NBA fans will have to wait until December 1 at the earliest to see any of their favorite teams play, as the lockout wears on. That’s 30 more days to discover if the Miami Heat can gel their unbelievable talent and win a championship. Lakers fans have 30 more days until the start of the Mike Brown era. Anxious to see if the Dallas Mavericks can repeat? You’ll have to wait another month to find out. New York Knicks fans will be held in a month of terrible suspense before they find out whether or not the team used the lockout to learn to play defense.
This will be a time of mourning for NBA fans worldwide. More importantly, now that the first month of the season is cancelled, we have an abundance of time on our hands.
Don’t panic. Breathe. We can get through this.
To save you from spending the next month roaming around your living room in a state of utter confusion without the NBA to keep you occupied, here is a day-by-day survival guide to the month of November.
This is the first day without the NBA, so you will need something to satisfy your appetite for sports. A fast-paced hockey game is the best solution. The NHL offers five games on November 1, and the most entertaining will be the Anaheim Ducks heading to D.C. to take on the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin is an offensive machine, and the way he zips down the ice will remind you of a Rajon Rondo fast break.
Lou Reed and Metallica, two rock-and-roll heavyweights, collaborate to deliver Lulu, an explicit concept album from the point of view of a dominatrix. Reed’s dark, cryptic lyrics and Metallica’s loud, thrashing guitars will make you forget all about basketball, but you might need to sleep with the lights on when you are finished listening.
Two books about iconic basketball coaches hit the bookshelves on November 1. If you want to spend some quiet time learning about two of the hardwood’s best motivators, drop by your local bookstore and pick up A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers by John Feinstein or Wooden: Basketball & Beyond: The Official UCLA Retrospective by Dick Enberg.
On November 2, 1959, Charles Van Dorenn, who captured America’s attention on the game show 21, confessed that the results of the show were rigged. Commemorate the occasion by watching Quiz Show, a 1994 drama about the scandal, starring Ralph Fiennes and directed by Robert Redford.
For a historical movie with enough action to make your palms sweat, watch Saving Private Ryan, released on DVD on November 2, 1999. Saving Private Ryan was acclaimed director Steven Spielberg’s first major motion picture to be released on DVD.
If you need something to munch on during your movie marathon, make yourself some deviled eggs as November 2 is National Deviled Egg Day.
The Florida State Seminoles take on the Boston College Golden Eagles in an ACC Atlantic division showdown. The Seminoles have fallen short of their preseason expectations and a win against BC will help them climb back into the Atlantic division race. Florida State brings a top-15 passing offense into the game and junior quarterback E.J. Manuel will sling the ball all over the yard against the Golden Eagles’ 92nd-ranked pass defense. The game may not be close, but the Seminoles will make it entertaining.
If that is not enough to keep you occupied, switch over to MTV for Beavis and Butthead. America’s slackers are back and poking fun at music videos and MTV programming like The Jersey Shore and 16 and Pregnant. If the first episode of the season is any indication of future shows, Beavis and Butthead will be the most intelligent MTV program since Beavis and Butthead.
Pac-12 football takes center stage on the first Friday of the month as Matt Barkley leads the USC Trojans against the Colorado Buffaloes. The Trojans are still under a postseason ban, so they are treating each week like a bowl game and dominating opponents in the process. The Trojan record currently stands at 6-2. At 1-8, Colorado might be regretting bolting from the Big 12. A victory, albeit improbable, against USC would not only lift the spirits of the current players on the Colorado roster, but will impress recruits as well.
Just like our bodies, sometimes our brains need junk food, stimulation that isn’t good for us but feels good anyway. A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas is sure to satisfy any cravings for silly and crude humor. It won’t win an Academy Award, but there is nothing wrong with busting a gut on a Friday night.
When Michael Crichton passed away on November 4, 2008, the world lost one of its most imaginative authors. Celebrate his contributions to literature by reading Jurassic Park, Sphere or any of his 17 career novels. If you'd like, pick up his newest posthumous release, Micro, on November 22.
