Saturday, February 24, 2007

The SIU Saluki Blog

So yesterday, I mentioned I was this close to making Friday's blog a blog about the freshly crowned MVC regular season champion SIU Salukis. Instead, it was the usual Friday Off The Wall Blog, so now, about 5 hours from game time, I thought I'd do my commemorative SIU blog here.
  • On Wednesday, SIU claimed sole-possession of the MVC crown with a 58-50 win against Indiana State University in Terre Haute, IN. With the title already wrapped up, that sets up Senior Night tonight against Evansville. SIU is sporting a 10 game winning streak, with their last loss coming at the hands of the Purple Aces, 75-68. Tonight, SIU's senior leaders Tony Young and Jamaal Tatum will be looking for revenge. On a serious note however, Senior Night is a special night for everyone in attendance. For the seniors, it's their last game on a home court that they've dominated over the course of the last four years. For the fans, it's a final send off to the players that have brought NCAA tourney appearances in each of their four years here in Carbondale. There's such a bond between this community and their players, it's special.
  • For me, every game at the SIU Arena is special. The team is great, the fans are into the game....overall, it's an amazing atmosphere. Of all the games that have happened this year the following games stand out in my mind the most.
  1. SIU's 68-64 win over Virginia Tech was SIU's biggest win of the early season. It proved that SIU could play with the big boys of the ACC, on a neutral court in a tournament setting at that. Va. Tech would later be ranked and would go on to beat Duke on Coach K's court and North Carolina, twice.
  2. SIU's biggest road win arguably came at a sold out Koch Arena against Wichita State. SIU's 54-46 win over the Shockers proved that SIU, who had struggled on the road early in the season, could win in a hostile environment. The Dawgs were lead by Tatum (18 points) and juniors Matt Shaw and an ill Randal Falker (13 points each).
  3. In the best college basketball rivalry not on Tobacco Road, SIU swept the season series against arch-rival Creighton. In the first meeting at Creighton's Qwest Center, SIU won 58-57 on a left handed runner by sophomore guard Bryan Mullins with under two seconds to play. SIU won the second game in their first step to winning the conference outright with a 72-68 victory at the SIU Arena. That night, the Dawgs were sparked by shooting almost 86% from the floor and lead by Shaw's 25 points.
  4. One could argue that SIU's biggest win to date was last weekend's 68-64 win at then #12 Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse on BracketBuster Saturday. In a battle the two highest ranking teams in the short history of the BracketBuster games, SIU was lead by Tatum's game-high 20 points, breaking Butler's 20-game home winning streak.
  • The men's basketball team may be the talk of the town, but the ladies deserve some love too. For the first time since 1990, the Saluki women have earned at least a share of the MVC regular season title with their 63-60 victory over Evansville, in the first-ever Pink-Out night at the SIU Arena. This marks a quick turnaround for third-year coach Dana Eikenberg who, with help of developing players and transfers from her old school UMKC, who turned the SIU women from MVC bottom-feeders to champions in such a short time span. Congrats to the Saluki women, who close out MVC play with home games against Missouri State (March 1) and Wichita State (March 3)
  • On a final note, former SIU head coach and current University of Illinois coach Bruce Weber had some kind words to say about his former program. He said he speaks often with current SIU coach, his former assistant at U of I, Chris Lowery and credited the hard working players, some of which he helped recruit. "Oh, yeah, those are my guys, whether it's the coaches or the players. The top four or five guys are still guys we recruited," Weber said. All I have to say is that they're not your guys anymore Bruce, esepcially when you abandoned them for the greener pastures of Champaign-Urbana in a community that didn't want you in the first place and that is itching for your ouster A.S.A.P. Of his recruits, only Tatum and Young remain. Former Saluki guard/forward Mike Dale left the team last year for unspecified reasons. And though B-Web helped recruit Falker and Shaw before Matt Painter (now coaching at Purdue) took over the program, Weber should have no problems scheduling a team that he helped put on the map. Unless he's afraid of the monster he helped create.
Hope everyone gets a chance to watch the game or be there. Go Dawgs!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday's Off The Wall "Almost" Special Edition

