Wednesday, February 26, 2014

There's a New Mexico now?

This was a long day.  I flew to New Mexico today, which included a 4-hour layover in Denver.  I finally get to my room, and see the Gophers are actually leading at halftime and have scored 50 points, which was weird.  Then I look and see Charles Buggs had 11 of them.  Even weirder.  I tried to watch some of the game on the btn2go thing but the internet here sucks.  Then I had tickets to the New Mexico/Utah State game at The Pit and we had to leave, and since the Pit is underground there's no cell service really and last I saw the Gophers were up 6 with 2:30 or so left, a perfect place to blow a game.  Not until after we left did I get to find out they actually won.  Shocker.

Thoughts on the game, looking only at the box score since I barely saw any of it:

-  Obviously the Buggs thing is like WTF.  More important than the 13 points is he didn't turn it over.  This Buggs thing is something I'm going to have to go back and watch the first half.  I also see Oto didn't see the floor, and I have no clue if this was expected or an injury or if he was just straight benched (twitter tells me it was a knee injury), but it sounds like Buggs looked great so that's pretty odd but excellent news.

-  Obviously it's great to see the much maligned Austin Hollins have a breakout game (and not just because he's on my Big 10 Fantasy team and we're in the playoffs).  8-10 from the floor overall and 4-6 from three are great, and maybe even better was the 7-7 from the line.  The offense must have been clicking like crazy looking at their shooting numbers of 61%/58%/83%.  The 1.32 points per possession have to be a season high for this team, and with assists on 63% of their made buckets it must have looked awfully good.  Bummed to have missed it.

-  The defense, of course, was brutal again, allowing 1.24 points per possession.  Iowa is at 1.21 for the season, so even playing a great offense like the Hawkeyes the Gophers still managed to make them look better than normal.  Turnovers were ugly again as well at 19.4% of possessions, but you know what?  In the end, it only really matters if you outscore your opponent, and the Gophers did, so I'm happy.  I haven't stopped to think what this means for their NCAA hopes, but it most certainly is a nice boost.

-  So anyway I got to see The Pit today and it was awesome.  It goes straight down from street level to where the playing surface is actually way underground, thus the nickname.  It's about as loud as I've ever heard any place.  The Barn can certainly get there at its peak, but the New Mexico fans are just loud the entire game.  If things are going well, they're loud.  If things are going poorly, they're louder.  The only place I can remember watching a game that kept that constant level of noise was Iowa State's Hilton Coliseum and that was back when I went when they were playing #1 Kansas, this was just against Utah State.  The seats are really packed low to the ground and it has a really low ceiling so it just amplifies the noise.  The other noticeable thing was everybody, I mean everybdoy, was in Lobo gear.  Every old person, every kid, and I think every little girl was in a Lobo cheerleader outfit.  It was pretty neat.  The only place I remember seeing it like that was when I went to a game at Utah State.  Really, really cool place to see a game and I'm glad I got to go in my lifetime.

-  As for the team, New Mexico won by 9 and I was impressed by them.  They won 67-58 despite shooting just 11-21 from the free throw line and they're going to be tough in March.  They have this inside combo of Cameron Bairstow (6-9, 250 lbs) and Alex Kirk (7-0, 245 lbs) who just dominate their offense.  Both can step out and hit a mid-range jumper and both are really good passers from the high post and they just play really well together.  They are also both exceptionally good at screening off their man when a guard drives.  Like if they're being fronted in the post and a guard drives baseline they'll just box their man out to give the guard an easy lay-up.  Really underrated skill.   Oh, and they also have Kendall Williams who averages 17pts and 5 assists per game, plus a bunch of shooters to surround those guys with.  They can't defend the three for shit and Preston Medlin went 4-5 tonight because those bigs don't come out far enough on a pick and roll, but I'm a Lobo fan.  Probably because it was so fun and they actually aren't very good but whatevs.

-  So yeah I had a four hour layover at the Denver airport today.  You know what they have in Denver?  A shit load of really great beer.  My favorites were the Upslope Brown Ale and the Oskar Blues Imperial Red, but really they were all good.  They were also really strong, so yada yada yada, I slept the entire flight into Albuquerque.

-  There was this one lady having lunch with her friend and they were sitting next to me at the airport bar and I couldn't help but notice how much I wanted to murder her.  First she wanted to order one of their fancy cocktails, but didn't want any alcohol.  So the server said they could use coke or something and she turned that down and then something else and she turned that down until finally they agreed on Sprite.  Then she wanted a small.  They only come in one size, but she haggled and begged and harassed until she got a smaller one.  Then she ordered the veggie burger with nothing on it and wanted a plain bun instead of a pretzel bun, which she asked her friend, "what's a pretzel bun."  Everything about her enraged me.  Then when she got up to leave, of course she had brought a pillow for the plane.  Oof.  Good luck with all that some guy probably.

-  Shabazz Muhammad had 20 points tonight?  I told you dorks he was awesome.

-  Since the hotel is so close to the University of New Mexico they had a free shuttle to go to the game.  The guy started talking basketball with me and mentioned how The Mountain West had the son of the first NBA dunk contest winner.  I said, "Yeah Larry Nance right?"  And he said "yes" and then I said, "he just blew out his knee didn't he" and the guy was like "wow you much really watch a lot of college basketball" and I was both embarrassed and proud.  But it made him like me so on the way back from the game I was able to get him to stop at a store for me so I could grab a six pack (went with Bud Light Platinum - don't judge me I've had a lot of heavy beer today and don't have a bottle opener - not all that bad, actually) so that was cool.  Pretty sure they aren't supposed to do that or at least that's what I'm telling myself so I feel cool. 

-  Dinner tonight sucked.  We got back to the hotel so late and it was such a long day I just went with room service.  Decided to go with the New York strip encrusted with red chile since that's supposed to be a New Mexico specialty, and also because their best known for their Mexican and I'm pretty sure we'll be eating a lot of that the next two days and I don't want to overload because of my tum tum.  Anyway it was horrible.  Fatty steak, over cooked, and the chile sauce was pretty tasteless with very little spice.  The herbed fingerling potatoes were mushy and I think the only herb they used was butter, and the spinach was just blech.  I know I shouldn't expect much at a hotel, but I didn't expect total crap.  Looking forward to crushing some good meals the next two days - you know I'll tell you about it.

-  One thing that never ceases to baffle me is how guys who were terrible shooters/scorers in college can suddenly thrive in the NBA.  Kendall Marshall is averaging 10.1ppg this year for the Lakers and shooting 47% from three.  He never broke 9ppg or 40% shooting in his two years at North Carolina.  It's not like he's been around forever either, it's just his second year in the NBA.  Michael Carter-Williams is averaging 17ppg for the Sixers this year, and he was a terrible scorer for Syracuse.  I guess he's actually a terrible shooter still as his percentages still suck, but it's just weird to see him scoring that much.  I just saw Kendall Marshall on ESPN doing a fancy swoopy woopy lay-up thing and there's no way he could have pulled that off at UNC and that's why I wrote this part.  Thank you for asking. 

-   I really need some sort of locking device on my computer that keeps me from playing online craps.  Anyway, I'm pretty wiped out from the long day so I'm done here now.  Hopefully I get really drunk at least once in the next two days and write some stupid crap.

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