Black and Gold Friday/Michael Bleach
Thanksgiving is here.
Don’t let the snow and single-digit temperatures fool you. That singular day designated by President Abraham Lincoln as a national holiday back in 1863 – a tidy bit of propaganda designed to take U.S. citizens’ minds off that whole war thing in their backyard – has finally arrived.
This means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
Sure, there are the constants that everyone enjoys. Turkey, mashed potatoes, Lions losses, judgment from family numbers about where your life is going, etc.
But holidays like this tend to sprout their own traditions and observances at a micro level.
Perhaps your family plays a game of touch football*. Perhaps the religious aspects are taken more seriously in your household, and it becomes a day of prayer and appreciation to God for all that you have. Perhaps you help serve food at a shelter. Perhaps you reenact what the first Thanksgiving may have looked like, smallpox and all. To each his own.
*Or it could be tackle if you are those creepy kids from some car commercial who stand up to bullying by dealing out Roger Goodell-approved concussions. Whatever.
For sportswriters, Thanksgiving means one thing:
Gimmick column time.
Along with Opening Day in baseball, MVP arguments and Bill Simmons mailbags, Thanksgiving qualifies as a follow-directions-add-water-and-voila! piece of journalism. Columnist lists things he or she is thankful for. Columnist throws in joke about tryptophan. Columnist ends by thanking readers for taking minutes each week to read him or her end. Roll credits.
Well, in spirit with the times and relentless promotion, we are going to add a new twist to an old classic this year.
Yup, you guessed it. A Black Friday column.
To celebrate – or mourn – the day after Thanksgiving, here is a fabricated shopping list for what the various coaches at Michigan Tech may be looking for this Friday.
Kevin Luke, men’s basketball – A Dr. James Andrews Do-It-Yourself med kit.
The Tech basketball team is off to a dream start in the post-Ali Haidar year. They have won both their games in decisive fashion – extra important for the regional rankings that determine the NCAA Tournament in March. Austin Armga has melded his immense potential with terrific opportunity and produced 33.5 points per game and 73 percent shooting and brought diehard hoop heads to tears with his spin move in the post.
But underneath it all there is still the threat that wheels could fall off in any one game. The Huskies start a 6-foot-3 power forward in Troy Hecht (who, to be fair, has been perfect thus far fulfilling his role) and a 6-foot-6 center in Luke Heller, dramatically lowering the margin of error. One off-shooting night – which my brain tells me has to happen to Armga even if my eyes don’t believe it – or one stretch of foul trouble and the Huskies will be severely tested.
All of which is to say Luke will be very thankful if 6-foot-9 center Kyle Stankowski can recover from his foot injury without complication. Tech will eventually need his length and inside-scoring presence.
Michelle Jacob, soccer – A new camera.
It was a dream season for the Huskies soccer team this year, qualifying for the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament and reaching the GLIAC tourney finals while finishing second in the conference.
Now all Jacob needs is a working camera to commemorate the memories with her first-ever recruiting class. There are quite a few of them to capture.
Kim Cameron, women’s basketball – A time machine.
Picked to finish first in the GLIAC North Division and voted inside the national-top 25 in preseason, Cameron’s squad boasts loads of talent at every position. They can shoot across the floor, score from the post, score off the bounce and defend with versatility.
They are also incredibly young.
In Saturday’s loss to Minnesota-Duluth, the Huskies started one junior and four sophomores. The inexperience reared with an 18-point first half deficit. Tech flashed its immense talent in the second half, twice cutting the margin to just one point, but couldn’t quite get over the hump.
Cameron was adamant that all it takes is some more time playing together for all that talent to click into place. But with GLIAC play starting Dec. 5, she probably won’t get quite as many practice hours as she would prefer.
Tom Kearly, football – A soccer ball.
Something tells me he secretly just wants to kick around a soccer ball.
Mel Pearson, hockey – A home-cooked meal.
The hockey team will be spending Thanksgiving in Alaska, staying in the Last Frontier all this week for their series against Alaska-Fairbanks after a series with Alaska-Anchorage last week.
Friday will mark the 10th try this season for the Huskies to win a game away from the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
At 4-1 in Houghton and 0-7-2 away, I’m guessing Pearson wants to bring that special touch of home with him while on the road for at least one weekend.
Michael Bleach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @michaelbleach.