The winner of the game between the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide will be in the prime position in the BCS rankings and will most likely have a spot reserved for them in the BCS Championship. This will be a game dominated by the D as both teams rank in the top 15 in scoring defense.
If Alabama is to win, they will have to shorten the game behind running back Trent Richardson. Richardson is gunning for a Heisman Trophy and has 989 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 2011. If the Tigers are to leave Tuscaloosa with a victory, they will need a big game from either Jarrett Lee or Jordan Jefferson, whichever quarterback plays for Les Miles. Expect the ‘Bama faithful to provide a hostile environment for this primetime game.
Elsewhere in college football, the Big 12 Conference features three matchups involving BCS Top 25 teams on November 5. At noon, the Texas Tech Red Raiders head to Austin to tangle with in-state rivals the Texas Longhorns. The upstart Texas A&M Aggies take on traditional powerhouse Oklahoma Sooners, but the best game to watch will be a clash of offensive styles when the No. 14 Kansas State Wildcats play the No. 3 Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Bill Snyder’s squad will try to win the game on the ground with an impressive rushing attack led by junior quarterback Collin Klein, who has 762 rushing yards this season, and sophomore running back John Hubert, who has rushed for 708 yards in 2011.
Conversely, the Cowboys come into the game with a dynamic aerial assault. Junior Justin Blackmon, a projected first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft, has hauled in 74 passes for 834 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. The Big 12 is an offense-first conference, and this contest will provide plenty of fireworks.
Week 9 of the NFL season brings several compelling games, including a marquee quarterback matchup between Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers as the Packers battle the Chargers, an important AFC East divisional game between the Bills and the Jets and a Super Bowl XLII rematch between the Giants and the Patriots.
The most heated game will take place between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers as the teams fight for dominance in the AFC North. Pittsburgh will have revenge on their minds as the Ravens trounced the Steelers 35-7 in Week 1. These two bruising teams always bring the wood and this game has the potential to be extra chippy as each team positions itself for the playoffs.
November 6 is Marooned without a Compass Day, and one can celebrate in any number of creative ways. You could host a Gilligan’s Island theme party, watch Tom Hanks in Castaway or read William Golding’s dark novel, Lord of the Flies.
Less than a week into an NBA-less November, NCAA basketball sweeps in to scratch the basketball itch. The schedule is light, but enough to carry you through the night. The only Top 25 game has the Arizona Wildcats hosting Valparaiso, but the game with the most interesting human element on this Monday is William & Mary at St. John’s.
Last year, head coach Steve Lavin restored the Red Storm to their traditional excellence, and the team’s wide-open style was thrilling to watch. St. John’s returns only one scholarship player from last season, and Big East hoops fans are wondering if they can repeat the magic.
It’s Election Day, so exercise your civic duty and hit the polls. Many important state issues will be on the ballots on this Tuesday, and you can watch the results updates and listen to your local news anchors break down voting trends and the impact of the outcomes like Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith analyzing the first half of an NBA game.
November 8 will see a spike in absences from school and work as gamers play hooky to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Funyuns and Mountain Dew will be scarce as players engage in ultra-violence against the Russian Federation, a group that has invaded the U.S.
In a novel that combines history and science fiction, Stephen King delivers the epic 11/22/63. In King’s homage to the late 1950s and early 1960s, high school teacher Jake Epping travels back in time to prevent the Kennedy assassination. 11/22/63 will be in exercise in nostalgia and suspense.
Sometimes a director, an actor and a subject converge for cinematic gold; J. Edgar is one such case. Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby) directs a biopic of controversial FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, with Leonardo DiCaprio, star of The Departed and Shutter Island, playing the man himself. The movie opens November 9; go see it and list all of the Oscars you think it will win.
The Hokies are at the top of the ACC Coastal division thanks to a top-10 defense, and right behind them are the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The Jackets are coming off a thrilling upset of Clemson, while Virginia Tech are looking to impress voters after a 14-10 win they ground out against Duke.
