vs. Minnesota
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"Dan, this is Grandma..."

The day before this game I got the call that all of us dread--something that we never want to hear, are never prepared to hear but inevitably comes our way once or twice in a lifetime. At 8:30 in the morning my phone started ringing. Not quite cognizent of where I was or even who I was, I sat up and picked up the receiver sitting near the foot of my bed. Expecting it to be the President of the United States telling me he'd be over in a half hour to pick me up for yet another top-secret CIA intelligence mission, I was a little more than suprised to hear my maternal grandmother's voice.
Great Grandma Kreft and me, March 2004-- the last time I saw her.
"Hello?" The words barely fell out of my mouth--I had only gone to bed 4 hours before.

"Hello Dan, this is Grandma."

"Oh hey Grandma, what's up?" I tried to sound like I didn't mind being dragged out of a really killer dream.

"Did I wake you up? Of course I did...it's 8:30 in the morning. I just got done talking to your mother and she said to call you anyway."

"Oh." I groaned.

"Your mom wanted me to tell you that your Great-Grandma Kreft died yesterday. Grandma and Grandpa Kreft will be coming up there ..."

I didn't hear anything else she said. What could I say? What was I supposed to say--"Oh, okay Grandma. Thanks alot for waking me up after only 4 hours of sleep and ruining my entire day"? It wasn't her fault that I don't know how to get to bed at a reasonable hour, nor was it her fault that my eldest relative had just passed away but I don't think anyone would expect me to be too chipper about the situation.

Life goes on

Like any other Tuesday, I didn't have any classes to go to but I had made an appointment to meet with one of my EE profs to get some help. Missing class every Wednesday for road trips really screws with my educational growth (that's 1/3 of all my class time down the drain) and studying on the road is completely impossible for me (we're supposed to be "focused" on the game AND get all of our homework done on time--not exactly a situation conducive to the learning process) so sessions like this help me keep from fitting into the "dumb jock" stereotype. There in his office we sat for two hours going over some of the finer points of feedback and control systems. I was so tired and shaken by the way my day had started that I found it difficult even to perform a simple operation like linear convolution in my head (that's a joke, for all you liberal arts types--linear convolution is a pain in the rump and cannot be done in the head unless you've had a Cray supercomputer implanted in your skull).

Come practice time, I was a mess. The news brought by that dreaded phone call had begun to sink in. I didn't think it had affected me until I found myself unable to concentrate for even 5 minutes on one task. We were rehearsing Minnesota's plays in 4 minute scrimmages--coach would tell us what play to run and we would go through the motions so that we wouldn't be surprised come gametime. I would nod showing my understanding of the play we were about to run but as soon as the action started my mind would just go *blip* and I'd start trying to wing-it. It worked at first but after a while the coaches started to notice me out there looking as if I were looking for my lost puppy, so I got yelled at. The only person I had told about my grandmother's death was the professor I met with earlier that morning...I just didn't want to tell anyone else. Why bother?

There is nothing anyone could say or do to bring her back or to make me feel any better and the last thing I wanted to hear was "you can't let that affect you ... you have to fight through it ... this is a test of your mental toughness"-- all just some more of that athlete macho bovine fecal matter. I also didn't want anyone saying "I'm sorry." Why say sorry for something you had no part in? It's a meaningless gesture that I didn't want to have to deal with. As I write this, I still haven't told my teammates (not even Evan, my best friend here in Evanston) and the only people who know are my prof. and Coach Parrish who I told after practice was over.

Game Time

I've always loved playing at Minnesota. I don't know what it is about that place but I've always played well there. As a matter of fact, my career highs in rebounds and points was earned there...7 points (with 3 for 3 free-throw shooting) and 7 rebounds in 7 minutes last year and a solid few minutes two years ago during the game that Byrdsong went for his infamous "walk on the wild side" (don't ask). I expected to play well. During warmups I felt great. As of late I haven't been having very much fun playing this game, so I decided that tonight, I was going to have fun for once. After all, this is my last go-around.

It's a good thing I like playing at Minnesota and that I was feeling spunky, because in typical Evan Eschmeyer fashion, he racked up two quickie fouls in something like 5 minutes. "Dan, go get Evan"--my favorite four words in my favorite order. After playing the remaining 15 or so minutes of that half plus an additional 3 or so in the second half I wound up *just* short of my career-high record in points. I racked up 6 points on 2/3 field goal shooting and 2/2 freethrow shooting, got one block (officially that is...I guess the stat keepers didn't care enough about my second block in the second half of the game to give me any credit for it, but that's okay) and snagged a whopping 2 rebounds (watch out Dennis Rodman...I'm comin' after ya). This might have been a career night for me in the turnovers department though--a career low of 1 (a miracle considering the number of minutes I played and that the ball was in my hands more than once that night).

Overall, we played pretty well as a team--we made it a tough battle, nothing like the 40+ point embarassment of a year ago...I just wish that Grandma could have been there to see it.

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