Mile Highs and A Few Lows

By Jerry Palm - March 24, 2008

Back in my home base in Northwest Indiana, I have had some time to reflect on a few of the bright spots, and some not so bright, of the Denver sub-regional.

High: Facility, site management. The Pepsi Center is a nice place. It holds about 19,000 and was sold out, if not always full. The Mountain West conference folks, especially media relations people Javan Hedlund and Kim Melcher, did a great job as always.

Low: The games themselves. We were the anti-Tampa. Only one game was competitive beyond halftime, and that was the Michigan St-Pitt game, which was our final game on Saturday.

High: Washington St. What a fabulous defensive team. They made Notre Dame, one of the best offensive teams in the nation this year, look like they didn't know which end of the ball was up.

Low: Winthrop. The Eagles played one of the worst halves of basketball I have every seen in the postseason when they clanked their way to 11 points in the second half against WSU.

High: Michigan St. The Spartans looked every bit the team many thought would be a top 10 team this year. They played with passion and energy. They completely dismantled Temple and out-toughed Pitt.

Low: Michigan St. Where have these guys been all year?? If they had played like this in conference play, they'd have won the Big Ten going away.

MVP: Kyle Weaver, WSU. 29 points and 16 boards in the two games, plus some great D, with three steals against the Irish. You'd have to call Low (Derrick) a High as well.

High: Denver's natural skyline. I love Chicago's, but it's hard to beat the Rocky Mountains. Plus, you always know which way is West, which was helpful because...

Low: City layout. They have a nice N-S-E-W grid going downtown, but once you have that figured out, it switches to a diagonal grid. I got lost at least once.

High: George Mason band, known as Doc Nix and the Green Machine.

Low: Pitt cheerleaders. They basically have three cheers, and they are all variations of Let's Go Pitt.

High: Food. I had a great Italian meal at Baur's, found a great sports bar called the Blake St Tavern, where I could watch Friday's action alone in a crowd, and a good bar-food joint called Old Chicago not too far from the Pepsi Center. They had great burgers and pizza.

Low: Spelling was not a big priority at OC, where the bracket hanging on the bar wall had "Sienna" beating Vanderbilt.

High: Thanks to the folks at Epiphany Lutheran Church for making a stranger feel at home on Easter Sunday.

And neither really high or low, but just plain...

Strange: As the Pepsi Center was clearing out after Saturday's action, suddenly, from a distant corner of the arena, comes "ROOOOCK, CHAAAAALK, JAAAAAAAY, HAAAAAWK, KAAAAAAAY, YOOOOOOOOOO!!!" Those people were apparently lost.

Also strange was the weather. It was in the 60s Wednesday-Friday, and on Saturday, it snowed. The last time I was in Denver, the better part of 20 years ago, it was 70 the day before I was supposed to leave, but the next morning, we woke up to a foot of snow and the airport was closed. At least this time, I got out in time.

Posted by Jerry Palm at 01:00 PM on March 24, 2008

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