I spent Monday night inside a friend’s suite at Sprint Center taking in the CBE Classic first-round games. I have been lucky enough to attend every one of these CBE tourneys since Sprint opened. This year’s CBE might be the most loaded yet. Here are some of my takeaways from day one.
Bond Bridge: Being a KC Northlander (since moving from the Kansas side of town 20 years ago) we took the new Bond Bridge south into Downtown on Monday night to attend the CBE Classic. Wow! KC’s new welcome mat from the north is gorgeous at night. You first spot the lit top of the Bond Bridge as you approach from the north as it sits off to the left. My first drive south across the impressive and beautiful addition to our city’s landscape made me feel damn proud to be a part of this city that continues to improve its culture, ambiance and head-turning attractions.
Tickets: None to be had. Lots of the black mafia dudes stalking all comers asking, “Got any tickets for sale?” I saw very few buyers or sellers on the streets of The Power & Light District. I stopped at one of the many open and staffed ticket windows and asked if there were any tickets for sale. “None,” came the reply. I am guessing that tonight’s ticket for the Duke/KSU finale will bring quite a ransom.
Fans at Sprint: Kansas City is one helluva college basketball town. Maybe The Star is right, we are the college basketball center of the universe. Almost 19,000 fans showed up on a Monday night the week of Thanksgiving to watch two non-con games that have little or no bearing on who wins the NCAA tourney this spring. What’s that BCS football argument about their regular season being so much more important and attractive than hoops because there’s no playoff? Complete bullshit.
K-State fans: These passionate purple people packed Sprint Center like it was twofers night in Aggieville. Every cheap seat was filled and almost all were sporting Wildcat colors. This was not your Big 12 transient sightseeing crowd. You know the one where half the crowd doesn’t give a flip out who’s playing and is busy walking, talking and texting. These fans were there to watch hoops and especially Frank Martin’s boys. I headed out to the restroom mid-game and the wide concourses at Sprint Center were as vacant as KC’s downtown streets in the 90’s.
NASCAR on Sprint floor: There appeared to be more ads on the floor at Sprint Center than at The K – and that is a lot of ads. Did they really need those two Reese’s graphics jammed into the free-throw circle? The NCAA will do almost anything to make a buck on the backs of student athletes who are forbidden to profit from their unique skills. Josh Selby gets fined for driving around in his coach’s car but the NCAA can charge $200/ticket to watch him play? In the next decade we will see the NCAA get blown up and all this hypocrisy become history. I hope they call me to help rewrite the rule book.
Uniforms of note: Duke’s Columbia blue unies were the sharpest of the night. Marquette’s brilliant gold were a close second. K-State’s formal black are always cool. Only Gonzaga’s tri-colored togs disappointed.
Who’s good and not: Marquette surprised me with their talent. They played Duke very tough, especially inside. If Marquette is the seventh best team in the Big East this season, that is gonna be one tough conference yet again. Duke is Duke…as they say. Lot of talent but I saw some defensive holes down under the bucket. Marquette got some easy looks inside. That should be good news for what ails KSU’s Curtis Kelley. This Gonzaga is only Gonzaga in name. Don’t look for these Zags to be zigging come March.
Will Spradling: If Sprint Center had a trending post, the K-State freshman from Shawnee Mission South would have topped the poll. And why not? He’s local, he’s white and he’s good. Why mention he’s white? The dude sticks out in that K-State lineup like he was a hardboiled egg in a bag of charcoal. I was impressed with the level of confidence the SMS kid displayed in a very different venue than facing Shawnee Mission North. Can the kid strap it on against Duke with the same bravado? We will be watching.
Frank: Worth the price of admission is Frank’s Faces. He went after young Spradling a time or two like he was trying to reenact the Bo Pelini/Taylor Martinez dance at A&M. One thing about sitting in the arena for a K-State game is that you miss all those replays of Frank’s Faces on the tube. Coach K was there but he does far more sitting and watching than coaching…kind of the same as KSU’s DaLonte Hill.
No Twitter: My iPhone was blanked from Internet access inside Sprint Monday night. Being from Nebraska, I immediately assumed it was a conspiracy toward and against AT&T customers.
GregHall24@yahoo.com and Twitter / greghall24