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Delusions of Bookstore Basketball grandeur

Tae Andrews | Monday, April 16, 2007

Preparation is the key to success. So going into this year’s Bookstore basketball campaign, myself and the other members of Team 528 (name censored by the Bookstore commission and probably unprintable here) decided to do our homework and scout out the competition for our first-round matchup.

In other words, we Facebook-stalked the opposing team’s captain, who turned out to be a female student. All right, we thought. Girls team. Easy win. So we did the chivalrous thing and invited the opposing team over for a pre-game get-together to get warmed up for the big event in the spirit of friendly competition.

Unfortunately for us, little did we expect said team to arrive with a female captain and friend, but also packing three guys in tow. We had been Trojan horsed! Team morale was low as we trudged out to Stepan Courts for our play-in game.

On a cold, blustery April night (only in South Bend), the Stepan basketball courts witnessed the first and probably only Bookstore victory by the members of Team 528. After braving the elements and under the protective and loving gaze of an NDSP patrol car, we eked out a hard-fought 21-8 victory. By packing it in and creating an impregnable 2-3 zone defense, which combined with the swirling snow and frostbitten fingers to make outside shooting a virtual impossibility. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t flashy, but a win’s a win and we finally broke through to the exalted promised land of the second round of Bookstore.

Team morale was high. And then we ran into a brick wall. After checking out the bracket, we noticed that Team 528 was slated to play the 16th-seeded team in the tournament. Needless to say, we got a bad draw. Obviously, this didn’t bode well for our chances, but hey, if George Mason could make it to the Final Four of last year’s NCAA Tournament, anything’s possible right?

Wrong. From the moment we arrived at the Bookstore courts, things went from bad to worse. Our opponents arrived with a lot of fanfare, complete with an intimidating cheering section, a team coach, guys dressed in suits, a bunch of hangers-on and even a clown or two. Even worse, they packed a boom box blaring Jock Jams. Talk about intimidating.

And then there were our opponents themselves, who were approximately eight feet tall each and were decked out in ’90s-era NBA jerseys. In other words, they looked like the MonStars from the hit kids film “Space Jam.” Unfortunately for us, Michael Jordan didn’t arrive to save the day, although the end result was certainly comical.

We laid an egg. Literally. As in a goose egg. As in, when the final buzzer sounded there were zeros across the scoreboard on our side. As in, a complete-game shutout. The game basically consisted of a glorified game of Whack-a-Mole.

We tried everything: the pick-and-roll, the give-and-go and even a basketball version of “the Flying V.” To make things even worse, we all seemed to suffer from a sudden and near-total loss of hand-eye coordination, and we coughed up more turnovers than a baker being mugged.

But Team Hobbit (as I dubbed our squad) took solace in two things – first, one of my teammates managed to reject one of the MonStars despite his being eight feet tall; and second, none of the MonStars dunked on us, despite being eight feet tall. So all things considered, it didn’t go too badly. Actually, that’s incorrect. I would say that things could have gone worse, but given that we didn’t score any points, that probably isn’t true.

Anyways, hope springs eternal and fortunately we have one remaining year left of Bookstore eligibility (we’ve all decided to stay in school and not leave early to declare for the NBA draft), so with a little practice and some luck, we’ll be back. There’s always next year (at least until you graduate).