Friday, February 21, 2014

I must be getting old, because...

...even Joe Henricksen's excellent piece in the Sun-Times about the Whitney Young - Curie matchup tonight won't get me to go all the way down to Chicago State, above, to watch it. Henricksen writes (my emphasis): 

No. 1 Curie vs. No. 2 Whitney Young is big. But Cliff Alexander vs. Jahlil Okafor is bigger. It’s epic. 

This Friday night, anyone who can get into Chicago State University’s 7,000-seat Jones Convocation Center will witness a game, specifically a jaw-dropping matchup between two players, that has never materialized before and may never again. 

Now it’s Jahlil and Big Cliff, a unique one-on-one confrontation of individual stars we’ve never seen in Illinois before. 

This is Duke-bound Okafor, the 6-11, 260-pound gifted coverboy who’s currently the consensus No. 1 player in the country, and Kansas signee Alexander, an athletic and physical freak at 6-9, 235 pounds who’s ranked by some as the nation’s No. 2 player. 

That bears repeating: The No. 1 and No. 2 players in the COUNTRY. Right here! In Chicago! Friday night! 

Now there's no doubt: Henricksen's right and this should be a great contest. But do I really want to drive all the way down to 95th Street from the northern suburbs on a Friday night? Granted, as recently as a year ago I would have said, "Heck yes!" (Or something to that effect.) But now? I don't think so. It's just too big of a hassle. 

And then there's that phrase I emphasized above, "anyone who can get into." The last game I tried to attend was Zion-Benton at Stevenson a couple of weeks ago. Stupidly, I got there a half an hour before the tip-off only to drive around for five minutes or so until I realized I wasn't going to get a parking space and see the game. I went home and found out later that it wasn't such a great contest after all. 

One of the reasons I started following high school sports was its ease. In other words, unlike college or pro sports, you can usually just drive over to your local gym or stadium, get a good parking spot, pay a few bucks to get in and spend an hour and a half or so watching a good contest. Afterward, you're home in ten minutes. As Sonny Corleone might have said, "Ba-da-bing, Ba-da-boom."

Now, as readers of this blog know, I have long since branched out from riding my bike over to Loyola on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to driving all over creation to see some game that I just have to see. But after cursing the traffic for a few years now and getting shut out at Stevenson, I may finally get a little more selective in the games I attend.

Finally, I feel compelled to say a word about my Two Bomb Theory. Back in the 1970s, way before 9/11, there was a rash of plane hijackings to Cuba. A comedian came up with the idea of bringing a bomb with him whenever he flew to ensure his safety. His reasoning? What are the odds there would be two bombs on an airplane? I hope this isn't in bad taste, but the last time I saw a game at Chicago State a kid got shot and killed in the parking lot afterward. Whenever I mention going back there for a game I tell people, "What are the odds of that happening again?" So, no, my not going has nothing to do with the neighborhood.

Bottom line: Henricksen is right and this will be a game for the ages. But it will have to take place without me. Although I'm not worried about another shooting, I am reluctant to drive all the way down to Chicago State on a Friday night in the snow and wait for at least an hour for an hour and a half game to begin. (Besides, I can watch Okafor and Alexander face off in the NBA a few years from now when they're even better -- on TV.)

No, I'll be at Barrington High School instead to see if the 10-16 Broncos can somehow knock off the undefeated Vikings of Fremd. It's only a half an hour from my house and a nice venue with unobstructed sightlines -- no having to look through those pesky railings like at some places (cough, cough! -- Hoffman Estates -- cough, cough!). Maybe Barrington's Austin Madrzyk and Rapolis Ivanauskas will get hot tonight and put on a show. (And maybe I'll learn how to pronounce their names.) 

But even if it isn't a good game I'll get an early look at Riley Glassmann, Ben Carlson, Matt Ochoa, Xavier Williams & Co. before the playoffs begin. And who knows? Maybe the Palatine squad will be this year's suburban Cinderella team -- a la Stevenson last year -- who make it all the way to Peoria. If so, I can say I saw them while everyone else was at Chicago State. See you there!

P. S. I'll be live tweeting the game @BoringOldWhtGuy.

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