March 20, 2010
At the NCAAs...
1. NCAA Tournament College Basketball is much more impressive in person than on TV, considering you have the best teams in the country on the floor. While CBS does a great job of covering all the games, you obviously lose a lot in translation. And I have to say that the teams are actually quite evenly matched athletically and competitively. A ten-point win seems like a lot if you're sitting at home, but if you're sitting next to the action, you know there's a possibility that had the other team gotten two-or-three bounces, it's a completely different game. This sounds somewhat cliched but seriously, if you're up close to these guys, it's good basketball. And I thought I'd never say that about college basketball.
2. New Mexico State got completely screwed in their loss to Michigan State. The head ref had arguably been calling ticky tack fouls and really asserting himself all game. Let the kids play. He also called two technicals that he had no business calling. Just a shame, hopefully he doesn't do another NCAA Tournament. Nobody on Press Row was happy about his calls and they were visible upset by it, like some drunk assistant coach had stumbled on the court and yelling at players (a la Hoosiers). Actually that would have been pretty entertaining. The best part of this screw job? A NMS fan walking over within earshot of the CBS TV crew and yelling "Why don't you talk about how the NCAA SCREWS mid-majors!!!!!" ... I half expected four Arena Ushers to drag him away while he's going "NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! You cant do this to me! I'm A BOOOSTER!!!!"
3. Best part of the day, the Arena PA screwing up the Gonzaga-FSU score and making it sound like the Zags were down by a huge margin. The entire crowd of 11,000 gasped with disappointment (I think one lady behind us may have went into labor), and then went dead silent like somebody had just thrown an infant from the upper deck onto the court. Then the PA guy was like "Whoah, hold on, flip that score" and then the entire crowd cheered. Pure theater. Love it. I think PA guys should have more fun with this and screw with home crowds more often.
4. Best mascot of the night. First, Michigan State's mascot is so iconic it's cool to have him rolling around although it would have been cool just to have some ripped guy dressed like a "300" guy yelling "THIS IS SPARTA!!!" to everyone in the crowd. However, the best mascot of the night was Maryland's Testudo. When you first see him you're like "Holy Crap is that a turtle?!" and then you have flashbacks for your childhood of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Seriously, if they could have had Shredder and Splinter show up to the Arena, it would have brought the place down. And whoever played Testudo was great, telling to opposing fans to "call him" and generally being overly pumped about the game. Loved it. Anytime you can have a turtle roaming around the court, you just got to do it.
5. My favorite players of the night was Greivis Vasquez, and I'm going to be rooting for him to do big things in the NBA. For Maryland, he's a 6'6" point guard that can shoot, drive to the hoop, excellent passing skills (his court vision is very impressive), play good defense and rebound. All in one player that just so happens to be the guy running your offense. Holy Cow, so dynamic and even though he didn't light up the scoreboard last night, the way he impacted the game by doing other things bodes very well for him down the road. Having just read Bill Simmons "Book of Basketball", where he talks about guys that know "The Secret" on being a great basketball player, I'd have to say that Vasquez just exudes the talent/will-to-win/selfless/royal badass criteria that is required. He was the most impressive player of the night and he wasn't even the top scorer on his team. That's how good he is.
And with that said, GO MARYLAND!