Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Big Twelve Conference Basketball Tournament

Joshua and I had a lot of fun in Oklahoma.

The Big Twelve Tournament was very, very good, with a satisfactory number of good games and not too many blow-outs.

The arena in Oklahoma City was a fine one. It is five years old and, even though it is a multi-use facility, it offers an excellent space for hosting and viewing basketball games.

The best games, we thought, were Oklahoma's narrow win over Iowa State (my middle brother's alma mater) in the first round, Oklahoma State's thrilling win over a very fine Texas A & M squad (the very best game of the tournament, or so both Josh and I thought), Texas's big come-back win over Baylor, and the title game, in which Kansas made its own big come-back against Texas, in overtime. I do not think that it would have been possible to view such a proliferation of excellent games elsewhere this year (certainly the 2007 Big Ten Tournament, by contrast, offered no drama whatsoever). We were very lucky to have experienced such a good tournament and we were very thankful that Josh's Dad invited us.

One pleasure of attending the tournament was the opportunity to see Bobby Knight again. When I was in high school, my Dad took me, twice, to see Minnesota host Indiana (this was, of course, before the Hoosiers gave Bobby Knight the axe) and I was, at the time, a big fan of Bobby Knight. For me, he exemplified college basketball. I still believe that Bobby Knight was treated poorly by Indiana at the end of his long tenure there, but I have since grown tired of Bobby Knight and I no longer admire him as I did, say, ten years ago. He now strikes me as a blowhard and as a one-dimensional person, and I say this despite all the fine things he has done for college basketball over the years and despite all the fine charitable work he has performed, for decades. Last night, over the telephone, my Dad asked me what I thought of Bobby Knight during this year's Big Twelve Tournament. I told my Dad that I thought that Bobby Knight looked old, and bloated, and out of place. Whoever would have believed, ten years ago, that Bobby Knight would ever look out of place in a basketball arena?

Other than watching basketball, Josh and I really did not do much else while we were in Oklahoma--there was not much time for other activities. We just spent time with Josh's Dad, mostly, and his younger brother, who joined us for the games on Saturday and Sunday. We saw very little of Josh's mother or sister, and I regret that.

My mother and father had a nice time in San Diego, and everyone is back home now from their short trips. None of us has anything important on the calendar until Easter, when we will all be together here in Minneapolis, including my brothers and my sister-in-law and my nephew.

On Thursday night, Josh and I will go over to my parents' house to watch the NCAA Tournament get underway. Neither Oklahoma nor Oklahoma State made the NCAA field, and Oklahoma State's exclusion surprised both of us. However, the tournament appears to be Florida's or Ohio State's or North Carolina's to lose, with Georgetown being the most likely dark horse. There is not a large number of teams with realistic title expectations this year, unlike some recent years.

My instinct tells me that Florida is likely to repeat as champion, and I hope that this does not come to pass. The Florida athletic department is not considered to be a "clean" athletic department, and I always hate to see schools without "clean" reputations in athletics take significant championships. I hope my instinct is wrong.

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