Monday, March 31, 2014

Six-Syllable Shootout in South Bend Tonight


“Anticipatory.”

Ned Martin used to use that word – on multiple occasions and always seamlessly – typically to compliment a bit of particularly brainy ball-playing. Ned Martin, you see, was not only the radio voice of the Boston Red Sox during my youth and young adulthood, but he was also a constant vocabulary lesson. I owe many a successfully-solved crossword puzzle to his inspiration if not his “curriculum.”

Anticipatory, an adjective, is defined as “characterized by anticipation.” Don’t you just hate it when the definition of an unfamiliar word uses a form of the word which has moved you to open the dictionary in the first place? Well, at least you now know two different forms for a word whose meaning is still eluding you.

Just like the Latin language from which our verbal peculiarity emanates (anyone else still occasionally haunted by the Ablative Absolute), English is comprised of clusters of words which are distinguished from one another by alterations to the suffixes.

This particular family of words derives from the verb anticipare, to take before. There’s almost a sense of clairvoyance that attaches itself to the meaning – like Mr. Martin’s heady middle-infielder, who knew what his opponent was going to do before he even did it.

Our verb “anticipate” carries the meaning “to look forward to, often with eagerness.”

Eagerness is what has had yours truly “anticipatory” for the past 48 hours, eagerness for one of those match-ups made in heaven to which we sports fans are periodically treated by the gods of sport.

In about an hour, the best athlete in women’s college basketball will square off with the most skilled player. The “athlete” is a 5’10” guard who is thrown lob passes frequently. (No, she doesn’t dunk, but she does finish – regularly.) The “player” is a 5’8” guard who will soon wrap up an extraordinary career among the three top scorers – ever.

Muffet McGraw’s undefeated Green Colleens of Notre Dame, featuring that athletic sophomore, will square off with the wonderful young talent with which Baylor Lady Bear coach Kim Mulkey proceeded from the Britney Griner era.

At stake, a trip to Nashville and a spot in the Final Four, with the home-standing (yes, in a Regional Final) Golden Domers heavy favorites.

But what’s conjuring Ned Martin sound-bytes in my mind is the match-up of Irish sophomore Jewell Loyd and this summer’s “talk of the WNBA” Odyssey Sims.

Expect some special moments, my friends, moments worthy of six-syllable descriptors.