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Monday, September 11, 2017

A Road Trip, A Roundball Game, and Some Complaining

Yesterday we went to West Lafayette, IN to watch the Nebraska Cornhuskers play the Purdue Boilermakers. Make no mistake the Boilermakers are named after the profession, people who make boilers and other metal monstrosities that require specialized skills, not the beer and bourbon drink, a monstrosity of a different kind. Make no mistake Purdue is a school with a long tradition of winning basketball games. I remember watching Gene Keady scowling on the sidelines as his team fought their way through a tough big ten schedule. I remember giants like Glenn Robinson, and Joe Barry Carrol. Purdue and I go back a long way. Make no mistake, though. I was there to root for the Cornhuskers.
It was a cold day, about 6 degrees. And it was a long drive, about 3 and a half hours. But, it was a blast. Going to a game at Purdue is a little different. You don’t have to pay for parking. Every place else we’ve been charges at least ten dollars. We parked in a huge garage two blocks from the stadium and it cost nothing. I’m not sure if it was an oversight, or just a simple act of midwestern generosity, either way it seems nice.

Mackey Arena is a place with a long history. a lot of great basketball has been played in that building. But, it is the most difficult place to sit. They pack you in with little room to move, right, left, front or back. And if you want to get a drink or a hot dog, you will inconvenience not only the people in your row, but the people in front and behind as well. It is that cramped. If you get a few guys a little on the heavy side, like me, and the guys sitting next to me it is positively intimate. You get closer to strangers than you had ever dreamed.

Nebraska was an 18.5 underdog. A reflection of how poorly people who make their living gambling thought they were going to play. I was pretty sure that was too many but, they don’t really care about either team, and not weighed down with loyalty. I figured if Nebraska could his some open shots and the officials remained neutral things would be ok. Nebraska missed a lot of shots, and the Purdue center Isaac Haas, who is 7’ 2”, was the target of referee affection, which is not all that surprising. 

Ample proof of that happened late in the game, when the outcome was already decided. Issac Copeland, who is 6’ 9” caught a pass coming down the lane, leaped as if from a trampoline, and dunked over Haas. It was an amazing display of athletic ability. We were sitting straight up from the backboard so we had a great view, and we applauded, politely, to the annoyance of the Purdue fans surrounding us.  Haas tried to block the shot, knocking Copeland to the floor. A play that would have been called a foul had Haas been shooting. The referee called Copeland for a technical foul. Cries of foolishness rose from most sports reporting sites. But, big ten officials are a hearty group with a noted ability to ignore reality. 

It was fun and we had a good time. Coach Miles has his team playing better all the time. Next year we will go to another game, maybe in Bloomington, IN, or Ann Arbor MI, or State College PA. This report was bought to you by the Cornhusker Road Crew, Part Time.