Georgia Tech will attempt to turn this into a track meet; they are second in the FBS in rushing yards and 18th in points scored. Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer doesn’t want a track meet, but a wrestling match. The Hokies can also run the ball, but will pick up small chunks of yards at a time, whereas Georgia Tech has an offense explosive enough to score on every play.
Whichever team can impose its style on the opponent will win the game. This promises to be a tremendous contest, and the winner will have a leg up in reaching the ACC Championship.
This Friday is the first full slate of games, and Top 25 action abounds. The game of the night pits the North Carolina Tar Heels against the Michigan State Spartans.
Sparty is looking to rebound from a disappointing 19-14 record in the 2010 season, and a victory over the No. 1 team in the land would do just that. Harrison Barnes and Tyler Zeller will keep the action moving for the Tar Heels, but MSU will try to slow the game down to a Big Ten pace.
The matchups on the floor are great, but the coaching battle between Carolina’s Roy Williams and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is better. Each man is a master motivator with multiple Final Four appearances and NCAA Championships between them.
The Pac-12 boasts a top-10 matchup with major BCS implications on this mid-November Saturday. This game is perfect for fans longing for the NBA as each team can score at will. The Ducks are fourth in the nation in points per game; the Cardinal are third. Stanford has the edge defensively; they are 13th in scoring defense while Oregon is 27th, giving up over 21 points per game.
The story of this game will be quarterback play. Stanford signal-caller Andrew Luck is in the midst of capping off one of the most prolific careers in college football history. Luck has thrown for over 2,200 yards in 2011, with 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Luck’s 68 career touchdowns at Stanford, his leadership and heady play make him a sure fire number-one draft pick.
Oregon’s junior quarterback Darron Thomas is no slouch, either. Thomas has accumulated nearly 1,400 passing yards this season, and has thrown 18 touchdowns against five interceptions, and has done all that despite missing one game. Luck and Thomas will be out-dueling one another as each quarterback tries to lead his team to a Pac-12 crown.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship hits the FOX network on this Saturday night. In the main event, heavyweights Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos promise to leave the octagon bloody. Both Velasquez and Dos Santos rely heavily on striking, so the action will be fast-paced and brutal. Velasquez will have to score some takedowns to win, but if the fighters stay on their feet, Dos Santos will have an advantage.
In a crucial NFC North clash, Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears play Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions. This game will be important not only in the conference, but for playoff positioning as well.
Both teams bring stout defensive units to the gridiron. Both are in the top 15 in points allowed, and both are filled with stars. Bears linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher and Lions defensive lineman Kyle Vanden Bosch and Ndamukong Suh play fierce, aggressive football, and the highlights from this game will feature not touchdowns, but hits.
Chicago and Detroit have potent offenses as well. The Lions score 29.9 points per game (fourth in the NFL), and have a multitude of weapons. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is the most dynamic offensive threat, but tight end Brandon Pettigrew is having a fantastic year as well. Chicago has the 13th-best scoring offense (24.3 points per game) in the league, and now that offensive coordinator Mike Martz has adjusted formations to protect Cutler, expect those numbers to improve. Keep an eye on Devin Hester; he has improved as a receiver and is a highlight waiting to happen.
Six preseason Top 25 basketball teams hit the court, and all are playing teams from smaller conferences. Watch last year’s national champions the Connecticut Huskies play Wagner, and Manhattan and Oakland—both with recent NCAA Tournament appearances under their belt—play against Syracuse and Alabama, respectively. George Mason and Florida International play in a contest featuring two possible Cinderella teams. Study these teams’ strengths and file them away to have an edge when you fill out your bracket.
If you are itching to get out of the house, November 14 is French Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s birthday. Head to the nearest art museum and soak in his masterpieces.
The most anticipated hip-hop album of 2011 hits the streets on November 15, when Drake releases Take Care, his second album. The single “Make Me Proud”, featuring Nicki Minaj is already blazing up the airwaves and the internet. One can be sure the album will be laced with Drake’s signature couplets, some as gritty as a Kendrick Perkins foul, others as smooth as a Derrick Rose dime. Drake enlists the help of his mentor Lil Wayne and Miami-based rapper Rick Ross on Take Care, and this long-awaited album will be one of the most talked about hip-hop efforts of the year.
