I was thinking I’d have much more anxiety on this, my first real trip to the city since I moved back last year. I’ve had some times where I’ve come up here for dinner with friends, sure. But those were less than 24 hours.
And shockingly? I’ve had a blast. I know, crazy right? Although I am pretty happy I never lived here during the holidays. Those streets are choked with people and most of them don’t know how to walk on NYC streets (fast, furious, and direct).
Yesterday we got on the bus and drove down early in the day, in order to get time to collect ourselves and have an early dinner since shootaround was so early this morning. I was thrilled to realize that the backseat of the bus was still vacated, however I must say it wasn’t the same without Kaili (Miss you, buddy!). I did get a huge kick out of the fact that Marisa had brought the movie Cool Runnings for us to watch on the way into the city. I absolutely loved that movie as a kid, so to have it brought back for the trip was a nice trip down memory lane. I think for the ride back we’ll watch Love Actually (and not just because that’s the one movie I brought as well).
We got to the hotel and had about an hour to hang out until dinner, and I basically did nothing but sit around, watch Shrek 2, and outfit plan. We ended up going to dinner at Del Frisco’s, a pretty great steakhouse in the Midtown area, right by Radio City Music Hall. I sat in between everyone at the table, across from some managers and next to Kelly Faris. Now, I will not lie…this place was amazing. And I think eating with the team causes me to instantly gain a pants size, because DAMN, those girls can put it down. Our waitress wasn’t helping, either. She was a former gymnast, she told us, and kept recommending things for the carbs and antioxidants. By the time I was served my sea bass with sundried tomatoes, I honestly didn’t care if she had brought me a piece of kombu on a plate. I would’ve eaten it.
The best part of the entire meal? I’ve given up any notion of ordering anything other than water when I dine with the team. One time back in Dayton I asked my Dad if it were possible to get a glass of wine, and he looked at me and just laughed. This time? I was about to pull a piece of bread from the communal hunk when Mom called to me. “You want a glass of wine?” she mouthed.
Yes, my friends. At 25 years old, I am now officially old enough to have a glass of wine at dinner with the team. I felt so grown up. Angels may have sung. I immediately got a class of the 1995 cab (it was between that or the 1996…and we lost at the Final Four in 1996. Who am I to jinx us?) and sipped some cool, dry heaven. And then felt really weird for drinking booze right next to the team. What can I say? I still remember ordering chicken fingers at the kids table while Jen, JJ and Rebecca sat at the other side.
The entire meal wasn’t memorable, however. The sweet potato side we ordered was greatly anticipated but I was severely disappointed. It was like eating hot brown sugar. Far too sweet for my tastes. If you like a really good sweet potato dish, make my mom’s. Which you can, if you go to CPTV.org!
[[side note: How Guido is the opening of that segment, with the bones and stuff going into the pot and the traditional Italian music? Absolutely hysterical. And Dad with the Dos Equis side commentary? Stay thirsty, mi amici.]]
After dinner, we had the option of either going on the bus back to the hotel or trekking it on foot. I was weighing my decision but quickly it was made for me by our waiter. I had asked for a cup of decaf coffee to go, so I could have something warm to top off the meal. Our waiter came back with a bag for me. “We don’t have to-go cups,” he proclaimed. I looked in the bag.
In the bag was a Tupperware container with hot coffee in it. I quickly parsed that Starbucks would be in my future.
I decided to walk back with Stefanie, Lauren, Caroline, Buck, and the managers. It was definitely an experience. Lauren was wearing a hat with ears on it, much to the chagrin of Caroline and Stefanie. Caroline looked at the wares of the bootleggers on the side streets and asked “If they stole those bags themselves, is it a crime if I steal one?” We dealt with someone from another school’s band (probably Rutgers) yelling “UCONN SUCKS” as they walked by. Caroline, when she wasn’t effectively maneuvering us through the streets of New York (yelling “You gotta know how to walk on a city street!”) also tried to panhandle at the base of the 30 Rock tree, although it’s hard to beg for money when you’re wearing a Burberry scarf. And we pondered if going into the Adidas store would get us sniped by Nike cops.
