eh eh (nothing else i can say)

You’ve probably missed me this week.  For that, I apologize.

I’ve been busy getting together with friends, spending money in places I shouldn’t (Urban Outfitters should rename a wing in their building after me) and testing recipes in my very small kitchen.  And going to the gym, although I’ve skipped today because it was too nice outside to spend an hour of it sweating indoors.  After going to Columbus Circle to walk around and get some nice clothes for work, I skipped down to Chinatown to get custard buns for Connie as a gift this weekend (we first ate them in London and compare them to ‘angel wings from heaven’).  Chinatown is a 180 from my neighborhood.  While Greenwich Village is a mix of the bizarre and familiar, Chinatown is a stranger to me.  The streets are throttled with activity in a language that I don’t speak, music blares from random openings in walls, and the color red is always in view (a lucky color in Chinese culture).  I walked out of the subway to the instant smell of fish on ice in the numerous open markets around Broad Street (and the smell was pretty rank, I won’t lie).  I went to King Egg Custard Two and got my egg buns, which I’m trying really hard not to eat before Connie does because they smell pretty amazing.
After my Chinatown adventure, I went to Union Square today and read outside, and it was just beautiful.  There was a slightly sharp breeze so even though I had shorts on, I wore a big cardigan to get some warmth while I read my book, Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox.  I recommend it strongly.  Fox is a brilliant writer, and it reaffirms my belief that Rush Limbaugh is a blowhard.  
AFter that, I went out to dinner with a friend who’s in town.  My takeout menu is growing by the day.  
That’s pretty much it, but I would like to address the following picture for a moment:
Who is this insane woman, and what is she doing with my father?
It’s actually my mother, but it’s the strangest photo I have ever seen of her.  My sister was literally crying with laughter when I showed it to her.  We compared her to a serial killer.  Absolutely hilarious.
Now, if you want a good photo of her, here’s a little picture from the Auriemma Family Vault.  This is my communion.  Great of us to make stupid faces in front of Mary and Joseph, right?  Don’t get me started on the fashion mess on display in this picture.  But, what can you do? We were babies.
More later, when I have more to say…
ally

Storytime.

When I was thirteen, Dad beaned me in the groin with a softball.

