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Jim Derych Headshot

Freshman Mistakes

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We Memphians call our intrepid little corner of Tennessee "Roundtown," and it isn't because we're officially the most obese city in the nation. No, it's because Memphis is a basketball town, and I (very fortunately) am a huge basketball fan. As an alumnus of the University of Memphis, I am, needless to say, a big fan of our 3rd ranked Tigers.

Our team this year features six freshmen, two of whom start. They are all extremely talented, and would probably start on just about any team in the nation. But as a fan of college basketball for going on 18 years now, I know that if there's one constant it's that freshmen make freshman mistakes. They come in to the game, and they try a little too hard to prove that they can compete with the big boys. They want to show all of their skills in the 7 or 8 minutes that coach is going to have them out on the floor. They mean well, but they try a little too hard to prove that they belong.

Having watched this phenomenon for as long as I have, you'd think I would have been able to avoid doing it myself. But there I was, spending my first 8 minutes on the floor of the Huffington Post turning the ball over in traffic, trying to hit contested jumpers, and hurling NBA 3's. "Look at me! I can do this!"

That's not to say my first post was all bad. Clearly I knocked down more than a few tough shots. The positives to negatives were on the order of 80 to 20. But as I look at the highlight reel, even I can see that I was maybe doing a little showboating. When I looked around I saw I was on the floor with the likes of Steve Martin, David Mamet, Al Franken, Paul Hackett, Harry Shearer, Katrina vanden Heuvel, and countless others. Here are all these folks who have accomplished so much, and who am I? Just some random dude who changed his mind.

I felt like a high school kid playing in the All Star game! And while I expected boos from fans of the other team, I wasn't as prepared for the boos from the home crowd (and I certainly wasn't ready for the hazing section over at the Smirking Chimp. Did I collectively run over all of your dogs at some point?). But if I want to play in the big leagues then it's just something I'm going to have to deal with.

So to the overwhelming majority of folks who were positive and want to know more, I'm happy to oblige. To the 15% of the home crowd who think I'm already a bust, just keep watching. You don't know enough about my game to judge. Check out a few more games before you make up your mind. And to the 5% who are pulling for the visiting team, get ready 'cuz I'm about to light you guys up with a double nickel.

Now that THAT'S out of the way I can go back to doing what I enjoy doing. I spent 13 years playing for the other team. It's high time I published their playbook...

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