DC Quick Hits – July 27, 2015

Here are the latest happenings in UConn sports:

Shabazz Napier traded to the Orlando Magic

Yahoo! Sports reports that two-time national champion Shabazz Napier was traded from the Miami Heat to the Orlando Magic over the weekend in exchange for a protected second round pick. Napier averaged 5.1 points and 2.5 assists in 51 games in his rookie season with Heat and will likely compete with newly-signed C.J. Watson to be Orlando’s first guard off the bench.

Former UConn soccer star Cyle Larin scores a hat trick against New York City FC on Sunday

Cyle Larin did his best to keep Orlando City in Sunday’s match against New York. In a high scoring affair in which New York edged out Orlando 5-3, Larin scored in the 50th, 61st and 85th minute. Unfortunately for Orlando, it wasn’t enough.

Larin now has nine goals in his rookie campaign. His three goals Sunday completed his first career hat trick.

Maya Moore makes a fan’s wish come true

Former UConn standout Maya Moore visits 14-year-old Ariya Smith as part of the “My Wish” series on SportsCenter. Smith, who has systemic lupus, idolizes Moore, and the two got to meet and shoot around thanks to ESPN and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Moore wins WNBA All-Star MVP honors at Mohegan Sun on Saturday

Five players with UConn ties put together strong showings in Saturday’s WNBA All-Star game at Mohegan Sun Arena. Sue Bird and Maya Moore led the West team to a 117-112 victory over the East thanks to 30 points from Moore, the game’s MVP. Tina Charles scored 13 points in 15 minutes for the East and rookie Stefanie Dolson scored four points in her All-Star game debut. Elena Della Donne, who originally committed to UConn before transferring to Delaware, scored 16 points as starter for the East.

 

Days of Our Lives for Dudes

It was a new low point of the many in this inane life I chose watching grown men play games.

Short on sleep and long on methamphetamines coffee, my eyes and attention were one with Adrian Wojnarowski’s Twitter account as I waited in suspense for another adult to choose his place of work .

With each mounting clue of Lebron James’ return to Cleveland, I, who had firmly believed he would return to Miami for at least one more season, sunk deeper and deeper into this warped dopamine drip I had entered.

I was no better than a junkie waiting in a back alley to see if his dealer would come through or not. Is Woj gonna get me the stuff? Maybe I should try Marc Stein? What about Brian Windhorst?

I wasn’t even any better than every girl I’ve ever mocked for watching any asinine reality TV series. This was The Bachelorette and I was waiting to see which team would get the final rose.

In between asking Google how much caffeine would kill a 200-pound man and misplacing my frustration onto my poor friends and poorer mother, I removed myself from the insanity to allow for some scarce self-reflection.

This is goddamn ridiculous. How did this become to be?

In only a couple of days, I had spent more time and received more enjoyment from monitoring NBA reporters’ timelines for tweets about exotic car transportation trucks and people pilgrimaging to a man’s house than I had watching the first and second rounds of the NBA playoffs.

None of it nearly resembled the sports stories my grandpa passed onto me of Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse at home plate in the 1970 All-Star game.

What I had only recently and reluctantly began to accept had become hugely evident in that moment: the transaction of sports had superseded the action.

Fans, myself included, have grown to care more about “what team is acquiring which player” than the actual game action in which those moves will make any difference.

For all the conversation about transactions this past week, only one move warranted this level of intrigue and significantly changed the power structure of the league —  LaMarcus Aldridge signing with the San Antonio Death Star.

Okay, Demare Carrol (who I like, actually) signed with the Raptors. Cool. They have a 22% better chance of advancing to the second round.

Okay, Greg Monroe signed with the Bucks? Milwaukee’s 2015-16 ceiling shot way up from 47 wins to 52.

The inconsequence of these signings only augments my curiosity for this shift, the explanation for which I believe is two-fold:

1. The simulated roster construction of fantasy sports has made an increasing number of fans attracted to transactions from belief that they could manage a roster better than many general managers.

After all, coaches and front office executives make for much easier, relatable targets of downward social comparison than professional athletes.

Fan X sitting at home with Doritos crumbs falling from his face knows he can’t run a pick-and-roll in the NBA, but he has played enough NBA 2K franchise mode to know that giving Reggie Jackson 80 million dollars isn’t smart.

And more importantly…

2. If the core purpose of sports’ existence is to entertain, then let’s call the majority of free agency for what it truly is: male soap opera.

