I work from home, which means since adopting my dog, I've been around her practically 24 hours a day.
This makes me the ideal dog owner, and the ideal candidate to get a job. Most people, including every roommate I've ever had, have normal work schedules, while I pass the time with DVR'ed episodes of Jeopardy. Now I have a jumping, tearing thing that wants to be my best friend keeping me company. I have the time to take her to the park, and also, I take her to the park to pass the time.
However, it's caused an increasingly worrisome problem. Having been a stray, then lived in a cage, my dog has grown very attached to the person that's decided to play with it and feed it over the past month.
Sometimes this is cute: if I switch rooms while she's sleeping, she'll wake up, follow me into the other room, and nestle under some part of my body and go back to sleep. Sometimes it's creepy: if I only close the bathroom door 99 percent of the way instead of 100, I'll be interrupted as the door opens wide enough to accommodate a snout and a pair of eyes, intent on staring at me as I do my business.
Sometimes, it's the worst thing in the world. If I leave the apartment without her, for any reason, she will begin to cry. Even if I just leave the room for a second while she's in her crate, I will hear her whimpering from whichever room I'm in. But I didn't realize how bad it was until last weekend, when I went out to meet some friends and spent a few minutes talking to a roommate in the living room before leaving the house. With each passing minute, her crying got progressively louder, more harried, and more frantic. When I left, it sounded like she was throwing herself at the locked crate door.
I've been told I'm doing nothing wrong. That I need to live my life, and the dog needs to get used to it. Perhaps leave the room for progressively longer periods of time, and bring back treats and stuff.
But it's terrifying to exist with something that dreads your departure, and a burden to be told that if you want things to get better, you have to make them forcibly worse.
My dog is a great dog when things are great, in the friendly non-conference schedule of life, but turns into a yelling, inconsolable mess when faced with the prospect of being in a crate for nine hours without the person who makes things okay. Which leads us to a slew of teams that can't be left alone for a second, teams that start crying and whimpering and throwing themselves at doors and killing themselves as soon as they're locked in the crate of conference play:
(Thank Onions!' dedicated graphic team, a crew of men, women, and people we are legally advised not to refer to as "children" who spent months slaving on this image. Thank them. They're not getting paid.)
From the start of the season through the evening of Jan. 5th, Wisconsin, Iowa State, Ohio State, and Oregon won all 55 of their games. Then conference play -- you know, the part where you can't pick your opponents, and you have to play on the road -- kicked in. From Jan. 9 to Jan. 22nd, they went 0-12. You could also jimmy the numbers to say that they started out a combined 58-0, and are 1-15 -- DAMN YOU, OHIO STATE WINNING THURSDAY NIGHT -- since. We are just a few weeks away from having slobbered over Ohio State and Wisconsin, and here we are putting them through triage. (I stand by the B1G-as-best-conference statement -- that kinda got decided in non-conference play, yanno?)
So what of these fallen stars, these once-elite squads soon to be wallowing in the low-20's or not ranked at all. Were they just coasting in non-con, and not really worthy of our adulation?
Let's not be so quick to bash. It seems weird for me to discount streakiness in a sport that eventually crowns its champion based on who can put together a six-game winning streak, but let's not act like a few losses grouped together make a team worse than a team that has a few losses spread out over the course of the season just because that group happened yesterday. Perhaps a team is in a funk, but I think we should look at the body of work rather than the snapshot.
For example: Oregon needs bashing, because there's nothing impressive to see. Their 13-0 stretch featured three OT wins, and only one against a Kenpom top 50 team, that being No. 47 BYU. Dana Altman's WOOOO ANOTHER RANDOM HUGELY IMPORTANT GRADUATE TRANSFER strategy somehow works to a certain degree, but I was never particularly high on the Ducks. Long story short, they didn't have many good wins, the ones they did were fairly tight, and the bad losses since have been plentiful. I think the 0-5 says more than the 13-0.
