dana altman

Oregon Loses, Makes Michigan Sweat

Oregon lost to Michigan on Monday night as I continued to pretend that the ‘random’ program on level 15 of the LifeCycle would suffice for a workout. And while you’re maybe not impressed with my workout regimen, I was impressed with Oregon in the battle of Nike vs. Adidas; the battle of Yellows.

Let’s talk about why. Continue reading

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THREE FOR BART: Humbled, Football, Interstellar

  1. On Being Humbled - You ever think things are working out like this and they wind up like that? And that isn’t remotely close to where you want it to be. It knocks you perhaps down a peg, begging you to reexamine relationships and trust because that is just so far away from what this was going to be? Have you ever been humbled? I know I have. And more recently, good friend Luc had such experiences and has had the self awareness to write about it and learn from it. I’m team Luc (also he’s a helluva hoops mind).
  2. After 15 long years, UA relevant again - Arizona football has, by and large, sucked. We hired John Mackovic and had the entire team bypass the Athletic Director, marching right into the school president’s office, and ask for his firing. At one point – and I paraphrase this stat – Arizona was one of three BCS-level schools during the BCS era, to not go to a bowl game. Any bowl game. Ineptitude from 1998-2008. So yeah, 9-2 is something. And you’re not going to talk me off my stance that there’s a fighter’s chance at the playoff. It’s far fetched. Outlandish even (although FiveThiryEight isn’t against it). But that’s what happens after 15-years of being irrelevant and losing four Elite Eight games by 7 points (and another by 26). This is fun.
  3. An ‘Interstellar’ Explainer: What are bulk beings? – Remember how felt when ‘Interstellar’ ended? That’s how you’ll feel after this article. If you can explain it in even lay-er of lay terms, holler atcha boy.

THREE FOR BART: Scott, Rose, Parenthood

  1. Great Scott! - I could tell you a lot about this article…but I wrote it. So if you want my thoughts on what I wrote you should just read it (of note – I contribute weekly over at All Buffs, a high quality forum for all things CU)
  2. Derrick Rose Does Not Belong to You – First of all, I love this title. Secondly, I love this column. Thirdly, is it just me or has The Cauldron been pretty hit-or-miss? Let’s revisit these thoughts sequentially now that they’re out there. (1) It’s just a really good, and true title. (2) We do revere our athletes and our heroes for overcoming personal strife to win. In Rose’s case it’s repeated injury and it now seems he’s being turned on for looking out for number one. The author hits on a terrific and NBA-centric parallel (Sterling) but doesn’t bother to go down the hypocrisy of criticizing Rose and simultaneously criticizing the NFL for not caring for its players enough. (3) I just don’t regularly find myself enjoying what I find or read on there. It just seems to be lacking a je no sais quois which is exactly what good content tends to have.
  3. Things I’ll Teach My First Kid – I’m not remotely close to this. I mean, one time I dated a girl for 3.5 years and then another time I thought really hard about the L-word and on a daily basis I market to expecting families but this. Like what fuckups are we that we then get to teach another person how not to be one, only to know that they’re going to be one, and then hold them when they cry about it? Maybe that’s parenthood? I don’t know. But someday I’m excited to find out. In the meantime, please excuse my empty fridge and the weekend.
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THREE FOR BART: Zach, Travis, Mullings

  1. USC v UCLA – A Smack Talk Suggestion – Zach calls himself “hell with a pen” and he doesn’t let us down here. Unless of course you’re a UCLA fan in which you’re not only let down but you’re pissed off. Which is probably exactly what he wants. And now he’s telling you he’s not going to respond which, in turn, will only further upset you. Hell with a pen, indeed.
  2. Sorry, Travis, but I’m boycotting UberInteresting Op/Ed here on boycotting the insanely convenient car service. This whole case (shockingly being called #ubergate – which is interesting in its own right as we can evolve to using hashtags for everything but can’t move past a 70s political scandal for naming even the most nominal of upsets) raises some very interesting topics. How much will we tolerate for convenience? Or in other instances fandom? In the case of Uber, there’s reported misogynism and now the threat of manipulating the press as well as their competition. The author is choosing to let Uber know of his discontent by hitting them in the pocket book. The same could perhaps be done to the NFL where their morale compass has seemingly been sitting on a magnet. There’s a reason things like Uber and the NFL are wildly popular. In some regard they hold power over us. But at the same time, the masses provided that power. If you disapprove, you can do something about it.
  3. NCAA mulling copying college football mid-season seed TV show idea – I’m with Norlander here and I’m not a big fan of starting a weekly show in January in which the committee  reveals some version of the brackets. But I also don’t fully get the swift outrage to the idea. Yesterday we talked about exhausting narratives, derived discussions of what we think should be. In some regard, firing up a weekly bracket would allow us to talk about some pretty tangible stuff. These are the 64 best right now. But ultimately it would just be a glorified Bracketology. My biggest gripe with the football rankings is that it’s an attention suck in the middle of the week and forces networks to promote some really tardy rankings on the teasers for the coming Saturday for three days (Sun-Tues). I don’t like the idea, but I wouldn’t be outraged if it happened.
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THREE FOR BART: Titus, Airbnb, Narrative

