American Eagles, and American Idol
During the American basketball team's media availability this afternoon, a few players were asked how much college basketball they've been watching lately, with their school on spring break and the Patriot League final not until Friday. Brian Gilmore and Derrick Mercer both gave sort of stock answers about watching all those championship games, seeing various teams clinch their berths, wanting to feel what those players are feeling.
"I would say it's very motivational," Mercer said, "because if you want that feeling, you're gonna go out there and you're gonna work for it."
Maybe. But the rest of the TV world doesn't halt for the Horizon League, which brings us to Tuesday night at the so-called Basketball House, where five of the Eagles live together, off-campus.
"There was a couple college basketball games on that they all wanted to watch," Bryce Simon explained. "Like, Steve [Luptak] wanted to watch the Butler game, and I'm watching American Idol."
A dilemma I faced myself, and one with no easy solution. So, who won?
"I mean, I did," Simon said. "I watched [Idol] in the living room on the big screen TV."
Look, we all have our weaknesses. I skipped both the Horizon League final and the Caps-Predators game on Tuesday night in favor of Idol's first Final 13 performance show. Some other conference with a meaningless noun for its name will be crowning some other champion every night this week, but you can only see Anoop Dawg sing "Beat It" on Tuesdays.
"I mean, there's only so much basketball you can watch in championship week," Luptak said in his concession speech. "I don't think it's good for us to be watching guys storm the court every day. I don't know, you've got to get your mind off it every now and then, I guess. We all enjoy [Idol]. I'll say I don't like it, I make fun of him for watching it, but I watch it just as much as he does."
"He secretly fell in love with it," Simon said.
"I guess that's safe to say, yeah," Luptak agreed.
Indeed, at The Basketball House, the players have a little post-Idol discussion most weeks: who was good, who was bad, whom they like, whom they don't. "But hold on," you're thinking to yourself. "The Patriot League quarterfinals last week were on Wednesday. That was also the night of Idol's final semifinal group results show. What's a basketball player to do?"
"I went home and watched it as soon as the game was over," Simon said. "Pretty much right away. I didn't have any family here visiting me or anything like that, and I didn't play particularly well, so I kind of needed some time to be alone and clear my head a little bit, I guess."
"Oh, I didn't know that," Luptak said with a laugh.
"He didn't invite me to go eat with his parents after the game," Simon pointed out.
Anyhow, Simon is just like a lot of you. He TiVos the show most weeks, so he never votes. He likes the oil rig guy, but recognizes that he's not really the best singer. He's mildly embarrassed about watching, but knows it's television's most popular show.
"I guess it's not the most manly show I could watch," he noted, "but with some of the other stories you've written about me, I don't know that it really matters any more." (Yeah, he was the guy who started the playoff beards.)
Despite what would be an effective last name, Simon said he has no American Idol dreams himself, ruining the hopes of headline writers across the nation. He played the sax growing up, but quit because he didn't want to have to wear the goofy marching band costume. He said he has "the worst voice ever," and that if he could have one talent that he doesn't possess, "it'd be to able to sing, be musical in some way."
That, I suggested, is a strange skill to pick, if you were really choosing out of anything.
"If I could have anything, it would be to able to read people's minds," he said. "That's a superpower. Different question. I would love to be able to sing AND read people's minds. Those two things, and another Patriot League championship, and my life would be complete."
(Other highlights from the media availability: one media member called American-Holy Cross "a mid-major version of UNC-Duke," another asked a question about the Eagles carrying the flag for
the Atlantic 11 D.C. basketball, and a third asked which player is the best pancake eater during morning trips to the Original House of Pancakes in Bethesda. The answer was Jordan Nichols.
"I don't think we've had a pancake eating contest to see who eats the most," Garrison Carr said, "but once the pancakes get to him, it's evident how excited he is."
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