Reports about Player X leaving Team Y because he didn’t get enough attention from Player Z is every Kardashian episode and Star Magazine cover cloaked in the masculinity of sports and served to fans as episodes of a TV show I like to call “Days of Our Lives for Dudes.” (Yes, I know many women enjoy sports as well. Sorry ladies.)

The show’s latest and greatest episode bestowed us with the most spectacular story plot since KG said Melo’s wife tasted like Honey Nut Cheerios and then they almost fake fought.

For those who missed it here’s a synopsis of the DOOLFD episode:

DeAndre Jordan is an underappreciated housewife living in the shadow of her husband, who regularly lets DeAndre know when she doesn’t meet his standards by overcooking the roast or forgetting a signature on their tax-exempt forms.

Overcome with frustration, Mrs. Jordan eventually decides to leave her husband and kids in search of the validation her husband refuses to give her.

Lo and behold, Mrs. Jordan meets mistress Mark Cuban and his $80 million dollars at a bar, where he tells her that she is the prettiest girl there (and also that he thinks she can be a Shaq-esque centerpiece of the Dallas offense..what?).

Cuban and Jordan have a week-long bedroom escapade until her husband(s) Blake Griffin and  Chris Paul suddenly realize how much they need their wife and proceed to go crazy trying to win her back.

The episode climaxes as grenades of banana emojis are slung between her husbands and mistresses, whereupon Doc Rivers hops in a wagon which is tied to and lugged by Big Baby Davis from California to Texas, where they meet up with Chris Paul who paddled in on a banana boat.

In a showdown reminiscent of that in Anchorman, they confront a deranged Mark Cuban, who is carrying a trident for some reason, and a near-nude Chandler Parsons, who only seems to wear underwear when he’s not playing basketball.

Finally feeling the affection she longed from her husband, Jordan comes running back into his welcoming arms and 88 million dollars.

And of course the episode ended with Chris Broussard getting scorched for being bad at his job because that’s the way all these things should end.

Sports are entertainment; the less seriously they are taken, the more they can be enjoyed.

The more sports can resemble professional wrestling and the less I have to hear some graybeard bemoan a baseball player pimping his homerun trot, the better.

Nothing has made this clearer for me than Wednesday’s spectacular shit show.

Sometimes it’s okay to be more entertained by some soap opera than a Nets-Raptors first round playoff series.

DeAndre Jordan spurning the Mavericks and speculation about exotic car transportation trucks leaving LeBron’s house provided more  “what the fuck is about to happen next?!” moments than almost any game ever could.

Wednesday night reminded me that I want with my sports more banana emojis and and drunk Mark Cuban stories and Paul Pierce’s terrible old person Twitter ineptness (YOU’RE A GOD DAMN RED BLOODED AMERICAN LEARN HOW TO TWEET AN EMOJI) and ridiculous hot sports radio takes and more ridiculous freakout videos from (un)masked fans and NBA players quoting Edgar Allen Poe and banana emojis.

(Really I just wanted JR Smith to jump in with an eggplant emoji but WHATEVER JR I didn’t want the pipe anyway.)

None of this nearly resembles the stories our grandfathers proudly recounted.

And that’s okay.

Sometimes the best sports stories have nothing to do with sports.

[100 emoji]

UConn Dining Jumps on the Food Truck Bandwagon

The University of Connecticut’s Dining Services are taking on a long-awaited project that is anticipated to create quite a stir on campus – university food trucks.

Dining Services Executive Director Dennis Pierce said the idea has been in discussion for the past three years, and everything is finally in order to move forward with the process.

University-run food trucks have been popping up at college campuses across the nation, according to thelance.net.

“We’re probably one of the last major schools without a vending truck,” Pierce said.

Two food trucks will be introduced, employed with student labor; the first one serving just ice cream, as an extension of the Blue Cow shop located in the Student Union. All ice cream served will be products of UConn’s own Dairy Bar. Pierce anticipates the truck to have different routes for day and night, depending on the season.

“The ice cream truck was specifically an idea that came from President Herbst,” Pierce said.

The location of The Dairy Bar is also a long hike for many students, so Pierce hopes the ice cream truck will make up for the limited access.

The second truck will just serve meals, and the menu is sure to be anything but ordinary.

“A food truck is literally a kitchen on wheels,” Pierce said. “It will first start off as a taco truck, but not Mexican food…more like off-the-wall tacos.”

Dining staff recently sat down to taste test about 14 different kinds of tacos, with a variety of meat, vegetable, vegetarian and gluten free options, Pierce said.

