Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

March 23, 2012

Madness makes her hoop crazy

ASHLAND — Talk about March Madness. An extreme case of basketball Sweet Sixteen excitement has been building around my house for the last week. In fact, my entire family has gone a little basketball crazy.

Of the teams in the Sweet Sixteen, five of them are schools with strong ties to my family. Four of them will play each other this weekend, which makes for some interesting family competition.

Of course, the University of Kentucky is my favorite college basketball team. Even though I didn’t go to UK and I never watched a UK game until about five years ago, UK is my team.

I married into a fanatic UK basketball family and slowly the contagious, chronic disease of Kentucky basketball has infected me. I truly believe I’ll be sick for life.

My husband has checked off the symptoms as they’ve developed. I’ve outfitted my closet with “Kentucky blue” items — sweaters and tops, UK T-shirts and scarves to be absolutely sure to reflect the local dress code on Game Day. I’ve also become incredibly superstitious about wearing a pair of UK slippers during the second halves of games. During the SEC tournament I rushed home from a restaurant during the break in play to get them on, so if they didn’t happen to win it wouldn’t be my fault. The Cats won that particular game.

The most tell-tale sign though, says my husband, is I’ve hollered at Coach Cal from my living room to put a player in who has been gone for years.

But enough about UK.

For the last two years, another basketball team, for whom I should have ultimate loyalty, has been making headlines and getting me excited: the Ohio University Bobcats!

For the first time in 48 years they are headed to the Sweet Sixteen. I’ve watched/listened to more OU games in the last two years than I saw during my tenure there.

Just last week, I was caught filling my gas tank with the radio cranked so I could listen to OU finish off Michigan. And then, there in the car on the way home, I sang along to the Marching 110 as it triumphantly played “Alma Mater, Ohio.”

So, I’ll be watching tonight. Chanting O-H-I-O, O-H-I-O! at least until Kentucky comes on. But note, even if it wasn’t my alma mater playing, I’d still be wishing for a North Carolina loss. How’s that for UK loyalty?

Now, getting back to the family rivalries. We all know who UK is playing today — Indiana University. I have a sister who goes there.

The smack-talk text messages began immediately last week between myself and Katie, whose attending graduate school in Bloomington.  In an ironic twist, before selecting IU, my sister also applied to Duke. It was, she said, the only other school that offered her program. She was advised then to choose wisely. A Duke fan, my husband told her, would not be welcome in our house during basketball season.

So instead she choose IU. It remains to be seen if we’ll be hanging out much with her this spring...

The next most closely watched game among my family will be the University of Cincinnati and Ohio State University showdown that occured while this column was being printed. There are three UC graduates in my family including my mother, whose long-time boyfriend, Werner, is a die-hard OSU fan. Last year, when UK beat OSU, he didn’t talk to us for two weeks and still refuses to acknowledge the game.

This year, my mother and my sisters will be in the hot seat.

Me? I’m sticking to the Cats — all three of them (Wildcats, Bobcats and Bearcats).

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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