Saturday, February 10, 2007

SIU/Creighton Preview

It's February so you know all the cliche's and the one-liners are out in full force this time of year. One you'll probably hear the most is "You never forget your first love." Boo! I hate you Valentine's Day. I also hate Creighton (as suggested by the t-shirt I just bought at Pinch the other day.)

Seriously though, I'll never forget my first Creighton game. The SIU/Creighton game to me is like a right of passage for every SIU fan and you really never forget your first. And really how could I forget? It was my first time sitting in the Dawg Pound with the most outrageous student section in the Missouri Valley Conference. And I was by myself, so I'll be honest I was a bit worried because the people I usually went to SIU games with weren't with me. One of my friends was out of town, at work while my roommate had gone home to the Chicagoland area for some girl....something I still give him shit for. C'mon how do you miss the biggest game in town for some girl....I'll never do it! Maybe that explains my situation...but this isn't about that, this is about SIU/Creighton. SIU won that game, and it was a great feeling. A feeling I hope to feel again tonight.

SIU/Creighton is an intense rivalry in the mold of Duke/Carolina without Dick Vitale yelling hysterically. It's pure basketball with genuine dislike between students, players and fans alike of both universities. Creighton plays the role of Duke. The private school that always get the love from the media and are usually picked to win the conference in the pre-season and coach Dana Altman is like Duke's Coach K, the longest serving coach in the MVC. SIU is more like Carolina, the public university with a rich tradition of its own that always finds a way to keep winning. SIU coach Chris Lowery is like Roy Williams. Okay, that's a stretch, but C-Lo, like Coach Roy has come back to his alma mater and has lead his teams to consecutive NCAA berths.

Today's game is for more than just bragging rights, it's for conference supremacy. The winner of today's ballgame has a leg up in winning the MVC outright and the top seed in the MVC tourney in St. Louis. SIU won the first game in a one-point thriller when Bryan Mullins banked one in with 4.1 seconds left and Creighton guard Nate Funk's desperation three rimmed out as time expired.

My only concern as a Saluki fan is that Jamaal Tatum, SIU's leading scorer, may not play in the game because of a deep thigh bruise that limited him to 6 minutes and 3 points in Wednesday's 60-50 win against Bradley.

With that said, don't sleep on the Salukis. Unless you want to get bitten by a dawg!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday's Off The Wall Blog: No "Special Edition" Edition

Unfortunately (from my point of view) the Bears lost to the Colts in Super Bowl XLI 29-17, putting an end to what could have been a third straight week of an "Off The Wall Blog: Special Edition." That would've been nice: Friday's Off The Wall Blog: Super Bowl Champion Edition. I guess it wasn't meant to be. So now it's back to the normal Friday fun with news stories and songs that I really like. It's been a pretty good news week, let's get crackin'!
  • I'll lead off with a post-Super Bowl story. A Bears fan from Decatur, IL will now share a name with Colts QB and Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning after losing a bet in a bar when the Bears lost the Super Bowl. Scott Wiese, a 26-year old worker at Staples, said that he's not sure how long he'll be willing to keep the name...but since he is a man of his word, he will make every attempt to legally change his name to Peyton Manning. Stupid bet in my opinion. Sure it's easy to say that now after the Bears lost, but had they won what would have happened? Would Peyton Manning have to change his name to Scott Wiese? A word to the wise: he who gambles lives in shambles!
  • Another popular story in the news this week involves an astronaut charged with attempting to murder her competition in a bizarre love triangle. Lisa Nowak, a married woman, was relieved of her NASA duties after being charged in Texas for trying to kidnap and attempted murder on a woman who shared the affections of a fellow astronaut. For the record, the dude that they were supposedly both going for is not the woman's husband. Talk about weird and bad. I'd love to provide a punchline for this story, but the sheer insanity of the story itself is punchline enough.
  • This story is a month old, but I absolutely had to bring it to the forefront of the Off The Wall blog because it, in fact, is off the wall itself. In an attempt to rid itself of the distinction of being the US capital of HIV/AIDS, New York City is giving away free condoms that are color coded like their subway system. This news makes NYC the first known city to have it's own brand of condoms, that's something to be proud of....I think.
  • And of course with Valentine's Day coming on Wednesday I had to throw in a story I read in the New York Times this week. The article has to do with how the color red is seen and what people think when they see the color red. You know around Valentine's Day everything is red or pink, mostly red. Red roses, cards with red envelopes....everything is flippin' red. It's got me seeing red. Actually, the article is a good read on how we interpret the color and is backed up with research done by Auburn University and the University of Texas at Austin. A must read if you're interested in how the mind works.
THE FRIDAY FIVE. Five songs in heavy rotation this week on my I-Pod.
  1. Lost Without You by Robin Thicke
  2. Throw Some D's (Official Remix) by Rich Boy featuring Andre 3000, Murphy Lee, Lil' Jon Jim Jones & The Game....among countless others that have done mixtape remixes (find Kanye West's freestyle over the beat!)
  3. Give It To Me by Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake
  4. She's Everything by Brad Paisley
  5. Here (In Your Arms) by Hellogoodbye
THE FRIDAY FIVE. Classic "love song" edition....for those of you who decide to celebrate Valentine's Day, I thought I'd be nice and give you my five favorite love songs.
  1. My Endless Love by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross
  2. Because I Love You by Lenny Williams
  3. Always and Forever by Luther Vandross
  4. Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye
  5. What A Wonderful World by Louie Armstrong
Now, I know what you're thinking. No Boyz II Men, Babyface, Barry White, Temptations, etc. Well, I've got a back up list for next week's Friday Five which will be a post-Valentine's Day blog in which I'll have more songs. Really, you don't know how hard it is to narrow down a list of 100 songs on my I-Pod that I call "Lu's Collection Of Awesome Love Songs." Hell if you have a suggestion on one I should get, leave it in a response! 'Til then, I hope everyone has a safe and productive weekend. Go Dawgs!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

