Even after the disappointing turnout before the Gonzaga game, I thought BYU would actually get a large turnout, even if the lone dance of the semester overlapped with the second half. Since the game took place before the official start of #LastMan, I thought I would perform my own version of First Student and Ballz to Get into the BYU game. However, clearing out one's Saturday afternoon made for some rather boring waiting. I got to see most of the team leave for pregame, Track members go out and return from their runs, watch the ushers arrive, see the pregame house get setup, and absorb as much vitamin D as possible on a February afternoon in Portland could offer. My next partners in line came about 30 minutes before the doors opened long after one of the door guys offered to let me in and Eric Waterford, injured senior guard asked what I was doing. Apparently, this school is still not accustomed to arriving hours before an event. Hopefully this team can change that over the next few years.
My interactions with BYU got off to an oddly supportive start with my tweeted photo of the student section 20 minutes before tip, normally filled before Gonzaga, and the caption claiming the student section's spirit was willing even if the numbers were weak, which earned a retweet by the assistant editor of the Daily Herald in Provo:
The somewhat noticeable sweater vests in the picture are members of Padre, one of the all-male dorms on campus that hopes to be like Villa for basketball. This time they learned their lesson about showing up early for a big game. They walked up to the front row for the Gonzaga game under the assumption seats would be saved for them but that claim went over like claiming a seat in advance on Southwest flights. This time they talked with me before the game, and they were able to annoy the aforementioned Daily Herald editor thanks to his tweets before the game. Ah, social media, a great way to unite fanbases and create cheeky havoc.
Padre's spirit was definitely willing, but their lack of experience with possession management actually mirrored the game rather nicely. They were competitive for a bit, but by the end, devolving into number chants and the same tired, "Here We Go Pilots, Here We Go!" Pilot Riot came late, as expected and offered the same obvious attacks at Brandon Davies, even if he happened to be on the bench. For big events, extra event security has patrolled the front of the student section, just hoping to spot people who had pre-gamed.
By the second half, some of the front rows had dwindled to attend the dance. One individual, who might have made his inaugural appearance at a game, dropped a few expletives in a tirade, and after receiving a few words from the rented security, offered the title of this piece, which was ironically the most true and creative taunt tossed at BYU all game.
BYU managed to show why they were the bigger kid on the block, drawing 53 free-throw attempts during the game, much to the consternation of even the local BYU fans, who might have been seeing their alma mater for the first time in-person since graduation, and children with an early bedtime. When your opponent makes 38, earning literally half of the final points from the line, one does not expect to win.
The title also embodies my feelings to BYU and the student section in general. Afterthe game, I did my usual routine of talking with Bill Johnson, the radio play-by-play man for Portland and occasionally chatting with players and their families. I saw one of BYU's staffers wheeling out a PA system. I knew this could not end well.
I don't know why I stayed. My anger grew at BYU for hosting a glorified postgame show/autograph signing on my school's court for over 30 minutes, at the students for not showing up and at myself for not seizing the opportunity to lead chants at crucial moments.
To be fair, they had reserved the court after the game and had paid for their time, but to myself and the new marketing director, it felt like a truckload of Morton's salt had crashed into a burn ward. When the anger developed, man, it poured! This meet and greet also employed their radio and TV staffs which, in conjunction with a clean-up crew no-showing, the arena staff had their clean-up time doubled, as they could not clear out the press room or breakdown the media table until after they were done. But like a traffic accident and with a lack of plans, I could not look away, I had to stay until the end of the event. I had already been on the property for at least six hours, what would 30 more minutes hurt?
At one point a BYU TV technician came over and apologized to us for how long the event had lasted. Confound it, BYU! I wanted to stay angry with you, why must you employ such nice people! Once I had cooled down, I knew the fans were just trying to honor the local players and enjoy their team for the first time in their hometown. Even though it was a classy move that could be done back in Provo, expressions, religious or otherwise, can be misinterpreted.
BYU may be in the WCC for several years or could leave in two seasons. All I can say is they travel well, are physical and mostly have classy people. As painful as it could be to say it, welcome to a relatively stable and religious conference, BYU, and make yourselves at home with your massive following. Just remember hospitality can only last so long.
BRIGHAM YOUNG 79, at PORTLAND 60 02/04/2012
BRIGHAM YOUNG 20-6 (8-3) -- B. Davies 7-13 4-10 18; C. Cusick 4-9 2-4 12; B. Zylstra 3-5 6-9 12; M. Carlino 3-11 7-8 13; N. Hartsock 0-6 12-12 12; C. Abouo 1-6 4-6 7; A. Winder 0-2 0-0 0; N. Austin 1-2 2-2 4; D. Harrison 0-0 0-0 0; J. Sharp 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 19-54 38-53 79. PORTLAND 6-18 (3-8) -- R. Nicholas 3-4 2-5 8; T. van der Mars 3-5 3-5 9; D. Rodgers 2-6 0-2 4; N. Mitrovic 2-6 0-0 6; D. Carr 2-4 0-1 6; K. Bailey 5-13 4-6 15; T. Douglas 0-2 0-0 0; D. Cason 4-5 1-4 9; T. Riley 1-4 0-0 3; J. Bailey 0-0 0-0 0; K. Thieleke 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-49 10-23 60.
Three-point goals: BYU 3-16 (B. Zylstra 0-2; C. Cusick 2-4; C. Abouo 1-4; A. Winder 0-2; M. Carlino 0-4), PORT 6-16 (N. Mitrovic 2-5; T. Riley 1-3; T. Douglas 0-1; K. Bailey 1-3; D. Carr 2-3; D. Cason 0-1); Rebounds: BYU 37 (B. Davies 13), PORT 28 (R. Nicholas 11); Assists: BYU 9 (B. Davies 4), PORT 14 (D. Rodgers 4); Total Fouls -- BYU 20, PORT 32; Fouled Out: BYU-None; PORT-K. Bailey.