It wasn’t on purpose.  If it had been, I would be writing this from a foster home (no way would I have put up with clearly an example of abuse and lack of coordination).  But there’s a point to this story, and it begins with my earliest recollections of trying organized sports.
I was a chubby child, although not because I was sedentary.  I swam every day of summer and played sports all through the winter, and I’m pretty sure with all of the time I spent outside in the sun I am due for a big bag of basal cell carcinoma any day now.  But after all of that time basking in the glory of Apollo, I would dive into a burger with French fries soaked in ketchup, and then have a gelato.  I showed no mercy, and in return, the carbs thanked me by making me a chubby kid with glasses.  I wasn’t the only one with this issue in my family.  My sister and brother fell prey to the same victims.   I think they’ll kill me for saying that.  But this is my blog, I can say whatever I want.  
But there was also another issue with me: not only was I a bit of a chubster to the point where I was inclined to steal pieces of cinnamon twist bread and hide it in my bedroom drawers (i’m not kidding), I was also a musical theatre nerd.  And when I say nerd, I mean total freak.  I would sing showtunes in the bathroom, in the shower, in bed, in the kitchen, in the basement, everywhere.  It got to the point where I would be halfway through an impassioned rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream”, Susan Boyle style, only to be interrupted by Jenna’s howls of “WILL YOU PLEASE JUST SHUT THE HELL UP?!?”
Obviously, this kind of alternative lifestyle usually doesn’t mesh with ‘national championship-winning and soon-to-be Olympic coach of a basketball team’.  So I played sports.  Badly.  I tried hard.  But I was awful.  In soccer, I would run and kick the ball, but when I came out in a substitution I would flop down on the grass in Kennedy Field and look up at the burgeoning stars, trying to find constellations.  I would run into the woods and play with spectator’s dogs.  In basketball, I ran like a fat kid running for the ice cream truck (read: slowly) and my idea of a defensive stance was limpidly putting my hand out as the other, faster girl sped right by me. 
The first time I played organized sport was basketball.  I was 8 years old and I was the only girl on my club team at our local YMCA.  I shot with two hands.  The only basket I made the entire year was a free throw in our final game.  I resolved from then on that if I sucked at everything else involving basketball, I would be a great shooter.  Like Pete Maravich, but without every other good skill that the Pistol possessed.  I watched videotape of him and Oscar Robertson obsessively.  I spent hours in the backyard trying to perfect my shot.  When I finally got the hang of it, I turned into a scoring machine.  I would get playing time simply because I knew how to shoot the ball.  In my rec league I was voted MVP twice.  The middle school team that hadn’t taken me in sixth grade now wanted me as backup point guard.  Life was good.  Even the snide comments about me only making the team due to my last name didn’t faze me (after bursting into tears in the bathroom, naturally).  
Eighth grade was my banner year for sports.  I averaged around 5 points a game, and in one of my prouder athletic moments I hit three three-pointers in a row during a highly attended game near the end of the season.  Unfortunately, Dad wasn’t there to see it.  Recruiting’s a bummer sometimes.  He’s made up for it by attending nearly all of my plays and musicals, even the ones that I expressly tell him not to come see because, in my words, “It sucks and you’ll hate it.”
But I had a point in here somewhere.  The story of the softball.  
As I said, I loved my eighth grade year athletically.  I played basketball and loved it, but I wanted something more challenging, something I wasn’t used to.  So I tried out for softball, and to my utter shock, I made the team after a tryout that had me attempting my best Kit Keller impression from A League Of Their Own.  My brother played baseball for travel teams, and he and Dad would have a catch every day outside during the spring.  I decided this was a good time to get some practice in, so I asked Dad if he could alternate a softball and baseball.  
For the first twenty minutes, everything went well.  My dad would throw the baseball to my Mike, then the softball to me, and we’d take turns throwing the ball back, with only three instances of us accidentally throwing at the same time, causing Dad to duck and cover like there was an impending air raid.  Then, my brother stopped paying attention, lost control of his glove, and got whacked in the leg.  He burst into tears.    My dad began laughing.  “Oh, calm down! It wasn’t that bad! Suck it up!”  I giggled too, because I was a horrible child.
God must have heard those giggles, because ten minutes later, I get socked in the left leg, just below groin area.  Immediately (after making sure I would still be able to have children), I remembered what happened to my brother, and I sucked wind, let out a groan of pain, picked up the ball and threw it back to my delighted dad.  He pointed to me. “See? See, Mike? That’s how you deal with something.”
I’ve never forgotten that.  Ever since then, when life gives me something horrible, I give it a moment of grief, and then I deal with it.  My father, if he hasn’t taught me anything, has given me the gift of grit, gab, and stubbornness to a fault.  He taught me to push through hard times and live confidently, even if I didn’t always feel confident. 
My brother’s response wasn’t as revelatory.  After Dad ripped him and and praised my courage and fortitude during the aforementioned epic softball-hitting incident, Mike walked over to me, ripped his baseball glove off, and smacked me upside the head with it.  
Dad shook his head, Mike ran into the house gesticulating wildly to the grass, trees, and dandelion weeds about how he had been done a grievous wrong, and I grabbed at my head and finally started crying.
I still tell this story to my parent’s friends.  And every single time, Dad loses his mind with laughter.
I guess the sight of your children inflicting bodily harm on each other as a result of your lessons about self-reliance can be regarded as amusing…
Oh hell, I think it’s hilarious too.  But like I said, I’m weird.
ally

somewhere that’s green

So.  I made it.