"Excuse Us, We're Having A Moment"

Ahhh, a phrase that might never die in my mind. I'll never forget when Cousin Kenny uttered those words while some random girl was in his arms. They were "having a moment" as Tony and I laughed at them. We were all too young to be able to tell the future. Except for myself of course, the self-proclaimed world's greatest prognosticator....or something like that.

So, what's with the random flashback? Let me bring you to today.

I was minding my own business, walking on my way to class when I bumped into an old friend of mine. A friend that I hadn't seen in a long time. I'll be honest it was like seeing a ghost---without being scared to death. It was a good ghost, how about that? Well I hadn't seen her in forever so we started to catch up until I got a random text message and decided to read it not thinking about the consequences of reading the text in front of her would be. A mild tongue lashing in front of the library did the trick. That was fun. And by fun I mean excruciatingly painful and embarrassing as random students passed by giving us looks as if we were...I dunno...arguing despite the fact that I couldn't get a word in edgewise at all. It was more like "This is why we don't talk anymore" and "This is why we don't hang out anymore" from her and a bit of "Wow, I feel like an idiot" running through my head.

Ten minutes later I had a decision to make. Either go to class late, or go to class with her like I used to do randomly over the last two years. As much as I'd like to keep a perfect attendance policy, I couldn't. Not today. Not for her. It's like she has me trapped under some spell. Weird.

It's funny because I was supposed to take that class until I dropped it for the class that I (ironically) skipped today because of her. And for the first time since 2006, we had Lu-n-Alicia time.

So what's the significance of this? I'm still not quite sure. Maybe it's significant because I consider her my best friend despite some things that happened in the past. Maybe it's significant because you just don't stop talking/seeing best friends out of the blue. Maybe it's significant because there was a point this summer in which we spoke to each other three times a day.

I don't know what to make out of this. I don't know if anyone does. I don't even know if this blog makes any sense. Somewhere it does, though. That's my hope at least.

I do know one thing. Today, I smiled. Some would say it's because of her, because she's the type of girl that can make me smile just because of her presence. Others would say that I'm still basking in the glow of UNC's come from behind victory over Duke in Duke's home stadium last night.

I smiled. I was happy. That's rare, especially in the month of February.

