Thursday, March 26, 2009
A Not So Long Northern Plains Story (Part One)
Monkey and I have returned from the Northern Plains, after a chock-full weekend. We watched some great basketball, ate some good food, saw some theater, got rained on, argued with Metrodome security, played with some new dog friends, and enjoyed some people-type company, too.
We arrived in St. Paul late on Thursday, after a six and a half hour drive in which we found ourselves searching the radio dial for clear AM radio sports stations every fifteen minutes. We managed to keep a pretty close tab on the first round action and were mildly entertained by American University's close brush with greatness against Villanova. Even with my money on Nova, it's still a blast to hear/see a big upset in the tournament. We settled in with the Ambassadors, and, after a short glass of wine, it was off to bed with the weary travellers.
Friday morning, we had breakfast at a local eatery (excellent hash browns at the Highland Grill on Cleveland!), and then headed off to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for some first round action of our own. At the parking facility, the attendant upped the price from ten to fifteen bucks just as we were pulling in. Monkey had the idea to ask for the earlier rate. We asked, and he let us in for the cheaper price, so our day was starting off great.
We got to our seats and were amazed at how close we were: three rows from the floor, on the right side of the end line. We could have hit Bob Huggins with a hot dog (and I would have liked to)! The only downside (maybe) was that we sat behind a pep band for every other game, so, when they stood up (never during a game), we couldn't see much. Really, no biggie.
The first two games of the day were great. North Dakota State had a ton of fans there, and they gave Kansas all they could handle. It was close the whole game. The second game, Dayton and West Virginia, was another tight one, with Dayton leading for most of the game on the strength of their inside game and pulling out the "upset" over Huggie Bear's alma mater squad.
And then, the fun started.
They cleared the dome before the evening games, so Monkey and I headed down to Washington Avenue to grab something to eat. There were two problems with this plan: it was raining, and everybody else was doing the same thing. We walked for about a half an hour, soaked to the bone, only to wind up in an epic line at the local Subway. At least, we were out of the rain.
It took a while to get up and order our sandwich (we split one), so we decided to walk back to the dome and eat there. Our tickets said nothing about food being prohibited, so we thought we were golden. Instead, we were just all wet.
At the gate, security told us we couldn't bring in outside food. We argued with them half-heartedly for a minute or two, then retreated to a dry patch under an overhang to dine al fresco on our veggie delight.
The evening action was not as good as the early games. USC versus BC was good, with BC's pep band winning the award for most entertaining and obnoxious band of the weekend. And Robert Morris held up to Michigan State for about fifteen minutes, but that game was exactly the kind of game that a 2-15 match is supposed to be. Another award, by the way, to Mike Rice, Robert Morris' coach, for most entertaining performance by a coach, as he spent the entire game animatedly involved in the action on the court (extra points for multiple foot stomps).
We drove back to the Ambassadors' pad near midnight on Friday, looking forward to a day with good friends, and the sights and sounds of the Twin Cities.