Monday, March 28, 2005

Welcome to the NCAA Regional

I was very fortunate this weekend.

My friend had an extra ticket to the NCAA Regionals in Austin. An excellent ticket. One he gave to me. So I saw all three games this weekend, and it was quite a thrill.

I was sitting eighteen rows away from courtside, and I was just behind the backboard when the basketball bounced five times on the rim before going in at the end of regulation in the Kentucky-Michigan St. game.

One of the things that it's impossible to appreciate on television is just how fast and powerful these guys are. The court looks big on television, but it looks like a shoebox when these guys are gobbling up space. It's shocking.

Two sports-related notes before I get to the stories. One, Michigan St. is an amazing team. Every single guy they put on the floor can finish--if any of them get any space, any at all, they're shooting a three or going to the rack. No hesitation. They're going to be very, very tough to beat. Two, Andrew Bogut is absolutely the real deal. He has the best footwork I've seen from a big man in college in at least ten years (maybe all the way back to Bill Walton), and his fundamentals are impeccable. He'll be one of the top ten centers in the league very quickly, and he would be freakishly hard to defend as a power forward. He didn't have a great game against Kentucky, but he's clearly a tremendous player.

Now, a few anecdotes:
Every team has its own seating section, and it runs from the floor to the top row. So there are four giant stripes of color in the arena, which really looks tremendous. One of the teams in the regional was Utah, and just for fun I decided to take a look with my trusty pocket binoculars to check the overall female hottitude of that area.

Now if you're a hot chick from Utah, let me apologize in advance.

Their section represented over a thousand people. No hot chicks. I mean none. As in zero.

Which is not as funny as their cheerleaders. They were wearing so much makeup that it looked like it was spackled on, and the amount of blush was so insane it made them look like wooden puppets or something. They looked like they came from another profession, so to speak.

I think their were only three drunks in the Erwin Center, and they sat behind us. I think their motto was "If we're not too drunk to find our seats, we're not too drunk." Included in this group of three was Inappropriate Man, who I'm sure you've all seen at your local events. He's the guy who flashes his man boobs at the Queen when her carriage rolls by, or uses the word "tits" as often as polite people say "please" and "thank you." That guy. He was right behind us.

Ashley Judd is a huge Kentucky basketball fan. She was at the games, sitting no more than fifty yards away from me.

What do you mean, did I look at her with my binoculars during t.v. timeouts? What kind of low-class loser do you think I am?

Hell yes, I did. Every chance I got. It's Ashley Judd, man. She's a 10 who's a sports fan, which makes her a 12. Nigel Tufnel's amp doesn't even go that high.

You see pictures all the time of celebrities who look like total ass in person. Ashley Judd, if anything, is even hotter in jeans and a t-shirt than she is in her films. No makeup needed.

There were several thousand pairs of binoculars in the Erwin Center, and I guarantee that ninety percent of them were trained on her during timeouts. At least, my highly informal survey of seven had a hundred percent hit rate. And she was cool. She was sitting in the stands like a regular person (a regular person with damned good seats), and she was shouting the cheers and singing the songs and just being a sports fan. No bodyguards, no entourage, just a nice lady who enjoys basketball.

My friend Neile said "She's not so hot."

I said, "Are you STONED? She's so hot that you can't even see the border of hot from where she's standing. The border of hot is like in Norway and she's here."

Neile said "She's not really that hot."

"She's not?" I asked. "I've got fifty bucks in my pocket, and if you can find ONE woman in this 17,000 seat arena who's hotter than she is, it's your money."

I still have my fifty bucks.

One of the nicest things I saw all weekend was a very old lady who sat about five seats down from me. I think she was probably in her eighties, very tiny, and she walked all hunched over like old people sometimes do. During timeouts, she pulled out this ancient, yellowed paperback and read until the game started again.

And she was wearing a warm-up suit. I don't know if it gets any cooler than that at eighty--watching an NCAA regional in a warm-up suit.

I hope she enjoyed the game.

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