Before leaving for the Hornet's Nest, I was able to enjoy a home cooked dinner with the family, one of the last few since classes resume for me next week. The night's offering: meatloaf!
Because I wanted to arrive early, I had to enjoy the bounty piping hot instead of lukewarm. The newest iteration of the meatloaf was different, neither the best nor worst I have had, just different.
I bring this up because Sac State, after sophomore Walter Jackson left the team on Boxing Day for personal reasons, but also got back an injured Jackson Carbajal, also seemed different. Not necessarily better or worse, just different.
Since I have not followed the team closely, I am not sure how the loss of Jackson will affect them the rest of the season, but Kevin Danna noted his impact in the game against North Dakota.
After settling into the corner general admission section, I noted the increased attendance in the section, filled by a sizable Northern Colorado contingent, complete with a guy passing out yellow rally towels and pom-poms and the presence of a local youth team and their fathers.
I was treated to two different parents and two different parenting styles: Below me, an exuberant fan who was not a supporter of the striped individuals and was willing to improve the chances of his progeny needing aid to hear in the future.
Behind me, a father of two young boys quickly realized his location prevented his sons from seeing the opening minutes of the game. Just after he asked a standing fan to sit, the Hornets scored, alleviating that problem. The next issue: a handrail prevented one of the sons from seeing the far side of the court. Solution: move down next to me for the rest of the half.
The family dynamic was more entertaining than the first half, as I got to hear explanations about the similarities and differences of youth basketball and the college version. I learned the son's league has no backcourt violation rule after a mishandled pass lead to a Sac State turnover, and charges must not happen all too often in the youth league with how excited the father was to see Sac State force several Northern Colorado charges. Those charges also cut short Northern Colorado attempts to extend their lead.
Though they had a few games with the new roster, the Hornets still looked like they could not make up for Jackson. While there were moments of team unity, like the well-executed double pass to an open man to hit a tying superhoop within the last 0.6 seconds in the first half and an alley-oop turned three-point play in the second half; there were also the aforementioned back court violation, a double dribble and a rarely called over the back foul.
Not to give short shrift to Northern Colorado; their fan contingent was loud and the Bears played solid defense even if Aaron Hawk got elbowed in the face by the ball handler but was somehow called for a foul. They were a good team that might make things interesting in the Big Sky.
Even though Sac State kept it close by matching hoops for a few possessions, the good shooting disappeared for them and the Bears hit more free throws when they had their chances.
The second visit to the Hornet's Nest, the experience felt different. Gone is the first-time mystique and now I might realize this team might not be that good.
Sometimes despite our best efforts, life gives us experiences that just feel different; not really good and not really bad. Hard workers face the different, embrace it and integrate its edge into their routine. Hopefully the younger Hornets can learn from this game and help the team integrate the edge of the different and work toward making the Big Sky Tournament, where anything can happen.
NORTHERN COLORADO 61, at SACRAMENTO STATE 53 01/07/2012
NORTHERN COLORADO 5-9 (2-1) -- E. Lloyd 3-8 0-0 8; T. Svihovec 4-6 5-7 16; C. Osborne 3-6 1-2 7; T. Unruh 1-4 0-0 2; E. Addo 3-8 4-4 10; M. Proctor 1-4 1-3 3; T. Huskisson 4-7 0-0 9; B. Keane 2-3 0-0 4; A. Hawk-Harris 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-47 11-16 61. SACRAMENTO STATE 5-9 (0-3) -- J. Eberhard 4-11 0-0 11; D. Garrity 2-5 0-0 5; J. Dickson 4-8 4-6 12; J. McCarver 3-5 1-1 7; H. Hoffman 0-6 0-0 0; J. Carbajal 4-8 0-0 11; K. Veteto 2-6 3-6 7; J. Demalleville 0-0 0-0 0; K. Groom 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-49 8-13 53.
Three-point goals: NOCO 6-11 (E. Addo 0-1; E. Lloyd 2-2; T. Unruh 0-3; T. Svihovec 3-3; T. Huskisson 1-2), SAC 7-22 (J. Eberhard 3-5; J. Dickson 0-1; J. Carbajal 3-7; H. Hoffman 0-6; D. Garrity 1-3); Rebounds: NOCO 30 (M. Proctor 6), SAC 25 (J. McCarver 11); Assists: NOCO 11 (E. Lloyd 4), SAC 15 (D. Garrity 6); Total Fouls -- NOCO 19, SAC 16; Fouled Out: NOCO-None; SAC-None.