Monday, March 23, 2009

The Minneapolis Pod

On Sunday, Michigan St. forward Draymond Green went to the line to shoot a free throw and suddenly noticed that his shoe was untied. He quickly leaned over to tie his shoe just as the referee passed him the ball. The ball bounced off his head. You just can’t make this stuff up.

It is funny how Tom Izzo can get different types of players to be successful. On the one hand, you have a player like Delvon Roe who looks like a complete athlete and future superstar in the post. And on the other hand you have a player like Draymond Green who pretty much doesn’t look like a basketball player. His gut sticks out from his tight shirt. He is winded and you can see the sweat dripping off his nose after just one trip down the floor. And yet, on a weekend when Raymar Morgan continued his illness / plague / missing-in-action phase, there was Draymond Green running and dunking on Friday and making critical free throws on Sunday.

I also enjoyed seeing Kansas guard Sherron Collins continue to play superman. I’ve read so many articles about how similar Collins is to Dee Brown in terms of energy and leadership at under 6 feet tall. But what you really don’t think about until you see it in person is how thick Collins is. He has a very broad chest and he is a very strong frame for a perimeter player.

The Collins moment of the tournament happened on Sunday when he drove into the lane, lost control of the ball, picked it up, spun around 180 degrees, and calmly knocked down an 8 footer. 180 degree spin moves are very, very hard.

Dayton Flyer Band

Of course, the real highlight of the weekend may have been the Dayton Flyer band. First, they had the costume changes, the airplane hats, basketball hats, and aviator hats. Then they had the band leader with his sequined jacket. But most importantly, they pulled they old “suck-up” and try to gain additional fans trick. During Sunday’s action, they tried to gain the support of the Michigan St. fans by playing the Michigan St. rouser inter-mixed with the Dayton rouser. (Sneaky, sneaky.) I think I’ve seen Dayton do this before, but it was still highly entertaining.

As for the fans at the tournament, North Dakota St. descended in droves for Friday’s session, and things were very quiet after that. Kansas and Michigan St. seemed to be saving their cheering for Indianapolis, and many of the other schools with no local ties (like USC, Boston College, and West Virgina) had virtually invisible cheering sections. But Dayton’s small group of red-clad fans were very loud in watching their team pull off the upset on Friday.

Finally, as for the mascots, my wife was partial to the Boston College Eagle, partly because he did a spin move on the head of one of the cheerleaders. But we also liked the NDSU Bison and the Robert Morris Colonial who did cartwheels in their mascot costumes. But the best may have been a small child in our section who was wearing a minature Kansas Jayhawks outfit.

More on the tournament in a few days when I return home.