Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Marquette vs. Oakland: I Have No Salient Game Points

Last night was one of those rare nights where I go to a basketball game, and the game itself seems almost unimportant because of all the great stuff going on around it. I was at the Marquette-Oakland game last night. We’re at that point in Marquette’s non-conference season where the thrill of just seeing the Golden Eagles play has worn off, and watching games themselves won’t be massive amounts of fun until conference season. Either Marquette wins mightily like they should, or they struggle the entire game and leave you frustrated (we got a half of each last night). That’s just how it is during the parade of lesser-known teams on the early-season schedule. Having seen this same scenario play out over the last 15 years or so that I’ve been going to Marquette games, I’ve just come to accept it. I actually don’t mind so much anymore, since the program’s throwing us a bone here and there by playing in interesting early-season tournaments, and they’d be nuts to try and play a bunch of really tough games before heading into Big East play. But that still doesn’t mean that I’m getting overly jacked up to see Oakland come to town on a cold Tuesday night.

And that’s why night like last night are so wonderful. Last night, instead of sitting and mindlessly watching a lackluster game, I had plenty of entertainment around me. But before I get to what was so gosh darn entertaining, a few quick points about game-related things:

1) Upon arriving slightly late to the game, I looked down at the court, immediately looked at the guys that I was sitting with, and said "I had better read a story in the paper tomorrow that Oakland lost their real uniforms in transit." If they didn’t, Oakland has the worst uniform designer in the country, because with black jerseys and gold shorts, there’s few conclusions to be made, other than "someone must have screwed up the uniforms when they were packing." Your uniforms simply have to match. There’s no arguing about that. Sadly, Oakland’s uniforms also have the players’ names placed under their numbers on their jerseys, implying that the non-matching unis are no error, but simply part of a contrarian sensibility that the designer had.

2) The second half revealed another shortcoming of Oakland’s uniforms, showing definitively that the gold (more of a Notre Dame gold than Marquette’s bright gold) shorts were a really bad idea. Let’s just say that even in one of the last rows of the lower section of the arena, it was readily apparent to me that wide-bodied Oakland center Shawn Hopes was sweating a lot below the waist last night. Not something I wanted to know about.

3) Dwyane Wade was in the building last night, and was greeted by a standing ovation when he appeared on the Jumbotron. Wade was seated in courtside seats on the baseline perpendicular to the Marquette bench. This sort of bothered me. Sure, being courtside is cool and all, particularly if you never get to be that close to the action. But Wade’s actually on the floor every night, so that thrill is probably gone for him. And everyone knows that seats on the baseline don’t give you nearly the same view as you’d get from somewhere on the side of the court. Can’t we find a pair of seats with a decent view for the guy who’s probably the best player ever to lace them up at Marquette?

4) Adding strength to the theory that Oakland had lost some bags in travel, my friend Dave pointed out that every assistant coach on the Oakland bench was wearing a suit, while head coach Greg Kampe was wearing a pullover. I guess when you’re the head guy, you don’t need to look good anymore. Then again, Kampe was also either wearing a hairpiece, or had a haircut that looked like he was wearing a hairpiece, so he may just not be the most stylish guy in the world.

And while all of these points were fun to notice, the real fun came from what’s sometimes the most obvious place out there–a fan sitting in the row behind me. The gentleman behind me on my right side displayed such a potent mixture of untamed enthusiasm and lack of actual basketball knowledge, that the people sitting directly in front of him left their usual seats after about 3 minutes to find another viewing spot in the arena. My friend Greg got continually more annoyed listening to the guy. Me? I just continued laughing at the fact that I was at a basketball game, and I was sitting in front of a man who was the living embodiment of Dave Chappelle’s impersonation of Lil’ Jon. If you’re not a big Dave Chappelle fan (I’m not myself, but I’ve heard enough about this particular character to know him when I see him), fear not, as this Youtube video will give you a taste of the guy that I was sitting in front of. (If either of the guys that I watched the game with last night happens to be reading, I would encourage you to comment below on the accuracy of this comparison. I believe the approximation to be rock solid.)

Aside from being a walking comedy sketch character, what made this fellow behind me so unwittingly amusing can be boiled down to three characteristics. First, his basketball knowledge was not particularly deep. This type of guy is not a rarity, even at live basketball events, but is a prerequisite to being laughably amusing. I checked that box for the guy behind me within the first two minutes. Second, he was loud. I don’t think this guy was ever yelling, but he just had one of those voices that projected everywhere. Describe him to anyone who was sitting within 12 rows of me, and they’d know who you were talking about. Finally, he was relentless. Every meaningless possession, and every downtime moment, he was either cheering with his collection of 5-10 standard phrases (which he repeated over and over), or telling something to the guy next to him. Some people bring it only for a half, or change up their routine. This guy went all out, and didn’t change his commentary all game. You want to know more about that commentary, you say? Well here’s the top five go-to phrases that the guy behind me used while cheering during the game:

5) "Oh! Ohhhh! Oh! Ohhhhhhh!": This one could be used for either offense of defense. Basically, the guy was simply yelling, but not yelling anything substantive (which actually might have been a good choice for this guy). It was used more at the beginning of the game than the end, but was there all night.

4) "I knew he was gonna make/miss that." : I’ll give the guy behind me credit. When any of the players was taking a three pointer, he was 100% accurate in knowing whether the ball would find the bottom of the net. Now, I don’t know what was actually going on in the guy’s head, but he was nice enough to announce what he had been thinking a split second after every shot. And who’s to doubt him, as he often gave great justifications, such as "he was looking really confident there."

3) "Make that money!": Used when Marquette was on offense, and typically repeated 5-7 times during a possession, as he encouraged whoever had the ball to score a basket.

2) "Yeah!": Used mainly after an offensive score (often as a follow-up to 4-5 "make that money" comments), but also after a nice defensive play. I kid you not–if you were to play for me a recording of the guy at the game last night, and then a sound bite from the Lil’ Jon clip above, I might not be able to tell the difference.

1) "Hold ‘dat D!": When Marquette was on defense, you were guaranteed to hear this phrase multiple times. This was the go-to phrase of all go-to phrases. Amused at how often the gentleman behind me was capable of using the phrase, I decided in the second half to take count of how many times he said "hold ‘dat D!" for a stretch during the second half. Over a six-minute stretch beginning with 13:30 left in the game, I counted "hold ‘dat D!" being thrown out 39 times. Projected over an entire game, this comes out to roughly 260 uses of the phrase "hold ‘dat D!" This may or may not be an accurate projection, since the phrase was used more heavily in the first half, and the guy behind me left with about 5 minutes left in the game in order to beat the massive traffic jams that occur following poorly-attended Marquette games on cold Tuesday nights in Milwaukee.

In all my years of going to games, I’m not sure that I’ve ever been around a fan with such a delightful mix of lack of knowledge and lack of shame. Sure, I can see how he would have grated on just about everyone in my section, but I’m actually glad he was there to amuse me. We shouldn’t be getting bent out of shape over loudmouthed fools–we should be getting a laugh from them. Life’s too short to be bitter. And besides, what else is going to keep us entertained until Big East play starts?


At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Terry said...

See if I ever sit behind you again! Yeah!


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