The alarm sounds. It is 5:30. Damn. I get out of bed. It is pretty cold this morning; my house of eight years was built in the same year that my now deceased grandmother was born in — 1915, and she lived until she was 102 — and there isn’t any insulation between the plaster and brick that forms the outer shell of this thing. God I have a lot of stuff today. And the Texas Longhorns play tomorrow night and I have to write a preview.
The bedroom door cracks and I walk out. I creep downstairs, grab the bottle sitting on the counter, and then walk back up and feed my son. His room, equipped with a thermostated space heater, is pleasantly warm at first, but after a time the room is warm enough that it becomes uncomfortable for those of us who aren’t little babies. I almost want to vomit from the heat; he is pretty damn happy.
He sucks the bottle down; he is hungry today. His name is Peter, which is a name shared with one of the founders of BON (Peter and Andrew; these are pretty good names). I am alone with my thoughts.
What can I say about the Radford Highlanders? They are actually pretty good, but how do I sell to the readers of the blog that there is a big space in between The Citadel and North Carolina. Radford sits there, one of the better programs in the Big South coming off a season where it made the NCAA tournament. Most of its key contributors are back.
If we have a second son, my wife wants to name him Alex. Alex Haley. Yes. I think Alex Haley puts unfair expectations on the kid. I would rather name him Cornelius, since we are naming our kids after prominent New Testament figures; anyway, it is a good Roman name.
Plus I grew up in Buffalo in the era of Cornelius Bennett. And the Planet of the Apes was badass. We are probably too old for another kid anyway; we took so long to have our first that many people asked me awkwardly if we had planned it.
Oddly enough, we had, but now I will be in my sixties when I am hauling my kid’s stuff off to college.
The baby is finished eating, and is cheerful as usual. I will hold him as I watch the game. As I watch Texas face Radford, coached by Mike Jones, who was an assistant coach for Shaka Smart in the first few years at VCU.
Now Smart is doing him a solid, and scheduling a game with a friend who coaches a team that is good enough to give major conference programs trouble, but not good enough that these major conference teams will get credit for the win.
Because Radford is 5-1, with a win against Notre Dame. Its sole loss is against Duquesne, another team coached by a close friend of Shaka Smart, Keith Dambrot, the coach Smart worked with and for at Akron, and who before that had coached LeBron James in high school. And before that had coached Central Michigan for two seasons and was fired for a mistake he surely regrets. (Readers of the footnotes of Smart Texas Basketball 2016 will know this.)
Now it is time for dog number one. He has lymphoma, based on what the vet saw on a microscope slide. But he is somehow hanging on, and seems still happy and peaceful. I carry him downstairs and give him food and water. I take him outside. Then the other dog gets a walk. Then I scramble into my car, and drive to work. There is a lot to do.
Radford is going to slow the game down — no Havoc here — and play small. Ed Polite is a 6’5 senior four-man who is tough as nails and will play from the perimeter; the sort of player Smart and Jones worked with at VCU. I am 6’6, and am just a clown. What a world.
Sophomore point guard Carlik Jones has looked so far like a monster. He is an attacking, playmaking guard who defends his ass off. The kind of guy you just have to respect and who you want on your side. And he is from Cincinnati.
Here is how Radford made the NCAA tournament last year. That is Jones; you have to respect that.
Texas looked pretty good in Vegas. The Longhorns started to tap into their potential. This should be a good Texas team. You should probably start to pay attention, and Radford isn’t exactly chopped liver either, whoever the hell would eat such a thing in 2018.
The drive, and the rest of the day, go well. We don’t need to discuss it, other than it was a rather long day. I come home, cook dinner, and have a drink. And another. And maybe one more. And I sit down to write this article.
The game tips at 6 p.m. Central and airs on the Longhorn Network.