That Deluxe Apartment in the Sky

Moving day at It Goes to XI. Photo courtesy of New York Public Library.

I am proud to announce that this blog is moving to a new address: All of the old posts (and properly attributed photos) will remain here, but new material will only go on the new site, which also houses the archives. Consider this your invitation to visit!

Thank you to everyone who has read the blog (or just stumbled across it while looking for Nutella ads), commented, followed, or otherwise supported it; I hope you will follow me to the new address.

Huge thanks to contributing editor Gordon Jones, logo designer and Renaissance Man Bob Young, and to my wife, who patiently helped a technophobe navigate WordPress.

Thank you, too, Robert Nwankwo.

NWANKWO! Photo by Tony Ding (AP).

Posted in Odds and Ends | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Big Love

Kevin Love (42) has been putting up huge numbers for the Timberwolves this season. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Forward Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves has had an incredible week so far. In Monday’s victory over Golden State, Love scored 36 points (13-23 from the floor, 3-5 from three, 7-10 from the free-throw line) and grabbed 17 rebounds. That was Love’s eighth 30/15 game of the year; all other NBA players had combined for only six such nights this season.

In Wednesday’s loss to the Spurs, Love was held below his season scoring average, but still recorded a double-double with 17 points and 12 boards.

On Friday night, however, Love exploded in a double-overtime loss to the OKC Thunder. Love grabbed 14 rebounds and set a new Timberwolves franchise record for points in a single game with 51. Love made 16 of 27 from the floor and sank seven three-pointers in eleven attempts; he was also 12-16 from the foul line. Video highlights of the performance are here.

During the month of March, Love has averaged a league-best 30.9 points per game and is shooting 47.0% from the floor during that span. The percentage is especially impressive in light of the fact that the three-point shot is an important facet of Love’s game.

Clearly, Love is on a roll as his team heads into this afternoon’s game against the Nuggets.

Talented but troubled Isaiah Rider was drafted fifth overall by Minnesota in 1993 and played for the Timberwolves from 1993-1996. Photo courtesy of

I checked Minnesota’s media guide to see who held the record that Love broke on Friday night. I was worried when I saw that Isaiah Rider had two 40-point games for Minnesota during the 1994-95 season. Rider was a prodigious talent, but had a reputation for boorish behavior and became a charter member of the “Jail Blazers” after Minnesota shipped him to Portland before the 1996-1997 season.

The Wolves’ single-game scoring record, however, was previously held by another famous Kevin: Kevin Garnett, who holds a multitude of Minnesota franchise records. During twelve seasons with the team, Garnett appeared in 927 games (team record), with 890 starts (team record). KG scored 19,041 points as a Timberwolf (team record), and also holds the franchise career records for total rebounds, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, blocked shots, assists, and steals.

On January 4, 2005, Garnett set the record for most points in a single game by a Minnesota player, when he dropped 47 in a 122-115 loss to the Suns. In that game (which concluded at the end of regulation), Garnett was 19-28 from the floor and 9-11 from the foul line.

I was amazed to see the Wolves’ side of the box score for that game. The starting five: KG, Wally Szczerbiak (who had one of the best individual tournaments in recent memory as he lead Miami of Ohio to the Sweet Sixteen in the 1999 NCAA tournament), Sam Cassell (forever a cult hero in Houston as a key piece of the 1994 and 1995 NBA championship teams – his first two years in the league), Latrell Sprewell (2004-2005 was his last season in the NBA; he never played another game after famously balking during pre-season negotiations with the club over a contract extension), and Michael Olowokandi (the first overall pick in the 1998 draft – the worst top pick ever?).

Minnesota reserves who appeared against the Suns included noted dancer and fashion plate Mark Madsen, the tragically departed Eddie Griffin, and Fred Hoiberg, a three-point specialist who is currently the head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones. Hoiberg holds the Wolves’ records for highest career three-point shooting percentage (46.1%) and single-season three-point percentage (48.3% in 2004-2005 – his final NBA season).

For all that talent, the Wolves missed the 2005 playoffs after advancing to the Western Conference Finals in 2004. I bet they had fun plane rides, though.

In all seriousness, it will bear watching to see whether Love, who recently re-upped with the team, will eclipse Kevin Garnett as the player most identified with the Timberwolves franchise, or whether he will decide to move on to warmer climes when the time comes.

Posted in NBA | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Illinois Can’t Get Smart

VCU coach Shaka Smart is well on his way to stealing Bill Watterson's spot as the most famous alumnus of Kenyon College. Photo by Don Ryan (AP), courtesy of

Shaka Smart has apparently rejected the overtures of the University of Illinois in favor of remaining the head coach of the VCU Rams.

Any good news for VCU is anathema to most ODU Monarchs fans, but I take the view that what’s good for the ODU-VCU rivalry is good for ODU, and Smart’s decision to stay is definitely good for the rivalry.

Smart has built on what predecessors Jeff Capel and Anthony Grant accomplished during their respective VCU coaching tenures. Smart’s record in three seasons at VCU is 86-27 and includes a trip to last year’s Final Four. Perhaps the most striking indication that VCU is becoming a national name in college basketball is that the Rams’ second-round loss to Indiana in the NCAA tournament is viewed in some circles as a sign that the proud Hoosier program has emerged from the wilderness at last.