Many of the menu options will change with popularity and with the time of year. Dining Services plans to utilize UConn’s Spring Valley Student Farm in order to incorporate locally grown in-season produce in the recipes. There’s even talk of “meals in a field,” a spinoff of Dining Services annual Pop-Up Dinners, where the trucks would park in the field and set up tables for students.

A couple of different ideas are going around about where the food truck will make regular stops. Dining Services is looking at different schedules, as well as a possible permanent lunch location on Fairfield Way, but that would include some type of construction, Pierce said.

“The questions that cannot be answered right now are ‘where’ and ‘when.’ But I see both trucks having multi-schedules,” Pierce said.

There’s no telling where the best location and when the best time will be as far as scheduling the trucks, so that part will take a bit of experimentation. Dining Services plans to use various social media to promote the schedules, and will decide upon the best scheduling option based on popularity.

Pierce said he anticipates that the trucks will be in high demand, and expects a positive turnout. Dining Services is also planning to book the trucks for events around campus, possibly including events such as Family Weekend and Spring Weekend. As far as off campus events go, though, Dining Services is making UConn’s students and staff its main priority.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we were asked to do off campus,” Pierce said. “But first and foremost we want to serve the university community.”

Both trucks should be up and running by the time the upcoming school year begins. The trucks are currently being wired with wireless transaction systems, so that they are able to take credit and debit cards. Neither truck will take UConn meal plan points.

While Pierce said he understands the inconvenience of not being able to use points, the value of one point is not equal to the value of one dollar. After reviewing the expenses, Dining Services just wouldn’t be able to pay the trucks back on points.

“I know it’s not going to go over well, but this is a business,” Pierce said.

If the trucks go over well and it becomes financially feasible, Pierce said the university would consider introducing more food trucks, though he noted that he wanted to be careful in competing with different eating options around campus.

“We’re really excited about it; it’s definitely going to be a learning experience for us,” Pierce said.

2015-2016 UConn Reads Theme Announced: Race in America

For the 2015-2016 academic year the UConn Reads Steering Committee selected “Race in America.”

The decision to choose a race related topic is especially interesting following race related incidents on the UConn Storrs campus during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Two highly publicized incidents at UConn’s now infamous “Spirit Rock” sparked a dialogue about racism on campus last year. The first occurred last fall, when members of Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) were accused of racism and harassment by the cultural sorority Alpha Kappa Kappa (AKK).

UConn President Susan Herbst responded in a letter to the Storrs community, “These events did not reflect the community we strive to be — one that is welcoming, civil, inclusive, and that celebrates the great achievements that can be realized through our diversity”.

Five months later, students painted over the black and white rock that read “Black Lives Matter,” leaving only, “Lives Matter.”

UConn student Julian Rose called the incident “an outrage,” in his April interview with the Hartford Courant.

“There are people that actively deny there’s an issue, there are people that simply don’t care and there are the people that realize there’s a problem and want to change it,” Rose said.

In a December letter, Vice President of Student affairs Michael Gilbert said he believes “it is important for our campus to seize upon the opportunity to engage in a thoughtful and honest dialogue on the significance of the issues presented to our campus and their local, national, and global relevance.”

UConn Reads Steering Committee would not say if their choice was a direct result of last year’s issues on campus. Their focus is on the United States as a whole.

“In trying to understand the contemporary moment, I find that I turn to literature, which is uniquely suited to reflect upon the complex terrain of race in America,” said director of the Institute of Asian American Studies and chair of the UConn Reads Steering Committee Cathy Schlund-Vials.

“The UConn Reads program was created to bring together the University community – from students, faculty, and staff to alumni and friends of UConn, as well as citizens of Connecticut – for a far-reaching and engaging dialogue centered on a book suggested by the community.”

Recent events in Texas, Baltimore, South Carolina, and Ferguson give students plenty to discuss. Students can submit nominations for the 2015-2016 UConn Reads selection online through August 1, 2015.

“The most recent events at UConn and in the rest of the US only highlight issues that people of color have been clamoring about for centuries,” Rose said earlier this week. “Due to social media and the ubiquity of cell phones, people are now able to syndicate real stories to the masses, which has provided our communities with a great deal of connectedness and therefore strength, in a common voice.”

Last year, UConn Reads selected “food” as its theme and The Omnivore’s Dilemma as the “book to read.” The selected book will be offered at the UConn Co-Op for a discounted price.