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    Monday, April 07, 2008

    My Elite Eight Experience

    In honor of Memphis making the Championship game, here's a little bit from Memphis v. Texas.

    The day before the Elite Eight in Houston, my neighbor, John, called me.

    "Hey, what're you doing tomorrow?

    I dunno. Why?

    My work got me tickets to the Texas game tomorrow. Wanna go?"

    After thinking about it, I called him back.

    "Thanks for the ticket. What time's the game?"

    Not only did I get a ticket, but I got a ticket on the seventh row. This was a great thing, because the arena was cavernous. The University of Houston and Rice University worked together to host the Elite Eight at Reliant Arena in Houston. The problem is, Reliant was built for football, and basketball is played in a much smaller area.

    The result was a built court in the middle of the stadium, that allowed lots of people to see the game, but really took away any kind of home court advantage Texas may have had. The ceiling was so high, and the whole place so spacious, that even I, on the seventh row, felt my cheers were going up, not out towards the court.

    At first, I thought this might be a mistake from Houston, but after paying attention to other games, I think this is standard at these large games in the tournament. I just don't understand why they didn't use the Toyota Center -- it was built for basketball and would hold a lot of people. Perhaps it was booked?

    That said, it was great to see a game up so close. I could shake hands with the Memphis players as they walked out of the tunnel. Although I've been around basketball players before, it's always a wakeup call when you stand next to one and realize again that he isn't really the two inches tall you see on tv, and oh yeah -- that super short guard is actually over six feet.

    John's coworkers were all great guys, some brought their families, and in general we all enjoyed ourselves even though Texas got shellacked. I do believe that one of the referees was swallowing his whistle a little too much, and giving Memphis a little too much leeway on the offensive boards, but even if that had been normalized, Texas killed themselves the first half, and Memphis shot the lights out -- they were definitely the better team.

    So, here's some pics I took at the game. The atmosphere was electric, and it's definitely an experience I recommend.

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