After a day of driving, packing, moving, unpacking, and putting things together, I’m here, settled into my apartment, and nice and satisfied from a frozen organic meal consisting of vegetables and tofu while Family Guy plays.  Don’t judge me.
I don’t really have much of importance to say about yesterday, although I did eat my brains out at the Italian restaurant we went to last night, and my parents treated my moving to NYC like I was heading across the street to get a frozen yogurt.  My dad got me into a big bear hug and said “Yaaaaay, I’m so happy for you! See you soon!” Man, they really wanted me out of that house.  My sister was the same.  She merely said “Talk to you soon! Call me!”  Hearts of stone, these people.
The move-in was pretty seamless, although the sight of my former bedroom at my parent’s house almost bare was intense.  I couldn’t really picture how my new apartment would come together, but thankfully it looks pretty much exactly how I thought it would.  Except for a few minor hiccups (my makeup bag was left behind! I feel naked!), I was happy with how it turned out.  Today all I needed were more groceries, curtain clips, plastic hangers, and the like.  When my sister left and I was on my own, I immediately took a two-hour tour of my new neighborhood.  I attempted to get acquainted with things by putting every restaurant I saw into my Blackberry, as well as bars and lounges or other places of interests.  I got quite a big list.  I also stopped into Urban Outfitters…and bought two books.  I will never not be a nerd. 
The one person that I was dreading saying goodbye to was Connie.  Connie has been my best friend for eleven years, and when there’s no one else around, we’re each other’s lifelines.  She came over last night to give me a going-away present: a thick, blank journal with a picture of us at the Eiffel Tower on it, and a necklace she made for me from beads I had picked out the previous day.  She also gave me a card that I read with trepidation, as I wasn’t sure if I’d cry or not.  I ended up having to console her a lot more than I had to calm myself down.  She was a mess.  I felt terrible.
I love my apartment.  It’s cute.  Sure, it’s only about ten feet bigger than my dorm room junior year of college, but it gets the job done.  It’s very high up, which unless I lean out the window isn’t a problem for me (it makes it harder for people who want to pillage).  Plus, it’s just in one of the best neighborhoods in the best city on earth.  What more could a girl want?
Well.  A job on Broadway.  But that’s for another day…
ally
PS.  My sister thinks NYC is loud.  Actually, I’m far up enough that the noise doesn’t bug me.  It’s the smell that bothers most.  In the summer it’s reminiscent of hot garbage.
PPS.  The cable doesn’t get set up until next week.  Until then, it’s the basics.  That, and Telemundo, which is bizarrely addicting.
PPPS.  There is a Pinkberry and a Red Mango within one minute walking distance of my apartment.  I’m probably going to be obese within about a month.  But it will be worth it.  Oh, frozen yogurt.

but i won’t forget the place i come from

As all of you probably know by now, Dad got picked to be the next USA basketball women’s coach, which includes all of the tournaments up to the 2012 Olympics in London, England.  I’ve been fortunate enough to go to London although not with the team.  Last year, Connie and I packed our bags and flew to England and France for three days apiece without really knowing what the hell we were getting ourselves into.  It was fun, scary, frustrating, exhausting.  I can’t wait to go back there, despite the absolutely heinous exchange rate.

I’ve actually known about this little piece of fun news for about a month and a half.  The news was broken to me over dinner when my brother was home for a weekend from college.  Actually, it was semi-accidentally blurted out.  Jenna mentioned an announcement taking place in April, and me being inquisitive (read: nosy) immediately wanted to know what was going on.  No one answered me.  Dad made a joke that he was retiring.  I told him in words that I can’t print here that a joke like that isn’t amusing.  Finally the news came out and my reaction was a lot of screaming and a lot of bleeped words.
Obviously it became really hard to keep this secret but I managed to keep it in.  I succumbed and told Connie on Monday, and then Gina on Tuesday.  The actual announcement was today but apparently someone leaked it to ESPN yesterday.  I didn’t mind, as it kind of took the weight off of keeping it from everyone that I wanted to tell.  
Tonight is my last night in Connecticut.  It’s strange.  I’ve lived in CT for my entire life.  I lived on the UCONN campus until I was 2 years old and ever since then I have lived in the same town near Hartford.  We’ve moved three times, but never out of the same three mile radius.  I’m so familiar with the sight sound smell feel touch…all of those comfortable feelings that you get when you’re in your hometown.  But I need to break out, that much is certain.  I wanted to move when I was just out of college, but my sister’s engagement prevented that.
Now I’m going to go watch Oprah with my mother, drink decaf coffee, and get ready for a quiet evening of PF Chang’s lettuce wraps and Slumdog Millionaire.  Thankfully I’ve only cried once today…
ally
PS.  Is it weird that I was a little more excited today upon finding out about the new Jen Lancaster and Jennifer Weiner novels than the whole Olympics thing?  Maybe because they’re coming out this year and my dad’s Olympic duties don’t start for another three?  Or maybe I’m just that oblivious to all of the stuff that goes on.
PPS.  A poll:  Should I get Twitter?  Be warned…if I do get a Twitter, you will be bombarded with things such as “In line at Starbucks, I hope they have good yogurt today” or “My hair is raging mutiny on my scalp” or “I think I have pineapple stuck in my teeth.”  I’m not sure if people are ready to find out how boring I really am…aw hell, I’m joining.

i can see your halo

Buona Pasqua mi amici!

