Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March Madness - College Basketball and Hosting Family :)

The past few weeks have embodied March madness: Anton's cafe had it's official opening, school was leading up to midterm break thus the necessity to create exams and finish progress reports, the regular season of NCAA basketball was winding down, and my family and Jillian were preparing to arrive. Of all of these events I'm obviously most excited for the family and Jillian to be here as we explore Indonesia together, but the 'Cuse starting their second season is pretty exciting as well. Syracuse has all of the pieces to make a pretty deep run, however, unlike against UConn, their free throw shooting has to improve. Either way, it will be an exciting time, so much so that I had my kids fill out brackets after their midterms :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Villanova - A Season Embodied in a Game

I went into work early this morning so that I could keep an eye on the espn.com men's basketball scoreboard while grading papers, more specifically, so that I could keep an eye on the Villanova/South Florida game. Villanova had most of their players returning from a Final Four team that appeared to have the talent to get back there again this year. Their season started out strong and they climbed as high as #6 in the polls, but they've lost 6 of their last 8 games including bad losses to Seton Hall and Providence. Their downward spiral began with a loss at Rutgers, a close loss at home to Pitt, barely eking out wins again Seton Hall and DePaul (the 12 and 16 seeds in the Big East respectively), followed by losses to Syracuse, St. Johns, Notre Dame, and Pitt.

None of the last four were bad losses, consequently, I was interested in seeing how they would respond in the Big East Tournament and while I was unable to "watch" the game, I did follow the gamecast throughout and it seemed as though the game embodied their season as a whole. Villanova started strong and had a 16 point lead at halftime. However, South Florida began to chip away at the lead and a lack of execution coupled with a few back choices, like Maalik Wayns turning the ball over with 22 seconds like when they were up by one, allowed South Florida to complete the epic comeback.

While 21-11 overall, and 9-9 in the Big East during an exceptionally strong year for the conference, most of those 11 losses, respectable as some of them may be, came at exactly the worst time. I'm interested to see what happens with Villanova come Selection Sunday, but can't say that I'll be surprised wherever they end up.

The game that I'm most looking forward to on tomorrow's docket is St. John's vs. Rutgers. My freshman year of high school I had a strange affinity for the Mike Jarvis era when St. John's was relatively competitive that culminated in me "wearing" a St. John's t-shirt in my self-portrait drawn in art class, and while my loyalty to the 'Cuse doesn't waiver, I am glad to see Steve Lavin has brought the Johnnies back. Additionally, a St. John's vs. Syracuse quarter-final match-up would be epic because New York City is Syracuse's "home away from home" and the Orange have been highly successful in the Garden, while MSG plays host to many of St. John's actual home games. That being said, now that everyone is excited for that potential match-up, Rutgers will pull the upset and spoil everyone's fun :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March Madness - Apart from Tradition

Every year since my freshman year of college, I have religiously watched the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden, and during my years as an RA sitting Spring Break duty, it was every game! Having grown up near Syracuse, where, to quote Coach Boeheim, "it is beautiful eight months a year... and the other four we play basketball," intimately familiarized myself with all sixteen of the member schools, thus greatly increased my knowledge of and investment in this tournament over any other.

Consequently, to bring some of this excitement to Jakarta, I created a poster of the tournament bracket and have explained its significance to some of my students. While they might not be as excited or this afternoon's UConn/DePaul tip-off, they are at least feigning interest and know who to cheer for :)


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Reading Routine

I have become a regular at several coffee shops in the Kemang area because I found that when I was going straight to my apartment after work and tutoring that I wasn't as productive as I should have been, especially regarding tackling my reading list. Consequently, as I'm walking home, I've made a habit at stopping at a coffee shop to read for an hour or so. I prefer to go to places like Tornado Coffee or Coffee War over Starbucks because Starbucks doesn't brew different varieties of Indonesian coffees, and thanks to Coffee War I'm starting to tell the difference between Papuan, Sumatran, and Torajan coffees! Additionally, patronizing a local coffee shop over a multi-national makes the experience more genuine and allows me to stick up for 'the little guy.' :)

Thanks to this routine, I recently finished 'The Brothers Karamazov.' It is amazing how a book that is over 700 pages can hold your attention throughout and how seemingly unrelated side events stuck in randomly throughout the novel are woven together at the end to create amazing depth. It would have been extremely interesting to read the book as it was initially published - chapter by chapter in a periodical. In that way, I think the novel more parallels a TV series in its function and execution. Furthermore, I was struck by how overtly Russian the novel was (obviously), but more specifically how ideas and themes from the book were common to what I learned in Russian class and observed when there for a few weeks. Next up is 'The Tempest'