(Of course, the VCU game will be quickly eclipsed should the Hoosiers win their upcoming rematch with Kentucky and advance to the Elite Eight. But can Indiana really expect to reprise the magical ending of their December victory over UK?)

Perhaps it’s hopelessly naïve, but I like to think that Smart’s decision represents a choice for loyalty to his players (especially local products Darius Theus and Briante Weber, who played key roles this year) rather than a fear of following in the footsteps of Capel, who was unceremoniously booted by Oklahoma and is now an assistant at Duke.

The guy on the left would still be coaching the Oklahoma Sooners if all his players had been as good as the guy on the right. Photo by David Bradley, courtesy of Duke Athletics.

In any event, ODU fans can rest assured that they when they boo the Rams mercilessly every year, they will be booing a squad led by a formidable head coach.

At least until Billy Donovan leaves Florida.

Posted in College | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Every Day I’m Muddlin’

I turned 33 last Friday. I refuse to get maudlin on our hoop-hungry horde of readers, but I will say that I’ve learned that I will never stop making mistakes.

Let’s be clear: knowing that is one thing, but accepting it is another thing entirely.

With that in mind, here is a video reminder that even if you belong to that tiny fraction of people with the talent, drive, determination, grit, physical gifts, and mental toughness to count yourself among the very best in the world at what you do, you can still have a bad day at the office.

Or just laugh when Dwight Howard, Jason Maxiell, and DeSagna Diop huck up airballs on foul shots.

Tip of the cap to Jimmy Traina.

Posted in NBA | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Pushed the Buzzer

Although the NCAA Tournament has already begun with the “opening round” games, the action gets underway in earnest tomorrow afternoon. To celebrate, here are my three top March Madness buzzer beaters.

Off the top of my head, the greatest buzzer beater ever is probably the late Lorenzo Charles’ dunk to win the 1983 title for N.C. State. (Tyus Edney is up there, too.) I was all of four years old when Charles put the Wolfpack over the top, so I can’t really count that one as a personal favorite. With that in mind, I’ve included only shots that I recall seeing as they happened.

3. Drew Nicholas (Maryland) v. UNC Wilmington, 2003: Mostly for the way that Nicholas ran off the floor immediately after the shot. Maryland, the 2002 champion, defeated UNC Wilmington and Xavier before being eliminated from the 2003 tourney by Michigan State.

2. Christian Laettner (Duke) v. Kentucky, 1992: Cliché, I know, but I have a vivid recollection of practicing that shot in my parents’ driveway immediately after the end of the game.

FYI: According to the Wall Street Journal, Laettner is currently a D-League assistant coach for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and a defendant in several civil suits. (Tip of the cap to Charles P. Pierce at Grantland.)

1. Richard “Rip” Hamilton (UConn) v. Washington, 1998: I watched this one with my roommates during my freshman year of college. The suspense increased with each UConn attempt and finally reached an unbearable level before Hamilton won the game for the Huskies.

UConn lost in the next round to North Carolina, which was led that year by Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter.

Least Favorite: Matt Howard (Butler) v. ODU, 2011: This game still has the ODU Monarchs and their fans wondering what might have been. After this first-round victory, Butler advanced all the way to the national final before losing to UConn.

Posted in College | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s the Fairest of Them All?

Syracuse's C.J. Fair is a player to watch this March, and not just because he has been known to wear the XI's. Photo courtesy of Y! Sports.

Syracuse sophomore forward C.J. Fair has started only five of Syracuse’s 33 games this season, but he is an important piece of the puzzle for coach Jim Boeheim and the Orange. The Orange, the number one seed in the East Region of the NCAA tournament, will lean on Fair even more now that center Fab Melo will be ineligible for the rest of the season.

Fair averages 8.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. These numbers may not seem impressive at first glance, but Fair leads the Orange in total rebounds and is fourth in scoring. This season, the Orange have been an offense by committee; only two players, Kris Joseph (13.8 ppg) and Dion Waiters (12.6 ppg), average more than ten points per game. It has worked well so far; Syracuse has lost only twice all year: at Notre Dame, when they played without Melo, and last week to Cincinnati in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.

As a one-seed, Syracuse will probably be a featured team during television coverage of the tourney. Syracuse has several very good players, but none is more fun to watch than Fair. Keep an eye out for his smooth mid-range game and soft touch with a finger roll, but never forget that he is an explosive dunker. Just ask Pitt forward Talib Zanna:


Fair and the Orange open tournament play at 3:10 on Thursday afternoon against 16-seed UNC Asheville, the Big South Conference champion. Should they win on Thursday, Syracuse will play again on Saturday against the winner of the 8/9 match-up between Kansas State and Southern Miss.

Syracuse was a popular pick to advance to the Final Four before the news about Melo broke, so it will be interesting to see how the Orange respond to the loss of a key cog at the most important time of the year.

Posted in College | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Gerald Green of the New Jersey Nets had 26 points against the Rockets last night, including these two:


That one speaks for itself.

Posted in NBA | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment