More From CyLentBob in Dallas

This diary does not necessarily represent the views of or its staff.

This diary does not necessarily  represent the views of or its staff.


It's 11 am on Friday, and I'm looking at brochures from the front desk to try and figure out what I'm going to do until our flights leave Dallas on Sunday.  Our trips to the tournament are usually more about getting together with the guys than they are about the ballgames, but it's always better when Iowa State can at least play until Friday, if not Saturday.


The trip started out with an omen.  My flight from Kansas City hit turbulence somewhere in the neighborhood of Tulsa, and several of the other passengers were complaining about the ride.  Me?  I thought it was about as bumpy as a speedy drive down Southwest Ninth Street in Des Moines, but maybe that's just me.   One of the guys who flew in from Saginaw told me that the person sitting behind him on his flight blew chunks when they hit the bumps.  At least he got in the air quickly, the guy who flew in from Denver had to sit on the runway strapped in his seat (without air conditioning) for over four hours before the storm had cleared out far enough for them to take off. 


Our hotel reservations got changed at the last minute, and we're now staying at the Embassy Suites out on the Stennis Freeway.  Instead of walking to the games, we're going to have to take a two mile cab ride (about $10 if you're riding alone) to American Airlines arena.  On the positive side, they did comp us one night, and they're paying the difference between our original rate and the higher rate at the Embassy. 


When we finally all got together on Wednesday night, it was 11:30, and we got a cab to take us to the West End. On the way, we asked the cabbie where the hot spots were, and he proceeded to tell us that the West End is "dead on Wednesdays".  He suggested that we go to another bar, which he described as "a regular bar, a sports bar, and a gentleman's club, all in one".  He had free passes to the place, so we figured why not?  Bad idea.   Calling that place a sports bar is a little like calling the Casa Bella Adult Motel a church – because they've got bibles in each room, right?  The sports bar aspect of the place were two big screen TV's, and one of them was tuned into a European soccer game (I think Real Madrid was playing, because I saw Beckham once, whoopededoo) which isn't even a real sport anyway.  The high point of the night was one of the "lovely lady entertainers" who came over to our table and demonstrated a wicked sense of humor.  One of the guys dropped a Ron Burgundy quote on her, and she came right back with one of her own.  We kept that up for a few minutes, and then we asked her what the deal was with the "VIP" area upstairs.  "More money and less work" was her answer.  Why do I have the feeling that this observation is going to be the wisest thing I hear all week?


Thursday morning, I got up and treated my hangover before going down to the arena for the first round games. Those tickets are as hard to get rid of as a case of herpes, so we figured "might as well use them".  Wow, what an exciting game.  KSU versus Texas Tech.  I haven't seen KSU play lately, has Woolridge been wearing that neck brace ever since the surgery, or did he get "repositioned" by Coach Knight during the pre-game introductions?  I had heard from a relative living in Manhattan that KSU had him on a short leash, but what's up with whacking your coach before he gets back to the locker room after a tournament loss?  Like it couldn't wait until Monday.


The Baylor-Colorado game was better, mainly because Baylor really made a run.  Some amateur statistician near us in the crowd kept saying "a 12 has never beaten a 5 in the Big 12", but apparently nobody told Baylor about this fact.  I like Coach Drew, he seems like a real up and comer.  The fact that I consider Colorado's team to have a thug mentality helps me decide who to cheer for in this one.  Too bad Baylor can't finish the job.


We ducked over to the West End between sessions to hear Jamie Pollard's pep talk to the ISU crowd.  The numbers seemed low, but considering the tourneys in Dallas and ISU's disappointing run down the stretch they were probably as large as could be expected.  The crowd in the arena was pretty thin, and there was much orange to be seen.  A LOT of orange.  It looked like a Dick Cheney hunting party there was so much orange in the crowd.  Say what you will about OSU, but they do travel well.  Good for them.


Our game plan seemed to consist of reenacting the Rocky movies. Get down early, look like crap on a stick, and then try to pull off the big comeback. The most frustrating part is that we can look SOOOOOO good when things are clicking, but then turn around and look SOOOOOO bad on the next play.  There were several times where I saw the other four players standing and watching Curtis as he broke down the defender and drove the lane. That's nice, he does look good schooling guys at the top of the key, but maybe they should leave the "spectating" to the fans and try to move around a little bit.  I was disappointed that Neal didn't get more PT in his last game (barring an NIT bid), and I was impressed with Gray's skills. Hubalek still made quite a few bonehead moves, but he was aggressive late in the game when ISU was making their run, and that's something we can build on.  To quote my old H.S. football coach:  "I won't get mad at you if you make mistakes going full speed forward – I might not like what you do, but I'll never blame you for being aggressive."  Curtis and Will had nice stat lines, but they both made mistakes that hurt the team like missed free throws and unforced turnovers.  Maybe I'm a freakin' Luddite, but I've always been more of a Jacy Holloway guy than a Jamaal Tinsley guy.  If a point guard can give a team a 3:1 assist/turnover ratio and play tight defense, I'm more impressed with that than all the "Sports Center" assists and moves.   I don't have a problem with "street ball", but flashy play doesn't have to devalue possessions if you do it right.


