Monday, December 10, 2018

No power in Charlotte - or for the Panthers; Also, big wins for my Marquette men and my AK ladies

Well behind our subdivision, separated by a thick wooded area, is a clearing with Duke Energy towers and power lines. 

A minute or two after we lost power at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday, there were a couple of loud booms. I was in my office and Roberta was in another room when she said: "Mike! There were just some explosions in those Duke towers!" 

I got up and went to the window just in time to hear a third explosion and to see what looked like something from a sci-fi movie: a colorful burst of blue and red and orange and green at the top of a tower. I assumed a few transformers had blown ... although I admit I wouldn't know a transformer from a transistor from a rock if somebody showed 'em to me.
I said, "Holy ----, this could be a long outage!"
During Hurricane Florence, we didn't lose power, but one of the neighboring subdivisions was without electricity for more than a week, so we were bracing for the worst.

A wintry mix of rain and snow was falling but it was still light outside, so we gathered all of our flashlights and candles and matches, made sure we knew where emergency supplies were, etc. We settled in for a long night, fully understanding that it could just be the start of a long week.

Snow in Charlotte (Getty Images photo)

As it started to get a little cool in the house, we turned on our gas fireplace and it nicely warmed our home to a pleasant temperature. We ate a dinner of turkey sandwiches and salad (quickly opening and closing the fridge to keep the inside cold), we played cards by candlelight, we read books by flashlight, and we used the occasion to chat about some of our financial goals for 2019.
Our friends Allie and Jeff live about 2 miles away and didn't lose power. They offered to bring over their generator, but we said we'd be OK and then reassess in the morning. Very kind of them.
At about 11:30, we turned off the fireplace and went to bed, hunkering down under our comforter and blanket.
Not sure why, but I woke up at about 12:45 a.m. and noticed light filtering into our bedroom. At first, I thought it was morning, but then realized it was from the lights we had left on throughout the house. I got up, turned them all off, and went back to bed, smiling before I drifted off because I was pleasantly surprised the power had returned so much quicker than I had expected.
All was fine Monday morning, and Roberta went to work.
While she was getting ready to go, she said out loud what I had been thinking: "I'm pretty impressed with Duke. That looked really bad."

I have not always been so thrilled with Duke, which has hurt our environment with its toxic coal-ash ponds. But I have to admit they responded swiftly to this situation, and for that they have my gratitude.


Unfortunately, our power did not go out early enough to prevent us from watching the Panthers choke away another game.

That's five straight losses -- including four in which they either held the lead or could have taken the lead in the fourth quarter.

Cam Newton and his Panthers are stopped in Cleveland (AP photo)

Just over a month ago, the Panthers were 6-2, and national observers were calling them one of the NFL's best half-dozen teams. They are now 6-7, playing just well enough to lose one close game after another, and reports are starting to surface that Ron Rivera could be out as coach after the season.

That'll teach me for believing we might have a Super Bowl team this season!


Much better news on the basketball front.

For the second straight Saturday, my Marquette Warrior Eagles defeated a top-15 team. This time the victim was our evil state rival, Wisconsin, which was ranked No. 12.

The game went into overtime, and my gallant lads prevailed 74-69.

Sam Hauser celebrates Marquette's big OT victory over rival Wisconsin (AP photo)

The goat of the game was Wisconsin irritant and infamous flopper Brad Davison. Not only did the 90% free-throw shooter brick all three of his attempts from the line ... and not only did the Badgers' third-leading scorer fail to register a single point ... but in OT he cemented his reputation as a dirty twerp by intentionally smacking Marquette freshman Joey Hauser in the ... um ... place where guys really don't want to be smacked.

Davison was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul (it should have been a Flagrant 2, IMHO, and he should have been ejected). Joey (younger brother of MU junior star Sam Hauser, pictured above) calmly stepped to the line to make his two free FTs, and my guys went on to beat the Badgers for the third time in four years. 

Exactly one week earlier, the Warrior Eagles had defeated Kansas State, ranked No. 12 at the time. As a result of the two big wins, Marquette moved back into the AP poll. At No. 21, it is our highest ranking in five years. 

It's great to see our program back among the best.


I actually watched the second half of the Marquette game while sitting in the bleachers at Butler High School, where my Ardrey Kell Lady Knights were waiting to play in the LBI Best of the Carolinas Holiday Classic.

Thankfully, Marquette completed its victory over Wisconsin about 15 minutes before my AK girls tipped off, and I got to focus fully on our exciting 81-61 victory over Carolina Prep Academy of Chapel Hill.

The win capped a 3-0 week for the Lady Knights. We are 7-0 this season and are No. 3 in the Charlotte Observer's area rankings.

All of our girls played well Saturday, but a special shout-out to junior Evan Miller, whose 30 points tied the school record. Given all the great players to have come through coach Jeff Buseick's program, that's quite an achievement.

As a sophomore last season (my first as an AK assistant coach), Evan was a bit player on a senior-dominated squad that reached the state Elite Eight. She has worked extremely hard to become a fine all-around performer, and the 5-11 guard now is a go-to scorer on yet another talented AK team. In our three wins this past week, Evan totaled 69 points and also had oodles of rebounds, assists and steals.

We open conference play Friday against Providence, which figures to be one of the most improved teams in our league. I'm psyched to see how good we can be -- and to see if this is the first step toward AK's sixth straight South Meck 7 title.