And that’s the extent of my Italian.  It’s a shame that I don’t know more of it, but according to Nonna I could never learn from my father because they speak a vintage Napoli dialect that apparently isn’t really spoken at all anymore, plus my father’s grasp of the language is that of an 8 year old’s because he moved here at that age.  I’m pretty sure that if I learned Italian from my grandmother and then went over to Montella, they’d look at me like “What is this girl doing talking like a 77 year old?”
I hope everyone got to Mass today and if it was crowded, I hope it wasn’t too bad on your legs if you had to stand.  I managed to score a spot right on top of a ledge on the side of the church, right on top of the heater.  We were just a little bit late, so when we walked in a huge whisper ran through the crowd.  I was a little embarrassed but I expected it to happen.  As we found a spot near the back, Dad whispered to me, “They’re probably thinking that I only go to church on Christmas and Easter and they’re now mad at me for being a bad Catholic!”
It also didn’t help that my choice of shoes made it painfully obvious that I had messed up on self-tanner earlier this week…the residue went right to my feet and for a day or so it looked like I had stuck them in a deep-fryer.  
By now I’m sure you all saw my piece in the Courant, something that I was really shocked by.  I got a call from my dad when he was in Secaucus for the draft asking me if I could write a piece about the season.  “Just email it to them, they’re expecting to hear back from me,” he said.  
“What, hold on,” I said, trying not to laugh.  “You’re saying that the Courant wants you to write something for Sunday, but you’re now going to ask me to do it for you?”
“Yeah!” he said.  “Don’t worry, I’m telling them about it before you email them the article.  It’s due tomorrow at 1.”
For a perfectionist, my dad is the laziest person I know.  But I managed to type it up and send it in, and I refused to let dad look at it until today in the paper.  However, I was kind of stunned that I got a little preview on the front page and Rebecca didn’t! I thought Rebecca’s article was better than mine…personally I think she’s funnier and better at everything than I am, but once again I digress.
Anyway.  This week is the big move to NYC, and I’m both excited and terrified.  I’ve been wanting this since the minute I graduated from school (UCONN, of course!) and to have it happening so soon is kind of overwhelming.  I keep remembering things that I have to buy and addresses I need to change.  Mom and Dad have been pretty cool about the whole thing, although Dad grumbles every once and a while about the bill.  I’m pretty sure once I strike gold in Manhattan, he’ll be fine with it since I’ll then take over the majority of the rent.  Personally, I’m more excited to see all of my New York friends, and they can’t wait to show me the city.  
I will keep on updating throughout the week but probably not until Wednesday, because until then my life will be a flurry of seeing friends for the last time before I go.  I feel like people think I’m moving to Guatemala…it’s two hours away, people…
ally
PS.  If you don’t have anything to do one of the nights this week, I suggest seeing Adventureland.  It was absolutely brilliant.  Yes, I see silly comedies a lot.   But this one really struck a chord.  

quickly quickly

This isn’t really even a post, just an overall FYI that might germinate into an actual post, since it’s past midnight and I really should be in bed, to prepare for another day of packing my life into boxes for the move to New York in under 7 days.  Plus, I’m feeling tired anyway…I think I just inhaled too much self-tanner.  This Connecticut winter did a number on me.
Thank you so, so much to the lovely people over at the Boneyard for all of your wonderful comments and words of support.  Yes, I do read what you guys have to say…I check in at least once a day during the season, and when postseason hits like it did this past week, I check in all the time! I’m so happy and grateful to you for getting the word out about my blog, and it meant the world to me to know that more than one person cared about my opinion other than my mom.  I saw that my post about the idiot spammer on the boards got a lot of mention yesterday, and I do agree with all of you that the vast majority of what is said on that board is nothing if not complimentary and full of love, and for that I am so grateful.
One more thing about Tina that I thought was cute…on her Facebook today she put up a bunch of pictures from her camera and from AP search engines from St. Louis, and one of the professional pictures taken was of her hugging Dad (*gasp* yes he did hug her that night! SHOCKING!).  The caption she wrote on the bottom was “Made 13 girls dream come true.”
It’s all about love…
ally
PS.  A cute little factoid from the trip…I found out that the final tournament montage was done to that song by Miley Cyrus from the Hannah Montana movie, so I shared it with the girls.  They freaked, and Meghan immediately put it on her iPod and blasted it on the bus.
PPS.  Every single time I got on camera in the tournament, it was always in a light less than flattering.  If I wasn’t chewing gum, I was wearing a hat cockeyed.  If it wasn’t the back of my head, it was the side of my face.  At least I didn’t get caught fistpumping on camera like my mom did during the Cal game.  When we got the game on DVD, Dad made us rewind that bit for about fifteen minutes and could not.  Stop.  Laughing.
PPPS.  Actually, I was caught on camera fistpumping during the Nova game in the Big East semis, when Maya blocked that shot into the second row at the XL.  And I fistpumped with two pretzels in my other hand.  Treacherous!

