Maiden name of Harry Potter's mother / WED 6-6-12 / Longfellow bell town / Printing daggers / Lucasfilm aircraft / TV star who homered off Koufax 1963 / Mixologist's unit / Rapa locale of many monoliths
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Constructor: Gary Cee
Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium
THEME: FLIP / SIDE (1A: With 65-Across, part of a record ... or what each of this puzzle's five long Across answers has?) — letter string "EDIS" appears in five theme answers
Word of the Day: Hank IBA (22A: Basketball Hall of Fame coach Hank) —
Henry Payne "Hank" Iba (pronounced /ˈaɪbə/; August 6, 1904 – January 15, 1993) was an Americanbasketball and baseball coach. [...] After coaching stints at Maryville Teachers' College (now Northwest Missouri State University) and theUniversity of Colorado, Iba came to Oklahoma A&M College in 1934. He stayed at Oklahoma A&M, renamed Oklahoma State University in 1957, for 36 years until his retirement after the 1969–70 season. For most of his tenure at A&M/OSU, he doubled as athletic director. Additionally, Iba coached OSU's baseball team from 1934 to 1941.
Iba's teams were methodical, ball-controlling units that featured weaving patterns and low scoring games. Iba's "swinging gate" defense (a man-to-man with team flow) was applauded by many, and is still effective in today's game. He was known as "the Iron Duke of Defense." Iba is thought to be one of the toughest coaches in NCAA history. He was a very methodical coach, and he always wanted things done perfectly.Iba's Aggies became the first to win consecutive NCAA titles (1945 and 1946). His 1945–46 NCAA champions were led by Bob Kurland, the game's first seven-foot player. They beat NYU in the 1945 finals and North Carolina in the 1946 finals. He was voted coach of the year in both seasons. His 1945 champions defeated National Invitation Tournament champion, DePaul, and 6'9" center George Mikan in a classic Red Cross Benefit game.
• • •Mixed feelings. Theme idea is cute, and the theme answers are pretty solid, so all's good on that front. The fill seems kind of dire, though. I realize that some of this is the result of a fairly dense theme and grid construction that is heavily restrictive (see the bad and, not coincidentally, theme-dense east and west sections of the grid). Still, there's more ick than slick here. Didn't know PCPS could be plural? Also didn't know INCL and ENCL were allowed to share the same grid. I stared at IBA for a while thinking "that has to be wrong." But no. No one ever wants to see Longfellow's bell town, and only a select few are going to be thrilled with the OBELI (47D: Printing daggers). But It's All About The Theme these days, and this one is solid. Interesting. Just fine.
- 17A: Puerto Rico, affectionately, with "the" (ENCHANTED ISLAND)
- 25A: Malady named after a Connecticut town (LYME DISEASE)
- 36A: London's West End, e.g. (THEATRE DISTRICT)
- 43A: Record collector's curio (PICTURE DISC)
- 57A: Lucasfilm aircraft (JEDI STARFIGHTER)
It's strange to me that this grid contains a mere 74 words (slightly on the low side for a Wednesday) and yet has so few interesting longer answers and so damned much ugly short stuff. The grid is just carved up in this way that allows the theme answers to work but also maximizes short fill pain. ROSWELL is common but decent, and DELAWARE is fine (though it turns out I can't spell it—DELEWARE!?) (52A: State with just three counties), and I actually like FILLMORE (not a statement you're going to hear that often) (20A: Last Whig president), but that's pretty weak tea overall. And MALE SEX (23A: What the Mars symbol symbolizes) ... that phrase really wants another word to follow it. Like ROLE, maybe, or TOY. Or ORGAN or DRIVE. Google it in quotation marks. It really doesn't like to stand (!) alone.
- 31A: Rapa ___ (locale of many monoliths) (NUI) — "Rapa NUI" was a movie. From the '90s. That is how I know it. The good thing about the crossword—it doesn't ask you *how* you know things. "I learned it from the back of a cereal box / a Paula Abdul song / 'Melrose Place.'" Crossword don't care.
- 11D: Maiden name of Harry Potter's mother (EVANS) — ouch. Hard core HP nerds will rejoice. I read all those damned books and still didn't know one. Fairly crossed. No harm done.
- 26D: Disney tune subtitled "A Pirate's Life for Me" ("YO HO") — that's a real song? Not just the song that plays during Pirates of the Caribbean (the actual theme park ride)? Wow. Looks like someone took off with two of the Os from YOO HOO!
- 27D: TV star who homered off Koufax in a 1963 episode (MR. ED) — I'm inclined to disbelieve that a horse could do that.