While personally I am only three games in to the 800 Games Project I feel I've gleaned a few things from the live basketball viewing experience that #pixelvision couldn't have taught me from the comfort of home.
First off, don't believe everything you read in your programs. I am 6'5 and I was curious to see how many of the players were taller than me so I took a glance at the program for the night's game. I counted ten players total from both sides taller than me. I look out on the court during the pregame shootaround and I'm not seeing it; if anything maybe half the players were truly taller than me. No worries, these guys all worked their tails off to get where they are, so who am I to begrudge them an inch or two? Heaven knows I would have enjoyed being listed at 6'7 or 6'8 had I ever made a team.
Second, sporting venues are seriously lacking in horchata. How can I truly enjoy mid-major hoops actions without a tall, cold glass of the Official Drink at my side? I could understand if I lived in an area of the country that did not have this wonderful elixir readily available, but this is southern California we're talking about! Horchata flows freely around here; from the local supermarket to the many Mexican restaurants around here, you are never too far from getting your fix. There are tasty alternatives to be had (I had a great fresh-squeezed strawberry lemonade tonight), but it's just not the same. At this rate, I might have to start sneaking the stuff in with me.
Third, and most importantly tonight, in-game entertainment is crucial to keeping fans engaged when the on-court action is not at its most compelling.
This game was definitely not one for the ages as the 49ers sleepwalked through the first half to a 32-28 halftime lead against a Division II Seasiders team that was not intimidated one bit, and why should they be? They nearly pulled off the Black Line Upset at the Pyramid last year en route to the NCAA Division II championship game. Long Beach State coach Dan Monson was not exactly thrilled at his team's performance, and whatever he said to them in the locker room at the half got the 49ers going as they outscored their opponents 47-15 in the second half. Many of the night's most compelling moments, however, came from the action outside the game.
The band, cheer and dance teams put on their usual spirited performances. Prospector Pete, the 49er mascot, was up and about the entire game, energizing the fanbase and even getting the occasional smile and chuckle from the referees working the game. A new car and a year's supply of Chick-fil-A were almost won by two different contestants who missed half-court shots in their respective between-timeout games. It wasn't exactly Gordon Hayward against Duke, but it was still thrilling nonetheless.
My favorite part of the night though had to be the halftime free throw shootout between the Education and Business Administration faculty. Apparently this was sixth annual contest between the two and the stakes were high: a trophy, free Chick-fil-A for students from the winning faculty's department and bragging rights for another year. Business Administration easily won the best of three match 2-0 with scores of 8-2 and 7-3. Those fans who hadn't hit the concession stands or restrooms were absolutely riveted by the end of the shootout with the contestants receiving some of the heartiest cheers of the night. I wonder if there was some inter-faculty smac talk or smac rap afterwards? A guy can dream right?
All in all I had another great experience at the Pyramid and I think that's what I really took away from the night, that it's not necessarily all about the game on the court. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go find myself a big post-game horchata...
at LONG BEACH STATE 79, BYU HAWAII 43 12/02/2011
LONG BEACH STATE 4-3 (0-0) -- A. Ireland 7-18 1-2 17; T. Robinson 5-8 2-2 12; L. Anderson 5-9 2-3 16; C. Ware 4-8 4-4 13; E. Phelps 5-10 4-7 14; J. Ennis 3-5 1-2 7; M. Caffey 3-5 0-0 6; N. Shepherd 2-2 0-0 4; P. Pappageorge 0-1 0-0 0; C. Jackson 2-4 2-2 7; S. Starkey 0-1 0-0 0; M. Vantrimpont 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-54 15-20 79.
Three-point goals: - , LBSU 6-15 (L. Anderson 4-4; C. Ware 1-5; S. Starkey 0-1; C. Jackson 1-2; P. Pappageorge 0-1; M. Caffey 0-1; J. Ennis 0-1); Rebounds: , LBSU 34 (T. Robinson 14); Assists: , LBSU 12 (L. Anderson 4); Total Fouls -- , LBSU 10; Fouled Out: -; LBSU-N. Shepherd.