JUBILATIONS

Finally, I have some time to finish this.  And just an FYI to my dedicated readers out there…just because the season is over, don’t think I’ll stop blogging.  I’m moving to New York City next week (AHHHH) to start my career as an actor, and I will be keeping you updated on the ins and outs of my family, the move, and my Dad’s insanity when I can.  Expect a flurry of updates later on this week, as there promises to be some great developments coming soon! But on to the real meat of the story.

I have so much to say about yesterday and last night, I don’t know if I can push it all into one entry.  But I will try.  I’m going to skip over the happenings of Monday night because really, it was quite boring.  Tuesday morning I woke up around 9 and went down to breakfast with the team, and I found them excited, relaxed, and calm.  I had a little time to kill before shootaround so I went back to the room to put on my sneakers, and I remembered that because it was National Championship Day, they were showing memorable women’s matchups on ESPN Classic.  

Shootaround itself was pretty good, and Tahirah again won the 2-lap drill, as Dad shouted “Still undisputed champion after four years, undefeated!”  Maya came in second after attempting to catch up with her, and doing a very funny impersonation of someone trying to run faster but really not coming close.  At the end of shootaround with about one minute left, Dad called everyone into the huddle, but then decided they needed to run the zone offense one more time.  With about thirty seconds left on the clock, he asked if everyone got the idea of what they wanted to do, and when the team nodded, he said, “Well, go! Go get a ball! Hurry!” And they did their buzzerbeater practice, as usual.  After shootaround, the team wanted to stay in the locker room to watch the end of the 2006 Maryland/Duke game on ESPN Classic, but CD shooed us out because they needed to squeeze in reading time before pregame.  

As we were walking out of the gym, I went to ask Dad a question and I saw him wiping his face with his head down.  I immediately figured it was his allergies, since he’s been congested for the last few weeks with seasonal problems, so I didn’t really make a big deal of it.  I come to find out through Doris Burke’s analysis during the game that it wasn’t allergies.  Dad had cried at shootaround after hearing the sweet things Renee had said about him in the paper yesterday morning.  It was then that it hit me how badly he wanted this for Renee.  For her to go out without a championship would have been heartbreaking.

Because I had two hours to spare, I decided to work out, and I was greeted in the fitness room by Shea, Rosemary (our amazing trainer), JJ, Doc Trojian, and a few other people who work for us.  The great part about this was that at the end of the Maryland/Duke repeat, they showed the 1995 championship game with us and Tennesee.  JJ, as all of you know, played in that game, and whenever she made a great play, Shea screamed from her treadmill.  And we made fun of her mercilessly for her ridiculous hair.  At one point, they showed Dad sitting on the bench before tipoff, and Rosie poked me from her elliptical and said “So handsome!” Not going to lie, I agree.  I’m just glad he got rid of the Afro.

That game was really interesting for me to revisit before we went to the Scottrade Center.  That entire night was a big blur.  I don’t really remember a lot of it.  I was nine years old, with glasses, and wearing a Reebok shirt so humongous that I’m pretty sure you could’ve belted it and turned it into a dress.  My sister and brother were next to me as well as my mom and extended family, and at some points during the ESPN Classic broadcast you can see all of us sitting there.  At the very end of the game you can see my sister getting hugged by our Husky mascot.  I do remember being kind of a rockstar the next few weeks at school, and getting suckered into throwing a pep rally in our gym with my dad, Rebecca, and Jennifer.  But it still didn’t really hit me how big this entire thing is.  It still hasn’t.  I don’t think of my father as anything more than Dad.  Dad, with a pretty cool job.  But still just Dad.

Last night was the first Final Four Championship game that my sister, brother, mom, and I have all been to together since San Antonio in 2002 (Jenna couldn’t come in 2003 because of school, and then she went in my place in New Orleans when I had to stay at UCONN).  Nonna said to me that her palm leaves from Sunday night (that Todd had fashioned into a makeshift cross for her) had fallen apart, and that, to her, was tantamount to a death sentence.  “I have this little piece left, and I’m gonna hold it for the whole game,” she confided, and kissed the cracking, faded leaves in her hands.