November 15 is also Clean out your Fridge Day. While you are enjoying Drake’s grooves, you can finally throw away condiments you bought in the late 90's, and pitch the contents of that mysterious plate covered with aluminum foil. When you finish, you will probably vow to clean out the refrigerator once a month, but you will forget until November 2012.
On November 16, Burgess Meredith would have turned 102 years old. Celebrate his life and work by watching the first three Rocky movies. Meredith played Mickey Goldmill, a gruff old man who trains Rocky Balboa. While the Rocky films focus on Sylvester Stallone, Burgess Meredith provides the most spark in the series. Who can forget Goldmill telling Balboa to stay away from Adrienne because “women weaken legs” or predicting that Rocky will “eat lightning and crap thunder?" That is cinema magic.
By the time this Week 11 game kicks off, the New York Jets may have played their way out of playoff contention and Tim Tebow may have played his way out of a job. Even if both of those situations come to fruition, this game will be compelling because of the drama swirling around it.
On the New York side, if the Jets are way outside the playoff hunt by mid-November, Santonio Holmes will likely be pointing out mistakes made by individual offensive linemen. He may even go over game film with the press just to prove that the blame for any Jets loss cannot be placed on either himself or Mark Sanchez. Rex Ryan is always good for a gaffe in a presser, and Bart Scott is already thinking of trash to talk to Tebow.
If the Broncos offensive woes continue, Scott’s creativity may go to waste because Tebow may no longer be the Denver quarterback. If so, that will be one of the quickest and most unfortunate falls from grace in sports history. Both Tebow and head coach John Fox are in an unenviable situation; Fox’s offensive philosophy does not jibe with Tebow’s skills and Tebow would dash all of his credibility and goodwill if he were to ask for a trade or quit trying to be an NFL quarterback and play tight end or fullback instead.
The play on the field may not be beautiful during this Thursday night game, but the storylines this game will advance are worth watching.
Friday, November 18 will be the perfect day to hit the mall and knock out some of your holiday shopping list because Twilight: Breaking Dawn hits the theaters, allowing you to shop in relative peace. Imagine, no teenagers yelling at one another outside of department stores or chasing each other through the food court.
If you need a little pick-me-up to power through the purchasing, Starbucks is offering a buy one, get one free deal on select holiday beverages. Go ahead, have two specialty coffees and take your time; America’s teenagers will be too wrapped up in vampires and werewolves to bother you.
The Houston Cougars play a brand of football built for television. The 8-0 Cougars, ranked 13th in the latest BCS standings, lead all of college football in passing yards per game (453.3) and points per game (52.3). They have an average rushing attack (159 yards/game, 60 in the FBS), but the star of their stout offense is quarterback Case Keenum. Keenum plays like he is in a video game; last week against Rice he threw nine touchdowns. That’s right, nine.
Houston’s opponent, the SMU Mustangs, are in the top 20 in the FBS in passing yards per game as well and score just over 26 points per game. This game will be pass-happy and high scoring; the exact brand of football an NBA fan needs to get through the month of November.
The NASCAR Chase for the Cup will reach a dramatic conclusion at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Carl Edwards, the current points leader, has won twice at Homestead since 2008, but Tony Stewart, currently eight points behind Edwards, has captured the checkered flag twice on that track as well. Since NASCAR instituted the Chase for the Cup, racing fans have been treated to close finishes every year. This is the fastest action you can find without watching the Golden State Warriors.
The Rock reenters the squared circle for the first time in seven years at WWE Survivor Series. The Rock is scheduled to team with John Cena against the Miz and R-Truth at the 25th anniversary of the event. The pairing of the “People’s Champ” and Cena is made all the more intriguing by the fact that they will face each other in the main event of Wrestlemania XXVIII, and have roasted one another on Monday Night Raw. Cena and the Rock might implode; then again, they may form the greatest super duo in the history of professional wrestling. Any way you slice it, this match is sure to be electrifying.
