Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Everyone sing with me now:

It's the most wonderful time... of the year

It's the hap-happiest season of all...

That's right, in case you are unaware: College basketball season has arrived.

I love college basketball. Don't get me wrong, I love college football too. But I grew up in North Carolina where EVERYONE has a college loyalty. I can remember growing up watching the ACC tournament in school almost every year. Tests were postponed if they came on the day after the Duke/Carolina game. Have I mentioned I love college basketball?

So in honor of ESPN's 24 straight hours of basketball games, here is my list of 24 reasons why I love college basketball...

1. March Madness. I know it's early to be talking about it, but really, it's never too early to talk about it, because it's the best month of the year.

2. The teamwork. This sounds cheezy, but college basketball teams are only successful if they learn how to work together. When 5 guys get out there and know each other really well, it's incredibly fun to watch.
3. Cheering for random teams. Almost any night of the week, you can flip on ESPN and watch a game between two obscure teams of universities sometimes no bigger than my high school. You choose a side, cheer for about 2 hours, and yet rarely have emotional withdrawal if they lose.

4. Upsets. College football has gotten better about this in the last few years, but basketball is still king. It's so great to watch a no name team beat highly ranked teams like UCLA, or Kentucky, or UNC, or UConn (I exclude Duke from this list because I love Duke... and it's never fun when they're ranked high and lose... or lose when they're not ranked high...)

5. The last :60 of a game. A game can swing 15 points in sixty seconds. I love the drama.

6. The squeak of the tennis shoes on the court

7. The players. It's really cool to watch as the players grow over 4 years. The skinny freshmen put on muscle, the butterfinger point guards learn to protect the ball, the centers and forwards learn to protect the lane and pull down rebounds, it's great.

8. The up-close emotion. Basketball is more fun than football because you can see the players' faces. The excitement, the anger, the anxiety right before a big free throw, they're all awesome.

9. Dicky V.

10. Short games. The games are shorter and don't require a whole evening's commitment to watch. A couple hours and you're back to what you were doing.

11. Lots of games. One loss of your favorite team will not put you in a week-long bad mood. One loss in college football and there goes your National Title hopes.

12. The swish.

13. The pre-free-throw rituals. Each player has them, and they are like a well rehearsed dance. Adjust headband, dribble 6 times, hold ball, look up, look down, bend knees twice, dribble twice, look up, shoot. Cringe as you airball.

14. The excessively dramatic refs. College football has them too, but they're just easier to see in basketball.

15. The rivalries.

16. The bench-arm-link. Watch the bench at the end of a particularly intense game. A player will get fouled, and has a chance to tie the game. All these tough 6' 10" guys are linking arms and rocking awkwardly on their knees as they watch they're teammate's pre-free-throw rituals. Usually the camera guy will notice and pan over to it, the bench guys do it every time.

17. The goofy big guy. Most teams have one and they fall in two categories. 1) The awkward lanky white guy who doesn't seem able to control his extra long arms and legs: this means he trips over himself and gets the ball stolen all the time. 2) The 275 pound football player who made the team; who plays basketball like Shaq, bowls people over, and fouls out in 4 minutes. Both are equally entertaining to watch.

18. Angry coaches. Check out this coach's solution to prevent himself from getting technicals

19. Interesting offenses and defenses. Each year coaches come up with cool new ways to take advantage of the strengths of their players.

20. The coaching battle. Along with those interesting types of offenses and defenses, it's great to watch how the opposing coach counters each style of play. It's like a great chess match.

21. Breakaways. They either result in great dunks, really athletic defensive plays, or attempted dunks that brick off the front of the rim and allow you to laugh at that player the rest of the game.

22. The Student sections. Admittedly, they often lack class, but quite often the student sections can change the entire momentum of the game.

23. The Cinderella teams. Those random teams (George Mason, Davidson, etc.) who surprise everyone (usually even themselves) and do really well. It's almost always a mark of great teamwork where a group of guys who have played together for 3 or 4 years have learned how to hide their weaknesses and exploit their strengths.

24. Because it's basketball.

Whew... that was fun. So what am I missing?

Monday, November 10, 2008


I know it's been far too long since I've written, sometimes I just run out of valuable things to say. Still, that's not always bad. More words are not always better. I was reminded of this fact this morning.

I was teaching NexGen (our middle school Sunday school/church) and we were talking about "How good is good enough?" I started to explain the concept using scales where we "weighed" items representing good things or bad things we could do in our lives. There was significant debate about whether it was worse to "hit your little brother" or "steal a cookie from the lunch room."

Then once the "good" and "bad" things were ordered by how bad they really were, I asked them how do you balance the bad things and the good things. One kid suggested you should do the bad things first, then the good things, so the bad things will be forgotten along the way. Seems rational right?

Then I picked up the object that represented the stolen cookie in the lunch room, and I walked over to our things representing our good deeds. I told them that even if they did all of these good things (telling the truth, working at a homeless shelter, etc.) 7 times over, it would not make up for the stolen cookie. No amount of good deeds could tip the scales away from what we've done wrong.

And that's how I explained sin. They seemed to get it.

But then I tried to explain salvation. I talked about passover and blood sacrifice and God's perfect righteousness. Their eyes started to glaze. I had overcomplicated things.

Tonight at Fuse, James mentioned one verse.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved
~Romans 10:9

I was so mad at myself! It's so simple. I tried to use this complicated logic about salvation, when one verse explains it. This is the nature of salvation. It's so simple and I made it complicated.

More words are not always better, sometimes it's best to simplify.