March Madness is filled with Sadness and Gladness, but for the I.U. men it ended early on a sour note. The sad part is that we’ll never see this starting lineup again, as graduation and the NBA takes its toll. It’s particularly difficult because there are no supportive players, with the exception of Xavier Johnson if he gets another year, and sole returning starter Trey Galloway, that made any kind of significant contribution this season. Granted, Geronimo, Leal, and Duncomb have been hurt, while Reneau had to play in the shadows of TJD and Race Thompson. Gunn, Banks, and Bates have been disappointing, so we’ll have to rely on the transfer portal and the two incoming freshman, Jakai Newton and Gabe Cupps, to put together any kind of competitive team.
The BIG 10 once again failed to deliver in the tournament, showing that the talent in our league is relatively average. The Big East and SEC each have three representatives. The defending champion Big 12 has two competitors, while the remaining eight conferences send one each, including the Big 10 that started with eight possibilities. Michigan State in 2000 was the last BIG to win it all, twenty-three long years ago. To be fair, Indiana was the runner-up in 2002 to Maryland, before the Terps joined the conference in 2014.
I.U. has yet to win a BIG 10 basketball tournament in the 25-years since its inception, let alone add another national championship banner. Adding more teams will make this even more difficult, not to mention physically draining after a long season of butting heads. As a fan, I find this all very discouraging. Thinking about next year’s chances certainly doesn’t make me feel any better. Mine is a seemingly hopeless, two-decade-plus case of March Sadness.
Another Sunday is upon us, with nothing on the calendar – no guests, no dinner plans, and no events to attend. Basketball will be the priority, as the final eight teams complete the Sweet Sixteen. Will Indiana be one of them, or will this be the final time this team plays together? Back Home in Indiana, Kokomo and Ben Davis will battle for the 4A state championship. Of course, there’s a touch of snow on the ground. It’s even cool here in paradise with a brisk wind.
An active week looms ahead with multiple visitors, a boat ride, dinners, baby sitting, more basketball to watch, and a baseball game on the agenda. The Hoosiers could play Houston on Friday, or will Miami steal that slot? The women, after defeating Tennessee Tech without All American McKenzie Holmes, also face Miami on Monday, but times have yet to be announced. A double victory would be sweet! My bracket is still competitive since none of the other participants predicted the shocking upsets. The way is cleared for a new National Champion with the Kansas loss to Arkansas! Soooey!
As if anyone really cares, I managed to solve my 100th consecutive Wordle game and am hooked on a Solitare Cash app. Speaking of game playing, we got involved in another heated contest of Code Words with friends last night. It was a gift from my wife’s youngest daughter after being introduced to it in Kauai. We’ve played twice in the last month after dinner on the lanai. Wine again clouded our communication skills. It was also a factor, along with the cold wind, in this morning’s shortened run. It will be a good day to sit inside, watch hoops, and eat chili.
I bought an Alice in Wonderland Limoges on E-Bay to celebrate our 25th anniversary of collecting these unique, porcelain boxes. It ties in nicely with our recent trip to Las Vegas and Disney World. I wrote this poem to recap our adventure, the only downside was a lost wallet.
Two Adult Playgrounds,
A plane ride apart.
Night in Orlando,
Is where we start.
Eataly for a bite.
A bunch of dummies,
At the Fator show.
Blackjack and slots,
Stealing our dough.
McCormick and Schmick’s,
For martinis and scotch.
No need for a watch.
Mon Ami Gabi,
Then Mott 32,
For more nourishment,
As our appetites grew.
A Hugo’s rose.
Disney is calling,
But sleep, we cried.
Time for Tea.
Buzz and Peter,
None for free.
Until Tiger’s hug,
The Castle fireworks,
By far the best.
It’s a retirement trip,
We won’t soon forget.
We kept our shirts,
But lost a wallet.
Copyright 2023 johnstonwrites.com
It was a late night for the No. 4 Seed Hoosiers in Albany, but the 71-60 final score over No. 13 Kent State says it all about the ‘Magical Rule of 60.’ In its simplest form, keep the opposition from more than 60 points and mark it in the victory column. By the same token, No. 1 Seed Purdue fell short of No. 16 Farleigh Dickinson 63-58, marking the third consecutive NCAA Tourney year that the Boilermakers have been stunned by a team seeded 13 or worse. Defense is still the key to winning key college basketball games.