With a down economy and no NBA to turn to for escape, everyone needs a little more support, a little more sunshine than usual. Take the opportunity to meet someone new on November 21, World Hello Day. Don’t just avoid people on the bus or in the grocery store, introduce yourself. Don’t stand in awkward silence on the elevator, make a buddy, have a chat. You might even find someone to play a pick-up game with until the NBA returns.
November 22, 1963 stands as one of the darkest days in American history. The country mourned the loss of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the loss of our national innocence. Acclaimed director Oliver Stone’s 1991 opus about New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (played by Kevin Costner) is so stirring that even the staunchest conspiracy skeptics will wonder if there is more to the story. The film also stars Joe Pesci, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald and contains plenty of historical footage from a turbulent time in American history.
The night before Thanksgiving is one of America’s biggest bar nights. Few people have to work the following morning, and everyone needs to let off some steam in anticipation of the stress of a day full of conversations with family members they will never remember.
Thanksgiving comes once a year, so you may as well go at it full bore. If you wake up early enough, watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. You never know, Woody Woodpecker might get loose and terrorize the Big Apple.
In the afternoon, spend some time with your family. Forget about work and other stressors, and gobble up some turkey. Find out what your cousins have been doing for the last year; indulge yourself with an extra slice of pie.
Thanksgiving also means football, and this year the NFL is serving up a barnburner as the Green Bay Packers take on the Detroit Lions. This will be the first time they play in 2011, and the Ford Field crowd will be amped up. A win over the Packers will be a huge step forward for the young Detroit team, but slowing down Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers may prove too difficult a task for the vaunted Lions defense.
Make sure you hit the hay early on Thursday night so you can be in line at your favorite stores during the early hours of Black Friday. You’ve been missing the NBA for nearly a month now, but America’s biggest shopping day will give you a chance to pretend you are your favorite hard-court heroes. Dash down the electronics aisle as fast as LeBron James on a fast break; throw elbows like Dwight Howard pulling down a rebound.
You must be competitive to pick up this holiday season’s hottest items, and it will take the focus of Kobe Bryant in the fourth quarter of a playoff game to get the perfect gifts for everyone on your shopping list.
The last Saturday of November is loaded with rivalry games. The players will be playing with a little something extra, and the student sections will be rocking even harder as teams attempt to ruin the season for their bitter enemies. Here are two games you must watch.
Auburn will be looking to spoil Alabama’s BCS Championship hopes in the Iron Bowl. Last year’s game was a classic as Cam Newton brought the Tigers back from an enormous deficit to defeat the Crimson Tide en route to a national title. Undoubtedly, the ‘Bama players will be out for revenge.
The Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Ann Arbor to take on the Michigan Wolverines in one of the best rivalries in all of sports. One never knows what to expect from this game. Some years, these two Big Ten titans deliver defensive wars, and in others the offenses can’t help but score. The Buckeyes have dominated the rivalry for the last decade, but Michigan has returned to form under new head coach Brady Hoke.
Ohio State has a tremendous defensive unit, and they will have to bring their best against the Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson. Robinson has passed for over 1,300 yards in 2011, and has rushed for 100 yards or more in four games this season. If the Buckeyes can contain him, they have a chance, but if not, they are toast.
You’ve had an exhausting few days, so you will need a break here. To relax before you drag yourself back to work on Monday morning and to kill some time while you aren’t watching the NBA, you have an opportunity to see The Muppets. The movie is rated PG, so you can take the kids or your nieces and nephews; however, it stars Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), so there are sure to be enough adult jokes to keep you interested.
For decades, the Vanderbilt Commodores have played in the shadow of their SEC rivals, the Kentucky Wildcats. In the 2011-2012 season, Vandy brings a veteran roster to the floor and is poised for a deep run in the NCAA tournament.
