Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jon Jaques Blogs Again...

He’s three months removed from playing in the Sweet 16. He played four seasons of DI hoops, averaging 45 percent from three during his senior year. Without further ado, we’re pleased to present SLAMonline’s newest college blogger, Jon Jaques, Cornell Big Red graduate and current forward for Israel’s Ironi Ashkelon club.–Ed.

by Jon Jaques

I’m finding out more and more that basketball is a stubborn itch that won’t go away but feels pretty good to scratch. When my memorable career at Cornell ended, I thought for certain I was headed in to the real world, Ivy League education in hand, to get a “real job,” but the itch in my shooting hand led me to Ashkelon, Israel, where I’ll be playing professionally next season. That same itch plagues my typing hand as well. During my four years in Ithaca, I had the opportunity to blog about Cornell, Ivy League, and Division I basketball for the New York TimesQuad Blog, and in doing so, discovered a way to merge my definitely unhealthy obsession with basketball with my steadily increasing passion for journalism. So while I can’t escape the urge to play basketball (at least for one more season while my vertical leap still pushes 30 inches), it’s even more obvious I need to write about the sport.

I’m ready to branch out and write about other teams, though. I think one blog devoted to an Ivy League basketball team is probably enough, and though I will forever remain fond of Ivy League basketball, I do acknowledge that there are 339 other teams in Division I basketball outside the Ancient Eight that deserve some attention. I know all those Dartmouth and Brown hooligans out there are already dusting off their clubs and sharpening their knives, but the Big East and the ACC deserve some love also.

I won’t write this blog with a player’s voice, but my goal is to provide SLAMonline an opinion on the landscape of college basketball through the eyes of someone who has experienced at the highest level what makes college hoops more popular than the NBA in many circles and what issues (cough…NCAA Tournament expansion) it needs to resolve. And college basketball is relevant year round. Especially now in this early summer period following the NBA Finals when half of this country’s sports fans are more excited about what kind of toothpaste Brett Favre is using than the ongoing MLB season, college basketball can spice things up.

Already this summer conference realignment has sent a few tremors through the world of college athletics (if you can call Colorado switching conferences a cataclysmic event). Last month’s NBA Draft inspired huge interest among college basketball fans, and the NBA Summer Leagues in Orlando and Las Vegas symbolize the incredible irony of the most celebrated and successful Division I college basketball players (I.e. John Scheyer) scratching and clawing to make the final roster spot on the NBA’s worst teams (I.e. Washington Wizards).

So although I will be more democratic in my coverage of college basketball topics on this blog, of course the blog’s title pays homage to Cornell Basketball. “Blue Clips” is one of the many idioms our coach Steve Donahue (now the head man at Boston College) became known for during my career. Whenever we sat down for a team film session, the clips Coach D decided had won us the previous game were marked with a blue tab on his laptop. One-hundred percent of the time these clips would feature us diving on the floor, grabbing 50-50 balls, making an extra pass, or scrapping for an offensive rebound to earn an extra possession. Coach D started calling these highlights “Blue Clips” and the rest is history.

Since this expression literally came out of the blue, our team thought it was hilarious and ran with it. We congratulated each other for Blue Clips. We pointed out the Blue Clips to each other in other games we watched. Coach D begged us for Blue Clips before and during games (“Blue Clips” was written on the whiteboard pre-game checklist before each NCAA Tournament game). Since it turned out that Blue Clips helped us win basketball games, the term became much more than an inside joke. So in Cornell basketball lingo, Blue Clips = success. I apologize if I picked a title that means nothing to anyone but myself, but (get ready for the cheesiest closer of all time) I’ll strive for “Blue Clips” in every blog I write (warned you).

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