Thursday, March 15, 2007
The alarm clock "Rings out Ahoya" as another
After just three hours of sleep from a long night before (it is her spring break
after all), my sister drops me off at O'Hare Airport in
9:30 a.m. Though delayed slightly, my plane is finally on the runway ready to take off. For the first time in my life, I can count the amount of passengers on this flight with both hands. There are twelve rows in this beauty, with an aisle separating the single seats on each side. That's right folks, capacity: 24. If the plane I took to Georgetown last month was a Mercedes Benz, than I am flying to Greensboro, North Carolina in a prop car from the movie, "Fast and Furious." Strike that, "Too Fast, Too Furious" (the sequel).
I immediately begin to focus on the task at hand: Coming home from this trip
with a couple of victories. That got me to thinking about my four years at
I am beginning to worry about getting to the arena on time to see Bobby Knight's
press conference after the Texas Tech/Boston College game. They start at 11:20
10:31 a.m. What is more pathetic? The fact that I am flying 700 miles from home, skipping student teaching, and spending a grand to watch Marquette possibly for just one game…or my girlfriend telling me that I was talking in my sleep last week about Dan Fitzgerald and his three point shooting as a key to MU's success? Just a thought.
time. I scurry off the prop plane to grab my luggage and find the quickest,
easiest, and most importantly, cheapest way to make the 17 mile drive from the
I arrive at a counter that says TAXI. Here is the transcription of my
conversation with the lady at the counter. Her name was Matty, a
Hi, I am looking for the best way to get to
Matty: Dat be us, sar.
Me: Oh, ok. How much would it cost me?
Matty: Dat be fowrty-nine dollas and fiddy cendt.
Me: For a 20 minute cab ride?
Matty: Dats raght young man.
Beautiful. Matty grabs my charge card like she was stealing it and I was not looking and swipes that puppy till it smokes. The smell of burnt plastic fills the air.
12:17 p.m. Game time between the Red Raiders and Eagles is in just three minutes, so I have given up that dream. Let's hope my cab driver can step on it so I get there by halftime.
Two other middle aged women join me in the Soccer Mom vehicle-cab for the ride
to the arena. As they chat, I quickly figure out that they are in town for the
same purpose as myself. I meet and begin conversation with Mary and Maryanne
(thank God those names were easy to remember) and learn that they are two
Conversation with Mary is now non-stop, as I charmed her pants off saying that
she must of graduated from Gtown just 15 years ago. She liked that, and I liked
her. Get this. Mary went to all three
I arrived at the hotel to meet a man in the lobby talking to the receptionist.
Turns out, he is a sports lawyer from
Its game time, and by that I mean time for Bobby Knight's press conference.
Knight was pretty laid back as he answered questions mostly about the x's and
o's of his team's nine point loss to
1:41 p.m. Knight provides his only quote that gets a laugh from the media. When a reporter asks him if he wished Jarrius Jackson could have played better in the second half, he responds:
"I wish it would rain dollar bills from the sky, but that ain't gonna happen."
4:45 p.m. It IS raining dollar bills. I just ran into Shirley Knowles, now in her second year shooting photos for the Marquette Tribune. She remains my favorite Tribune employee…by far.
5:56 p.m. Now, you would think that in the NCAA tournament, the 300 media members in the house would be treated to the red carpet special. Not the case here ladies and gentleman. I am on my fourth box of popcorn and have turned my back on Pepsi, drinking my third diet Coke.
6:02 p.m. Shirley, still chilling with me in the media room, mentions her hunger for some real food—something besides popcorn and chips. Thanks Shirley, if you would have mentioned that an hour ago when we first met, maybe we could have solved this problem together. I need some southern cooking like MU needs McNeal to play tonight.
6:38: p.m. I'm going through the pre-game jitters. Yes, I am trying to be professional. But as I have always said, Fan first, media member second.
6:39: p.m. Dick Enberg just took a stroll through the media room. He looks a lot older in person; his forehead wrinkles are really pronounced. But what would I give to get my hands on that pimp CBS suit that he is wearing? Very cool stuff.
7:13 p.m. Thump, thump. Thump, thump. Thump, thump. "Oh, say can you see…"
7:20 p.m. Thump, thump, thump, thumpthumpthump
Really great to see the
Kind of a slow start to the game. Ousmane Barro just picked up his second early
foul, which almost always means an MU loss. *See
Uh-oh. I never imagined a start like this in my wildest dreams.
7:51 p.m. I am thinking about switching my man crush from Bill Raftery to David Cubillan. Is there a more exciting player to watch when he is pumped up than Cubby? We are still trailing 20-15, but we are definitely back in the game. If Cubby claps anymore in Drew Neitzel's face, his hands are going to be numb.
I remember being in
8:26 p.m. The diet Coke's are really wreaking havoc right now. I am headed to the can.
Celebrity day continues as I walk about of the port-o-john and see none other
than Jay Mariotti waiting to get in. Wow. Being from
9:01 p.m. Drew Neitzel just made a floating jumper off the top of the backboard as the shot clock expired. You have got to be kidding me.
9:12 p.m. Things are getting ugly. I am watching my last MU game as a student.
If you want to talk about REAL basketball fans, come to the state of
9:20 p.m. With three minutes left in the game and MU down 14, we took 25 seconds to find a shot. Before we could find that shot, we turned the ball over. I think I am conceding victory. It was just not in the cards tonight.
I get back to the media room and every single media member is huddled around the
TV sets in the back. All the
9:23 p.m. The scoreboard in the arena flashes the final score of the Duke game and the crowd erupts. I know this not because I was in the arena, it was just that loud.
Time to go to work. I grab my recorder and my microphone and head towards the
9:58 p.m. Tom Crean finally emerges from the locker room to get to the press conference. A huge gathering of people, including former NFL coach Steve Mariucci, had gathered outside the locker room waiting for Crean, notorious among media members for taking his time. Even the NCAA officials were trying to get him out of there. Tom Crean takes so much care and concern with his teams and I really respect that. I do not mind waiting for him to comment after games because I know what he says in that locker room makes a difference.
10:01 p.m. Tears, long faces, and disappointment.
10:19 p.m. I conclude my interviews and return to the media workroom. My first plan of attack is to call the airlines and try to get a flight out tomorrow, instead of waiting until Sunday. There are few things worse than paying extra because your team lost early. One hour and 100 bucks later, I got the flight moved.
11:22 p.m. I make a few phone calls and begin writing my post game article. Still hard to believe it's all over.
1:40 a.m. I am beat. After 12 hours at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, I am ready to return to the hotel. I walk outside only to find pouring rain. At this hour, few people are still hanging around the stadium, so I begin to walk towards the hotel. Luckily, a cab passed me and brought me out of my misery. Back to the luxurious Crossland Hotel. It's sort of like the Weshley Arms in the old SNL skits, only doesn't have a "ha-tub" or any spiced meats.
After reading the message boards for a few minutes, I have come up with a few
conclusions. Fans on our website are passionate and they really care. There are
a few bad eggs out there who seem to always see the glass half empty. But you