Happy Friday everyone! I hope everyone has survived this week, I know I have (barely.) Folks, I was this close to making this blog "Friday's Off The Wall MVC Champions Edition" but decided not to. I might post one Saturday, making it truly a special edition. I love the Dawgs, they are one of the few things that brings me absolute joy when I'm in Carbondale. Anyway, enough with the chit-chat, I got some good stories this week.
  • From the Why Do I Care? department, A-list celebs ditched Paris Hilton's b-day bash to go to the 40th birthday party for Untitled Entertainment founder Jason Weinberg's party. I don't know Jason Weinberg and I wish I didn't know who Paris Hilton are. In fact, this really isn't a big story. No one should really like Paris, she's famous for being famous and that's all she'll ever be. That, and a whore. Not the greatest things to be. Still, the party ended up being "special" with a report that Hilton was playing with a monkey in a room with a midget band leading a herd of goats. Personally, I hope they weren't Billy Goats.
  • Headline writers, you either love 'em or you hate 'em, it's as simple as that. Sunday night while checking out, I saw a headline saying "Asteroid Speeding Toward Earth." As my heart jumped and flashes of the movie Armegeddon and Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" played in my head, I clicked the link and read the entire article. I guess it's why they say don't judge a book by its cover. Astronomers are monitoring an asteroid named Apophis, which has a 1 in 45,000 chance of hitting Earth on April 13, 2036. 2036....I won't even be 50.....and in April too? Is this really necessary. Knowing my luck and the luck of Cubdom as a whole, the Cubs will be working on 128 years of futility and the 2036 Cubs will be the best team they've fielded since the 2007 team and would be the odds on favorite to win the World Series. Someone better go take care of that damn asteroid or else I have to start confessing my love in an attempt to get married before the asteroid hits. Though come to think about it, that'd make a great movie. The 50 Year-Old Dude That's Trying To Get Married Before The Asteroid Hits.....just a working title for starters.
  • This is a nice little story about a mutated duck named Stumpy. I had a teacher we nicknamed Stumpy in high school, definitely not as adorable as the duck. A four-legged duck found 95 miles south of London, that's really is.
  • And finally, a very sad story to close out Friday's Four Stories. A big rig on Texas' Interstate 10 (don't I get a special phone call from a certain young lady when she's on the I-10???) crashed and caught on fire, destroying all of the Nestle Chocolate Bars it was transporting in the process. That's sad, heck that's depressing. I'm sorry, we're talking chocolate here and that's totally NOT COOL TO DESTROY CHOCOLATE! That driver should have been much more careful.
FRIDAY'S FIVE SONGS. Five songs on my I-Pod that I think are really good.
  1. The Second Coming by Juelz Santana (Produced/Featuring Just Blaze)
  2. Give It To Me by Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake
  3. The Sweet Escape by Gwen Stefani featuring Akon
  4. Gravity by John Mayer
  5. Woozy by Ludacris featuring R. Kelly
FRIDAY'S FIVE, Classic Old School Edition
  1. She Used To Be My Girl by The O'Jays
  2. Isn't She Lovely? by Stevie Wonder
  3. You Really Got A Hold On Me by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
  4. I Wanna Get Next To You by Rose Royce
  5. Could It Be I'm Falling In Love? by The Stylistics

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This Blog Goes Everywhere, So Readers Bare With Me!

Finally, some free time to write a blog. This week has been up and down to tell the truth. Thankfully, it's almost over. Alright, so I'll start off with some stuff that I have links for so if you want to read the rest of the story you can head off into the web when you click the links and then I'll close with some personal stuff. Sound good? Well I don't care, it sounds good to me!
  • Let's start with some of that #13 SIU Saluki hoop action! By virtue of Creighton's loss to Illinois State and SIU's 59-50 win at Indiana State, the Salukis have clinched the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title for the second time in three seasons under Coach Chris Lowery. Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the game but I did manage to listen to the last few minutes on the radio. That means no game story from me, sorry folks. Last night's win deserved a blog of it's own, I was unable to do so (see, that's why I don't do a blog solely dedicated to SIU sports.) Senior Night is Saturday, that is deserving of a preview blog and a post game blog as well. In more good news for the Salukis, press wise, is that the news is headed north to the Chi, game summary here from NBC 5 Chicago and the Chicago Tribune has an excellent article about senior guard Tony Young and the strides he and the basketball program have made.
  • When he was hired, I joked that Lou Piniella may have officially signed on to be the Cubs manager, but little does he know that job also entails the side job of being my life coach. In today's Tribune, Piniella makes one of those "break you down to build you up" statements in this article when he says that "Curses are for people with no confidence." Sighs, I guess I have been hiding behind a curse. Maybe. Sweet Uncle Lou may ignore Billy Goats, black cats and Bartman....but he has no clue about the cursed love life of one Luis Medina and how if the Cubs somehow won the World Series that all of that love crap would immediately take a backseat. (*Chuckling* some girl is gonna read this and laugh at me for being a loser....I don't care.)

