Wednesday December 21st
"A frustrating game for Albany ended in shock when during a time-out Julio Onca (Black Panther, C/F) shoved at Lance Wildfyre (Rabbit, G), putting the rabbit on his back with deep cuts on his chest and shoulders. He had to be taken from the court while the officials threw out Onca, making the fourth quarter an easy victory for Tennessee. Final score: Moonshiners 116, Alphas 77."
Stefan Calico (Tabby Cat, Owner/GM, HNT) almost expected as much, after reading that recap in the blog of T. Matt Latrans (Coyote). He knew the panther was definitely not going to fit in his vision for the team, and he had thought that the Alphas would've been able to reel him in. Though the sudden termination of Darius Mal'nioto (Wolf) as their General Manager shortly after the start of the season coupled with the less-than-confident sense he got while watching their head coach Julius Wigglesworth (Rabbit, Head Coach, ALB) made the tabby shake his head slightly at what he considered may have been a bad transaction.
Which was why he was sitting in the waiting area of the emergency room of the hospital where Lance had been taken for treatment, looking over any other FBA news on his oPad, with his bodyguard Leo (Black Cat) leaning against the wall nearby. Having been in Nashville doing interviews, it was just a matter of confirming the correct medical center with former Moonshiner Mitch Diego (Kangaroo, F, HNT) to see if he needed to do any possible damage control. And while he did not expect to see the young buck, especially having arrived half-an-hour after he was brought in, he wasn't too surprised when a couple hours later a pair of recognizable faces showed up.
"You know visiting hours are long past," noted the cat to the stunned duo as they approached him. "Besides, you're not family."
"Well neither are you!" mewled Cassandra Walburg (Tuxedo Cat, G, HNT). "What are you doing here?"
"Maybe I'm trying to ease my conscience, or maybe I'm here to ensure that my two former Alphas weren't going to do anything silly before our big game against the Minutemen over a former teammate of theirs."
"Ease your conscience?" roared Evan Ashton (Lion, F, HNT) as others in the waiting room stared at his use of volume. Leo silently brought a finger to his muzzle to shush the lion, who then continued in a softer voice, "We're his friends! What did you do?"
"I gave up one mean cat for a caring one, apparently," said Calico bluntly, "and got a second one to make sure he wasn't lonely."
Evan was taken aback by the response, but Cassandra looked a bit insulted. "And here I thought you wanted me to shore up your backcourt."
"That's your call, Cassie," purred Stefan. "Your contract is up this year, but you also started that cooking show."
"That's an off-season thing!" mewled the tuxedo cat. "I--"
"You need to be focused," interrupted the tabby. "Hobbies are one thing, but you could have used that off-season to practice and improve. If you're getting to the point where you don't want to live with a basketball 24-7-365, I can waive your contract and you can try to make your hobby into a full-time job."
It was now Walburg's time to stammer and stumble for words, though Ashton piped in to ask, "Why exactly do you care about Lance?"
Stefan glanced at the femme feline. "Wildfyre was my primary choice for [Aina] La'ia (Lemur, G, ALB); his lack of experience would have made him a perfect player to mold for my vision. But [Donahue] Frump (Mole, Owner, ALB) wasn't about to let him go just yet, so I chose someone who I thought would be able to help develop my goals for the team. Was I wrong?"
"I can do the job," purred Cassandra confidently, "I just need the chance."
"You'll get that chance this season," replied Stefan, "and after it's over we'll talk about your future plans. But right now--"
An equine nurse cleared her throat to interrupt the conversation. "Excuse me, Mr. Calico, but you wanted to know when Mr. Wildfyre was out of surgery. He's stable and asleep right now, but I can escort you to see him briefly."
Nodding his thanks, the feline gestured to his players. "I can catch up with him some other time. But if you'd be kind enough to let these two in for a quick visit?"
The horse nodded and beckoned Evan and Cassandra to follow her, the tuxedo cat meeting the tabby's gaze for a moment before catching up to the nurse.
"They'll make good assets in the future if they can just show the same kind of dedication to the team," mumbled Calico softly once they were out of view. "Let's go, Leo."
Friday December 23rd
Tweets from Nina Lime (Wolf, G, HNT) @Nina_Lime - Okay... *exhale* Gametime... I'm starting against arguably the best point guard in the league! We can do this Mayors. - All tied up at halftime, team won the first, but wow, I was NOT ready for Vera. I slowed her in the second, but I slowed too. Sorry guys! - Dang... 3rd quarter strikes again. Luckily the team won it, 4th though... Team tied, and I actually out performed Vera! - RT @FurryBasketball WIL @ HNT: L Minutemen (17-3) 111, W Mayors (16-4) 114 - Great game overall we won by 3, and Stoat and I were 75% from the woods! I'm still kicking about that missed free throw though.
Friday 10.15pm EST
The night's matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference was everything it was hyped up to be, possibly igniting the old rivalry the teams once had when they shared the Central Division. The events that transpired left the sheer majority of the Rocket City crowd happy.
Only a few red, white and blue-clad fans left with frowns on their faces, much like the red, white and blue-clad players leaving the court.
* * * * * * * * * *
Lenny Hicks (Coydog, PF, WIL) grumbled as he walked past one of the rows of lockers, giving the metal side a swat with his fist.
"No destruction of property this time, BC," Kelsey Hampshire (Red Fox, Asst Coach, WIL) quickly warned. The red fox was pretty good at keeping order when emotions were high; part of the reason that Morgan Roosevelt (Raccoon, Head Coach, WIL) had him on his staff what is now his eighth season as an assistant coach.
"The first aid boxes and any bats laying around are safe, Coach K," Hicks said back. That actually got a chuckle from the group, which was at least a good sign they weren't too bummed out by the loss.
