Just figured I’d throw that out there, because that’s the word that first comes to mind when I think of my buddy, Jeff Novotny. He looks you in the eye and tells the truth. Period.
He’s a bunch of other things to me, too. He was once a fellow sportswriter at the Concord Monitor. We used to live together, bike together, lift together, run together, ski together, hoop together, listen to the Dead together and drop lines from Pulp Fiction together. He was one of the dudes standing up next to me in a tux and special sneakers when I said “I do” to The Beautiful Heth.
He’s one of those guys who’s so good, you know everyone around him is good, too. I’m proud to call him my friend.
So on the 111th day of Hoops For Heroes, tonight, he joined me for a two-hour session at Epsom Central School, and … if I may be so bold … he brought March in like a freaking lion.
Jeff, as much as anyone I know, likes to do things right. So he starts out by asking how the whole rebounding thing works best. I tell him that there are no expectations on my end in terms of speed, but if he really wants to make this machine sing for a couple of hours, the best plan is to let the ball touch the floor as little as possible. I leave it at that, and away we go.
For a little context here, there has only been one two-hour romp that has netted more than 1,900 made foul shots with a single ball and a single rebounder, and that came sometime in late December at the hands of Math Man, my esteemed brother-in-law Randy Wormald. Second-best was another brother-in-law, Randy’s brother Dana, at 1,860. And those were fast. Two thousand? I just didn’t see it happening.
So tonight, when 57 minutes rolled around and we were crossing the 1,000 mark, it was kind of exciting to me.
It was the perfect combination — I was shooting at a higher percentage than normal, and the bearded fellow was absolutely humming. Net-catch-back. Net-catch-back. Net-catch-back. And “catch” isn’t really even doing his part justice, because typically he was barely touching it before the was at my chest again, ready to go back up.
At an hour and a half, we were at 1,600, and at that point it was just a matter of how far over 2,000 we were going to go. Turns out, 2,100 was the number … and we did it with two minutes to spare. That’s 2,100 made foul shots in an hour and 58 minutes, or 1 make every 3.4 seconds. I can thank Jeff for that.
Actually, I can thank Jeff for a lot of things. He was a big part of my life for a lot of good years. He’s a guy worth emulating, whether he’s under the basket or otherwise.