A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Monday, March 17, 2008

March Madness

Sitting at the airport in Kansas City waiting for my flight back to Denver after a week-long trip which took me to San Antonio and then to KC for the Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament. What a week! Actually, it has been a crazy seven weeks on the road -- Reno, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Austin, Manhattan (KS), Dallas, San Antonio, and KC. [At left: Going for a run on San Antonio's famed Riverwalk]

I'm really looking forward to laying around this week recovering from my collarbone surgery tomorrow! As Jimmy Buffet sang, "I must confess, I could use some rest. I can't run at this pace for very long!" (from "Tryin' to Reason with Hurricane Season")

The past four days in KC have been a great way to lead into rehab...for my collarbone! My wife Leslie, brother Jon, cousins Wiley and Ryan, and college buddy Tom all met in KC to cheer on our beloved Kansas Jayhawks. Four days of basketball, beef and beer (not too mention several fine bottles of Chateau Montalena and Far Niente!). And, of course, KU won.

The new Sprint Center arena and Power and Light District (bars and restaurants) have definitely changed the appearance and attraction of downtown KC. [At left: Leslie, me, Ryan, Wiley and Jon enjoy a pre-game beverage in the Power and Light District]

There is still a lot work to be done to revitalize downtown KC, but the new arena and P&L District are a great start. For KC's sake, I hope the famous line from Field of Dreams -- If you build it...they will come -- proves true in this case.

The final game of the tourney between Kansas and Texas was well worth the price of admission (about $150 from scalpers on the street). It was one of the best games I have ever seen live. [At left: Ryan, Jon and Wiley at the Big 12 Championship Game]

KU coach Bill Self likened the game to the first half of the 1988 National Championship game played at KC's old Kemper Arena. Kansas and Oklahoma met in that classic battle between two Big 8 teams (and, of course, KU won!).

The first half of the '88 NCAA Championship game ended 50-50 as both teams scored at will. The 2008 Big 12 Championship game was played at a similar frenzied pace with both teams draining threes all afternoon (KU hit a Big 12 tournament record 15 and Texas hit 12 in 28 attempts). Texas led by one point at halftime and KU still trailed by one late in the game before closing with a 14-3 run to win by 10 (84-74).

The similarity between the two games was captured by KU coach Bill Self in the following interview with the Lawrence Journal-World...

“It is pretty corny, but at halftime I told the team in front of Danny (Manning, assistant coach) ... I said, ‘That’s probably as good a half of basketball played in Kansas City since the ’88 championship game,’” Self said of a 50-50 halftime score in KU’s 83-79 victory over Oklahoma on April 4, 1988, at Kemper Arena.

“I asked Danny, ‘What happened the second half of that game?’ He said the game slowed down and we guarded. That’s what happened today. We defended and rebounded the ball much better the second half and played about as complete a game as we’ve ever played.”

Is this a sign that KU will return to the NCAA Championship game this year in San Antonio? Who knows. But I do know this: as I head back to KC and prepare for surgery tomorrow I am looking forward to the start of the greatest sporting event on Earth.

Bring on March Madness!


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