Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Finale

Well, it's the end of the year, but more importantly it's the end of the week, so let's take a look at some recent events:

First, one of the objects of my subtitular obsession. GW lost, 66-52, to a better team last night, the Air Force Academy. I listened to the first half driving the family home from the Maryland-Mount St. Mary's game (more on that later), and the powerful Washington Post Radio signal (AM 1500) stayed with me almost to my driveway, more than an hour from the Foggy Bottom campus. Nice upgrade there. The Colonials were trailing the sharp-shooting Falcons early, but by the time my sleeping kids had been transferred from Suburban to bed, GW had fought back and taken a 31-30 halftime lead.

Through the magic of the Internet, I watched the second half on a CSTV live video feed, listened to the Post Radio via the website, and checked in on the GWHoops chat room (Hey, I'm obsessed, remember?). Unfortunately, the audio and video were out of synch, so my little digital sports sensory festival was not quite perfect, but still, it's pretty amazing to think that all this is possible. More unfortunately, the Colonials were also off kilter and could not get untracked offensively in the second half.

After surrendering eight first half turnovers - they average just 10 per game - the Falcons settled down and and locked up GW for nearly five minutes as they retook the lead with a 10-0 run. The Colonials rallied to within four after Karl Hobbs called a second timeout, but Air Force applied the clamps for another three minutes, built the lead back to nine, and GW never threatened again. Air Force runs the "Princeton" offense effectively, which usually means that a second half lead becomes a death march of wide open three-pointers and late in the shot clock backdoor layups. GW is a team that you can never give up on, but once the Falcons found their comfort zone, it was all over.

The Colonials should regain their footing tonight against Colgate, but the only remaining non-con opponent is Marshall. Despite Duquesne's shocking OT win against BC last night, the Atlantic 10 looks like a one-bid league this year. That bid could be GW's, but there will be some bumps along the way. Hobbs has to incorporate Cheyenne Moore into the mix without sacrificing the impressive development of Rob Diggs and the potential flashed by Travis King and Damian Hollis. Should be fun to watch.

At 16-12, the Wizards are in first place in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference and could have the second-best record in the conference with a win tonight. Go back and read that sentence again. When I predicted that Washington would get to .500 by the New Year, I never dreamed they would be brushing up against .600. Gilbert Arenas has been simply unbelievable, Caron Butler has been a beast, Antawn Jamison has decided to rebound as well as score, and Brendan Haywood(!) has shaken off the shackles of his detractors and brought legitimate inside game. The only thing more shocking than Washington's record in December (11-3 so far) is Comcast's decision to show the last two games on tape delay while putting the Caps on live. And tomorrow's game against Milwaukee is not televised at all? Looks like it's back to the video feed for me.

I made my first trip to the Comcast Center last night to watch Maryland dismember Mount St. Marys. On the Terps' first possession, Mike Jones got free on the left wing and made a three. The next possession, the Mount defense sagged on an inbounds play and Jones was wide open for another three from the same spot. He did the same thing on the next three possessions, from the exact same spot! Meanwhile, the Mounties had only mustered one free throw. It wasn't ever much of a contest but it's always fun for me to watch my kids enjoy a game. The arena is quite impressive, with some nice tributes to great moments in Maryland history sprinkled around the concourse.

I don't think I'll ever be a Terps fan, but I do enjoy watching them play. This team definitely has the talent to get to the Final Four, but they could just as easily bomb out in the early rounds of the tournament. If Gary Williams can play his freshman point guard combo right, there is no reason they can't challenge UNC for the ACC title.

The Ravens are going to win the Super Bowl. I don't see why anything else needs to be said. Yes, San Diego has a record-breaking tailback, but Baltimore's defense dismantles and demoralizes, and the offense is good enough. And they are getting all kinds of motivation from being overlooked by the national media. Maybe I'll have more on this after the regualr season, but, I'm telling you right now, book it.

Night at the Museum
Four thumbs up from my family for this one. Creative and amusing for adults and kiddies and should be a bonanza for the Museum of Natural History. Obviously, if you are allergic to Ben Stiller's array of double-takes and his three facial displays of shock, surprise, and disbelief, you want to avoid this one, although only one of his usual coconspirators makes an appearance (shocking that Will Ferrell did not get a cameo). Also, I am a little tired of the "let's prove to the preteen kid that his divorced Dad isn't a loser" plotline, but there was enough other distraction to make this one work.
Charlotte's Web
From down south, my brother makes a strong buy recomendation for this classic, despite my earlier trepidations. He is something of an aficionado, with at least two candidates for Ferndom in his clan and multiple out-loud readings. I guess I will reconsider, as I can only hope that it is "radiant," "humble," and "some movie."
Rocky Balboa
Like most people, I lost track of Rocky somewhere between IV and V, but head on over to Bill Simmons to get an authoritative read of this latest installment. As he often does, Simmons captures the mindset of the average American male approaching middle age on matters of sports and pop culture, even if he had the Ravens as only the sixth best team in the NFL going into last weekend.

Noteable Deaths
James Brown
The body of the Godfather of Soul lay in state at the Apollo Theater this week as mourners paid their respects. How cool is that? U.S. politicians get the Capitol, Russians get the Kremlin, and the pope gets St. Peter's, I would take the Apollo every time, given the choice.
Gerald Ford
Here we have a guy who was a great college football player who turned down the NFl for a life of public service. I know the money was nowhere near what it is now, but some reason, this makes me think of Pat Tillman, and the awesome sacrifice he made when he chose armed combat in Afghanistan over professional football.

Ralph Stebbins
Don't recognize the name? In April, 2005, the former well-digger won a $208 million Mega Millions jackpot. He and his wife quit their jobs and bought an RV. He died of a heart attack last Saturday. He was 43. Won't stop me from buying a ticket when the jackpot is more than $50 million.

So have a Happy New Year! We'll be watching the ball drop and a lot of football, but FitzFacts will return sometime next week. Hope you enjoyed reading this year as much as I enjoyed writing.

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