of his son's piano recitals, "He played better than he knew how". Sometimes it feels as if our girls reach new heights and I wonder where that ability and talent came from.

For those of you trying to visualize Hannah's game, I'll give you a little more description. Her role has been playing the #2 or #3 positions - that's a guard or small forward. It's her job to handle the ball often, pass the ball inside to the post players or to the other guards and forwards who are open, or penetrate, which simply means dribbling/driving into the lane if she sees an opening. Many of her points have come off of those dribble-drives, either in the form of a layup or short pull-up jump shot. She's also made several 3-point shots. I can honestly say that when the team is in a little slump, she has been the player to break the slump with a basket and get the team going again.

Tonight's game is at 7pm, once again at Fairfield High, but in the smaller gym downstairs. Our opponent is the Queen City Jewels out of Charlotte. Don't know anything about them, but sometimes that's better than buying into hype or misinformation. I'll leave the scouting to the coaches. One win away from the Final Four!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Dirty Dozen

Didn't realize that after this morning's win we were in the Sweet Sixteen, or the Elite Sixteen as it is known in AAU (due to NCAA copyright, no doubt!).

Another win this evening: MV Eclipse 52, Florida Wildcats 35. That puts us in a group of 12 remaining teams. The Florida Wildcats are one of three teams staying at our hotel; they were gracious in their loss and seemed happy to have gone as far as they did. Our nine girls continue to battle it out... a bit more like themselves during this last game... still struggling at the post.

Hannah has reloaded with carbs at the Olive Garden and has her feet up with a bag of frozen peas on her busted toe. You'd never know how painful her foot is by the way she is hustling and taking care of the ball. Go little guard, go!

Tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. we face the Minnesota Lady Monarchs.

Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive

MV Eclipse 48, Motor City's Finest 42.

We are still in it, but doing it the hard way, fighting our way back through the "losers' bracket." That means we have to play--and win--twice a day instead of once. Still, it's nice to get that second chance after a disappointing game last night. The girls played better this morning, but still aren't at the top of their game, as they were Sunday in our final pool play contest. Hopefully they will find their groove and stay there.

Next game: This evening at 5:15 pm v. Florida Wildcats (from Tampa?). Go Eclipse! Bring on the Knight Fever...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hannah here...!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!11!!!

I couldn't think of a clever title at this hour.

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo... wow this blog writing business is harder than I thought it would be. (You kids and your darned technology... sheesh.)

Let me just start off by saying our opponents, the Indy Wildcats, were ready for us. They brought their intensity, their (approximately) 6 foot 8 inch 280 pound post player, and their smothering zone trap defense. Their crowd even brought it. ...And in the end it paid off for the Wildcats. We went down, 45-39.

I can honestly say it's about the worst team basketball we'd played in the four years I've been with the team. Aside from the fact that we just couldn't buy a bucket, our post defense was weak, we weren't getting on the floor going after loose balls, and we just couldn't get it together as a team. I'm almost surprised we didn't get completely destroyed. Haha.

We just had an off day; it happens to the best of teams, and we have to shake it off. Our next game is early (according to my standards) tomorrow morning at 10:10AM. We face Detroit's own Motor City Finest (who we beat last year in a close match) and hope to defeat them again.

Peace out.

P.S.: I scored seven points and kicked some arse. Mmhmm yeah you know how I do.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Memphis Got Da Blues...

...'cause KC's got the better bar-be-cue and the better team. MV Eclipse 78, Memphis Elite 68. Eclipse advances to the next round in an 8:45 p.m. game Tuesday versus the Indy Wildcats.

I'll let Big Daddy give you the play-by-play. I will say, it was an emotionally exhausting game. The girls on the team don't understand why the parents are spent when it's the girls doing all the running around! They don't realize it takes a lot out of us to yell and scream and cheer and pray, while crossing all of our fingers and toes, whining at the refs and second-guessing the coaches!

Elvis has left the building...

Free Afternoon, What to Do?

Tournament tidbits from a lazy Sunday afternoon ...

With our only game of the day finished by 11, the girls and their families enjoyed some down time. Some went to the movies, some enjoyed a laid-back evening with friends who live in Cincinnati. The consensus is "Evan Almighty" was pretty funny and at the least a good escape from the rigors of basketball, while "License to Wed" was not Robin Williams' best work but had some awfully funny scenes, nonetheless. The mechanized robot babies were a hit with the girls.

Before we took in "License to Wed" we drove to a dog park on the other side of Cincinnati to let Bella have a good run. Of course she had a great time and Hannah and I played with an old frisbee we found. It never ceases to amaze me how you can have the best time when you do something spontaneous, that doesn't cost a ton of money, or involve a bunch of intricate planning.

Observation about this city: it's easy to get lost here. When this area was founded, a whole slew of townships sprung up, each with their own streets and street-naming systems. So, nowadays, you can drive from one township to another and into another in a matter of minutes and the street you're on will change names. Plus, the street signs are often difficult to read, with very small letters. It was a bit of a challenge finding the dog park at Mt. Airy Park. But it was worth it.

A few other tidbits:

-Sugar-free items are flying off Cincinnati store shelves. What with the team's no-sugar rule, families and girls are scrambling to find sugar-free versions of their favorite foods: sugar-free cookies, sugar-free fruit drinks and sugar-free pancake syrup.

-There are no Sonic drive-ins here, so one parent in particular is a little frustrated. Seems he goes for a large Sonic Diet Coke every day. And no, it's not this author.

-On just about every block you'll find a chili restaurant. Cincinnati is famous for Skyline Chili, often served over spaghetti noodles. Kansas City has its barbecue, Cincinnati has its chili. We haven't tried the chili yet, so I guess I'm in no position to say I prefer barbecue.

Today's game, the first in bracket play, is at Courts4Sports. (We have yet to play in a real high school.) It's a manic sort of place, with six basketball courts and at least four games going at once. With a lofty metal ceiling, you can bet this cavernous place can get awfully raucous. Parents and siblings will have to cheer loud to be heard.

Our opponent is the Memphis Elite, winner of Pool N. Two pool winners squaring off, two good teams. Expect a very good game. --Big Daddy