  1. 2014-15 NCAA Basketball Preview: The Pac-12If after reading this you’re worried about me having to rehash the last thirteen years of Arizona’s NCAA tournament heartbreaks, I appreciate it. Titus is right that a flask was needed in hand but we endure. Such is life when your favorite team has only not been to two big dances your whole life. Sorry that I am not sorry. Alas, here is Mark Titus’ preview of our favorite conference and he doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t already know. This is probably the latest preview we’re going to see, because, ya know, the games have started. But he says it more entertainingly than any of ‘em. So read this one and don’t feel too bad for me.
  2. Spy Gadget Guy Sells Airbnb Party Kit – I’ve never rented out my place but I have partied at an Airbnb. Never irresponsibly but we most certainly had more people than we said we would in the place. Please don’t hold that against me. We cleaned up. Anyhow, I think this is a really cool idea, a building upon an already very good idea.
  3. Death to Ringz: Chris Paul and the NBA’s Broken Narrative of Success – 

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Non-Conference Strength of Schedule and the Post-Season

The non-conference slate is about to get really heavy tonight. With multiple top-25s in action against other top-25s and Utah playing their most significant Non-Con game since before Harry Dunn was Will McAvoy, I wanted to know how any of it might matter.

The study, without further adieu, was to see whether or not there was any truth to the adage that a strong non-conference schedule prepares teams for March. Often we revere teams that “challenge themselves” outside of conference play. But is there any merit to doing it? Does playing a really good team in November help me beat them in March? Continue reading

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And We’re Back: A Run Through Weekend Pac-12 Hoops

Nice to be back. I’m not about to walk us through my Friday night. I already exposed you to too much of my life in last week’s essay. So rather than tell you I absorbed pizza and beer and two screens worth of Pac-12 hoops, let’s just run through some astute observations and leap to gross conclusions about the season based off of one weekend. Rational? I just watched Interstellar so it’s all relative.

NorMAN Powell

I only watched the first half of UCLA’s Friday game because they won by 1000 and the opening minutes of Sunday’s because of 2 hours and 45 minutes of hoping Matthew McConaughey would run into Cyrus the big bull in Space. But when I was tuned in I saw Norman Powell – he who we know needs to be an Alpha Bruin – swallow a rebound, run coast-to-coast, absorb contact and finish with utter authority. He’s Cyrus the bull, taking 15 FTs en route to 25 points on Friday. He perhaps cooled off on Sunday but not much, still collecting 13 points. Continue reading

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THREE FOR BART: Wright, KenPom, Nomads

  1. 9 exits on America’s football highway – If you’re anything like me you like the stories of everything you cant’ see. It’s not even the behind the scenes stuff but rather everything that has created everything that makes whatever we see before us relevant. There’s a reason something is important. It’s not just because it’s happening. Wright captures that here. It’s football.
  2. What I did this summer - Above any essay or anything you read about today’s tip off, this might be the most important. I got a message from our own @spencerbsmith that he bought his first KenPom subscription Wednesday night. The timing of such was perfect. It came on the heels of a twitter trolling in which it was once again brought to my attention that some people just don’t get that the premise of Ken’s work. Anyhow, here’s how he’s made his site better. I appreciate it.
  3. Keep Moving – I’ve often been asked, “Adam, you love basketball so much and you seem to know it. You’ve even coach it! Why don’t you pursue coaching?” Because of this life. I couldn’t handle it. It’s why I have so much respect for the guys that do. This is above and beyond their jam. They are basketball coaches and relationship builders and they can make or break your program.
Michigan v Louisville

What Are We Watching For?

There is always a moment. It’s a look or a touch or a feel or something that only you can understand. When defining the things that are most important to us, we prescribe them to a single moment. One. You could say that it shines and that would befit the lead of a basketball article dropping on season’s eve. But there is always a moment. We need to remember that.

