Worth Braggin’

You can look at the box scores, you can read the game summary.  It ends up as a very important win for the Fighting Illini.  The annual Braggin’ Rights border battle against Missouri in St. Louis rarely fails to live up to the hype.  We watched as a family, with me trying to control myself and explain things to the kids.  The wife worked on stuff on her laptop and sent several arch looks my way when I started talking to the refs and the TV.  There was yelling and jumping at the end, when Ray nearly stole it and forced a bad three at the buzzer.  Now the holidays can begin as they should:  with Mizzou defeated and that border trophy on its way back to Champaign.

Yes, this was an important win for Illinois.  That signature non-conference victory that could be very big come March.  Beating a ranked team, and pulling it out at the end with a strong finish.  A confidence-builder, a toughness  win.

The toughness factor is what we’ll hang our hat on.  Tracy Abrams led the way there, driving, drawing fouls, and finishing.  And those two made free throws with four seconds left…  Ray Rice made plays to keep us in the game even if this wasn’t his best offensive night.  Jon Ekey with the clutch three.  Bertrand and Egwu and  the freshmen chipping in at key points.  Statistically it was very even, but the Illini seemed to get all the loose balls and tough rebounds the last eight minutes or so.  That will win you close games.

Continue reading

Who you Conning?

We made our way to St. Louis this past weekend for PROJECT: Comic Con at Westport.  A good time was had by many.  The exhibition portion filled two large areas and was generally well apportioned and laid out for the artists, retailers and other folks.  They also had a pair of breakout rooms for panels and presentations.

Organization seemed good.  And the place was full.  Not a lot of space in the aisles on Saturday.  Maybe some additional floor space next year.

So how was the Con?  A fair mix of artists, retailers, and exhibitors.  Plenty of folks on costume.  Featured guests from the biz.  Energy drinks.  So what else do you need?

How about comic books for kids.  I spent close to two hours going through long boxes with the specific goal of picking out some comics for my two young readers.  The problem, of course, is that the vast majority of books are PG-13 or above and cater to guys like me (who were fans in our youth and have now become the chief consumers of comics).  It’s a sustainability problem that will continue to threaten the comics industry, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Continue reading

Pentagram: First Groce Loss

hard to stop

hard to stop

It was bound to happen at some point: the first loss of the John Groce era.  81-73 to Missouri at the annual Braggin’ Rights game in St. Louis.  Illinois’ couldn’t match Missouri’s frontcourt on the boards, couldn’t stop Phil Pressey off the dribble, and the guards couldn’t make shots.  Taking those factors into account, it’s surprising the Illini actually led in the final 10 minutes and were tied with about 2 minutes to play.

As I told my brother afterwards, I’d gladly trade any of the first 12 wins for a win in St. Louis, but for the fourth straight year, it’s the Tiggers who are bragging.  Mizzou is a probably a legit Top 10 team based on their size and athleticism.  And Pressey is probably the best pure penetrating-point in the college game.  So as all the sports writers have said today – no shame in losing to them.  We disagree.  It’s always bad to lose to Missouri in St. Louis.  This game matters more than most.  But the real shame of it is the lack of execution by the Orange and Blue.  And so our Pentagram analysis will focus on the whys and hows of this.

Continue reading

St. Louis Pick – City Museum

St. Louis is an easy drive for us, just fine for an occasional overnight get-away or day trip.  With the kids out of school for spring break, we decided to head down for a few days.  We split time between the Zoo, the Magic House, and the City Museum.

The St. Louis City Museum – weird, imaginative, cool – was our pick for the trip.  Many friends had recommended before, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Had heard it wasn’t so much a museum as a kind of artistic jungle gym, and this is an apt description.  The City Museum is like this great maze of a playground, with subtle (and not so subtle) animal, cavern, jungle, and urban themes.   It begs exploration and imagination from kids, and ours were more than happy to partake.

A couple of exhibits weren’t yet open for the summer season, and we really didn’t see everything – including the aquarium.  That’s OK – we’ll be back.  For kids four and above, this is a great, great imaginative site.  There are tunnels and climbing everywhere.  Little kids could get confused, lost, and upset – so bear that in mind.  Also, adults who don’t want to crawl and wriggle through the mazes and passages will have a hard time keeping up with their kids.  The wife and me both had bruises and soreness to show for our efforts.  This place gets the official Beemsville on Tour recommendation.