Monday, February 05, 2007

COLTS 29 BEARS 17 (insert sad face here)

A little more than 24 hours later, I've emerged to speak on what everyone has an opinion on and that of course is the Colts win in Super Bowl XLI; a 29-17 victory. The game started off with a bang when Devin Hester took the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. Unfortunately, Hester didn't get much of a chance to return after that as the Colts avoided him throughout the game. The first half was a back and forth struggle, unfortunately the Bears blew an early 8 point lead after Rex Grossman (yes, good Rex was there at one point) connected with Muhsin Muhammed on short touchdown pass.
After that it was all downhill. It was as if the team decided that it wasn't going to show up after the first quarter. To the Colts credit, they outplayed the Bears in every facet of the game and that's why they're the champs and that's why I'm a little bitter this evening. Bad Rex showed up in the second half with his 2 INTs to go along with a fumble. Thomas Jones showed up with a 100-yd rushing game (told ya the Colts could be run on.) But the defense didn't show up like they did against the Saints, and that's the most disappointing thing about last night's game. Neither did the offense, with some of the blame going to the questionable play calling of offensive coordinator Ron Turner. Sure, Tommie Harris and Mike Brown not being healthy had a little to do with it, but the Bears sure didn't miss them in the NFC Championship game, did they?
In the end I'm heart broken, again. No curses. No billy goat. No black cats. No Bartman. Just one heartbreaking game. I should be used to this, but I'm not. In fact no one should get used to losing. If Dusty Baker taught me anything in his tenure as Cubs manager it's that having a losing mentality is unacceptable, no mater what "the culture" suggests, no matter what the past says. *Channeling Bobby Knight's "I'm sick and tired of losing to Purdue...I'm not here to f*ck around this week" speech* I'm sick of not feeling the joy of victory. I'm sick of the agony of defeat. Losing sucks, there's no way around it. I'm tired of not being good enough!
*Whew* now that my rant is over it's time to do this. The Bears still had a great year. They won the NFC North and the NFC Title, nothing to be ashamed about here guys. Be proud of a team that still has potential. Hopefully we keep the right guys on the field (Jones & Lance Briggs), in the coaching booth (Lovie Smith, Ron Rivera, Dave Toub) and pick up some key parts whatever they be to reach this level again. The NFC is winnable people, think of it as the NL Central--everyone (except the Pirates AKA the Detroit Lions) has a shot to win it!

It'd be easy to ask you "Who is to blame?" or "What should have been done differently?" so I'll do this instead. Tell me your favorite part of this season. As much as I hate losing, why not leave this season with a happy thought?

Now that the football season is now over...PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT ON FEBRUARY 14TH. It's only 55 days 'til Opening Day and that means only 55 Days 'Til Cubdom Strikes Back!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl Sunday: The Final Post Before The Game

As my life suddenly turns into What About Brian? I step away from that for one day and that is today, Super Bowl Sunday. Arguably, today is one of the most important days in my entire life. Yes, high school graduation ranks up there and so does my first day here at SIU. But I don't know how to express how I'm feeling (and not just because I'm hungover either!) I guess maybe I'm being a bit too over the top when saying that today's the biggest day in my life, but I know I wouldn't be wrong saying that today is the biggest day in my life as a Chicago Sports fan.

The Bulls dominated the '90s and I appreciate that. I feel bad I took for granted the greatest player to have ever played the game, but in my defense I was too young to appreciate the Bulls the way I do now. I didn't "get" the Bulls until the second-"first" championship. The one where the Bulls won on Father's Day and Michael Jordan ran to the locker room and cried. That was a special moment. So there's the Bulls thing right there. I wasn't able/allowed to appreciate the White Sox winning the World Series in 2005. I'm a die-hard, Cubbie blue 'til I die Cubs fan and there's no way around that. However I did acknowledge that what they did for the city and certain White Sox fans (you know the ones that aren't stealing Camaros) was really nice.

The 2003 Cubs were the last hope for my happiness. That's kind of sad to say, but it's true. I haven't been this psyched up for a game since Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Yes, I understand there was a Game 7, but most of you don't know that I spent most of the day in bed sick (thanks to the Cubs....seriously) and watching the game in my basement under several blankets.