As refreshing as poetry writing has been for me lately, I must say nothing clears the air like a good ol' fashioned sit down talk with an old friend. I hate when I'm wrong. I hate when other people prove that I'm wrong. I also hate when I'm proven wrong by a woman. No male ego trip here, I'm just saying....they know to make me feel stupid when they're right about something that I've completely screwed up.
Yesterday was like a reconciliation of sorts. Spending the afternoon/evening with Alicia was great. We cleared the air about several things. Chatted up about what's new, with me realizing that you can not see me for two months and things with me are so simplistic that nothing has really changed. I'm still not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
She also gave me a nice lil' talking to about how good I have things and gave me a little insight about her that I didn't know before. The way I see it, the whole being single thing is a gift and a curse (I know I mentioned curses earlier, now bare with me.) I like being single. I like the idea of open possibilities. I like not having to answer "Where are you going?" or "Who are you going with?" or even "When will you be back?" or having someone needing to tag along. Being single is pretty cool, especially in a college town.
As for the cursed part, my first problem is that I have issues with hanging out with people in relationships. This little quirk about me dates back all the way to high school when my two best friends had girlfriends and then there was Lou (we'll put the 'O' in the name for nostalgia's sake.) That has stayed with me throughout college and to be honest, I think that's effecting some of my relationships and friendships in a negative way. Though it does explain why I'm damn bitter at couples in general and why sometimes I just don't feel like going out with certain people at certain times.
Now that I got that off my chest, this is where I say "Maybe she's right" because really, she does have a very valid point. I'm single and theoretically, I have the whole world in front of me. I can do what I want and not have to worry about my girlfriend or what she thinks. I, by myself can theoretically get done whatever I want to for my career and such, get settled and then eventually settle down....with nobody holding me back.
That sounds nice and pretty like a package wrapped in ribbon, tied in a bow. Unfortunately, that's not how I've been seeing it.
The way I've been seeing it, it's been holding me back. I kinda compare it to John Elway's Super Bowl championship. Short and simple, Elway's a badass QB who's got all these badass records, but never won a championship and he always used to say "It's okay I had a good career." But when he won that championship finally, he admitted he was full of shit and that the championship validated his career and cemented him as an all-time great.
What the hell does that have anything to do with me? Maybe it's the whole "pussy on a pedestal" thing. I guess you can say that girlfriend thing is the missing piece of the puzzle. For me, I'll argue that a girlfriend would be my validation.
(Someone's gonna come across this, read it, then think I'm a total loser and probably never date me because of it. Oh well.)
And it sounds bad, the idea of a girlfriend being validation, compared to a Super Bowl girl wants to be looked at as a prize. But let's face it, that's the only thing that has been missing, compared to people my age. At least that's what society says.
What magnifies my insecurities are my friends who are in happy relationships, my friends who get constant attention from girls and some new developments in my friends lives. My first college roommate has moved on from his days at SIU to go to the National Guard and is getting married in June. He just turned 21, and he's married. He'll be the first of "The Chi-town Boys" to be getting married. I have a friend, she's been engaged for more than a year now and she'll be getting married when she's out of school, I'm sure of it. I have a friend that's now pregnant....having a kid. I feel as if everyone's growing up without me.
But she put it in the best way possible "It's like playing real life house."
Despite giving me hell, she always knows how to make me feel better. There's just something special about her, I have an idea of what it is but I'm not quite sure of it. Maybe I've got my head in the clouds, maybe I'm still living in first semester of last year....I don't know what I'm feeling, but I think it's good.
Maybe that would explain my first good night of sleep in over a month, that whole little talkin' to maybe (no pun intended) put some of our issues to sleep. You know I'm a big believer in that symbolic shit.
In my mind, I laughed when she mentioned something about how her ex wants to get out on the dating scene again but is seemingly comparing these girls to what he had in her. I laughed on the inside. If it was an outside laugh, it would have been one of those nervous laughs....those are never good.
Maybe that's my issue in getting over her. It's not like I'm putting every girl up to her standard, but it's that perceived idea of perfection that keeps holding me back, mentally. The sooner I find a new girl, the sooner I get over her.
Maybe she's Vanessa all over again. That would only prove to be more symbolic than anything I've mentioned in this blog....ever.
I'm not getting into that story. I'm too happy, I think I've got my best friend back. And that is more important than anything else!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More Poetry :-)

