Ahhh, home. I’ve seen so little of it in the past few weeks. Hotels, continental breakfasts, running around and flailing like a chicken with my head cut off, dinners at restaurants, and coming back to pass out in big hotel beds. Then, the games of course.
Saturday night was an extremely early dinner by necessity: the team had to get up at 7 for walkthrough and pregame, so we were on the bus to the restaurant by around 5:15. Our waiter was a highly overstressed fellow who spoke way too fast, attempted to squeeze himself between one wall and our table to take our orders, and actually skipped away to another table at one point. Thank God the food was good, or else I would’ve been quite annoyed with the hastiness of this guy. At the end of the night, we spotted him standing outside the restaurant chain-smoking as our bus pulled away.
During the dinner I kept track of the team scores from the men’s side on my phone, since the rest of the team wasn’t allowed to check their devices (cell phones aren’t allowed at dinner). It was great fun to see their faces as the games progressed.
Sunday morning, I woke up nervous. I went to breakfast nervous. I went to the game nervous. And then the game started…and I wasn’t nervous anymore.
That was more than a beating. That was a shellacking. Someone near me kept yelling “Assassin!” whenever Maya touched the ball. I don’t think that girl missed once. Everyone was throwing it down. And I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…how good is Kelly Faris? She is just now beginning to show everyone what we’ve all known from the beginning. Her stat line is consistently fantastic. And of course, when Lorin hit that three from the right corner, we all went nuts. It seemed like nobody could miss a shot, and that unfortunately did not bode well for Iowa State.
Another great thing about the game on Sunday was that it took place in Dayton, OH. Dayton is only about forty-five minutes from Cincinnati, so Jamelle and Mel (Thomas) drove down to watch! I was so excited to see them, especially Mel who I haven’t seen in quite a long time. She’s coming to the Final Four as well, so we promised to hang out one of the nights.
After the game, some people went to dinner with their families and some of us went to PF Chang’s. I, of course, went to PF Chang’s. I live for their lettuce wraps (however, the hot and sour soup tasted like hot barbecue sauce). It’s funny-I tend to eat PF Chang’s the most when I’m out with the team or living through tournament time. The last time I had it, it was last year after the Final Four. It was Tiffany’s first time at the place, and I think she’ll be a regular customer.
Monday was pretty relaxed (and it was Lorin’s 21st birthday). I got a few things accomplished: I finished the book I was reading (Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan), watched the pilot of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, made the buzzer beater three at the end of practice, and found out that both Ricky Martin is gay and Anne Donovan is the new head coach at Seton Hall. That’s such a great get for that program. Hopefully next year we won’t whip them by 80.
On the bus before dinner, I felt the week of travel catch up to me. I was exhausted and starving, and thought maybe if I closed my eyes, I’d relax a little bit. We pulled into the restaurant and I shook off my doze, and met the gaze of a very sheepish Kaili. “You’re gonna be mad at me.”
“What did you do?” I said, laughing.
Kaili, ever so sheepish, replied “Well, you were passed out…so I asked Tiffany to get me the camera (for The Climb)…”
Yes, that’s right. My passed out behind is now on video. And it gets worse. Kelly took a picture of it and sent it to my Dad, who gleefully showed everyone at dinner.
After our meal, we all went nuts about the end of the Baylor/Duke game. So many times in basketball there comes those games where the lead seems locked up, then it just slips away. The exact same thing happened with the Xavier/Stanford game (which was both exhilarating and heartbreaking). Tina was devastated when Duke lost, as Joy Cheek is one of her good friends. We all felt awful.
Once again, I was nervous when I woke up on Tuesday. Florida State is a very talented, hardworking team, and they are well-coached and have a great game plan. They gave us fits for some times when we played them back in December. Something that helped assuage my nerves was the offering of Chipotle for lunch after practice (which was business as usual, and Dad even cracked some jokes). After two straight days where all I could eat for lunch was a giant granola bar, this was as a balm from heaven.
After hitting the gym, I traveled with the team to the arena. I sat with my Mom, and we managed to remain calm until the game started. There was a hilarious exchange before the game that I will try to transcribe:
Me: How was pregame?
Mom: Good! The chicken looked good, but I really just wanted a baked potato.
Me: Yeah, you love those.
Me: Ugh, I’m nervous.
Mom: *pause* You know, they’re just so reliable and dependable.
Me: What? Baked potatoes?
Mom: …No, the team.
Sometimes when I’m nervous, I have numerous synaptic misfires.
I was pretty good during the game…I only ran to the bathroom to hide twice. That’s a great record for me, since usually if the game seems to be going a little sour I’ll run to the bathroom and stay there until we’re up 20. That’s what my uncle still does, but I’m recovering from that affliction. I won’t even comment on the refing in the game, except to say that my mother was a total freak. She kept stomping her feet, standing up, screaming her face off. Five times I had to gently tug her and whisper “Shhhh”. She then would morph from Screamy McCrazy to Mom again and laugh out “Oops, sorry.”
The game itself was pretty fantastic by the time we started ripping the Seminoles apart in the second half. There was a moment in the first half, though, where Kalana hit a game changing three to stop a big run of FSU’s, and I think that really helped us turn it around. I think even Dad was shocked at how lopside the game ended up being. Everyone talks about Tina and Maya but I want to sing the praises of Kaili and Lorin. Both of them came off the bench and provided stellar defense and awesome plays. When Lorin got tripped up on a fastbreak and still managed to get a layup, Dad did something I haven’t seen him do in a long long time: He fistpumped. Then, when Maya hit a three from the corner (which is something we’ve seen a lot of lately), I actually stood up and yelled “Boom, goes the dynamite!” Which I hope to god wasn’t captured on any cameras.
Speaking of cameras! I met a fan of the blog/Twitter at the game. Her mom asked if it was possible to get a picture with her, and I of course obliged. I am horrible at remembering names but I’m pretty sure it was Valerie. It was great to meet you, Valerie! I was so flattered you wanted a picture with me.
When the buzzer went off, we all went down to the court to hug and congratulate the team. It was absolutely wonderful. Mom and Dad even busted a move to the ‘UC! O! N N!” song. Then came the whirlwind of press interviews and celebration, which is always fun. I hung out in the locker room and watched some game playback on ESPN.
Then came the late night flight back home to CT. It was surprisngly smooth, considering most of CT is apparently underwater right now. Our flight attendant was an extremely uptight British man who insisted on over-annunciating his words and woke me up twenty minutes before we landed to remind me to get my seatbelt on. “You can still lay down, just put your seat belt on,” he said crisply. Um…then what’s the point? my jackass brain wanted to reply. But I shut up and buckled up.
Today was a lazy day, filled with laundry and repacking, Chinese food and the Easter Beagle. Here’s hoping my Easter Sunday is filled with happiness and chocolate, not tears and chocolate…