Still, there seemed to be regrets. Even the normally calm and unflappable Eleanor Rigby (Deer, G, WIL) seemed to be brooding on how Bailey Brisbane (Catahoula Leopard Hound, G, HNT) played so well against her. One look at Eric Logan (Bull Elephant, C, WIL) betrayed what he felt inside: he knew good and well that Hassan Kamal (Camel, F/C, HNT) kicked his butt he entire game and he didn't want to hear about it from anyone else.
Coach Roosevelt then walked into the room after the players had finished dressing. He was carrying a small red folder in his hand; he might have been looking at a stat report from the game.
"You can't win them all, ladies and gentlemen. You played hard and well, you gave it your best, that's all I could ask of you there against the number two team in the league," he said.
"That game fucking sucked, Coach. You don't play 'hard' and 'well' and end up losing like that," Logan growled. It was a surprise to hear him speak because he hadn't said a thing since the game began. Still, heads nodded in agreement. Roosevelt kept his arms folded and looked at his backup center.
"Then what do you think is the remedy for that, Eric?" he asked. Roosevelt then scanned the room, looking at the rest of his players.
No one said a word. The message was crystal clear.
"Are you ready to talk about it?" the raccoon asked.
"Yes, Coach," the team said in semi-unison.
"All right, then. Don't vent too hard," he said half-jokingly, then signaling for Hampshire to open the doors.
The unusally short talk helped the team relax and take perspective from the game. They owned up and took responsibility in the interviews to everything they thought they did wrong. They also said they expected to do better against another tough road opponent, the Plymouth Taproots, on Christmas Day.
That was exactly what Roosevelt wanted to hear from his players.
Monday December 26th
"As much as I don't want you to go, I'm not going to stop you."
The German Shepherd continued to organize his desktop and clear it of clutter. "You remember what happened with Rolf [Korber (Doberman, Head Coach, IDA)] a couple years back after his little family drama. I'd rather the team doesn't end up losing games because I'm not 100% focused."
The feline leaning in the doorframe to the coach's office shrugged. "As long as you're sure that Philip [Ringer (Rat, Asst Coach, HNT)] can handle the players. I still don't trust that he's fully on board with us."
"We've been rather coddling with the team these past few months," replied the dog, "and he's had to play the bad cop most of the time. The players still respect him otherwise."
The tabby's tail twitched behind him. "Still, I don't want this to take any longer than necessary. Especially if the rat starts to think it's a permanent thing."
"I'm sure it'll blow over quickly, as long as that pompous wolf doesn't try to milk it for all he can," chuckled Schnitthund.
"If he does, make sure that you get the same investigators that are digging into Buck Hopper's (Rabbit, G, STA) past affairs. I'm sure Foo-Foo (American Eskimo Dog, Owner, STA) and that French racecar driver would love to compare notes," purred the cat in response.
The canine nodded. With the team falling behind the Minutemen for the top spot in the league, taking this leave of absence was risky. Unlike his predecessor, however, Howard wasn't coming off a long losing streak, nor was he being forced to take the time off.
He was just worried what he would be returning to.
Monday 5.30pm PST
ROHNERT PARK (Ca): A photograph that appeared briefly on Shane Rufus' (Red Wolf, G, MON) twitter feed is currently being shared around FBA forums. The original tweet has been deleted.
The photo shows a naked German Shepherd woman moaning as she lies with her back on a bed. The picture is taken from above and has been generally agreed to be an image of the woman taken during the middle of intercourse.
Fang's twitter feed went silent for a few hours after the image was removed and followed with a single expletive. FBA podcaster T. Matt Latrans reported on his blog that he managed to speak with Fang after the photo had gone out. Latrans reported that the photo was intended to be a direct message to a friend of Fang's but was accidentally copied to his public feed.
Latrans went on to report that Fang claimed the girl in the photo was someone he had met at a Rapid City, SD, bar following his team's road loss to the Bikers, and that they had consensual sex in a hotel room in that same city. Fang said he did not know the woman at all prior to meeting in the bar.
T. Matt ended his blog posting by saying he had received confirmation that the woman in the photo is the daughter of Huntsville Mayors head coach Howard Schnitthund, who is currently enrolled as a freshman at Badlands College in Rapid City, SD.
Thursday January 19th
The German Shepherd sat in his office, the soothing sounds of a little electric waterfall eliciting a deep sigh as he mulled over the past month. The leave of absence from his coaching duties was both a blessing and a curse, as the team had gone 7-5 while he had spent the holidays with his daughter trying to reassure himself of her well-being. The dog was also anxious over what Stefan would want to discuss with him after spending so much time with the players as their interim assistant coach.
"Damn that cat," muttered Schnitthund. When the tabby had first approached him about being a head coach, he had almost jumped right out of his pelt for the opportunity, especially to lead the team that had unceremoniously dumped him last year. But then the feline filled him in on the real plan for the club, and a part of him cringed at the ramifications of aligning himself within such an organization. At the time, and with the roster that was being built, it made sense, and he wouldn't have to stress that much.
Except the players actually set their egos aside in deference to his coaching style, and found such a deep cohesion with each other that they carried Huntsville to the top of the league. What was supposed to have developed over the course of most likely four years came together in almost under four weeks, until the other teams finally found a way to exploit the weak links in the Mayors' lineups. Up until he left for South Dakota, the team really seemed to have bought into the overall vision and goals that Calico was preaching and should have been enforcing over the past dozen games.
Howard closed his eyes and folded his ears down slightly, letting the sounds of the flowing water relax him again. The team would be returning from Idaho later tonight, and hopefully tomorrow would welcome him back with open arms and minds. If Stefan hadn't told them by now, he was determined to fill them in before their long road trip.
They deserve to know. They all do.