April 10, 2015

Here's to 40 more wins... in a row... next year

This year's Final Four weekend was bitter sweet.  Well, probably more bitter than sweet.  Ok, a lot more bitter than sweet.  But despite Kentucky’s bitter, heart breaking loss to the tall awkward white boys of Wisconsin, I still managed to have an excellent four days with my family and friends.  Because that’s what friends are for… for good times and for bad times (sing it, Dionne).

I started planning for this year's Final Four after last year's loss in the championship game to UConn.  I applied for Final Four tickets through the NCAA lottery, requested to be off work for the entire month of March, and started working on accommodations.  Conveniently, the 2015 Final Four was located in my sister’s home city of Indianapolis, known to Charles Barkley as “In The Annapolis.”  She and her husband graciously volunteered to share their home with a clowder of seven other Wildcats, including my mom (our official chaperone), my sweet cousin, and four close friends.  Our Wildcat Headquarters was spectacularly decorated for the weekend… it was all cats everything, homemade championship banners hung from the ceiling, and there was blue and white galore.  Even all their family pictures had been replaced by pictures of the basketball team.

Everyone arrived on Friday, the day before the semi-final games.  We had a low key night with a cookout… we all needed rest and needed to get mentally prepared.  Because what if Coach Cal needed us?  There was no better way to do this than to watch The Sixth Man (the recent documentary on UK fandom) and re-watch games from earlier this season.  There may or may not have been a few Fireball shots. 
It was finally game day.  My sister lives out in the ‘burbs and it is a good 30 minutes from downtown Indianapolis.  Transportation to and from downtown was a source of great deliberation, but my sister came through with a client who owned a limousine service.  A sixteen passenger white limo arrived early Saturday afternoon to haul us downtown.  Our day was starting off on point and I was feeling good vibes.
Kentucky fans invaded the city like it was our second job, but I was super impressed with the Wisconsin fan contingency, and even Michigan State fans put forth a respectable travel effort.  Duke fans, however, were scarce, which doesn’t surprise me because Duke fans suck.  Bars were beyond crowded that afternoon and it was a task to find a place where you could move more than two limbs at once.  We ended up at Howl at the Moon, where we actively bantered back and forth with the other fan bases on the “phrase of the night” boards.  At one point, my mom had to use her whistle to give Britt a timeout and a flagrant one foul for dancing with a Wisconsin fan.  Together we managed to accumulate a $900 bar tab, probably because we needed help taking the edge off while watching the hours until game time slowly tick off the clock.

After a day of waiting, praying, and wishing I had Xanax, it was finally game time.  38-0.  Two more wins… in a row… this year.  We headed to Lucas Oil Stadium, rode what seemed to be ten escalators to the roof of the building, and found our seats in another atmosphere.  I don’t want to talk about the game.  It still hurts.  It wasn’t supposed to end this way.  And I wasn’t supposed to get nacho cheese spilled down my back by the guy sitting behind me.
But I do have an explanation for the loss.  It wasn’t the non-called shot clock violation, or Kentucky failing to score on three consecutive end of game possessions, or… wait… I just said I didn't want to talk about the game.  Folks, the loss was due to my purse.  See, I carried the same purse to every game starting with the SEC tournament.  It’s a slightly large purse… some might call it carry-on luggage.  But, whatever, it was my lucky blue purse.  However, the NCAA had this dumb rule that they enforced during the Final Four:  only clutch purses no larger than 5” x 8” are allowed.  If you needed something bigger, it had to be a clear plastic bag.  Not being able to carry my lucky blue purse completely messed up my purse game and ruined the mojo.  I’m sorry BBN.

Walking out of the stadium had to be one of the worst experiences of my life.  Wisconsin fans had somehow multiplied by the thousands and were everywhere.  There was a large underpass where Indy locals formed drum lines that echoed loudly.  The Wisconsin fans chanted "Let's go Badgers," which seemed to echo even louder.  The underpass seemed to be at least a mile long and took forever to walk through.  This dumb underpass even had disco balls.  What underpass has disco balls?  I looked at my friend and asked him, “Is this what hell feels like?”  I just wanted to be surrounded by blue so we could all be miserable together and instead I was just getting salt poured in my wound.

We all congregated back at Howl at the Moon and immediately made the decision to exit after realizing that the bar was half full of giddy Wisconsin fans and the other half full of squealing bachelorette parties.  I couldn’t handle watching happy people do the Wobble anymore.  Get.  Me.  Out.  Of.  Here.  We made the decision to head to Tin Roof, the official Kentucky bar for the weekend.  Misery loves company and I found Tin Roof to be quite enjoyable.

Of course the night couldn’t end without a little debauchery.  As the bar was closing, I heard commotion and turned around just in time to see my close friend punch a Wisconsin guy twice. She claims he was being a jerk.  Knowing Tina, I have a feeling she may have instigated it.  But, whatever, he was a Wisconsin fan.  Standing barely five feel tall and pushing one hundred pounds, she can be a stick of dynamite and an angry little elf.  She said she used a self defense move of an uppercut punch with just the palm of her hand.  However, she later told us that she learned this on google and not in a self defense class.

Rumor has it that there was a yoga class being conducted in the limo during the drive home.  That could explain why I was sore the next morning.
There's a saying that goes, “When life hands you lemons, drink more vodka.”  Actually I think the saying is “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” but I like the vodka one better.  So instead of pouting around the entire next day, we decided to head downtown and make the most of it.  We had dinner at Prime 47, a steakhouse so good even Ted Turner was in the joint with his Rolls Royce parked outside.  

After dinner, we headed back to Tin Roof to finish the night.  It was a semi-calm evening… nothing to write home about.  The most exciting part of my night was when my sister decided to share with the crowd my high school portrait.  Everyone had an opinion of what celebrity I most resembled.  I heard everything from Emmy Rossum to Madeleine Martin.  But this is what won the night.
Then Monday happened.  By Monday, no one had surfed the internet, watched SportsCenter, or read the Twitter machine… we were avoiding basketball at all costs.  We had zero interest in the Duke versus Wisconsin championship game.  If this tells you anything, we even watched Pitch Perfect just to keep our minds off anything basketball.  But in the midst of our sorrows, we discovered the greatest cure of all.  Do you remember the childhood game of Hungry Hungry Hippos?  One of the girls saw the human version of this game on youtube and my amazing cousin Ricky spent the day making this happen for us.

I wasn’t the best at this game after several rounds, but I was at least third best.  And just like Andrew Harrison was third best, I wasn’t disappointed.  WHO DA THIRD BEST!?

I can’t put into words how I feel after this year’s basketball season.  These boys made history and took the fans on an amazing journey, starting way back in August in the Bahamas.  It was a joy to watch this team and we will probably never see another team like this again.  I refuse to let a single loss determine how I will remember this team.  They were spectacular the entire year.  With that said, I’m not sure what I’m going to do until Big Blue Madness in October.  But I do know that I will be cheers-ing to 40 more wins… in a row… next year.

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