Monday, November 26, 2012

My Thanksgiving Weekend with Jimmer, James, & Jabari

My Thanksgiving weekend was full of sports-watching, which is just the way I like it! :) First, I took a trip up to Energy Solutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Friday to watch Jimmer and the Kings play the Jazz. Then I came back down to Provo on Saturday to watch the BYU football game vs New Mexico State on the big screen at the broadcast studio and went to the BYU basketball game vs. CSU-Northridge. Here's the details on my weekend with Jimmer, James, and Jabari!


I'm glad Jimmer at least got some decent playing time on Friday (although it's kind of sad that "decent" playing time now equates to only 17 minutes). He knocked down 3 threes plus a free throw to make 10 points. Just like last season, there were lots of boos and lots of cheers every time he touched the ball. After the game, Jimmer was asked how long he expects to draw so much attention to himself when he visits Utah. I loved his response: “I hope forever. I hope for as long as I come back it will still be like this. You guys mean a lot to me.” Awwww. :)

One of my favorite parts of the game was listening to the two little boys sitting behind me (they were probably about 7 or 8 years old). Right from the tipoff, they started chanting, "Put in Jimmer! Put in Jimmer!" At one point, one of them started cheering "Let's go Jazz! Let's go Jazz!" The other one said (in a shocked voice), "Jazz?!?" The first kid's response: "Yes, I cheer for the Jazz. Except when Jimmer has the ball. Then I'll say, 'Let's go Jimmer!'" How cute. I totally agree, little man! :)

Nicole & I getting excited for some Jimmer action!
In the end, there's still no doubting it-- Jimmer doesn't fit with the Kings and probably never will (unless there were some major coaching and player changes). I really hope he gets traded. Unfortunately, though, the latest rumor is that he might go to the Lakers. I loathe the Lakers, and I'd have a really hard time being a fan of someone on that team, but for Jimmer, I guess I'd have to make an exception. If he is a good fit for that team and they will actually use him, I say go for it! 


Some of you may be wondering, who the heck is James? That would be James Lark, the third string BYU quarterback, who finally got his time to shine on Saturday. James started at BYU in 2006, but it took six years for him to get his first start as the BYU QB. When asked after the game how it felt, James replied that it was nothing short of a "dream come true." Good for him. I'm relatively impressed with the way he played, and he managed to get both him and Cody Hoffman into the record books in just that one game.

Since the game wasn't on TV (and I can't get access to ESPN3 online for some unknown reason), I decided to see what it's like to go to the BYU Broadcasting building on campus and watch it on their big screen. I was in the studio audience for the "Countdown to Kickoff" pre-game show, too, which was a lot of fun (although all the cheering they make you do is exhausting!) During the game, Dave McCann sat in the audience to watch with us. He was sitting in the middle of my row with his family, so he had to climb over me and a few others to get in and out of his seat. After the first missed P.A.T. from Justin Sorensen, he got up to leave, and on his way past me, he turned to me and said, "Be right back. I'm gonna go find a good kicker." I laughed and said, "Good luck. We need one!" Man, our kicking game really is ridiculous this year. Although all the criticism of Sorensen isn't totally fair-- he hit 70 consecutive P.A.T.s before his two misses on Saturday. That's not a bad stat at all. He's had more trouble with field goals, but he's also injured. It's just unfortunate that we couldn't ever find someone to replace him when it was needed most.

Just as a side note, the ESPN commentators were ridiculous, too-- apparently our punt returner is now named "Falsey" and our star 17-year-old RB is "Jamaal Wilson". Geez, at least do your homework before you make an idiot out of yourself. The only thing worse may have been the ESPN commentator who called our QB "Cody Nelson" several times during the SJSU game. Sheesh...

Of course the media can't stop themselves from saying that there is now yet another "quarterback debate" at BYU, but as always, Bronco has made it abundantly clear that is not the case-- Riley Nelson is still the starter, and will be for the bowl game. I understand Bronco wants to be firm in his decision making and not look back or play the "what if" game, but seriously, his unwillingness to even admit that there's a small possibility Riley might not be up for being the starter on December 20 is ridiculous and could ultimately cost Bronco his job, if I'm being completely honest. Just judging from the broken record Bronco has been all season, I might think Riley would be out there in a wheelchair if it was up to him, and that is NOT a good way to run the program. He needs to show a lot more flexibility in his coaching style and in the decisions he makes. It would be fine if he just said, "I hope Riley can start, but if he isn't back up to par, we'll consider playing James." Bronco should be thanking his lucky stars that Riley is a senior this year, because if his obsession with him went on for another year, I think he'd definitely get the can.

I don't think James Lark is a better QB than Riley-- Yes, it's true that James put up some amazing stats on Saturday, but come on-- he was playing against one of the worst teams in college football. Lots of his passes were WAY off their target-- more off than Riley has been in his bad passes this year. Could James have held up and gotten us a win against Utah or Boise State or Notre Dame? Maybe, but I don't think it's too likely. But is a healthy James Lark better than an injured Riley Nelson? Absolutely. If Riley is healthy for the bowl game, we should definitely play him. But if Riley is not absolutely 110% by December 20, we need to play Lark. I guess we'll see what happens . . .


In the BYU basketball game against CSU-Northridge on Saturday night, Tyler Haws had a very impressive career night with 32 points (hmmm . . . I really like that number! Could be a sign of great things to come!) and ultimately led the Cougars to a tough victory. But, unfortunately for him, Tyler wasn't the star of the night-- in fact, the focus was on someone who wasn't even on the court. That's right-- Provo went Parker Style!

Jabari Parker was right in my line of sight during the game, and it seemed like he was enjoying himself, although a lot of the time, he was just talking to the people around him and didn't seem to even be paying much attention. I guess I can't blame him for being a little embarrassed at the 6,000+ "Chicago to Provo" t-shirts, the signs ranging from "Jabari Parker, you have been called to serve in the BYU basketball mission" to "WWJD: What will Jabari do?" and "Mormon girls-- Duke: 15, BYU: 15,994", and the "Whoosh, Jabari!" chant on free throws that emerged and spread mid-way through the first half, but I hope deep down he appreciated it. The atmosphere was great-- it was loud, it was crazy, and it was a good, old-fashioned Marriott Center victory. I hope Jabari was able to see that and realize what a great place BYU really is.

I hope this guy next to Jabari was saying,
"Won't you look great in a BYU uniform???"
A lot of people are still saying BYU has a 0% chance of landing Parker, but I disagree. I think we've actually got a really good chance (and I am saying that completely objectively). Jabari's father has confirmed BYU has a very legitimate shot at getting him, saying, "Remember, he belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." I think that is a point that nearly all the nay-sayers seem to be neglecting. That is an extremely compelling reason for him to choose BYU-- and it's certainly not the only one. His dad continued, "They've got one of the winningest programs in the last 4-5 years . . . They average 25 wins a year. They don't get the recognition of others. Their conference isn't that bad. Remember they had the player of the year in Jimmer Fredette. They have a real good program."

I know I'm thankful for BYU and the opportunity I had to go there, and now for the chances I get to see my favorite sports teams in action. I hope Jabari joins the throng someday. :) Go Cougars!

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