Enough of that, now on to The Big Game. Super Bowl week has been like a teen movie for one Peyton Manning. He sheds the loser/geek/nerd tag (AKA the monkey off the back) by beating The Hoodie and Tom Brady. Since then, it's been a Manning suckfest led by Eastern Seaboard Programming Network and like in the teen movies of the '80s Manning went for loser-to-really hot in the matter of moments. No one expects the Bears to win, except the great state of Illinois as evidenced by this ESPN SportsNation poll. I'm still trying to figure out how the Bears are an underdog in this game. They won 13 regular season games (more than the Colts), they are the highest seeded team left here in the playoffs (#1 seed vs. Colts #3 seed) and as much as the Colts are riding the momentum of beating their nemesis the New England Patriots (34-31), the Bears are coming off of a 39-14 thrashing of America's Team Part Deux the (favored) New Orleans Saints. I'm looking for the Bears to provide a not-so-happy ending for Manning. Oh yeah, and Rex Grossman has a higher passer rating in the playoffs than Manning does, ha!

Thanks to, I've got a relatively positive weather note. The chances are high that it could be 70 and raining outside which of course would probably benefit the Bears, seeing as they just played a game last week where it was 30 and snowing like the Dickens; so at least we've got that going for us.

  1. The defense has spent countless hours reviewing tapes of the New England Patriots beatdowns of the Colts. Hopefully LBs studied Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Rosie Colvin's "How to punch Peyton Manning in the face without getting and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty" tape and the DBs studied Ty Law and Rodney Harrison's "You've got 5 yards to turn Marvin Harrison into your little bitch/chuck 'em at the line" videos as well.
  2. Manning's career record against Florida versus Grossman's career in Florida. Before Manning couldn't beat the Patriots, he couldn't beat the University of Florida and Manning doesn't have fond memories of this state now does he? As for Sexy Rexy, he thrived in the state of Florida almost winning a Heisman Trophy that was somehow awarded to Nebraska QB Eric Crouch. So technically, the trophy does belong to Grossman.
  3. Dear Rex:
    Please think happy thoughts during the game. Think of all those touchdowns you threw at Florida. Remember the happy times with the "Ol' Ball Coach" Steve Spurrier. Remember all those hot Florida chicks you banged in Gainsville all those years. Remember, they don't call you Sexy Rexy for nothing. Think happy thoughts.
    Bears Fans Everywhere
  4. The key elements as directly quoted by Chicago great Doug Buffone: "Run the ball! (drum roll on desk) Stop the run! (repeat drum roll) Pressure the quarterback! (final drum roll) Those are the keys to winning football games people, plain and simple. Establish the run inside with Cedric Benson and outside Thomas Jones. Stop the two-headed attack of Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes. Do everything you can (short of sicking your pitbulls and taking your weapons of mass destruction on the field...I'm talking to you Tank Johnson) and make Peyton Manning's life a living hell. You want more fundamentals? Solid tackling, none of that arm tackle bullshit, hit 'em hard. Hold on to the ball, no fumbling...we've gotta win the turnover battle...I want three turnovers (at the least!) Play every play as it is your last.
  5. Embrace the under dog role. Not much more I could add here.
  6. THE WILD CARD PT. II: Tank Johnson. The Bears are a team of motivated men, from the top with GM Jerry Angelo through Lovie Smith's coaching staff all the way down to the 53rd man on the roster. Tank Johnson is arguably the most motivated man on the Bears. For the last few months he's taken shit from everyone about his legal troubles and deservedly so because, well, he's got himself in a lot of trouble by hanging out with a lot of bad people. Tank's starting in the Super Bowl while Tommie Harris is out with that extreme hammy pull so this is his time to shine. If I'm Tank, I treat every member of the Colts as if they were the one who killed my best friend in that night club and punish them with severe hits (hopefully they won't draw any penalties for "illegal weaponry on the field on #99 on the defense. fifteen yard penalty, first down.")
And to think, this is the beginning of a big week in sports for me. The Bears kick it off with Super Bowl Sunday. Wednesday SIU takes on in-state rival Bradley in an attempt to exact revenge on one of their few in-conference losses. Oh yeah, and Duke/Carolina's on Wednesday too....someone's conflicted but will be at the SIU game with his phone (fully-charged) in hand checking on the scores. And then Saturday, the "mid-major" edition of Duke/Carolina is SIU/Creighton at the SIU Arena! Can't wait. This is just the beginning.