For the first few minutes of the game, I was okay.  And then Angel started lighting us up and I went crazy with worry.  I ran to use the bathroom and get some water, and while there I ran into one of my best friends from college, Stacey.  She was a manager for the girls for four years along with Justine, Stacey (another Stacey), Sara, and Abby, and we all played intramural basketball together on the Droppen Deuces (because we are very, very mature).  She told me she was nervous too, so we hung out on the concourse until halftime, noting how many times Tina got a rebound.  I said to Stacey at one point “I think Tina has all of the rebounds in this game.”

By the time the second half started, I managed to move back into my seat and even put my Witness shirt on.  I had felt left out because my sister, Todd, Mike, and Mike’s friend Liam all wore theirs to the game.  Noticing I was wearing it after halftime, my sister said to me, “What the hell are you doing?! You’re going to jinx everything!” Another thing she did that made me laugh was when Tina came out with about 12 minutes to go, and for the whole four minutes she was out of the game, Jenna kept going “Put Tina back in! Put her back in! I want her to get 50 points and 40 rebounds!”

It didn’t hit us until around the 4 minute mark that we had the game in the bag, and that was when there was a TV timeout and we could see my dad doing a seated happy dance.  In the TV timeout! I don’t think he’s ever done that before in my entire life.  My mom had the best realization moment ever, though.  She suddenly grabbed Jenna’s hand and shouted, “Oh my God.  We’re going to meet Obama! AHHHHH!” 

When the buzzer went off and the streamers came down, our whole section just could not stop hugging and a sense of warm, wonderful relief swept through me, like a nervous weight had been lifted off my shoulders (just to be placed on again next year).  Our fantastic NCAA/Big East liaisons were great and got us extra passes so we could go down to the court and see Dad, which was different than in previous years when I’d have to sneak past security with Mom.  After I hugged the assistants, I found Dad, who lifted me off the ground in a bear hug which is kind of hard to do for him…not that I’m a big girl or anything but the guy’s 55, I didn’t want to give him a hernia.

One by one, I found all of the girls and grabbed them aside for an embrace, and I completely lost all composure when Kaili gave me a hug and I saw my sister crying as she let go of Renee with a “I’m so happy for you guys.”  That’s when I think I really started to cry.  I asked Mike if he cried, and his response made my day: “I don’t cry.  I work out.”  My brother, ladies and gentlemen.  I think this is the first Final Four where he hasn’t cried like a baby.

My favorite moment of the aftermath is a collection of small things-watching the confetti fly down onto the court, Tina getting MOP, Dad walking across the court and doing a shimmy dance that was not unlike what he did when he danced with my sister at her wedding (and it remains as adorably stupid as it did then), Dad sticking his head into the hoop to wave to the crowd with the specialized NCAA net-cutting scissors created just for the tournament that just happened to be bright Tennessee orange, Tina doing the Kid N’ Play dance again, Dad getting carried off the court (for the third time!) Renee naming the championship trophy “Nattie” and calling it her baby, and of course, Dad telling the yelling and adoring crowd of fans at the Sears Trophy reception “You guys really are out of your frickin minds.”  To which I heard someone in the crowd yell, “But you love it!”

I wish I could tell you that I partied all night, that I was a trouper and hung out with Husky alumnae young and old.  But in truth, I crawled into bed at 2:30.  My allergies finally got the better of me.  

Today was just a blur of plane ride, airport rally, Gampel rally, and busride home.  I did get a lovely surprise at the gym in the form of Mel Thomas! We saw each other from far away in one of the pavilion hallways and just started screaming and we ran towards each other.  I absolutely love that girl, she’s just great and I’m so happy she’s home to stay from Ireland!  Also, I must say one of the better parts of the day was when I told Dad that I had taped the championship game while we were away.  His response? A gleeful laugh and “OOOH! Let’s watch it when we get home!” So we did…and he proceeded to complain the entire game.  Some things never change…

ally

PS.  Someone on the boards at the Boneyard called my father classless for not hugging Tina Charles at the end of the game yesterday.  First of all, how dumb are you if you expect all of your life’s approvals to be complete with a hug.  And second of all, Dad did something better than a hug for Tina.  As we touched down at Bradley, my father received a call from President Obama, something that is standard protocol when you win the national championship.  We had been waiting for this call since the game ended, especially Tina because she’s in love with the guy.  Dad made his way to the back of the plane as he chatted with the President and got to where the team was sitting so they could hear him, and the girls crowded around him practically buzzing with excitement.  As the conversation wore on, Dad said, with a smile, “I think the person who you should talk to is our Final Four MOP.” And with that, he passed the phone-and the President of the United States-to the person he did not hug at the Final Four-Tina Charles.  You can call my dad a lot of things (I’ve called him an idiot about three times today and that’s a light day) but he will never not be classy and you can’t ever argue that with me.  Of course, I’m his spawn, so I don’t know if it’s a fair fight…

PPS.  To all of the people in St. Louis who said they loved my blog, thank you so, so much.  And to all the people in St. Louis who told my sister they loved my blog because they thought Jenna was me…you made me laugh quite a lot on a day when I was feeling really, really ill.  My sister came into my hotel room and said to me “Um, people keep coming up to me and thinking I’m you and saying how much they love me.” I was extremely amused.

witness.

