By Paul M. Banks
MILWAUKEE- So far the most entertaining exchange of the first half of the “Midwest Swing” tour took place down the stretch of Pittsburgh-Xavier. My press row seat placed me in the midst of a trash talk cross-fire between drunk Xavier fans in the Bradley Center’s third row and Pitt’s mascot “Roc”. They taunted him with “we’re going to shut you up Roc!” So when Pitt cut Xavier’s previously double digit lead down to one, the big cat got up and gave the fans the “you want some of this?” motion. Later he added the similar “come and get me” gesture. Classic. Just classic. Security even had to stop Roc, and give him a stern talking to.
-Don’t know who really wins the award for hottest cheerleaders at this leg (pun intended) of the tournament, because I really only got to see the squads down at my end of the court. But I do know Pitt had by far the shortest skirts of any cheer squad, so I’ll give them the award for this round.
-As Jordan Crawford led his Xavier Musketeers into the sweet 16 (XU and Michigan St. are the only teams to qualify for the sweet sixteen both this year and last) it inspired our own David Kay, sitting next to me for that game, to create and post his all-transfer team.
David Kay’s All-Transfer Team (only involving guys whose team made the tourney) C: Derrick Caracter- UTEP (Louisville) PF: Ekpe Udoh-Baylor (Michigan) SF: Wesley Johnson-Syracuse (Iowa State) G: Darington Hobson-New Mexico (JUCO) G: Jordan Crawford-Xavier (Indiana) SIXTH MAN-PG: Armon Bassett-Ohio (Indiana)
-After OSU’s run through the Big Ten Tournament, the fact that they were placed in my Regional in Milwaukee, the next one I’ll be covering in St. Louis, and if seeds hold, they’ll reach the Final Four in Indy, I will be spending a lot of time with them. I already know their fight song, and “Hang On Sloopy” note-by-note backwards and forwards. I’ve interviewed everybody on their roster numerous times, let’s just say I’ve become a Buckeye expert.
-Maybe I could write a doctoral thesis in 2009-10 Ohio State Men’s basketball? Along the way I’ve gotten to know all their media, including bucknuts.com, I just love saying that domain name: bucknuts…BUCKNUTS!!!! And there’s Big Ten Network sideline princess Katie Witham, who covers the Buckeyes exclusively. Look for our upcoming OSU exchange, because who else can keep up with me on Buckeye news, nuggets and tidbits than someone who covers all Buckeyes, all the time?
-Great to have all the comments on the live blogs! Remember to come by this Friday, when I’ll be doing Ohio St.-Tennessee, followed by Michigan St.-Northern Iowa. By the way, the Evan Turner Flipshare video I shot at the Big Ten Tournament is now at 1,400 views! Holla! Shawty!
-So the Midwest Swing is now officially half over, but the best and biggest is yet to come. Even brighter stages await in St. Louis and Indianapolis. And I’ll again get to cover a school I once attended (Michigan St.) in the next round. There is one aspect of this trip that makes me sad though. During the Big Ten tournament I was joined by my neighbor and friend (and Sports Bank/Washington Times Communities cohort) Paul Schmidt. SB Nation Illini blogger Joe Kutsunis was our third roommate in. This past weekend I drove up with my good friend Bill Corcoran, and after he headed back to chicago, I met up with two more of my Times Communities/Sports Bank chums: Jake McCormick on Saturday night and David Kay, Sunday at press row. This was so much fun already, but spending time with all my friends heightened the experience even more. However, during the final two legs, I won’t have anyone I know coming with me. I won’t have a roommate in St. Louis and Indy. Bummer.
-I will know some people down there: the Buckeyes’ traveling media, Shannon Ryan from the Chicago Tribune, who I once joked last year is the female version of me (on a professional level anyway) because I saw her at almost every single event I covered everyday in April of 2009.
-Guess it’ll be time to make some new friends in Missouri and Indiana. When I check in with you next time, to quote the opening track on Nelly’s first album, “Country Grammar,” “You can find me in st. louiee…”