After the game, we decided to limit discussion of the loss to one hour and let it drop after that.  One of the guys in our group is a Junior High teacher in Michigan, and he's got some varsity round ball coaching experience on his resume.  Our consensus was that this team has talent, but they're lacking some discipline.  I found everyone looking at me, apparently because I'm supposed to come up with a good counterpoint to the criticism.  I thought about saying that the many small injuries to our bigs and their lack of Big 12 experience really hurt us down the stretch.  I thought about saying that team chemistry has taken a hit with the departure of several players over the last few years.  I even thought about justifying their performance partly on the fact that Curtis and Will take a massive beating every game.  I thought, I thought, I thought.  What came out of my mouth was "We've got great potential next year, but if we can't make a run with this many players back I'm going to be pissed."  The coach's analysis can be broken down to two sentences:  "The good news for next year is that we've got almost everyone back.  The bad news for next year is….that we've got almost everyone back."


OK, enough of the niceties:  It's time for me to whine.  If you're with the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, you should probably log off your computer right now.


Are you off yet?


Good.  Having the basketball tournament in Dallas is nothing more than pandering to the Texas schools.  Let me say it clearly – THIS TOURNAMENT SHOULD NEVER BE HELD IN DALLAS AGAIN.  American Airlines arena is a very cool venue, but what kind of a pervert comes to a game to marvel at the arena?  Look at Kansas City; you get sellout crowds coming to a dilapidated arena in an urban wasteland.  In Dallas, they can't sell out games in a shiny new arena in a fairly well restored part of town.  This tournament needs enthusiasm, and Dallas could give a damn about the Big 12.  I have the feeling that Oklahoma City is going to make a big deal about having the tournament there next year, and I'm really looking forward to the trip.  Assuming that they live up to my expectations, I'd like to see the conference set up a rotation between Kansas City and Oklahoma City for future tournaments.  Colorado?  Puh-leeze.  They can't even sell out their own home games, how are they going to put on a tournament?  Denver has pro teams just like Dallas, and that's got to take much of the shine off the event.  There is no centrally located city in Kansas that could handle the tournament.  St. Louis isn't really a Big 12 city, and nobody but Mizzou fans would like to see the tournament there.  Besides, they've already got the Valley tournament.   Des Moines?  Look, I'd love to see it happen, but scheduling the tournament for Des Moines would be the dumbest idea since New Coke.  Des Moines doesn't have the number of restaurants and bars you need for this event, and they sure as hell don't have the motel rooms.  Don't tell me that people can stay in Ankeny, that's just crazy talk.  I'm pissed at having to stay 2 miles from the Arena, how to you think I'd feel if I had to get up every morning in and drive 20 miles to where things are happening?  No matter what our athletic department and the Wells Fargo apologists in Des Moines say, Iowa will NEVER be an adequate host for a big event like the Big 12 tournament.  It's probably best to just drop this issue and move on to something easier to resolve, like peace in the Middle East or a reasonable compromise on abortion.  No, we need to accept the fact that Oklahoma City and Kansas City are the only two candidates for this event.


The only problem with this conclusion?  The Big Twelve bureaucracy.  If you look closely at any random Big 12 bigwig, you'll see a WDTWUTD bracelet on their wrist right above the watch.










Dallas will probably get a spot on the tournament rotation, and that will suck.  Other than the weather, I don't really see any advantage to playing the games in Dallas.


I guess I'd better wrap it up now.  I'll follow this dispatch with specific screw-ups I saw at the tournament and around town during our visit, if Jonathan doesn't mind me poking at more sacred cows on his site.  Don't get me wrong, any event I can attend with my fellow ISU fans is a day well spent, but this trip could have been SOOOOOO much better.  I guess I'm just in a bitter place right now, and the fact that some idiot forgot to put the rest of the Shiner Bock on ice last night after we finished off the rest of the cold ones doesn't help matters any.   



AllCyclones Top Stories