A Tough Loss, But A Great Season

The Ohio State-Kansas game lived up to its billing — a tough slugging match between two heavyweights.  Unfortunately for Ohio State (and me), Kansas took the Buckeyes’ best shot and came back strong to win.  All credit to the Jayhawks for hustling and scrapping and getting the rebounds and loose balls that allowed them to turn the tide in the second half.

Obviously, I’m sorry that the Buckeyes could not hold their lead and could not make their goal of the national championship game.  Their loss, however, does not take away from what has been a wonderful season for the team and its fans.  This is a group that battled through adversity and tough stretches and came back to play extremely well down the stretch and in the NCAA Tournament.  Much as I would like to have seen the Buckeyes win and get the chance to knock off Kentucky, there is no shame in losing by two points in a hard-fought game to a basketball powerhouse like Kansas.

I’d like to thank William Buford and Jared Sullinger for coming back to play another year, when they could have gone to the NBA and made a lot of money this year instead.  I’ve relished watching Aaron Craft play, and Deshaun Thomas develop into a much more well-rounded player, and Lenzelle Smith Jr. make crucial shots when the team needed them most.  I’ve enjoyed watching Shannon Scott and Amir Williams and Sam Thompson and catching glimpses of their bright futures.  And, I’ve appreciated the hard work of Thad Matta and his coaching staff as they have gotten the team ready to play, game after game.

An evenly matched contest like the one played tonight is a game of inches; the fact that things didn’t bounce the Buckeyes’ way at the end doesn’t detract from a great year.  I know it’s tough for the players and coaches, who were hoping for something even more; it will be some time before the sting eases.  In the meantime, I just want to say thanks for lots of great basketball, Buckeyes!

 

A Walk For A Friend

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since our friend and colleague, Ken Golonka, died tragically and unexpectedly.

Today was the first annual Ken Golonka Memorial Walk, a three-kilometer stroll through the grounds of the Franklin Park Conservatory, with the proceeds to benefit the National Blood Clot Alliance.  It was a cold and overcast day with a hint of rain in the air, but many of Ken’s friends and family members were there nevertheless.  The weather may have been chilly, but our spirits were warmed by the memories of our missing friend — by our interest in doing what we can to help make sure that the health issues that befell Ken don’t take other people out of our lives.

It’s always difficult to deal with the death of a loved one; it leaves such a terrible void.  It’s heartwarming to see Ken’s family and friends working to make something positive out of his passing.  Ken himself was someone who was dedicated to service in his church, his community, and his profession.  He would be pleased to see that his family and friends are following in his footsteps.

 

Coaching, And Kansas

Tonight Ohio State plays Kansas in one of the Final Four national semifinal games. The winner gets to move on to the national championship game; the loser will celebrate a great season but also wonder about what might have been.

A lot has been written about the match-ups in the game.  How will Jared Sullinger, who missed the first game between the Buckeyes and Jayhawks in December, fare against shot-blocking center Jeff Withey?  Will cat-quick Jayhawk Tyshawn Taylor be able to play his game notwithstanding the suffocating defensive efforts of Aaron Craft?  Who will guard the Buckeyes’ versatile Deshaun Thomas, and who will try to stop Jayhawk Elijah Johnson?

One match-up that hasn’t been talked about much is the match-up of coaches.  Kansas is led by Bill Self, one of the best coaches in the game.  He has won a national championship at Kansas and has done a great job of getting this team — generally viewed as having less pure talent than prior Jayhawk juggernauts — into the Final Four.  I thought Self outmaneuvered North Carolina’s Roy Williams last weekend as both coaches dealt with the loss of UNC’s point guard.  In the second half Kansas went to a triangle-and-two defense that seemed to knock the Tar Heels off kilter and left them flummoxed for the rest of the game.

Ohio State’s Thad Matta, on the other hand, seems to be under-appreciated by many people.  They acknowledge that he is a great recruiter, and they applaud his courageous way of dealing with the challenges posed by his physical condition, but they downplay his “Xs and Os” skills, criticize him for not using his bench, and say he doesn’t use his timeouts effectively.

I don’t get this criticism, and think this year’s NCAA Tournament demonstrates that Coach Matta can match up with anybody.  He has this year’s team motivated and ready to perform, also also has shown a lot of flexibility in how Ohio State has played its opponents.  Against Gonzaga, which had a strong 7-footer in the middle, he moved Sullinger around and away from the basket for some uncontested jumpers.  Against the fabled Syracuse zone, he changed the positions of Thomas and Sullinger and Ohio State made interior passes that led to some easy baskets; he also recognized that Lenzelle Smith, Jr. was not the focus of Syracuse defensive plans, and in the second half Smith helped to lead the Buckeyes to victory.  In every game, Coach Matta and his staff have put the Buckeyes in the position to win — and that is what you want from a coach.

