Saturday, March 5, 2011

Go Kent! 2011 Edition

This week was my 29th birthday, so I decided to celebrate I'd take a little road trip over to Bowling Green to see Kent State play the Bowling Green Falcons at Anderson Arena.  Next season the team will move to a new arena (the Stroh Center) and since I have a little connection to Anderson Arena's namesake, Harold Anderson, I figured I might as well make the trip to see a game there one more time.  On top of that, seeing my good friend Michelle made it a fairly easy decision even though I normally wouldn't make a trip like that on a school night knowing I had to sub the next day.  Oh well, I was totally tired the next day but it was so worth it!

Right near the end of the game at Anderson Arena
For starters, my connection to Harold Anderson is my Great-Grandpa Wetzel.  He and Harold Anderson played basketball together at a YMCA in Akron when they were growing up.  Anderson ended up coaching at the University of Toledo from 1934-1942 and then at BGSU from 1942-1963.  He was probably the most successful coach at BG, so it's of no surprise they named the arena after him that opened in 1960.  I went to a game at Anderson Arena 3 years ago with my sister Katie and ended up seeing Kent State lose in an upset.  This year, however, I was able to see KSU pull of a 63-57 win that ended up clinching a share of the overall MAC title for the 2nd year in a row.  I had a great time hanging out with Michelle too!

Inside the MAC Center just before the end of the game
I got to see Kent State play again yesterday as they hosted the arch-rival Akron Zips at the MAC Center in the season finale that was broadcast nationally on ESPN2.  It was the first Kent-Akron men's basketball game I'd been to at the MAC Center since 2008 (though I attended the KSU vs. Akron MAC Championship game in March 2008 in Cleveland and then sang the national anthem at the 2009 game in Kent).  My only disappointment was that the planned "gold out" didn't really happen.  Either a lot of people didn't get the memo or they just ignored it.  Either way, while there was a lof of yellow in the stands, it wasn't as complete as Akron's "white out" last year at the JAR Arena.  I, however, was in my gold gear and so was Katie.  The game sold out, so I was a little worried Katie wouldn't be able to get a ticket, but she did and we had a blast together watching Kent State beat the Zips 79-68 after trailing at halftime 31-27.  Like I said, beating a rival is always enjoyable, but even more so when something is on the line.  Last year was a winner-take-all game where the winner was the overall conference champion and top seed in the tournament.  This year it wasn't the case as much as Akron's loss on Tuesday eliminated them from the conference title or #1 seed.  For Kent, though, the win clinched the outright regular season title for the second straight year (first time that has happened in the MAC since 1990).  Interestingly enough, KSU coach Geno Ford is the first MAC head coach to win two consecutive outright conference titles since none other than Harold Anderson back in 1962 and 1963.

Right at the end of the can see the final score
in the background on the left :)
Katie and I had a great time, even though we didn't exactly have the greatest seats sitting up in the balcony section in one of the corners.  It's not like seats in that building are THAT far away, but since I'm used to sitting wherever I want, it seemed much further away than I'm used to!  It was nice to see the MAC Center totally full and very loud.  I wish it could be like that every game.  When I was growing up, the team wasn't that good, so I didn't see a crowd in the balcony sections until I was in high school.  Most crowds were around 2,000 or less!  I was also happy to see not nearly as many Akron fans there as I have seen in some years past.  There have been times it was almost a 60-40 split.  Not sure exactly how many, but probably in the neighborhood of an 80-20 split this time.  Most of the Akron fans were in the lower deck section for visitors or in the balcony sections right behind that.  On our side of the arena there were a few very scattered Akron fans that were quite vocal during the first half, but were much more quiet the second half.  Gee, I wonder why?  Katie had to take her old KSU shirt apart because the sleeves were too short (I got that shirt for her like 8 years ago).  We turned her extra sleeves into what I termed "rally sleeves" that we waved around like rally towels.  Those sitting in the lower sections were given white rally towels, so we joined in with them. :)

Now on to the MAC Tournament.  After losing in the quarterfinals last year, I'm definitely nervous for this year.  We will most likely have to play Buffalo, a team we really don't match up with all that well.  Buffalo killed the Flashes earlier in the season at Buffalo and then only a big comeback helped KSU beat the Bulls in Kent just about 2 weeks ago.  As is my normal tradition, if KSU gets to the championship game, I'll make the short trip to Cleveland to see.  I won't go to any other round since I don't have that much time and money!