As for me? I lusted after Lanvin for H&M in the storefront, marveled at the Cartier Christmas window (it looks like they wrapped the entire building in a glittery bow), froze some toes, and did not see a single Starbucks the entire walk until we got a block away from the hotel. This after going three avenues and seven city blocks. Not a red cup in sight. I was pretty surprised by this, since when I lived in the Village there was literally a Sbux every four feet. Once I secured my venti decaf, I made it back to my hotel somewhat in one piece (although my feet would disagree with me), snuggled up in bed, and watched A Very Potter Musical. If you have not seen that brilliant piece of theatre student creativity and hilariousness starring the gay kid on Glee who is not Kurt, get thee to a Youtube or Voldemort will sic his Zefron poster on you.
This morning, I got up and hit the elliptical at the gym. It was pretty quiet in there, so I rocked out loudly to my playlist and watched a bit of Australia on HBO (I think if Nicole Kidman doesn’t win an Oscar eventually her Botox will win it for her. Holy lip plumpage). I also watched a bit of coverage on our game for ESPN. I don’t like it at all that we’re playing a truly monumental game on the dweeby sister of the ESPN family, but it’ll have to do, I guess.
After my workout and a delicious egg and toast breakfast in the hotel restaurant (I apologize, Grand Hyatt, for sweating all over the nice swivel chairs), I came back up to my room, where I am currently blogging. And seething, a little bit, to be honest.
Poor Digger Phelps. Is he still mad we beat ND by a hundred at the first ever College Game Day? Of course it’s not the same. We’re not saying it’s the same. It’s completely and utterly different. Nobody ever compares the records set by a welterweight with those set by a featherweight or a heavyweight. They are in entirely different boxing methods and classes. It’s entirely different. Yes, we are in the same books as UCLA, perhaps even the same paragraphs. But just look at the accomplishments of the team as just that-of our
And as for YOU, Shaughnessy…I will have you know my Dad never intentionally runs up the score. Ever since we slaughtered Providence in 1998 (we scored 128 points in that game), Dad makes every possible concession to not score and keep the game respectable. Sometimes the blowouts get big, but it’s never to shame the other player. We play great. We play big. We play awesome.
It’s time the rest of the basketball world took notice and caught up to our standards.
All that being said…it’s so bittersweet that our game today takes place against Ohio State, and Jim Foster. I love Jim. He’s a great guy. His son took my sister to prom. I sat in the crowd at the Rosemont in 1996 and hoped to God we’d win, but felt so bad we beat Vanderbilt and Jim. I feel the same whenever we visit Villanova, or when Pat Knapp coached at Georgetown, or when we played Pitt when Shea coached there, or when we had our annual New Year’s Eve game against Hartford. It’s always bittersweet to play (and sometimes beat very badly) people you know and really like. Now, I’m in no way saying we’ll beat Ohio State today. They’re very good. Samantha Prahalis and Jantel Lavender are crazy gifted.
But I like to call it the case of Angel McCaughtry. Stay with me here, this will all make sense.
When we played Louisville in the 08-09 season, I asked Dad how we would beat them with such a force like Angel. Dad’s method was simple. “Angel’s going to score 40 anyway. She can do whatever she wants. It’s the rest of them you have to watch out for. So either she scores 40 and we win, or she scores 10 and we lose. We have to stop the rest of them, because you can’t stop Angel.”
This can apply to any really good team, really. Even to our team. You can’t stop Maya, but try to stop the rest of them. You can’t stop Samantha, Jantel, Nneka, Brittney. But what about the others? Remember, we didn’t almost lose to Baylor because of Brittney. We almost lost because of Odyssey Sims.
But we won against Baylor. And it wasn’t due to Maya. It was all thanks to Bria Hartley. Those are the ones you gotta watch out for.
And now, it’s time for me to get ready for a showdown at the Garden. I hope all the creamed corn from last night settled in…
PS. Yes, I got quoted in Sports Illustrated calling Bryant Gumbel an ‘epic douche’. I don’t take it back for a second. Women having agency in athletics really brings out the worst in people, doesn’t it? I also got described as being my “father’s daughter.” And darn proud of it.