NCAA Basketball Tour Week One

Mark SaltzContributor INovember 18, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 19:  Alfred Aboya #12 of the UCLA Bruins shoots against Larry Sanders #1 of the VCU Rams during the first round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Wachovia Center on March 19, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After three years of coaching high school girls basketball I will not be on the sidelines calling plays.  I guess losing more than 50 straight games is a enough to end anyone's tenure. 

Now my time needs to be occupied in other ways.  Currently I intend to attend as many college basketball games as possible.  This blog will serve as my journal of the sights and sounds encountered during the course of the season.

Friday November 13, 2009

Virginia Commonwealth v. Bethune-Cookman

Life is has obstacles and opportunities.  In order to attend this game there was an obstacle to overcome.  This roadblock was a mere scheduling conflict. 

Originally the homecoming football game at the high where I teach was slated to be on October 23, but was moved back to November 13.  Why not just skip the game?  It has been my honor and privilege to announce the games.  So, without me our football team would have no voice, just a silent night of high school football. 

However the weather turned sour.  Rainfall that was the result of Hurricane Ida soaked much of the Tidewater district.  In fact there was so much rain that it forced the game to be rescheduled for Saturday, which freed up my Friday.

VCU v. Bethune Cookman isn't exactly a match-up worthy of wishing for a meteorogical phenomenon to open up one's plans.  Actually the motivation for attending this game was not this duel, but a later one.  

On Saturday November 21 the Oklahoma Sooners and Willie Warren come to the Siegel Center to play the VCU Rams.  For Ram coach and Duke alum Jeff Capel bring his top 25 team to town.  In a clever attempt to make more money if one wanted to buy tickets to the Oklahoma game they had to buy a ticket package of multiple games.  The smallest package being two games. 

 I did not want to buy both tickets if I wasn't sure if I was going to attend both affairs.  So, when it was possible to pull off the double dip I was sold on the Season Opener Mini-Package.

At this point I would like to inform the reader of how risky getting to this game was.  First as I mentioned there was a massive amount of rain that fell.  Some same it was  a couple of feet.  And as of Friday it was still coming down.  Usually for me to get from my apartment to Richmond it takes an hour.  On this drizzly evening it too two and a half hours.  Perhaps this wasn't such a good idea.

I arrived at VCU about 20 minutes before tip off.  And in my section there was a lot of empty seats.  The student section was packed.  The VCU Rams may have the best mid major fan support in the nation.  This is hard for a Rose Rowdie to admit, but I don't think the students at Central Michigan would fill the house for a game against Bethune Cookman.  The fans of Viriginia Commonwealth did so with much enthusiasm. 

VCU comes into this season with a new coach because Anthony Grant after two successful trips to the NCAA Tournament was wooed away by Alambama.  They also lost arguably the best Ram off all-time Eric Maynor to the NBA.  However another NBA prospect still resides in the Capitol City of Virginia.  His name is Larry Sanders. He is six foot eleven, and according to what appeared to be a Big Brother sitting next me a wing span of 130 inches.  If he isn't exaggerating like most fans don't that is impressive. 

The game was what I had expected, a loopsided affair in favor of VCU.  Larry Sanders showed that he could play well around the rim.  I think the key to his success at the next level will be his ability to guard on the perimeter.  The average NBA big man is a lot quicker than he has ever been.  Most likely he'll be a first round choice if for no other reason his height. 

During the game there were a couple of awkward moment. 

Awkward moment one took place when I say VCU president Michael Rao.  He used to be president at my alma mater Central Michigan.  I had to do a quadruple take before I was willing to believe I was no longer in Mount Pleasant.  This may have been the first time I say Michael Rao in person. 

The second awkward moment is when I saw a member of my small group.  I yelled her name.  She did not respond.  Maybe she didn't hear me in the low rent section. 

I left the game during the under eight minute timeout mostly to avoid conjestion coming out of the parking garage.  On the way home I stopped to get some gas at Wawa.  I also wanted to get a pop and some candy for the ride.  After filling up my car I headed in to purchase some treats.  The following conversation happened at the cash register:

Wawa cashier, noticing my choice of Mountain Dew and Reese's peanut butter cups: So what is this your lunch or something.

Mark: Yeah I guess so.

WC: I'm not trying to disrepect you so if that's how do it fine.

Mark: It is.

You never know who you will meet at a store after 10 pm. 

Sunday November 15, 2009

The College of William and Mary versus Radford (women)

During my time of coaching girls sling the ball at the hoop and pray it goes in, I learned to appreciate women's athletics.  Last season I made several trips to Williamsburg to watch the Tribe play. 

I think it is worth noting that for a reasonably inexpensive afternoon or evening with the family a women's baskeball game is a good deal.  Most tickets cost less than 15 dollars.  A single game ticket at William and Mary is five dollars.  That is better than a movie ticket.  Just something to think about.

This game on the floor was not much to behold.  Both teams played sloppy.  Why don't more coaches teach their players to just pick up the loose ball and then dribble?  Why must everyone dribble a loose ball? 

Anyway the exciting action was away from the floor.  The first incident occured at the concession stand.  One of employees, an older women, made what can only be construed as a pass at me.  

Concession Lady: Didn't come to a lot of the games last season?

Mark: Yes I did. (with some pride for no know reason)

CL: I thought so.  I always remember the handsome guys.

Dude at Concession: I think she's flirting with you.

Mark: I see that.

Can't I just get my food and drink in peace anymore?   

The second occurance was in the stands.  For some reason, most like having The Tribe as a nickname, but someone thinks they need to do an Native American stereotypical whoot and holler.  Naive people think it is cute, I find it obnoxious.  But its not enough to make the noise but this guy likes to show how much he doesn't know about officiating. 

 Being a frequent 'handsome' guest to Kaplan Arena last year I am familiar with his antics.  This afternoon he is fairly tame.  He is nowhere in the form he was last season during the James Madison game.  He was so annoying last year Lady Duke players taunted him after their last second victory.  Some people just need to shut up.

Episode three happened after the game.  I stopped at local sports bar for some delicious wings.  While I was waiting for my food to be ready the waitress and I started talking about favorite teams.  I mentioned that my favorite team was the Chicago Bears because Super Bowl XX was the first game in my early sports memories.  She then went on to explain that her favorite team was the Colts because her first big game sports recollection was the Super Bowl the Colts won three years ago.  

Can't I just get my food and drink in peace anymore?  

Apparently not.