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The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, January 12, 2022

Christina Kiser, the greatest player in the history of Bard women’s basketball, pushed the ball out of the hands of a Clarkson player and raced down the court, finishing a layup that tied Tuesday night’s game at 50-50 and forced the Golden Knights to call a timeout. A tiny crowd, restricted to students and staff only by COVID restrictions, cheered while her teammates swarmed her.

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I was on the call, and my level of excitement was tinged with something more than my typical feeling of gratitude when I’m in the thick of an exciting game, either writing or broadcasting it. I’ve found myself almost overcome by the feeling whenever I’ve gotten to experience basketball here in 2022.

Every planned game has the provisional if attached to it. Every potential plan can change at any time.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, I took my younger and basketball-crazed daughter, Juliet, to a local high school game. We had a wonderful time. Then omicron hit, the next few games were cancelled, and the games that have followed are only open to immediate family of the teams playing.

Juliet’s first game in her rec league was Saturday, and it was a glorious experience. She finally got to take the skills she’s been practicing in our driveway and apply them to full 5-on-5 concept. She rushed over after the game ended, we hugged and celebrated, but all she wanted to do was play more, and failing that, check out some video I’d taken of the game to see ways she can get better. (She’s the type of kid who told me last week, ahead of a winter storm, that I should make sure I’d done the food shopping.)

Well, covid restrictions mean parents aren’t allowed to watch this week. It’s drop-and-go. I’m just thankful the league is continuing at all.

This is not a complaint about safety. I’m more perplexed than anything by those who aren’t taking omicron seriously, however fatigued we all are by it. Instead, though, when we do navigate our way through the thicket of potential positives and do find ways to play, it’s nothing less than an experience I take extra care to make sure I’m not taking for granted.

No, Bard did not prevail Tuesday night, but I focused in the immediate aftermath on the elated Clarkson bench, players rushing to embrace one another. Every game you cover is a victory for somebody, after all.

And despite a long drive ahead of me, I didn’t want to go home. I talked to Kiser about the late-game calls, Mae Redmond about her evolving perimeter shooting, and Coach Casi Donelan about the big-picture growth of the team. I don’t have another broadcast until January 21, you see, and there’s no guarantee that game gets played. This one was rescheduled, and it was supposed to be a doubleheader — the men’s game, alas, was cancelled.

It’s something I tried to remember even in pre-COVID days, when Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi or Elena Delle Donne would come through town — that there are only so many times you can see them in person, and you better make sure to slow down and take notice of it.

Well, I’ve expanded that gratitude to the expansive definition of any basketball whatsoever. As the next few months unfold, I’d try not to have too many expectations about what we can expect. But I do hope you’ll join me in treasuring what moments we do steal, safely, amid the continuing international emergency we are all facing.

This week in women’s basketball

Derek Willis and Marissa Sisk take stock of the Big Ten.

PJ Brown chronicles Adia Barnes and her family’s COVID-19 experience.

PJ also helps you get to know Helena Pueyo.

Bobby Mummery makes the case for Kitija Laksa’s return to the WNBA.

I wrote about Naz Hillmon at FiveThirtyEight.

Always worth your time to read Maitreyi, this time on Becky Hammon.

Calvin Wetzel breaks down your various 2022 WNBA prop bet options.

Good stuff from Adam Vachon as always, including a look at Dyaisha Fair’s season for Buffalo.

Terrific Lori Riley piece on another Thibault getting a head coaching gig. (Won’t be her last, either.)

Dawn Staley’s got a podcast now!

And great piece from Jackie Powell on the influx of women coaching in the WNBA.

Tweet of the week

Five at The IX: Sandy Brondello’s presser

I asked a few of Jonathan Kolb, and near the end, of Sandy as well.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.