The rapidly growing world of internet message boards is beginning to dramatically affect the world of sports journalism. Along the way, such websites have fostered a sort of cryptic verbiage:
FWIW–for what it’s worth
IMHO–in my humble opinion
LMAO–laughing or lying my ass off (depending on who’s saying it)
However, there is also a very chic phrase that dominates message boards across the nation, but it’s especially prevalent in the bluegrass: “…over the summer.” As in, “I hear Randolph Morris has really been dominating pick-up games lately, and has totally spiffed up his physique over the summer.”
Really? Is all this remarkable improvement really feasible in just 3 short months? It seems like each new year ushers in a fresh set of “over the summer” rumors for Wildcat fans to TFWIW. Who can forget last season’s fashionable OTS (over the summer, not the head coach) revelation regarding the aforementioned Woo:
“Word has it that Woo has really developed his 10-15 footer over the summer, and is ready to make a significant impact this season.”
Not only was this morbidly incorrect, it was also unfair. I mean, how many people can learn a consistent jumper in 3 months, Let alone a 7’3” Pole?
Naturally, my favorite is the annual Sheray Thomas progress report: “From what people have been telling me, Sheray has rededicated himself to his craft, and has put on an extra 30 pounds of muscle while managing to drop his body fat to 6% as to help him crash the boards with improved stamina.”
Wow. That’s nice. It’s just that every year he looks like the same un-athletic, uninspired Sheray to me.
This year, a lot of the talk has swirled around the starting backcourt, Smooth and Joe C:
“Smooth has vastly improved his handle and decision making over the summer. Crawford has chiseled his physique and his knee was blessed by a Himalayan Swami.”
Of course, this gets me thinking about my summers, and how little improvement I make:
“Word out of Lexington this summer is that John Wilkinson slept until noon a lot and was angered when he was only able to catch the second showcase on the Price is Right. He also can’t help but like Kenny Chesney’s latest pathetic attempt at becoming Jimmy Buffett. On top of that, he has really improved his tolerance, and has put on a good five pounds of choice hops and Fritos.”
Now, I know that highly competitive athletes like those of UK do in fact work out and a lot of them even stay dedicated. Of course you can improve in a summer’s time, but rarely is it dramatic. Let’s face it: You are who you are. You can’t just go to bed one night as Marvin Stone and wake up in the morning as Melvin Turpin (except for Tom Hanks in Big, but that’s Tom freakin’ Hanks). Most of the necessary upgrades needed for progress are not physical, but mental. Think back to when you were 19-21 years old…there’s a lot of stuff going on in your fragile psyche. Factor in the pressures of playing big time ball and juggling life and school; it’s a daunting task. Joe Crawford’s biggest hurdle to All-American status is his confidence; not five extra pounds. Smooth’s main concern should be learning the nuances of playing a refined point in Tubby’s system, as well as gaining confidence at the foul line. Randolph Morris has to learn to stay on the floor. These are things that you don’t just practice for three months and hope it sticks, or run gassers until you’re “good.” You might look good in off-season pick-up games, but that doesn’t mean it’ll translate when you step into the Dean Dome. The true standard for “over the summer” improvement is something that cannot be hammered into a player by a coach; rather it’s something that must exist within the player, no matter the season. The safest tactic to this phenomena is simply to take the WASA (wait and see approach).
cue Mungo Jerry