Sad, but true. In 1995, I started running an NCAA tourney pool. No cost entry. The winner got a sweet trophy ordered online. It's one of the most fun things I do each year. I really enjoy it. So, for the first time in 13 years, I am forced to discontinue the tradition because we will be driving cross country during the first round! Unbelievable timing on my part. So, if you've played in the past, it will be back next year. If you've never played and want in. . . it will be back next year!
Just a quick FYI. I'm leading with the sports. There's a paragraph at the end about how we're doing, but this one is pretty focused on the race for College Basketball Player of the Year. Feel free to skip to the end, if needed.
Look, Tyler Hansborough is a good player - a great college player even. He has some really nice tools and an engine that just won't quit and he plays for the number one team in the country. He's clean-cut. He doesn't have tattoos. He's in his thrid year in school and, especially if the TarHeels fail to win it all, he will most likely be back in Carolina Blue next year. He says all the right things. He does all the right things. He absolutely deserves to be a Naismith Award Finalist and a 1st Team All-American. Oh, and one more thing. He's white.
Now, let's talk about Michael Beasley. He, too, is a great college player and will most likely be a great pro player, too. He has an incredible tool chest full of basketball talents. He can score inside and outside. He can rebound. He can play defense. He doesn't back down from a challenge. He plays on the 3rd place team in the Big 12, but a definite NCAA tourney team. He's a little rough around the edges. He has lots of tattoos. He's in his first, and most likely only year in Manhatten, no matter what the 'Cats do in the tourney. He doesn't say the right things. He absolutely deserves to be a Naismith Award winner, a 1st Team All-America and the Freshman of the Year. He also deserves to be the National Player of the Year. And, also, he's black.
No, I'm no Jason Whitlock. I don't play the race card often. In fact, except for making the Big 12 tougher and better, I've spent much of this year rooting against Michael Beasley. He predicted, then beat, my beloved Jayhawks in Manhatten, ending a prolific winning streak for KU. He's brash. He's scary. He drives me crazy. But, he is far and away the very best basketball player that I have seen this year. I mean, it's not even a debate. He is clearly better than Tyler Hansborough. Sorry, Carolina fans. He is. He is the best college basketball player this year and should be awarded accordingly.
But, a strange thing is happening this year. Tyler was on the cover of SI. Tyler is getting all the press as Player of the Year. Tyler is the favorite to win the big national awards. Are you kidding me? Have these guys been watching the same games I've been watching? This should not even be an argument. Let's play pretend. Ignore the fact that Beasley isn't the kind of player Roy would ever recruit - Roy doesn't like superstars - even though the only National Championship he's ever won is with a team of Superstars that were recruited by the coach he replaced. No, Beasley would never fit in in Carolina. But, this is the suspension of disbelief, so let's pretend Beasley played in Carolina with Wayne Ellison and Ty Lawson. Can you even imagine that team? Seriously? Would we even be talking about Memphis or UCLA or Tennessee or Duke or Kansas right now? Nope. This would be early 90's UNLV level dominant. We'd be looking for hot tub pictures with boosters. Now, Hansborough in Manhatten? Nice team. Bill Walker is good and Blake Young is okay. But they wouldn't be a big deal. Tough team. Not scary. Not all that threatening. Not necessarily a tourney team.
So what does that mean to me? It means there is some other reason that Tyler is getting all the pub for National POY. Well, as Whitlock would say, it's because he's white. Like I said, that's not my forte. But I do think it holds some water. The politically correct way to say it is that it's about image. But that's really just semantics. "People" like the clean cut kid from rural Missouri. "People" like the kid that compliments his opponents and owes it all to his coach. "People" like the never say die engine and the two parents at home and the willingness to graduate. I know that these are broad stereotypes - but that's really all image is. When it comes down to it, this award should be about talent. And, like it or not, the very best player in college basketball is Michael Beasley. Forget about the other stuff. Give it to the kid. He's leaving anyway. Give him what he deserves!
Now, for the family stuff. We're heading out soon for Vegas. We're getting really excited and a bit sad, as well. I've dealt with the stress of a cross-country move and a new job by having an extremely painful colits flare-up that eventually required a return to predisone and a three-bag blood transfusion. Now, that's the definition of unmanaged stress! I've got to do better. On the upside - the blood transfusion has been amazing. My energy level has jumped immensley. And, that really makes sense. After all, my hemoglobin was at 5.4 - I think 13 is normal. So, we're almost ready. Leah is dealing with the stress better than me - and has been carrying the bulk of the water for the last couple of weeks. She is amazing. She really keeps me going. The kids have had their last day of school - Spring Break next week - and are excited, and a bit nervous to head out. Kate had a bit of a breakdown the other night. They are going to miss their friends, which is easily what makes me most nervous. I just want them to find a good friend with a good family when we get there. They are really good kids and I know that they will make friends, but that's still the future. Right now we can only look forward. So, we can't wait to get there. It's going to be awesome. Now we pray that the house sells. Keep that in your prayers!
We have returned - and we have a house. Leah and I spent the last four days of last week on a house hunt in beautiful Las Vegas. For some reason - probably because we'd been told how bad the market was - I assumed we'd walk in, find some beautiful dream house that the bank had taken over, make an offer and that would be that. Well, not quite. You see, apparently, when some homeowners learn that they are going to lose their home, they take it out on the house! Not good. We looked at some really scary foreclosures! I mean, two inch cockroach in the shower kind of scary. But, we looked at some really nice homes, as well. We finally decided on a new construction two story home in Southwestern Las Vegas. We love it. I don't have the pictures on my computer, but Leah just posted them to her blog, so check them out here: http://midwestkarpowitz.blogspot.com/.
So, assuming the loan process goes as expected over the next few weeks, we'll soon be homeowners in Las Vegas! We are really excited. We've only had a couple of panic attacks about making such a sizable purchase. But, that happens! With the warm there and the cold here and the plane rides, I once again have a sinus infection. That's awesome.
The Jayhawks looked like the team they were supposed to be on Saturday night in handling Beasley and the Wildcats. Sherron Collins in nearly 100% and Brandon Rush played with a rarely seen fire. Maybe February was just a blip and they will be ready for March! I sure hope so. Two more league games and then the tourneys start. I love this time of year. Go 'Hawks!
"Baptized of John in the river known as Jordan, He commenced His official ministry to men. To the sophistry of Satan, Jesus turned His back. To the duty designated by His Father, He turned His face, pledged His heart, and gave His life. And what a sinless, selfless, noble, and divine life it was. Jesus labored. Jesus loved. Jesus served. Jesus testified. What finer example could we strive to emulate? Let us begin now, this very night, to do so. Cast off forever will be the old self and with it defeat, despair, doubt, and disbelief. To a newness of life we come—a life of faith, hope, courage, and joy. No task looms too large; no responsibility weighs too heavily; no duty is a burden. All things become possible.'"
President Thomas S. Monson, April 2008 General Conference