Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Two On The Continuation

Alright. Back in action. Previously on Pun City..... So Pun City headed out of the Savvis Center, through the torrents in St. Louis and out to this blog's car, which was parked at Union Station, a very compact but convenient mall a couple blocks away from the Savvis Center. This blog had previously checked it out, and recommends it to anyone that ends up in downtown St. Louis. (A pretty quick side trip from the Gateway Arch).

Despite the substantial rain, this blog navigated itself out of St. Louis successfully. Since this blog had been in town for 4 days, so it had a few "go-to" radio stations. This came especially in handy for the long drive ahead. First, the local sports radio Post-game show carried this blog out of town, and since Pun City had been rooting for Southern Illinois, it was good to hear. Once the festivities had died down, this site was able to switch over to FM for some top-40 stuff, and that not only took this site out of St. Louis, but also out of the rain.

This blog was finding out that the Ozarks are occasionally tough to climb in a Malibu. Not having much experience in mountain driving, this blog would rate the drive from St. Louis to Tulsa as the 2nd-highest this blog has negotiated, and maximum posted speeds were not always possible. (The highest, by far, was Anaheim to Reno).

But an awesome part of the drive was mid-Missouri sports talk radio. Primarily because they discussed college basketball, and only college basketball. On the agenda for that day was: 1. The number of MVC teams that deserved at-large bids to the NCAA tournament; and specifically 2. Whether Missouri State was among the deserving group. The general consensus was that 6 could get in, 5 MVC teams should get in, and 4 would get in. Missouri State's position was very perilous as the 5th-best MVC resume. This blog thought MSU was deserving of a bid, actually just about a lock as far as Pun City was concerned. (4 got in, not including Missouri State, who became, by far, the highest-ranked RPI team in history to miss the tournament - 19th).

Most hilarious was the local rivalries of the callers. Missouri State had just gotten its name changed last year from "Southwest Missouri State" to "Missouri State" after a long time trying. Fans of their Arch-Rival (hiyo!), the Southeast Missouri State Indians, called in and referred to MSU as "SMS," the Bears' old abbreviation. After that happened, irate MSU fans called in and discussed SEMO's 5-20 season. Through all of it, discouraged Missouri Tigers fans remained silent since the smaller schools could tee off on their lousy season.

About halfway through Missouri, this blog needed gas, so it pulled off an exit to fuel up. There were two visable gas stations, one slightly in the direction this blog had come from (east), the other slightly west of the crossroad. The prices on the western station were decisively lower, (approximately 10 cents cheaper), so this blog decided to pull in there. This blog soon found out that the cheaper gas station had gone out of business recently, and thusly no longer offered gasoline. Not excruciatingly low on gas, this blog figured it would just follow the side road west, which would keep the car headed in the right direction while also theoretically finding cheaper gas than the first station. Unfortunately, the small town ended shortly after the defunct gas station, meaning that this blog had to follow the side road into the next town. No big deal, this blog thought, should just be a couple miles up, this road seems to follow the highway pretty well. Alas, it was more challenging than initially thought. The "frontage road" then meandered south, turning into a one-lane road for about a quarter-mile stretch. Additionally, the road was encompassed by fairly dense forest and sporatic shacks along the roadside. This blog was glad none of the locals noticed Pun City, since Wisconsin license plates certainly would be uncommon on that particular road.

Well at any rate, the road did end up going to the next town, and there was a gas station there, although this last station had more expensive gas than the first station this blog had gone to all this trouble to avoid. So a slight bummer on that front. The race to Tulsa continued though, and this blog arrived at John Q. Hammons Arena.........

.....With 3:51 left in the first half of the UMKC-Chicago State quarterfinal. At this gigantic high school gym, the buzzer got stuck in the "blare" position for about 2 minutes. While annoying, it provided some humor as fans were obviously thrilled with the incessant loud noise.

The High School arena, and this blog can't stress that enough, had a 4-screen replay scoreboard! This blog's seats were in the third row under the hoop, and it was nice to see some more basketball after the long drive. But nicest of all were the high school concession prices. Getting a brat and a large soda for $5.00 when that amount would have just gotten this site a hot dog at the Savvis Center was a relief.

Number-3 seeded UMKC had opened up a 17-point lead on 6th-seeded CSU in the second half, and this looked like Rout City, USA. However, Chicago State launched a furious comeback and ended up winning rather handily, despite point guard Royce Parron's unnecessary And1 Mixtape move on a fast break.

Parron had a breakaway steal, then decided it would be a good idea to wrap a dribble all the way around his back, then bounce it back to the same hand in one motion. This was all well and good, earning him much street cred, except for the fact that it was an obvious travelling call and in turn a complete waste of two points in a close game.

Humorous anyway. This blog supposes that having fun is a big part of basketball, and the Cougars won, so no harm was done. But a definite head-scratcher at the time. After the game, headed back to a new hotel, caught some West Coast Conference action on the tube, and called it a night. It was a Sunday night, and this blog had the entire next week off to watch basketball.


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