If you watched Maryland hold off Louisville last night on television, you might have seen rows and rows of empty seats behind the baskets (although, if you could see up to the top rows of Sections 107 and 108, you'd have seen Nick Faust and Pe'shon Howard providing their conspicuous support to the Lady Terps). But you would have heard a raucous, partisan crowd that was almost as amped as those that turned out for this year's Duke game, despite being one-third the size (4,857 vs. 15,150).
We were stunned by the crowd support; overwhelmingly positive. Each and every time Maryland players seemed to lose focus or lag, the fans threw everything they could behind the team. Agree completely with the good folks at DC BasketCases: "We've seen great crowds at Comcast before, but never like this."
Despite the amazing fans, I was certain that the Terps were getting bounced from the tourney. Our eldest showed up to the game in her Laurin Mincy jersey. Mincy: 6 for 10 from the field, 10 for 13 from the charity stripe, 24 points, and 7 rebounds. 7 rebounds. She hit a free throw with 4:30 left to give Maryland a lead that they would not relinquish.
I am a believer.
I had a tough time convincing my daughter to go Monday night -- ice cream tipped the scale -- because I had taken the kids to a basketball game on Friday. In Oakland. For the return of Monta Ellis to Oracle Arena as a Milwaukee Buck.
I am an idiot.
If the Warriors' front office didn't anticipate a debacle for Chris Mullin's jersey retirement ceremony last night, they are also idiots. The mood on Friday night presaged raw anger that spilled out into skirmishes throughout the upper deck. When my three-year old and I tried to duck around a pair of guys punching each other while throwing nachos and beer at each other, onlookers shouted that "everyone's pissed about the Monta trade!"
Oracle is, truth be told, a fantastic place to watch an NBA game, provided you do not leave your seats. This is, unfortunately, very difficult to do when you bring two young kids to a sporting event. For one of the few times in my life, we booked early from a game. Our reward: a pleasant walk through driving rain inside a cage back to the BART Station.
I do not, however, regret going. The game was Filipino Heritage Night. My daughter had spent the week fully embracing her own pinoy background (highlight was walking around the Academy of Sciences' aquarium singing the Black Eyed Peas' "Bebot"). We were primed to celebrate and took full advantage of the pancit and lumpia on offer. That probably doesn't make up for my juvenile enjoyment of the free t-shirt giveaway scene at Oracle Friday night.
Part of Heritage Night was a certificate for a t-shirt redeemable on the upper level. Thousands lined up, with hundreds waiting a ridiculous amount of time for the shirt. By the beginning of halftime, I was trying to put my youngest to sleep by walking around and we passed by the tables where shirts were being handed out. At that moment, the Warriors' employees staffing the table shouted out to those remaining in line that "We only have larges left, only size large!" To which the crowd responded with a loud, collective, audible groan.