I.U. got only 4-points from the bench, but Trayce and Race combined for 44-points and 20-rebounds, earning the right to play No. 5 Seed Miami for a potential trip to the Sweet 16. The Hoosiers got to 60 on a TJD dunk at the 8:12 mark, securing a 12-point bulge over the Golden Flashes. It was the first step to the second round of the NCAA Tournament since 2016, reminiscent of the 2002 match-up between the two teams when Indiana made a Cinderella run to the Elite Eight and then defeated Oklahoma, coached by Kelvin Sampson, to get to the finale against Maryland. Sampson’s Houston team looms ahead in this year’s bracket.
The top-seeded, I.U. women face No. 16 Seed Tennessee Tech in their NCAA Tourney opener in Bloomington. Mackenzie Holmes, matching Trayce Jackson-Davis’ honors, was also named a First Team All-American. The regular season champion Hoosiers failed to win the BIG Tournament, falling to Ohio State, despite a team-high 20-point performance from Grace Berger. They hope to regain some momentum in their drive to win the program’s first National Championship.
I’ll try not to harp on my medical woes or aging body like I did on yesterday’s post. They are, however, part of the retirement hassles that everyone deals with in life. I’m just fortunate that nothing is seriously wrong – fingers crossed (See Post #1329). It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so I wore bright green on my morning run. We have little planned except for an outdoor choir performance by Encore. Maybe they will sing, “Irish Eyes are Smiling?’ Tomorrow night we’re back to having guests for dinner.
We’ve been invited to cruise the Bay on our neighbor’s boat. I didn’t even know that he owned one, but he has a decal on his truck that reads, “Tangled Up in Blue,” a Bob Dylan classic. It apparently means stuck to the same girl – is it his wife or his boat? I know from experience that the best two moments of boat ownership are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. My wife has been anxious to find someone with a boat since we’ve moved to Florida and finally, she has succeeded.
The NCAA tourney goes into the second day, after several upsets busted my bracket yesterday. I can only hope that Indiana does not fall into the same trap later tonight. These lower seeds have something to prove – just ask No. 2 seed Arizona and No. 4 Virginia – their seasons are over no thanks to No. 15 Princeton and No. 13 Furman.
I tried to give blood yesterday, as I have on many other occasions. For some odd reason, my iron count was too low to donate Double Red Cells, so I had to settle for Whole. However, after struggling to find a vein and bruising my skin significantly, the nurse couldn’t get my blood to properly flow. She was about to stick me in the other arm, when I decided to wait for the next Bloodmobile visit to our community. I still don’t know if it was operator error or simply another sign of old age.
I am finally caught up on my logging, slogging, and blogging. My diary is up to date, entries on the blog have been made to compensate for missing posts, and the daily 5k slow jogs (slogs) through the neighborhood continue at their regular time each morning. ‘Home Sweet Home,’ although we’ve been out every night this week, and fight over use of the car or golf cart for travel to baseball games, doctor and chiropractor appointments, not to mention tap, aqua fit, bridge, or chair yoga classes. Tonight, we dine at home after a week of restaurants or fast food in Vegas, Orlando, and Venice.
The NCAA basketball tourney starts today. We might even get back to watching an episode of Lost after the travel hiatus. I’m also giving blood and pee this afternoon, but not at the same time. In addition to these lines of excitement, I am dealing with an electrical box recall. An Indy friend will be here on Monday followed by my wife’s brother, so there’s little rest for the weary.
A mysterious injury to my right bicep has prevented doing my push-up regimen and it’s been too cool to get in the pool. Flabby arms are not attractive. My stamina has also suffered as a result of some congestion and light-headedness. I took a Covid test as a precaution and it proved negative. New medication may be a factor, but “The Streak” continues despite these struggles (consecutive day 5,191). More likely it’s just a result of burning the candle at both ends.
I was out of town for the last three games of the season and had to monitor the play-by-play via the internet. When I first checked the score against Michigan, Indiana looked to be off to in good start on senior day at Simon Skjodt. The Hoosiers widened the margin to 14 at 4:02 before a Kobe Bufkin dunk started a run for the Wolverines and I could just hear Don Fisher saying, “suddenly, Indiana’s lead is just two at the half 29-27.” Fouls were a big issue as Galloway had three and Schifino two. Fortunately, Michigan was just 2-for-11 on 3s, while I.U. continued its season-long struggle from beyond the arc at 1-for-9. the second half for Indiana. The Wolverines pulled ahead 49-38 with 14:02 remaining and still had a double-digit lead at 10:02. Thoughts of melancholy senior speeches, just like last year, entered my head. However, the Wolverines seemed to stall on 59, as if they were haunted by my ‘Rule of 60’ and let the Hoosiers close the gap to 60-59 at 6:11. Despite the fact that Michigan got to the magic mark first, the game would go to overtime after both Hunter Dickinson and Trayce Jackson-Davis missed game-winning opportunities.