The Commodores will be strong in the paint this season. At 6’11”, senior center Festus Ezeli is a strong presence around the rim. The Nigerian-born big man averaged nearly 13 points and just over six rebounds last season. Ezeli’s play will be complemented by fellow senior Lance Goulbourne. Gouldbourne will give Vanderbilt a second inside-scoring option as opposing defenses struggle to cover their size.
Although they play in the Atlantic-10, Xavier’s tournament record is hardly that of a mid-major. Since 2004, Xavier has played in four Sweet 16 games, and made two Final Four appearances. Head coach Chris Mack will have all of his players primed and prepared, but the Musketeer offense runs through senior Tu Holloway.
Holloway will be looking to lead Xavier back into the late rounds of the NCAA tournament and improve his NBA draft position in the process. Though undersized, Holloway is a guard with a plethora of skills. Last year, he averaged 20.2 points per game, picked up five rebounds per game, and was good for five assists each time he walked on the floor. Holloway is lights out from the charity stripe and will have to play one of his best games of the season if the Muskies are to beat the ‘Dores.
This is the best pre-December college basketball matchup of the season and will be one of the first games to garner national attention. Both teams play fast enough to win with speed and are disciplined enough to grind it out in the half court game.
The Buckeyes look to bounce back after being eliminated by Kentucky in the Elite Eight last season. Thad Matta’s squad has solid play all over the floor, but the spotlight will be on sophomore sensation Jared Sullinger. Sullinger, who would have been a top-five pick had he declared for the 2011 NBA draft, scored 17 points per game last season.
A gutsy player with a body similar to Kendrick Perkins, Sullinger averaged 10 boards a game in 2011. Sullinger will be helped by senior William Buford, who came on late last year and hit some big shots for the Buckeyes, and fellow sophomore Aaron Craft who has proven he be a floor general.
The Duke Blue Devils have the combination of young talent and veteran leadership that spells NCAA Tournament success. Their young talent is lead by Austin Rivers, son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers. If you look at any scouting report about Rivers, you will come across the word “confidence”. Not only can the McDonald’s All-American handle the rock, but he does not shy from pressure situations and has pro range.
Rivers’ stunning talent will be guided by the Plumlee brothers, Mason and Miles, and junior guard Andre Dawkins. At 6’10” each, the Plumlee brothers will provide bigs for Rivers to dish to in the lane, and Dawkins, who made over 40 percent of his threes last season will play the sharpshooter from beyond the arc.
In a game brimming with this much talent, the difference between winning and losing may be coaching. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is already a legend with four national championships, 11 Final Four appearances and an Olympic gold medal to his name. OSU’s Thad Matta does not have Coach K’s hardware, but he is an excellent coach. He coached the Buckeyes to Big Ten championships in 2006 and 2010, and has been named coach of the year by three different conferences.
America has never and will never produce another author like Mark Twain. His poignant, edgy satire, rustic aphorisms and colloquial charm make him one of the most celebrated and most controversial men to ever put pen to paper. Celebrate his 175th birthday by reading one of his novels. Here are a couple suggestions for reading:
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn tells the tale of a young boy and a runaway slave escaping civilization on the Mississippi River. The novel is loaded with irony and scathing criticism of the genteel South. While Huck Finn has come under fire for being unfit for the classroom (characters use the “n-word.” Often), lost in the debate is Twain’s critique of how Americans treat each other in the name of religion, economics and tradition.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court follows a Yankee businessman who suffers head trauma at the hands of an angry employee. When he wakes up, he is in the sixth century and finds himself in King Arthur’s court. The narrator, who calls himself the Boss, battles Merlin and invents baseball in an attempt to modernize the royalty that surrounds him. While the premise sounds ridiculous on the surface, Twain crafts a wise commentary on nation building that can still be applied to America’s current political scene.
I hope this guide helps you make it through the next month without losing your mind. You’ll still long for Blake Griffin’s dunks, and Russell Westbrook’s fast breaks, but at least now you have some suggestions for ways to keep yourself entertained.
The recent talks between the owners and the players have produced optimistic results. If negotiations break down and NBA fans need a survival guide for the month of December, the sport will take years to recover.