Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Richmond Basketball: Dunk You Very Much

Trip Recap #5, March 5th, 4th day of the trip. CAA Finals, the last full day in Richmond. George Mason set to take on Virginia Commonwealth in the final. At this point, ESPN had picked up on the potential return of Mason to the NCAA tournament. This was a fairly big story at the time, in part because there were only 3 tourney finals in the nation that day; and also because Mason's head coach Jim Larranaga had become a media darling during their Final Four run last season.

In any case, pretty cool to have the nation's attention focused on the game Pun City was going to be at. Also pretty cool was that these two schools had brought in the largest fan bases through the tournament, meaning that attendance would be great even though most tournaments have a dropoff from the semis to the final given that only 2 fan bases attend instead of 4.

After 10 games in 3 days, this blog also was happy that it would have the majority of the day to kill time around Richmond. A full slate of activities came to mind: Going to the University of Richmond to check out their campus, heading over to VCU's bookstore to turn in a 25% off coupon and get some Rams gear, grab some lunch, kill any remaining time, and head to the game.

This blog went to the University of Richmond first, and went to the bookstore, eventually getting a spider hat. It's a badass spider hat, with 8 legs protruding from the sides and a spider head in front. Probably the kind of hat gang members might wear. From there, got directions from the friendly bookstore staff and went to their basketball arena, the Robins Center. It's a pretty nice facility, housing most if not all of their sports offices. When this blog arrived, a basketball practice was in session, and there wasn't an easy way to get to "higher ground" without practically walking on the court. So this blog just searched in the concourses, which were really carpeted hallways housing the offices. Despite being seen by numerous employees, this blog didn't get stopped. That was cool.

Eventually this blog just decided to walk in on floor level to the court, practice be darned. It was decent timing though, as the practice was just concluding. At this point, hilarity ensued....

While the main practice had ended, there were a few players that were scheduled for a smaller workout session also being run by Coach Chris Mooney. During the time where the floor had to be cleared, the players waiting for the workout session had started up an impromptu dunk session. This was going a little long though, and Mooney said over to the group, "Alright, come on guys, let's go."

At this point, the ringleader of the dunking group, David Gonzalvez, spoke up: "Hold up coach, just one more here. I'm gonna rock the cradle, then reverse it for a backhand slam." Another player chimed in, "He's nice wit it coach."

Given that one dunk is pretty harmless and also not time-consuming, Mooney reluctantly "agreed" by rolling his eyes.

Gonzalvez readied himself, getting a grip on the ball and saying "Rock-a-bye baybee!" He then strided toward the basket, loading up for a rocking windup, and......

Stopped in mid-air. He had his steps wrong, no dunk was really even attempted. It all looked very silly. Mooney punctuated the moment by saying in a perfect deadpan "That's nice."

Of course, all of the players wanted another shot at it, and Mooney reluctantly agreed to Gonzalvez's plea of "Hold up coach, just one more!" At that point he dunked it as he had described, and it was a pretty cool jam.

After that, Pun City still had plenty of time to get to the bookstore since it was only around lunchtime, the game started at 6:00, and the bookstore was within walking distance of the Coliseum. Fortunately, this blog had seen a Fuddrucker's near the hotel this blog was staying at, so it went over there. Fuddrucker's always was one of this blog's favorites as a kid, but lately it comes across as sort of a ripoff. Good burgers, but expensive. This blog's table was near a man and woman that were talking about the ACC tournament, which was kind of a cool thing to see. This blog rarely if ever overhears college basketball conversations outside of arenas or sports bars, so it was cool to hear.

The main point of their conversation was that the ACC Tournament shouldn't be in Tampa, FL. The woman smartly brought up, well, where should it be? The male UNC fan eventually settled on the Dean Dome, but said "Well, that wouldn't be very fair to everyone else." (They had ruled out the Georgia Dome since the SEC had it, thought Greensboro Coliseum was too small, and didn't like the idea of it going to the MCI Center in Washington, DC again).
"Well, that wouldn't be very fair."

After lunch, caught a screening of "Reno 911" in a theatre, the movie was good, and about as you'd expect from that movie.

VCU's Bookstore was up next, and it was a pretty cool bookstore. A Quizno's and a Starbucks were inside, and it was a very large bookstore for this size of a school. This blog got a Virginia Commonwealth ringer t-shirt, with the 25% off it was only about 10 bucks.

Inside the Coliseum, this blog saw George Mason keep a lead on VCU for most of the game, including a slim lead with 2:00 remaining. From that point though, VCU point guard Eric Maynor took over the game, single-handedly willing the Rams to victory and an NCAA automatic bid (this blog thinks they were in anyway, but that's hard to say given they were an 11-seed with the win). A fond farewell to Richmond, this blog was headed to Duke, North Carolina, and Raleigh for some campus tours and the first round of the MEAC Tournament next.

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