(*Author’s note: This is the 2nd part in my recap of my NCAA Tournament experience. To read part one, go here. Or just scroll down for a minute.)
As we prepared for the second game to tip-off I hurriedly rattled off everything I knew about Kansas’ program to my wife. She sat back as I climbed the ladder to mount my gigantic soapbox and begin preaching about sports. I was quickly through Naismith and peachbaskets and well on my way to Wilt Chamberlin when I realized that I was actually halfway through writing my own divorce papers. I shut up. She just smiled. She’s a great woman.
The crowd, which had been growing in size around us during the second half of the first game and steadily during the intermission, had filled out impressively. The Jayhawk fans, always a force to be reckoned with in college basketball, were out in full force. We took note and watched as the teams warmed up.
Detroit had surprising height, a much-talked-about McDonald’s All-America, (*Author’s note: he stayed to play at Detroit because his Dad’s the coach there and, in an almost-certain attempt to fire his team up Bill Self said, “They have one more McDonald’s All-American than we do!” Which is kind of like Verbal Kint crying in Agent Kujan’s office in The Usual Suspects about how stupid and weak he is. If you don’t get that reference, it’s a shame. Run to your nearest Blockbuster and rent that movie. I’m not kidding. Go right now.) and some pretty good athletes on their squad.
Kansas looked like, well, Kansas. They were loaded with size, talent, and “f-ing A that guy looks like a grown-ass man” guys all over the court. We knew that we were about to watch the proverbial David V.S. Goliath game that makes March Madness so great. There had already been one upset of nearly unthinkable proportions, as Missouri bit the dust earlier in the day to a 15-seeded Norfolk State, and the stadium was buzzing with each new staggering upset to come across the PA system.
Judd Apatow clone, and professional D-Bag, was making sure that everyone remembered what had happened to Missouri. He would shout slurred insults, equal parts Zombie groan, Neanderthal battlecry, and Jayhawk support about every 10 minutes. In front of us, Mr. Midlife Crisis continued to his laughtrack. Busting up like he was front row at a Dave Chappelle standup.
A plastered girl arrived wearing KU colors and with the seemingly requisite cheek-tat that is only found on inmates and girls attending sporting events. She stumbled across the row in front of us like she was walking across the pitching decks of the ship in ThePerfect Storm. (*Author’s note: in case you’re wondering, I was definitely playing Clooney in this analogy) Finally she drunkenly crash landed into her chair where she proceeded to discuss her love for all things Kansas basketball with the elderly woman to her left. Quite an intermission show.
About 10 minutes before the game started, the girl on the Lindsay Lohan sobriety plan stumbled off with one of her friends and never came back. I’m sure she ended up face down on a toilet for most of the game.
The game tipped and, initially, Detroit didn’t look bad. They were clearly overmatched on the interior, having to deal with the gigantic bodies of Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson, but they had dynamic guards and seemed to be unafraid of playing a big time team on a big time stage. Early on the game was close.
Detroit had a shooting guard that threw down a few massive dunks, including a ridiculous 180 degree dunk in transition that had all the non-Jayhawk faithful leaping out of their chairs. Predictably, I got a little too excited. I leapt to my feet and found myself whooping with my hands in the air like a Silverback Gorilla attempting to establish dominance. What can I say, as a 5’9″ white dude, I like watching people dunk. What’s the old saying, those who can’t do, get overly excited and make asses out of themselves whenever anyone punches out in traffic? Or something like that.
Unfortunately the game spiraled out of control from there. The dunker got into foul trouble and the bigs from KU seemed to take over. Tyshawn Taylor, the Jayhawks’ lightning quick guard, was great fun to watch. He was athletic around the rim, blazingly quick, and fun to watch. Did he occasionally take some bad shots? Absolutely. Did the talent differential become so glaringly apparent in the second half that it didn’t matter? Definitely.
KU pulled away. There wasn’t going to be any glass-slipper-fitting happening on this court. At one point, even though the play was later called dead, Thomas Robinson caught an alley-oop and dunked it so hard that I felt it resonate in my chest cavity. The clock struck midnight on that and Detroit was done for. The Judd Apatow impersonator bellowed something, sounding like he had a just eaten an ice cream scoop full of peanut butter, about how Detroit was a bad city. Like, a really bad city.
Thankfully for him, the Detroit section was too far away for them to hear. Each time their band would come out to play a song or two the entirety of the Detroit fans’ section would get up and start dancing. And they were working it, too. The guy who looked to be the ringleader looked exactly like Cee Lo Green and would stand up and sort of dance like Fat Joe in the “Lean Back” music video. Something told me that Mr. Fauxapatow would’ve gotten “knocked up” in a different way if he’d been over by the knockoff Cee Lo Green.
The game continued to get more and more out of hand. It was clear that the cream was rising to the top. I contented myself to make terrible jokes about how Jeff Withey’s name should totally be pronounced “Whitey” and how, for the first time I felt like my calling some huge, slow-moving honky, “Whitey,” was the closest to legitimate that it had ever been.
It was during this time period that the last and final piece of the Douche Triumvirate arrived into our section, in the seats vacated by the now-missing hammered girl no less.
Two guys slid into the seats directly in front of us, both clearly KU fans. They were both exceedingly vocal about how crunk they were to watch KU dominate Detroit. One kid kept trying to join in on KU chants from other parts of the arena and was always about a half-measure off on the rhythm. He was an obnoxious echo; the . The other guy, who announced to everyone around him that he hadn’tactually gone to KU, but that didn’t stop him from flying into an apoplectic rage everytime KU didn’t And1 Mixtape the pants off the other team or dunk on them harder than Blake Griffin.
Suddenly I was reinvigorated. Watching this tool grunt and wail and rock back and forth with anger each time Jeff “Whitey” didn’t turn into Dwight Howard out there and posterize the living hell out of someone, was amazing. This baseless anger focused on a guy who I was still repeatedly referring to as “Whitey”, much to my wife’s chagrin, was pure hilarity to me. At one point, by way of an apology, the spastic, enraged guy in front of us turned to the elderly woman next to him and said with a vein still bulging in his neck, “I’m sorry. I’m just passionate about mistakes.”
They were up 20 points.
At this point, his manic rages were nearing Mt. Vesuvian proportions. His buddy was too busy trying to figure out how 4/4 time works so he could catch up to the rest of the KU fans’ chants. I was basking. Simply basking in the glow. Great basketball. Great seats. Great wife. Idiots around us that were perfectly dumb. What more could a man ask for? As I slid my hand into my wife’s, only one guy had any complaints.
“You’ve gotta catch THE BALL, Withey! Use 2 hands! What are you DOING!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!”