One glance, perhaps a word said, insignificant to her but it meant the world to him. It maybe went unnoticed by a thousand people, but there was something – nuance – that resonated and it was yours. A moment uniquely your own, clarity amongst the masses.

No matter how your life is led it’s moving faster than you care to admit. We miss things. I’m not lauding you to slow down. Maybe you should? I can’t make that call. But there are moments and when they can be captured, no matter their brevity, hold on. It needn’t be explainable or rational. Hold on to it.

These are your stories.

We connect.

arizona bench

Kids. A game.

Sometimes it feels silly. Childish to focus on a collegiate sport for which I have no bearing on the outcome. It’s silly to be so invested in something that doesn’t affect my life. No matter how hard I clap or which seat I’m in –  not even the shirt I wear – nothing I do will determine a winner or loser. The game’s outcome will be determined by others who have practiced and prepared, who play. I’ve read? Researched? I’ll never be a member of Club Trillion.

We are fans. I am a fan. Sometimes it feels silly to have my emotions drawn because of a game played by teenagers I’ll never meet. Some of whom I followed since they were 16. I’m 30. It feels silly.

And sometimes it feels silly to know that Kyle Anderson distributes the ball well. That his passes yielded a certain number of shots at the rim. It’s perhaps silly to extrapolate that and discover how many possessions of Kyle’s turn into a score at the rim. I did that.

To overnight to Los Angeles or disappear from work or StubHub or Tweet or phone stream or take three hour lunches or brackets or blogs or alienate during a coaching hunt or viscerally react to maroon or bravado. It feels silly.

And in reality it is. Ask me why I do it and my cheeks will shade blush. I’ll grow embarrassed at my trivial choice in pastimes, chuckle, and concede that maybe I have to grow up. Confidence isn’t always a strong suit. I question my decisions. I don’t make them. I question but I come back. What am I doing? What are we doing? Why?

Sometimes it feels silly to feel. We’re supposed to feel.

We connect.

josh huestis

Uncontrollable outcomes.

I sat in the semi-far reaches of Anaheim’s Honda Center. The tickets were gifted to brother and me from dear friends who’d perhaps put their eggs in the Dallas basket. We benefited from their perceived foresight. Ultimately their oversight. Arizona lost to Wisconsin. They never went to Dallas’ Final Four. In that weekend Nick Johnson scored a flurry of points to bury the Aztecs and Aaron Gordon heroically grabbed all of the rebounds. Frank Kaminsky put on a performance they’re still talking about. The Wildcats never got the final shot off.

That’s sport.

But in those semi-far reaches were two brothers who’d grown up familiar with one of the schools on the floor. Their dad had brought them to countless games, sharing stories about a white haired man. Sixteen years earlier, dad had brought them to the same, semi-far reaches of Anaheim. The Wildcats lost that one, too.

I remember that trip in 1998 as time with my dad and brother. When I tell you that Rick Majerus masterfully out-coached Lute Olson that afternoon, it’s because I read about it somewhere else. Others, perhaps not there with their dad and their brother, took great notice. Their own study of Kyle Anderson.

Sixteen years later the brothers found themselves in a familiar seat. They couldn’t sit. Their team wasn’t winning and the game demanded their noise. Everyone’s noise. In those semi-far reaches, with the game unfolding in a manner the brothers disapproved of, their seats were barely touched. The Wildcats were losing. At the first media timeout of the second half, one turned to the other:

I mean…it would make sense that we switch seats right now.

We really should.

Let’s.

Let’s.

They exchanged seats. The Wildcats outscored the Aztecs from that point forward. Arizona won. In the semi-far reaches of the Honda Center we were mother-fucking sorcerers. We do not control the outcomes. I’ve been switching seats with him for 28 years and it’s failed us before but on that night it worked. The game is a blur. I know my team won and I know Nick Johnson scored that flurry of points. There was a critical steal. The game is a blur. Details were captured through literature and worldwide networks.

We switched seats. I’ll never forget it. A moment as silly as intimately following collegians for five-months just to wind up in a seat next to your brother in an arena built for a team based on a Disney film. Silly mother-fucking sorcerers.

We connect.

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Section 407, Row B, Seats 3 & 4.

Sigmund Freud suggested that a crowd allows an individual to tap into their simplest emotional state, to act almost primitively. As more complex emotions are reserved for higher states, the crowd allows the individual to operate at their lowest common denominator. Collectively it is called a “primal horde.”

Further theories suggest that crowds are derived from a complete deindividualization. One loses their sense of responsibility or control through the anonymity, unity, and arousal afforded by the group. Such lessening tempts members into the perhaps irrational activity of the mass. Attention is paid to the group, not the individual, further desensitizing an already susceptible individual to act outside of social norms.