If there is anything that I've learned in my collegiate experience, it's that writing is great. Especially when it's used to cleanse the mind and stuff like that. Thank goodness for poetry, if not for poetry, I'd probably be insane right now.

This is a vilanelle that I wrote for my ENGL 352: Forms Of Poetry Class.

Trying To Say Goodbye
By Luis C. Medina

As I attempt to drown myself in beer,
all I wanted to do was get away.
I knew I never should have came back here.

Someone should have told me the end was near,
as I tried to come up with one last play.
In the end, I drowned myself in beer.

I just wanted for my head to be clear,
you wanted to meet under the archway.
I knew I should have never came back here.

I picked up the phone, you yelled in my ear.
I didn’t want to hear your shit today.
All I wanted to do was drown in beer.

I knew this day was coming for a year.
This time it can’t be saved with a bouquet.
I probably should not have came back here.

I’m saying my goodbye’s right now, my dear.
Those are the only words that I can say.
As I attempt to drown myself in beer,
I know now I will never come back here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Wasted Weekend (And Not In A Good Way)

"Time is never wasted when you're wasted all the time."

That quote is wrong, absolutely wrong! For someone who had so much to do this upcoming week, I totally blew this weekend. To be honest, I'm quite disappointed in myself.

This is what's On Tap for me this week:
  • MONDAY: Villanelle poem due.
  • TUESDAY: JRNL 310 assignment due.
  • WEDNESDAY: MCMA 201 essays due.
  • THURSDAY: POLS 352 test.
  • FRIDAY: MCMA 201 test @ noon. PSYC 102 test @ 2:00 p.m.
Do you see where I'll be busy this week? That's a lot of writing. Oh and I'd love to have a social life too while I'm here at SIU. Mardi Gras at Copper on Tuesday. Un-Official St. Patty's Day on Friday. Oh and let's not forget that Cubs single-game tickets go on sale this Friday and I want to go to the Saturday game on that first weekend home stand of the year. First day of ticket sales is a day I usually reserve as my "ditch day" as I spend my day on-line and on the phone with Cubs ticket people. This year, not so much.

As for my weekend, it sucked. The highlight of the weekend was SIU beating Butler, as noted in this blog. As for the rest of the weekend, it sucked. I got some laundry done, but not nearly enough. My room is still a mess, so no change there. As for the assignments due next week, only the poem due Monday is done. Tomorrow, I'll do the journalism assignment to the best of my abilities and I'll try to work on the MCMA 201 essays because I'd really like to go out Tuesday night for Mardi Gras.

I went out to Gatsby's Saturday night, I wasn't a happy camper. I didn't really want to be out, on top of that I had to pay a $2 cover to be there for an hour and a half. Usually, I'm there at 10:30, with a couple of beers and a couple of games of pool under my belt. In fact, I generally don't like going there if I have to pay a cover. I hate paying cover, it's just stupid unless there's a band that is worth paying cover for. Gosh, sometimes I wish I had a backbone and the ability to say: "No guys, I'm not going out." But I felt the need to go out because I spent plenty of time arguing with a certain someone who might read this blog so I won't mention them by name. Sighs, this was a frustrating weekend.

I could have easily gotten the poem done, a rough draft of my journalism assignment or my essay's for MCMA 201 done. Nope, the classic underachiever re-emerged this weekend and decided to say "Fuck it, I'm not doing shit this weekend."

What a waste! I feel like shit!