When the ball tips tonight, we’ll see how Coach Matta has decided to deal with the match-up issues posed by the fine Jayhawk squad.  Before the game begins, however, Ohio State fans should take a moment to thank Coach Matta and his assistants for a job well done — and then hope that they have done a similarly good job in preparing for tonight’s tilt with the Jayhawks.

Mega-Hopeful

Today I think I bought the first lottery ticket I’ve every purchased — and it was pretty obvious to the guy I bought it from.

Normally I pay no attention to lotteries.  Ohio has had one for years, but I’ve never played it because it seems like a sucker’s bet.  I didn’t play even when Ohio joined the “Powerball” lottery some years ago and the pots got bigger.  When the jackpot gets north of half a billion dollars, however, I’ve got to dip my toe into the legalized gambling waters.  Why not?  Even though the odds are astronomical, the payoff is, too.  What’s a few bucks when you could conceivably win enough money to set your family up for generations?  I’m with UJ on this one.

I was in Cleveland today, and on my way back I stopped at a gas station along I-71 to buy a ticket.  I figured that this helped my chances, because the winners of these big lotteries always seem to buy the winning tickets in a small town.  Unfortunately, when I got up to the counter I didn’t have the slightest idea how to buy a ticket.  I didn’t know the name of the lottery, I didn’t know how many numbers you had to pick, and I didn’t know what it meant when the guy asked me if I wanted the “megaplier.”  So, I just asked him to pick the numbers randomly.  For all I know, he pocketed the cash and gave me some tickets from last week.  I wouldn’t know the difference.

 

Today It’s all About the Millions

If lunch chatter was any indication there’s no doubt that tonight people will be talking about the huge jackpot that someone might win after tonight’s Mega Millions drawing at 11 p.m in Atlanta.

It’s hard to believe that no one has hit the jackpot in the drawing since January 23rd, that ‘s eighteen straight drawings with no winner. So far just this week 840 million tickets have been sold. Last night even Steven Colbert said he put a lot of thought into picking his numbers and he picked 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

We employees at the Windward Passage don’t fool around with the small payouts, we only pool our money together when the payoff gets really big ! Yesterday it stood at $540 million, but just a few minutes ago they reported that the grand prize is now up to $640 million because of brisk ticket sales today.

We all know the chance of winning is one in 176 million and that there is a far greater chance of being hit by lighting, but the fact remains someone is going to win so why not play. Since I am already living a life of leisure as a retiree I don’t have a clue as to what I would do with the money, but I know one thing – I will be blogging from somewhere other than Columbus Ohio !

Babymoons, Push Gifts, And Other Novel Pregnancy-Related Cultural Developments

There hasn’t been a pregnancy in Webner House for more than two decades.  A lot has changed, apparently, since Russell greeted the world back in 1988.

Yesterday I went to lunch with two young female colleagues, one of whom is in her second trimester.  They talked about “babymoons,” whether she expected a “push gift,” and other topics that made me feel like I had been dropped into an alternate world where people speak what seems to be English but the words have no meaning.

It turns out that a “babymoon” is not a reference to a part of fetal anatomy, but rather a honeymoon-like trip that an expectant couple takes before the life-changing birth of their first child.  That sounds like a good idea to me, although if Kish and I had known what the immediate weeks after childbirth would be like our babymoon probably would have focused less on romance and more on racking up as much sleep as possible.  A “push gift,” on the other hand, is a somewhat crass term for a present the mother receives from her fellow parent to compensate for the pain of labor and childbirth.  No word, however, on whether the other parent receives any gift to acknowledge the challenges involved in living for months with a hormone-charged being who might burst into tears at any moment for no readily apparent reason.

What else is new in pregnancy?  Well, thanks to Demi Moore and her famous Vanity Fair cover photo, more pregnant women are having naked photos taken, some at weekly intervals to track their progress, and then posting them on on Facebook and other social media websites.  It’s also apparently popular to take a plaster casting of the pregnant woman’s belly, the better to preserve her condition, in all its three-dimensional glory, for posterity.

I can’t imagine our doing any of that stuff, but then our grandparents undoubtedly would have thought it was weird that we were practicing breathing techniques and back rubs at Lamaze classes, that Kish was wearing anything other than black tent-like garments intended to mask the fact of pregnancy, and that I would want to be in the delivery room when the big moment finally arrived.  How people deal with pregnancy seems like one of those areas where there have been quiet, but profound, changes in our social and cultural mores.