Gustave Le Bon, a French sociologist, postulated that a crowd emerges after an initial stage of what he called submergence. This occurs when an individual loses their sense of responsibility, their conscious gone, lending themselves to the subsequent stages of crowd development: contagion and suggestion. It’s the first phase, however, that other theorists have centered upon, the common thread across crowd psychology: losing one’s self. This loss perhaps diminishes the individual but, as a crowd member, it simultaneously elevates the individual as a powerful part of a growing whole. As I read it, “an invincible power.” The Le Bonian stages of crowd suggest aggression. Research has shown that a crowd does not specifically rise for evil.

A crowd is necessary.

Cal on Court

We run at each other to meet in the middle.

Self-categorization and social identity, theories developed by John Turner, demonstrate a multitude of levels by which an individual associates. From the most basic – “I” – building to the highest level of abstraction – “humans” – identifying within a given category is important to the individual. They can be, for example, a Christian, a Democrat, a Bruin, a Beaver, a Duck. This is important to the individual. Joining a crowd is natural.

Being a fan categorizes you. It subscribes you to a group. You self-categorize, joining and deinvidualizing to become a part of something bigger than yourself. A loss of ego in which we’re moved by something we can’t necessarily control. Remember, we don’t control the outcomes.

There’s a phrase for this, a sports encounter, which is unique to this categorization. The communication between fans contains a perceived knowledge of sport, an understanding of the intricacies of the chosen self-categorization. Researchers have made note that sports fans more openly share their emotions at perhaps unprecedented levels. A 1989 study recognizes that sports are one of the few forums within which men openly share their emotions with other men.

We congregate to watch games. Crowds sourced within this categorization, allowing individuals to dissociate from themselves, become a part of collective thinking and cheer, in this instance. Crowd psychology proposes that this allows us to act irrationally, differently than we might when we’re uniquely ourselves.

The ball is tipped and the individual is lost.

We connect.

COLORADO-BUZZER-BEATER-BENCH

We lose ourselves.

That night, greater than 17,000 people inside the Honda Center didn’t know we switched seats. Most notably not one person actually playing basketball. Further, the reality of the matter is no one knew where we were sitting. We did. It mattered to us.

Moments aren’t tangible. I can’t tell you when or how to recognize them. They’re unique and only available when we allow ourselves to be a part of them. It’s always happening. Pay attention. Because the scoreboard isn’t always going to read the way we want it to. No matter how hard we try. No matter which seat we’re sitting in. It can read wrong.

We don’t always win. Life rolls on, leaving us to determine our reactions to whatever the scoreboard says. Sometimes we lose. Things fall outside of our control. We do our best. We have to keep the moments; those perfect, personal instances amidst our loss of self in a crowded experience. Pay attention. Silly as it may be.

So dive in with me. I don’t know what the water’s like but that’s probably the point. We don’t control the outcomes. The nice part is knowing we aren’t going it alone. It’s why you jump. You’re going to have someone to switch seats with.

Pay attention because there’s always a moment.

We connect.

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THREE FOR BART: Rumblin, Vitale, #Pac12AfterDark

  1. My Massive Basketball Preview 2014-15: Keeping it Real If you’re not familiar with @rumblinbuffalo, familiarize. Ben is a friend and a helluva sports guy. He’s a Buffalo and rambles on his team from time to time and when he does it’s insightful, bright and funny. You’ll know that when you read his Massive preview. That’s some in depth CU coverage. You might even say Ben’s keeping it real.
  2. Never Forget What Matters Most – This is rife with everything you might no like about Dick Vitale. After all, it’s written by him – Americans, Dick, are still being held hostage in the Middle East. But the fact of the matter is the man is a wonderful ambassador. His views are uniquely his own and I can’t begrudge a man with a platform to call it like he seems ‘em. He’s an emotional guy. I’m about to post an emotional piece. And ultimately I think Dickie V gets it. Whatever it is. We jive. We don’t agree, but I appreciate the man. And he’s right: Never forget what matters most.
  3. #Pac12AfterDark is amazing theater – You’re damn right. And this is just a football article. We’re about to have Full Court Friday in which the Pac-12 Networks will broadcast something like all of the games, on all of the networks, in a none of the time. Hoops overwhelm (in reality it’s 10 games in 6 hours, nice!). I’m going to live tweet it! Anyhow, fresh off an east coast trip, I fully understand how late these games run on that side of America. But if any of you right coasters are reading, it’s worth the red eye.