I meant to say this the other night, but the Terminator: Salvation commercial that they spliced with the men’s Final Four footage on semifinal night was probably the best form of product placement I’ve seen in the entire tournament.  Well, that and the Guitar Hero ad with Bob Knight in his skivvies.

At one point last night, I turned to Jack Eisenmann’s brother who was sitting next to me during the game and I said, “Is this really happening? Are we really almost up by 40?”

Those two games were surreal.  But I will get to those later.  First, my day yesterday.  And once again, I’m sick.  I don’t mean sick of St. Louis.  The life on the road will wear you down.
I was supposed to get up at 9 yesterday with the team, but my Nonna, who had flown in Saturday night, had decided to knock on my door at the grand hour of 7:45.  I went to get her and she wanted to go to breakfast.  Naturally, I’m not going to say no to my grandmother.  She’s Italian.  I’d wake up with a horse head in my bed.  But I managed to push it back to around 8:30, and we went down to breakfast and I got her past the security in our private room (like me, they won’t say no to Geno’s mom…she holds precedent over everyone).  My Nonna is so cute…at one point she wanted to bring a breadroll back to her room and there was a couple minutes where she was wracked with guilt about it, trying to hide it in her purse.  All of the girls came down a little while later, and one by one they hugged my Nonna hello, which shows how sweet these girls really are.  I’m not sure which one is my Nonna’s favorite on the team right now.  She loves Sveta, Diana, and I think Kaili is climbing the ranks of her favor.
After breakfast, I greeted my sister and her husband, who had flown in the night before.  They took Nonna to church (it was Palm Sunday, after all) and I went on to shootaround, which was exactly how the shootaround before Arizona State played out: Quick, efficient, enthused, and businesslike.  And yes, at the end of practice, I hit my buzzer beater.  In fact, I missed my first one and I had enough time to put up another one.  I won’t let it go to my head, trust me.
After the game, I tried to talk to Dad a little bit, but I could tell he was too focused (or too nervous) to really say anything back.  The team was relaxed, but he was kind of a wreck.  I knew that he wanted the game to go well for Renee to get to that title game that he’s wanted for her all season long.  And because he was nervous, I got really, really nervous.
After shootaround, I had a bunch of time to myself, so I went back to the gym, and once again I was in there at the same time as Shea.  And once again, I pushed it, and once again, I wobbled out of the room on Jell-O feet.  And I had no wiggle room.  
If anyone on the team was even slightly nervous, they didn’t show it.  They were focused, but completely relaxed, joking around and smiling at pre-game meal and on the bus ride to the arena.  Maya even danced a little to “Sneakernight” on the bus (which I still think is the stupidest song ever, but I digress).  As non-essential personnel, I almost had to get shuttled into the main entrance, but by the time I realized this, the tunnel door had shut so Nonna and I got the VIP treatment of an elevator to the front door.
The games were polar opposites of what I assumed would happen.  While Louisville completely shocked me with their win, Stanford kind of folded under our all-consuming pressure.  I had been terrified all day, but the minute Tiffany hit that opening three-pointer, I knew it would be a good day for us.  I freaked out just a bit when Stanford cut it to one, but then Renee lit them up and it was smooth sailing from there.  Even when the Cardinal went on a run, they couldn’t get within 18.  I even had to calm down Nonna at one point!  My brother was really, really into it.  At one point, Maya threw up a three and Mike stood up and shouted “YOU’RE BETTER THAN EVERYONE.”  I think Maya heard him, because the shot was a brick.  I turned around and shouted “Mike, shut up!”
After the game, I brought Nonna to the locker room to get her something to eat.  She refused to sit inside because she didn’t want anyone asking her questions (“I’m-a scared, Lysa, I no want people askin’ me things”), so Sarah Darras brought a chair outside for her to sit on while she had some water.  I managed to grab a Final Four guidebook from the room and I sat outside with her, watching the media stream in and out.  Finally, it seemed like there weren’t a lot in there, so I grabbed her and we sat inside.  
Everyone was happy.  Renee in particular was thrilled, and was even happier when our team doctor managed to get her a huge bowl of cut-up carrots and ranch dressing.  She refused to let anyone else have any until we got back to the hotel, and I think she ate the entire thing.  This morning, she told me she had some before breakfast, too.
The best moment of the bus ride home was when CD told the team that wake-up would be at 10, a luxury for these girls who had been getting up at 8.  From their reaction, you would’ve thought that Oprah had given them a free Pontiac G-6.  
My one regret? I didn’t get to wear my Witness tshirt.  I had one, but Mike had left it in his room.  If we win on Tuesday, I will probably wear it for the next two weeks.
Now, I’m going to go work out before the afternoon crunch of practice (and Shea’s already worked out today so I can take it easy today).  Happy Opening Day to the St. Louis Cardinals.  Our hotel is situated around the ballpark area, so I can hear the music blaring from my room.  Hopefully they’ll do a good job.  Me? I’m all about the Sox…
ally
PS. Dad’s comments about race were talked about today on 1st and Down today.  One of the guys disagreed with the way he said it, but then he followed it up with “I don’t cover girls basketball so I don’t know how race is perceived in that sport.” Um…maybe you shouldn’t talk about it, then? It’s prevalent in women’s basketball that if you’re white, you’re stereotyped to be a wuss.  I can think of about five girls from my dad’s teams that prove that wrong, however.  Diana Taurasi tops the list of people who could easily break my arms.
PPS.  The fruit at this hotel is insane.  I could eat it all day, every day, for the next three weeks.  And that’s just a bit of Random from my head at this point.  I think the Mucinex is kicking in.

