NCAA Second Round in San Jose

23 03 2010

The NCAA tourney? Do I want to go? Uhhh, yes. 

There’s a little more than just basketball going on at the NCAA tourney. The coolest part? The fans. You have to admire that people from Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico and Washington to watch their school basketball team. Upon arrival you catch pockets of fans in the parking lot tailgating. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that at San Jose. I’m sure I’m wrong but I don’t think hockey fans are cooking wieners before ice time. 

Butler vs. Murray State — Saturday at 12:30

My first big-ups goes to the Butler mascot. If it wasn’t for Harry the Huskies in the night’s later game, the Butler Bulldog would have been my favorite of the day. I think I recall this K-9 being incorporated into the cheerleader’s pyramid. Very impressive.

If I must confess, I thought Murray State had that game. While they could do very little on the interior against Butler (even with Howard on the bench the majority of the game with foul trouble), there were times when I thought their outside shooting would be able to pull it off.

Murray State freshman Isiah Canaan was nails for the Racers the entire game. His 14 points led Murray State (he was the only Racer in double-digits for the game) and all four of this 3’s seem to come at clutch moments of the game.

But my “Sav-of-the-Game” goes to  Gordon Hayward who battled the entire game. Hayward admitted afterwards that he struggled throughout the ball game. While he only scored 7 points, he made the steal at the end of the game that ended Murray State’s hope at another upset.

After the game, while stretching near my seat on press row, an older gentleman called me from the other side of the barrier. He asked if he could have my stat sheet. Odd I thought. But then he disclosed that he was Hayward’s grandfather and had come from Indiana to watch his grandson. I thought it was tight that he was able to witness his grandson make the game winning play. I gave it to him of course.

Game Two — Washington vs. New Mexico @ 3:30ish (I think) 

To be honest, five minutes in I had the feeling that New Mexico didn’t have a chance. The Huskies had a swagger throughout the game and they have great athletes on that team that I knew it was only a matter of time. This game has a way more frenetic pace than Butler v. Murray State — I would have hated keeping score for this one. One moment Dairese Gary would go coast to coast for a bucket and before you knew it, Isiah Thomas or Venoy Overton were slicing through the Lobo defense for a basket of their own. 

But like I said, New Mexico didn’t stand a chance — Washington is way too athletic. Thomas is stud, Pondexter (7 of 12 shooting) and Bryan-Amaning (7 of 10 shooting) were beasts of in the paint. I really like this Washington team. 

My “Sav-of-the Game” though, goes to that guy in picture — a New Mexico fan who was non-stop “let’s go Lobos” the entire game. Down by 5? “LET’S GO LOBOS!!” 18? “COME ON LOBOS!” He made a couple of New Mexico fans proud as they couldn’t resist taking a picture with him. It’s Tuesday today? Yeah, I’m sure he’s voice is still non-existent with all his yelling. He was more of a show than his team was on the court. Close seconds go to the Washington fans a couple of rows to his left, who with 3 and change left in the game busted out victory cigars. Very nice. For their efforts? How about a couple of used towels by their basketball heroes. Kind of gross if you ask me.

Oh, shout out to my mascot of the day, Harry the Huskie. Well played sir, well played.

A little bonus for the Huskie Fans who read this (all, umm, one of you hopefully) … a little video following the victory featuring Overton who commented on the magnitude of the win and his team’s performance. Apologies for the audio, I know it sucks. Epic fail (the video is decent though?). Notice how at :31 he looks up at me and with a look that says, “Uh, who the hell is this guy?!”

Much luck to the Huskies the rest of the way. Until next time NCAA tourney. Thanks for the memories.

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