Mountain Connection, December 12, 2023
By: Jed Donnel
Last Monday afternoon, two storied franchises squared off in the latest, epic installment of their ongoing rivalry for the title of “best organized basketball team south of the resort and including but not east of County Rd 36.” That’s right, Faculty vs. Students. My schedule being occasionally amenable to such undertaking this year, I joined the faculty squad with the lofty expectation to sustain our unprecedented winning streak across all years and every individual contest (at least per the anecdotal evidence I’ve received). The students arrived full of vim and vigor, at least twelve-deep on their bench and accompanied by a raucous supporting crowd. I showed up about forty minutes from tip-off after realizing that I’d not played a game of basketball for at least fifteen years, and even though I’d perhaps thrown something roughly the size and shape of a basketball at a rim once or twice since the pandemic, I figured that practicing some free throws was probably a good idea. The students had at least seventeen players in the gym by that hour, and they ran layup lines, huddled up to discuss what appeared to be strategy, and kept their collective spirits hyper-focused. Meanwhile, the rest of the faculty team (we managed to total five, eventually, which apparently was an accomplishment in and of itself) leisurely strolled in at intervals, completed by Kit who flopped into the gym three minutes before tip-off in time to crack his shoulders and twist his mustache in lieu of stretching. We had no particular strategy other than confidence and a stoic two-three zone, which turned out to be plenty. The students gave it a go, to be certain, and their raw enthusiasm never waned over two, thirty-minute halves of running clock, no refs, the occasional rugby scrum, unrelenting fast breaks, and thousands of turnovers. I won’t reveal their tactical shortcomings in detail here since the plan is to continue the rivalry every other week for the foreseeable future (at least through the end of trimester two, apparently), but let’s just say that what the faculty lacked in energy we made up for in wisdom. The gods of sheer luck decreed that I made my first three-point attempt on the opening shot of the game, and from that point the students were inclined to defend me twenty-five feet from the basket. That was fine with me, in part because it gave me a good excuse to limit my shot attempts, and it left the lane wide open for Kit who scored perhaps forty points. A group of students kept an official score on the sideline (which I think was broadcast to the larger world in real time over the internet and therefore may now be a matter of public record), and although the second half was fairly close the faculty still managed to win by approximately twenty-five points. The students are regrouping and restrategizing for next week, while the faculty remain duly confident. As added incentive for this year’s ongoing saga, Fred is repurposing some piping recently removed from the restrooms during a toilet upgrade into a trophy for the eventual winner of the 2023-2024 campaign. The prize has yet to be named, though popular nominations include “Dropping Rocks,” “The Swish,” and “Raining Deuces.” We’ll see what transpires.