I.U. took advantage of new life and scored the first six points in overtime to make it 75-69, but Dickinson’s trey cut the lead to 75-72 with 1:58 left. Race Thompson could have sealed it with12.5 seconds left, but missed both free throws and again with 4.1 seconds remaining. However, his hustle and rebounding became the difference in a 75-73 much-needed victory. He also finished with a double-double, second in scoring behind TJD’s 27-points, coupled with nine rebounds, and 4 assists, in both players’ final home game. It earned them the No. 3 conference seed in the BIG tournament, with Maryland as the first opponent.
First team All-American, Trayce Jackson-Davis and BIG Freshman of the Year, Jalen Hood-Schifino sought revenge against the Terps and responded with 24 and 19 respectively. Once again, foul trouble haunted the Hoosiers, but the bench bailed them out. Reneau and Bates were both impressive as part of the 13-point back-up contribution. It was also the eighth time Indiana has been behind in the second half of a game but came back to win anyway, a habit we could probably do without, responding to the seven-point Maryland edge. The final score of 70-60, once again supports the magic nature of the number 60. As a result, they got the chance to avenge their worst road loss, after giving up a ridiculous 18 made three-pointers by the Penn State Nittany Lions in Un-Happy Valley.
Sadly, the United Center was also unfriendly to the Hoosiers, falling short to Penn State, missing a third shot at sweeping Purdue, and winning their first Big Ten Championship in 22 tries. However, the 22 total victories this year plants them firmly in the field for the first time in seven long seasons. I was not on the edge of my seat waiting to see if they were bound for the NIT.
The three-point-shot continues to consistently be the downfall of this team. They either can’t make them or defend against them. Although Penn State only managed 8-23 this time, the Hoosiers responded with a disappointing 2-14 in the 77-73 loss. At the 5:25 mark, Camren Wynter hit his second trey of the night to make it 61-51, and although I.U. came back at the end, Hood-Schifino missed the game-tying three with :09 seconds to go. He finished with only 11-points playing more like a freshman than top NBA draft choice. Trayce Jackson-Davis had another double-double, as Purdue went on to win the Big Ten Tournament Championship in addition to their regular season crown and I.U. settled for the No. 4 seed in the Midwest against Kent State. The Hoosier women claimed a No. 1 tourney seed.
After three nights in Vegas, we were back in Orlando, ready to meet my grandkids at Disney World. An old fart like me enjoys a routine, so long breaks away from the norm tend to be exhausting. The constant noise, scream-talking, lack of sleep, rich meals, and alcohol have already taken their toll, with two more days of Disney magic through the eyes of a four-year old yet to experience. We’ve really stacked one thing on top of another throughout March, including these two travel stops, dining with friends, Hippie Fest, IndyCar, Spring Training games, movies, concerts, house guests, Gypsy musical, and neighbor parties, in addition to our normal routine.
It’s funny, because my wife’s physician scolded her about the snowbirds that live in our neighborhood. “They come to their Florida second homes and think they’re on vacation, dragging you into their world of constant partying. They are bad for your health,” she warned. We’ve fallen into their trap, adding even more activities to our busy routine.
We managed one evening at Epcot without additional family – just the two of us for dinner at Le Creperie de Pari, the Ratatouille ride, and fireworks. There were, however, thousands in the park on the first day of Florida spring break. My son and his entourage arrived later that night. My wife and I stayed at the Marriott Vacation Club Harbour Lake property and met him in the Magic Kingdom the next morning. My four-year-old granddaughter was now old enough to appreciate the rides and characters, but she did not seem openly impressed. The other two grandkids had been there many times. It wasn’t until the afternoon lunch at the Crystal Palace with the Winnie the Pooh characters that they all seemed to light up. It was a pricy affair but well worth the price of admission after the expansive buffet, hugs and autographs. We all left the park that night after the fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle with lots of pictures, smiles, and memories.
The kids stayed for four more days, while my wife and I headed to lunch with friends at Ovation BBQ on the drive back home. Once we picked up Tally at Schnauzerville, it was time to get dressed for Hippie Fest, a fundraiser that also included a pre-party at a neighbor’s house. We donned our headbands, beads, jeans, and tie-dye but it didn’t hide the bags under our eyes. After a few dances we snuck away from the crowd in favor of our beds. Finally, we were home and looking forward to transitioning into our normal busy life routines…at least for a month or so.