Friday, January 3, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 01/02/20: Walking Kellogg, Excellent Dinner, On the Road in College Hoops

1. With some banking to take care of uptown and a prescription to pick up at Yoke's, I had both good reason and good weather for a walk today. My legs felt strong and my wind was good walking uphill from Railroad Ave. to McKinley Ave. After banking, I rapped on the door at the Inland Lounge where Cas was swamping out the joint after his busy New Year's Eve and we yakked for a while. I stopped in at The Bean for a latte and a bagel with cream cheese, picked up a few things at Yoke's, replenished our gin supply at the liquor store, and returned home, feeling pretty good after walking the quiet streets of Kellogg.

2.  Back home, I diced an onion and a couple of zucchinis, sauteed them, and combined them with fire roasted diced tomatoes and garbanzo beans. I also boiled a pot of pasta. Debbie and I put the tomato mixture over the pasta and it was a very good dinner. We both like this idea of building a sauce around chopped onion (I forgot to mince garlic) and diced fire-roasted tomatoes and adding in other things like garbanzo beans, zucchini, or eggplant. Green beans would work well -- and I can imagine a lot of other possibilities. Usually, we would eat it served over rice, but I had some pasta to use up and it worked really well.

3.  I watched the first half of the Oregon Ducks' disappointing loss to Colorado last night in Boulder. Last night's Ducks' loss epitomized, in my mind, how difficult road games can be in any college basketball conference. As can happen to the best of teams on the road, the Ducks couldn't seem to really get organized. Their shots weren't falling. They seemed out of sorts. The Buffaloes had the support of a raucous home crowd and definitely played with better energy.

Likewise, at the Chiles Center in Portland, the hometown Portland Pilots played their hearts out in the opening stanza of their tilt with the Zags last night. The Zags, to me, seemed a bit disengaged in the first half. They made uncharacteristic errant passes. They got outhustled. The Pilots fell behind by eight point early and then they turned the game around. They outrebounded the Zags, made some spectacular shots, as well as a handful of open, less spectacular jumpers, and fired up their home crowd. I thought the Pilots' players' faces and their movement reflected a surge of confidence and, at the intermission, they led the Zags by seven points.

Watching these Zags games over at Christy and Everett's, I am pretty quiet, but I have thoughts. At half time, knowing I might be wrong, I thought to myself that there was no way the Pilots could sustain the kind of play that earned them their lead.

I was right.

The Zags came out of the halftime locker much more focused. Their defense locked down the Pilots. The Zags slowly, almost surgically, wore down Portland. The Zags' efficiency on offense improved. Tillie scored from long range and close to the hoop; all five starters ended up scoring in double figures. Gonzaga outscored Portland by twenty points in the second half and cruised to an 85-72 victory.

A great team like the Zags can, on the one hand, demoralize lesser teams -- we've seen that happen several times this season -- ; on the other hand, a great team can inspire lesser teams to play at their peak. Portland got inspired for a good stretch of time last night. Gonzaga will, I think, regularly have to contend with their conference opponents' best efforts.  I would think that as the Zags' coaches review the film from this contest with the players, they will give some emphasis to how any team is capable of playing very hard and very well, especially at home, and that it takes more than just having superior personnel to win conference basketball games, especially on the road.

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