The others, however:
Ohio State: After generally trouncing nobodies in the non-con, have lost to Michigan State (in OT) and Iowa, both of whom are murderteams. They also lost to Minnesota, at Minnesota, which is nothing to be disappointed about, and at Nebraska, which is something to be disappointed about. The defense is strangle-y, but the offense has looked hodgepodge and brickworthy during the tail end of their losing streak and in a win against Illinois. I think this is a very good team, but with the buzzsaw nature of the Big Ten, they can't eke out a top finish at this point.
Iowa State: A spectacular non-con followed by two tough road losses to Texas and Oklahoma and a very understandable home loss to Kansas. That resume doesn't necessarily bump them below Kansas or Oklahoma State or Oklahoma, all of whom have three or four losses, primarily to good teams. They've got incredibly competent "big" guys who play like BIG guys, but they did get beaten inside by Kansas and Oklahoma, which is disconcerting.
Wisconsin: They murdered the world in the non-conference, and now have a tough loss against Michigan, a tough loss at Minnesota, and a weird loss to Indiana. The defense has been cataclysmic by Bo Ryan standards of late. But of all these teams, none looked better in non-con than Wisconsin, and none of their losses are particularly abysmal. I think they're still in the top three of the Big Ten. Or four. Or five. It's tough to say with this conference. Definitely top six.
These teams have shown they're not perfect, which isn't particularly helpful, because nobody's perfect -- even the teams whose records say they're perfect. Everybody will scuffle and fall at some point. Take note of how violently they do so, and how good they were beforehand, and you'll probably have a better guess how things will work out in the long run.
In exchange for you reading this, here is a poor quality Vine I took of my dog running around in the snow on my roof:
Note: it is generally too hard to film my dog in snow because gloves. Also, my phone died on the way to the dog park the other day before she spent about an hour playing with a 10-week old Australian Shepherd puppy. I remember what it looks like, but I guess you guys are outta luck.
How much basketball has Rodger watched
Team Counter (remember, not entire games, methodology kinda explained here): 174, up 22 from last week. (11 happened last night.)
Important new teams:
1. Shout-out to Ball State center Majok Majok, perhaps the best repetitively named college basketball has seen since Bak Bak. Majok is a much more prominent player than Bak was, averaging a double-double for the woeful Cardinals, and is the cousin of former UConn star Ater Majok. I'm not sure why it's a convention of Southern Sudanese names to sometimes feature record skips, but it ruins the "call me Majok -- Mr. Majok is my father's name" line.
2. While watching UMKC -- the Kangaroos! I believe the only marsupial in college hoops, because Zippy the Akron Kangaroo is technically a "zip." -- I discovered their roster features Kirk Korver.
As you probably figured out, Korver is fourth in the Korver
Tetralogy Quadrilogy Kuadrilogy: there was Kyle, a Creighton great and eventual NBA three-point champ, Klayton, who left Drake as No. 2 in the school's three-point ledgers, Kaleb, who hit 39 percent from deep for his career at Creighton, and now there's Kirk, who... has never shot over 33 percent from long-range. He's only taken one two-pointer this year (missed it) and is at a solid 27.8 percent on the year from downtown. Family dinners must be awkward.
3. I sorta mentioned this, but Thursday night was probably the best night of Onions!-gathering we've had thus far. We had game-winning threes about a minute apart on two windows -- Reger Powell, doing R_ger name-types proud with his second three in 30 seconds for UT-Arlington, and James Woodard for Tulsa -- seven, seriously, seven games on ESPN3 that came down to three points or less, and I watched the endings of them all, and then a triple-OT game between Portland and BYU that ended up with some bench Pilot named Bobby Sharp going .Jimmer-esque on BYU and getting carried off the court wearing a sombrero.
Join me on this stupid trip if you're insane.