Continue reading

Pray your Cards Right!

In a day filled with bad cards puns, we’ve decided to channel one (of many) great lines from the classic 80s Kung-Fu/Sci-fi/Western, Big Trouble in Little China…  Ahem…

Pray your cards right, live to talk about it!

Thunder, giving advice to Jack Burton

Last night it was Tony La Russa playing his error-prone but never-say-die Cards right.  How about that David Freese, eh?  Local boy comes back home to play in St. Louis, coming through in the clutch.  How about that pitching staff.  How about a little excitement from baseball…  Baseball?!? Continue reading

Pentagram: Two in a Row

Congratulations to the Missouri Tiggers – you proved yourself less inept than the Illini in a battle of vastly overrated basketball teams.  With the game winding down, you finally made a layup or two.  Then the refs made sure of it with the inevitable intentional foul and follow up technical.  Am I the only one who wishes the boys would have just gone for it?  Put in the aggressive press-break that led to lay-ups and dunks two years ago – damn the torpedoes and let’s play this one in the 90s?

Merry Christmas, Illini Fans!  Let’s get pumped for the Texas Bowl!

One comment about the annual Braggin’ Rights game from someone who hasn’t missed one in eleven years:  at one time Mizzou fans may have slightly outnumbered the orange-clad, but the last four or five years it’s Illini fans who show up in greater numbers.  We sat on the Mizzou side this year and there were numerous orange-clads in the sections around us.  Compare that to the Illini sections across the way, which were solid orange.  Don’t know why KMOX and various newspapers perpetuate the myth this game is a Missouri lean (but we can guess), but since the middle of the streak of the aughts, the Tigger faithful don’t turn out in strength.

Five points in your two-loss-in-a-row pentagram: Continue reading

Keep on Braggin’

It’s a simple bit of calculus:  Beemsville presence at the annual Braggin’ Rights basketball game in St. Louis = Illini victory over Mizzou*.   We’ve attended nine straight games at the Kiel/Savvis center and tonight will make number 10.  Here’s hoping the Orange & Blue can run the table on the decade of the aughts.  It’s become a beloved holiday tradition:  a little last minute shopping at Union Station, a nice meal at Landry’s, and another win for the good guys.  I know, I know, I’m inviting the mega-jinx here, but despite the current team’s uneven road performances, we should be able to handle the Tiggers.  If there was a year for them to break the streak it was last year, when they had a much better team in terms of sheer talent.

Keys to the game:

  • McCamey needs to be on the floor.  Shouldn’t matter if he scores 5 points or 25, as long as he’s there to breakdown the Mizzou pressure and run the team, we should be good.  Last year his string of three-pointers in the first half built the Illini lead and put the game out of reach.
  • One of the Mike’s needs a big game. Mizzou has lost their front-court bruisers from a year ago and either Tisdale or Davis should benefit from the lack or experience and probably open looks in the transition game.
  • A freshman needs to step up. Don’t care if it’s DJ, Brandon, or Griff – one of them needs to have a good double-figure scoring night and show some moxie.  So far they’ve been pretty bad away from Champaign.

Let’s get another one and start the holidays right.  Go Illini!

*Sadly, the converse of this equation seems to be in effect for the Arch Rivalry Football game.

Keep it real, I-fan OG

One of the highlights (sadly) of the Arch-rivalry game this past weekend was the OG Illini Fan sitting a few rows in front of us.  I’m not exactly sure who he was representing, but he was doing it old-school and he was angry.  The fact that he was decked out in his official Juice football jersey and replica baseball cap in no way detracted from the general menace.

We’ve all had superfan experiences at sporting events.  Hell, I’ve been that guy once or twice.  But this was the first time I’d seen the superfan mentality combined with constant gangsta signs and gyrations.  If I were the refs or the Missouri coaching staff I might be a little worried.  This guy was throwing out the signs and doing his little dance about every third play.  It was quite something. Continue reading