Next weekend will hopefully be better. Saturday is Senior Night, where Tony Young and Jamaal Tatum will play their final home game at the SIU Arena. It should be a great atmosphere. As for the rest of the weekend: it's one big f'ing question mark!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

#15 SIU Proves To Be Top Dawg In 68-64 Victory Over #12 Butler

Maybe now SIU's basketball program can get the notoriety it deserves. Because after a win like that, they've earned it. Yesterday's 68-64 victory against #12 Butler in historical Hinkle Fieldhouse just might have put SIU's hoops squad back on the national map.

After the game, everyone seemed to be singing the praises of the Salukis (23-5). The Chicago Sun-Times sent reporter Lacy J. Banks to cover the game in Indianapolis, IN, marking the first time the Times has seemingly acknowledged a team that isn't one of the Chicago schools, the University of Illinois or Notre Dame. In today's Indianapolis Star, reporter Bob Kravitz praises the play of both schools and the BracketBuster system. Heck, even ESPN sent Dave O'Brien, one of ESPN's best play-by-play guys along with former Utah head coach Rick Majerus to provide color commentary.

And even though throughout much of the game, O'Brien and Majerus praised it as a battle of the two best "mid-majors" this game was much more than that. It was the first time two-ranked opponents went up against one another on BracketBuster Saturday. Two top-15 schools, nonetheless.

As for the game, it was everything it was billed to be....and a little more. SIU imposed their stellar style of play, which starts with in-your face defense from the opening tip. Butler (24-5) played their type of game too. They mimicked SIU's slow pace and limited turnovers, something SIU prides itself on when it comes to the defensive end. However, the Bulldogs found it difficult to find open shots throughout the majority of the game.

As Butler struggled to find shots, senior guard Jamaal Tatum stepped up with a game-high 20 points. Tatum was Mr. Big Shot down the stretch scoring eight points in a two-and-a-half minute stretch after Butler made it a two-point game with 5:14 left.

"He's really taken advantage of and made unbelievable plays and shots that only special people can make," said SIU coach Chris Lowery of his star guard's clutch shots.

Butler's coach Todd Lickliter credited Tatum's offensive game in tiring of Butler star Adam Graves who was held to 5 points.

"(Graves) was guarding #3 -- that's a good assignment," he said.

Tatum wasn't the only Saluki applying defensive pressure to Graves, who reportedly suffered from flu-like symptoms before the game. Senior guard Tony Young and sophomore guard Bryan Mullins rotated with J.T.3 in covering Butler's star. Offensively, Young chipped in 11 points and Mullins contributed four points and three assists.

Another Saluki that stepped up was junior forward Matt Shaw, who chipped in 15 points and several big shots, including a three-point basket after Butler had pulled within two, it was 49-47 at the time, 52-47 after Shaw's three.

The much maligned Saluki bench, which has come on strong of late, scored 13 points behind the energetic play of junior-college transfer Tyrone Green, freshman Joshua Bone, and Indianapolis-native Wesley Clemmons. Bone was limited to only five minutes, while Clemmons and Green played 21 and 18 minutes respectively and their stingy defensive presence was felt throughout the game.

One player SIU failed to stop was 6-foot-7-inch forward Adam Campbell, who went 5-for-9 from three-point range, contributing 17 points off the bench helping Butler stay withing striking distance.

"They're a great defensive team, but I guess it's hard to cover all the options," said Campbell.

SIU won in all facets of the game. Their offense was grinding long possessions throughout the game as Butler, at times, struggled with SIU's swift ball movement. Their defense was relentless to say the least, and that helped wear down the Bulldogs offense. Down the stretch, SIU hit 12-of-14 free-throws (86%) to help shut down any Butler comeback attempt.

When Young stole the ball as time expired and ran down court, Saluki Nation was finally able to celebrate. Saturday's victory helped erase the memories last year's BracketBuster 51-54 loss to Louisiana Tech at the SIU Arena. The lasting images from that game were Tatum and Young, who were then juniors, missing three-point shots that would have tied the game as time expired. The seniors weren't going to let that happen again.

With the victory SIU notched it's first win against a ranked opponent on the road for the first time since 1975. They also snapped Butler's 22-game home winning streak. Butler (#12) was the highest ranked team the Salukis have beat since beating #11 Villanova in 1988.

The Salukis close out MVC regular season play this week with a game on the road against Indiana State on Wednesday and a game Saturday night against Evansville on Senior Night.

On Monday when the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll and the Associated Press poll come out, SIU will be looking to move up to it's highest ranking ever.