Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Chinstraps and Mouthpieces: Fever? You bet I’ve got the fever

March 21, 2007

Christopher Walken, during a "Saturday Night Live" skit, said it best: "I've got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell."

I'd have to agree.

But, as much as my fondness beams for the cowbell, it burns brighter for basketball.

My fev-uh reached a boiling point when the Tonganoxie High girls basketball squad made its run at the Class 4A state championship.

As was the case two years ago, the Chieftains made a thrilling run, coming oh so close to the title game.

Of course, the THS student section aided in making Salina's Bicentennial Center a perfect state tournament venue.

The students, positioned just behind the Tonganoxie bench, rattled the lower section of seating -- on the same risers the media members and scorekeepers were assigned.

At one point, I thought I was at Worlds of Fun and needed to click a safety bar across my lap. The risers rattled so hard with the Chieftain fans' enthusiasm that I wondered whether I was getting ready for the Timber Wolf or covering a basketball game.

The March 10 loss to Andover Central in the consolation game, however, meant I was hoop-less.

All the pageantry surrounding the state run had come to unfortunate end

It seemed I was coming down from the natural high of covering a state tournament somewhere between Abilene and Junction City along Interstate-70.

Luckily, I refilled my prescription with a heavier dosage -- the NCAA Tournament.

With three weeks of basketball, my fix has been fulfilled.

That being said, a third straight first-round exit for Kansas might have brought on some nasty symptoms.

However, the Jayhawks were paired with the Niagra Purple Eagles, so the dreaded "B" team didn't show up in their bracket.

Kansas, of course, was upset by the Bucknell Bison in 2005 and Bradley Braves in 2006.

The Butler Bulldogs still are in this year's field, so the dreaded curse still has some potential.

But hey, the Jayhawks weren't playing the Biagra Burple Beagles in that first round, so everything's OK.

Although those first-round losses were coincidental, I must admit I have my share of superstitions.

If I'm concerned about an upcoming Kansas game, I have specific attire that must be worn:

  • A gray KU shirt with a white long-sleeved shirt underneath.
  • My favorite jeans that have been washed and worn so many times that I'm in need of some 80's hair band hair and a guitar. A younger Jon Bon Jovi would be proud, as a hole has developed in the right-knee region.
  • Red Adidas shoes. The shoes, which are graced with signature black Adidas stripes, finish off the wardrobe. Well, in reality, they probably draw the most attention and border on the side of gaudy. But who cares? If KU doesn't win a national title because I opted not to wear my bright red shoes, I would never forgive myself.

Good-luck charms wouldn't be complete without a little green, which I collected this past Saturday in Manhattan.

After watching my friend run in a St. Patrick's Day 10K that started and ended in Aggieville, we hung out in the Little Apple's most popular district.

Wearing a festive green KU shirt, I received my share of glares and not-so-flattering comments, but even more people were polite.

In fact, one woman offered me a green fez with a white tassel. When she finished passing that trinket on to me, she handed me an empty Ice Breakers breath mint container.

She told me she wanted to pass along her good-luck charm, that she found the container while playing a game at a casino.

The particulars of the story were somewhat fuzzy, as green beer seemed to muddle her story-telling ability.

Regardless, she was genuinely kind in offering me the good-luck token, which also was green.

So, now I wait for Thursday when Kansas plays Southern Illinois. You can be sure I'll be wearing my proper wardrobe, with empty breath mint container in my pocket, and maybe, just maybe, a fez on my head.

And, if the Jayhawks don't continue to win, there is always next year.

As for my fever, I'm not sure what I should do.

Perhaps I could wear a basketball patch to curb my addiction, at least until next winter.

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