Monday, June 26, 2006

UAB Blazers: 40 Minutes of Schnell

March 9th, 9th day of the trip. This would be the day that the top teams would play for the first time. Also, the teams that had finished in the bottom 8 of the conference were now down to 4, so this promised to be some better basketball.

First off, this blog had arrived early so it was able to meet Terry from the stands yesterday at the Arcade Restaurant, which is apparently semi-famous. Several movies had filmed scenes there, and the restaurant had been a Memphis landmark for decades, it's the oldest restaurant in business there. It's not the greatest area of town, but the area is somewhat getting "revived," so it's reasonable to walk the 7 blocks from FedEx Forum to the throwback to the 1950s. Very attractive waitstaff, and Terry was kind enough to introduce Pun City to the help. (Though somewhat unfortunately he mentioned the insane reason I was in town, which the waitresses were not impressed with).

The streak of good suggestions continued, however, as Terry let this blog know where the U of M bookstore was located, also mentioning where some bars were, and Woodland Hills Mall to the east of the city. A great start to the day.

At the Forum, this blog got autographs from former UCLA/Memphis/UAB coach Gene Bartow and former Arkansas/Tulsa coach Nolan Richardson. Nolan Richardson much more approachable than his public persona, was very pleasant and asked where this blog wanted the signature in its program.

The day before, there had been huge winds, and this day there was a torrential downpour. This was not a huge concern given that this blog was indoors most of the day.

Early session featured UAB vs. SMU. This was a blowout, but it was cool to see UAB's "Fastest 40 minutes in College Basketball" style of play. UAB's band played Black Eyed Peas' "Let's Get It Started," Offspring's "Come out and Play," and Outkast's "I Like The Way You Move." SMU's band countered with "She'll be Comin' Round the Mountain," which they converted into a mash-up with Michael Jackson's "Thriller," then played "Help Me Rhonda" and "If You Be My Bodyguard." Also of note was UAB's dance team, one of the most aesthetically pleasing teams on the entire trip.

The next game was UTEP vs. Southern Miss. UTEP's band was successful in coaxing Golden Eagle shooters to fire a "desperation" shot early twice when the band counted down the shot clock early. UTEP's mascot, Paydirt Pete, looked like a giant lesbian, so it's possible the shooters just wanted to get to the other end of the floor where the pick-axe-wielding mascot wouldn't need to be viewed. The Miners' band played "Sending out an SOS For Love," Maroon 5's "This Love," the Blues Brothers' theme, "Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire," U2's "Sunday, Bloody Sunday. USM's band played "Low Rider," Outkast's "Hey Ya," and AC/DC's "Back In Black."

Before the night session, this blog went to a smaller mall in downtown Memphis where this blog found one of those high-end ice cream chain stores. This blog's choice of ice cream was a Hot S'mores Fundae with chocolate and cool mint ice cream, topped with Sno Caps. This was kinda awesome since premium ice cream is not usually an expenditure that this blog will spring for. It was one of those items with which this blog would only "go for broke" on either on a date or vacation.

After the ice cream, this blog headed back to FedEx Forum to catch the evening session. The Forum was packed, as the home crowd came and sold out the arena for their team. Memphis blew out Tulane, really the only memorable part of Tulane's day was their band playing the appropriate "Heartbreak Hotel." Memphis's band countered with "Let The Sun Shine," "Jungle Boogie," "Knock On Wood," "Jailhouse Rock," the Blues Brothers' theme, and Lil Jon's "Let's Go." This combined with their talented, very hot dance team made for a solid evening.

Once that game finished up, the arena practically cleared out, leaving perhaps 300 in attendance. One could easily hear any heckler's catcalls echoing throughout the arena. Houston blew out Central Florida, which was just as well seeing as UCF's outstanding band was once again absent. This blog did become aware that it was sitting one row in front of one of Rodney Carney's high school coaches, and was able to have some pretty awesome conversations with the guy. Carney hadn't played AAU ball, so he wasn't heavily recruited, with only Indiana, Oklahoma, and Memphis swooping in during his senior campaign.

Houston's band played "Still Fly," "Laffy Taffy," Kanye West's "Golddigger," Outkast's "The Whole World," Kernkraft 400's "Zombie Nation," Lil Jon's "Salt Shaker," and the Olympic song.

It was a pretty cool day, got to see the arena at its fullest and virtually its most empty within a span of about 45 minutes.


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