spartans take down the dog pound

First of all, the rest of my blogs will be coming from my trusty Blackberry, as my computer’s Internet access is on hiatus. Ah, well. I guess I’ll use my computer for more lofty persuits, like watching Superbad for the nine bazillionth time.

Today was just as jampacked as I thought it would be. The team got up at 8 with the exception of Maya and Renee and Tina, who were already at the other hotel for the presentation of the State Farm All-Americans. We were shuttled off after breakfast to watch their presentation, and to witness the announcement of the Wade Trophy recipient. The winner was Maya, who was incredibly humbled by the award and kept thanking her teammates and God. The teams this year were pretty rowdy, and screamed a lot. And it was really cool to see how many girls knew each other. Kaili in particular is best friends with Marissa Coleman, so they shared a big hug.

After the presentation, it was back to the junior college for our private practice. it was quick and light. At one point Dad demonstrated a play which lead to a surprise opening for an easy shot, and he shouted ‘gotcha!’

Practice was over fairly quickly. Indeed, about 25 minutes early! When I pointed this out to Dad, he simply said, “the time for talking is done. Now we do it.”

Then we went to the Scottrade Center for media interviews and press conferences, and the girls were pretty amused by the tall cubbies in the locker room. So amused, in fact, that I walked out of the bathroom to find that five of them had gotten inside them. It made for quite a funny picture, like human Jenga.

Open practice was a ton of fun, except for when Dad pointed out to me that the arena we were in used to be called the Savvis Center. That’s when I knew that we would be playing on the same court that we lost on 8 years ago in the Final Four. Just being in that building again made me woozy. That loss was devastating, and I really want this team to rid that hurt from this city. Its too pretty a town to hurt that bad.

After practice, we had an autograph session, where I saw a bunch of friends from camps past. Then, we were shuttled off to the AP Player and Coach of the Year announcement. Maya and Dad won, and it was a sort of hilarious press conference because it took place in an almost cavernous hotel ballroom…and there were only about thirty people inside. The guy didn’t even need a mic, yet there he was on a podium. Another highlight was Dad getting pictures taken with his trophy. He was urged to smile a little more, and so he did. And then he did a Zoolander Blue Steel. Classy.

Dinner was slightly rambunctious, as we watched the Uconn-Michigan State game. I was shocked at the way it turned out, but once the dunk on Stanley Robinson was over with, the Huskies just gave up. They played very fast and got very desperate, and it was frustrating to watch. Also, I could practically feel the eyes of Connecticut fans turn to us as we prep for our battle against Stanford tomorrow. I won’t lie and say I’m not nervous. But nerves are a good thing.

Check with you tomorrow, after the initial madness…

Ally