4. Wright State is the Raiders. Their mascot is technically a wolf for some reason, but, NAH, SON, YOU'LL RIP THIS VIKING HAT FROM MY COLD DEAD HEAD JUST LIKE I RIPPED IT OFF OF SOME DUDE WHILE PILLAGING HIS VILLAGE
THIS IS HOW WE DO IT/IT'S FRIDAY NIGHT pic.twitter.com/uU1kvVPtPF— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) January 18, 2014
Shoddily filmed buzzer-beater of the week
Last week, we picked a Toledo buzzer-beater in part because we'd written about Toledo earlier. WELL GUESS WHAT, Y'ALL? This week we're picking a Charlotte buzzer-beater because we interviewed 49ers coach Alan Major earlier this year.
Wheeeee buzzer-beating dunk! Well, kind of. Pierria Henry dishes it to Terrence Williams who rises for the dunk and then realizes he needs to get the ball out of his hands before the clock expires, and kinda shotputs it while his hands are 11 feet in the air. Sure enough, the Niners beat North Texas. Expect Charlotte to be well above .500 in C-USA play.
Games of the Days of the Week
Friday, Jan. 24: Quinnipiac vs. Iona (7 p.m., ESPN3)
Either this or the Vermont-Stony Brook matchup of 5-0 squads, but as is typical on the Onions! Game of the Night of the Week, we respect our readers who want to leave their house on a Friday night, so we went for the 7 p.m. start. This is actually a fun one! Two 6-2 MAAC teams: Iona has the No. .8 Kenpom adjusted offense: 42.1 percent from deep (No. 3 in the country) 53.1 percent from two (No. 26 in the country) AND they only turn the ball over on 14.5 percent of their possessions. Upshot: their defense truly, truly sucks. They face the Mighty Quinn, who have one guy averaging a very solid double-double (Ike Azotam, puttin' up 16.3 and 11.4) and another who is juuuuuust off (Ousmane Drame, 11.8 and 9.8) and are No. 2 in the country in offensive rebound percentage. Should be in the 90's or hundreds here.
Saturday, Jan. 25: Michigan vs. Michigan State (7 p.m., ESPN)
The last two undefeated teams in the nation's best conference and oh also they hate each other. Not like I'm drooling over here.
Sunday, Jan. 26: Cal vs. UCLA (8 p.m., ESPNU)
I feel like I tell you to watch UCLA too much, but mainly because I'm still gawking at Kyle Anderson.
Monday, Jan. 27: Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma (9 p.m., ESPN)
Oklahoma State has lost to Memphis (after first whooping them), Kansas, and Kansas State. Oklahoma has lost to Michigan State, Louisiana Tech (in overtime), Kansas, and Kansas State. Copycats. Common knowledge is that Marcus Smart makes OK State better than Oklahoma, but I'm not sure the Cowboys have the interior presence to stop Ryan Spangler, whose gigantic arm tattoo had 15 boards against Iowa State. I wish Duke hadn't lost a couple of unimpressive games earlier, so Duke-Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. could be the first stop on the "Hey, ACC, Pittsburgh is really good" tour.
Tuesday, Jan. 28: Michigan State vs. Iowa (7 p.m., ESPN)
I do this because I want to say interesting things, not say HEY THE GAME BETWEEN TWO RANKED TEAMS ON ESPN SHOULD BE INTERESTING.
But, um, I'm also not going to tell you to be an idiot and not watch Michigan State twice this week.
Wednesday, Jan. 29, Iowa State vs. Kansas (9 p.m., ESPNU)
Look! This game is on ESPNU not ESPN! I'm being somewhat insightful!
Thursday, Jan. 30, Cincinnati vs. Louisville (7 p.m., ESPN)
Let's not sleep on a Cincy team with lockdown defense. They lost to New Mexico in the Pit, which can happen to any claustrophobic hoopers, and they lost to a good Xavier team. They've knocked off a great Pittsburgh team and their first two conference tests in SMU and Memphis, and now they go to face a hampered Louisville squad whose offense right now is even more Russ Smith-and-a-prayer than ever. We're intrigued by these Bear/Cat things.