Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Trip to Austin for the NCAA Tournament


This past weekend, Dad, Tucker, Daniel and I went to Austin to celebrate my 40th birthday and watch the NCAA Tournament. We had a fantastic weekend.

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I was thoroughly impressed by Austin. I drove through northern Texas on my way home from California in August 1995 but otherwise have never visited The Lone Star.

We stayed at a hotel downtown within walking distance of the UT Arena (which hosted the games and reminded me -- in a good way -- of U-Hall), the state capital building, and Sixth Street.

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None of the games was close (aside from a brief period during Illinois vs. Colorado when the Buffaloes staged an impressive comeback before ultimately falling short), but there is something so freaking fun about watching tournament games.

Dan had us all naming our all-time favorite Cavalier players (I went with John Crotty as my guard, while Tuck chose Richard Morgan), and we did a separate pool for each game (Tuck and Dan were the winners). Between the two sessions we found a great bar with a large outdoor courtyard (it reminded me of the place that Chap and I hung out before the Tottenham soccer game).

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On Saturday morning we walked through the Texas state capital.  Dad and Mom have a project to visit all the state capitals, so he was psyched to report back to Mom that he was 1-up. This is an impressive building (soft red granite and a beautiful dome), and I especially liked the park and trees that surround it. We saw the State Senate Chamber, and the group photos of the Senators brought home to me the significant Latino presence in Texas (it was a concrete reminder that George W. Bush was right to try to shift the Republicans' approach to immigration during his Presidency).

Later we visited Lance Armstrong's bike shop (Mellow Johnny's) and found an awesome bar at the end of a pier on Lake Austin, before watching the games on Sixth Street in the evening.  A highlight was a roofside table overlooking the street where we talked about the Ricky Williams 30-for-30 and I told Tuck that I love his oft-surprising encyclopedic knowledge of sports history.

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We were surprised to learn that the Sunday games were considerably later in the day than expected, so we actually didn't get to see them, but I didn't care at all.  It was an awesome weekend and I am really happy that we got to do it.




 
Scores of the games we saw:
 
Miami 78 - Pacific 49 (Miami looked really strong. Shane Larkin is their star, but Durand Scott's five 3-pointers were a highlight. Watching a graceful jump shot swish through the hoop is one of my favorite moments in sports.)
 
Illinois 57 - Colorado 49
 
Florida 79 - Northwestern State 47
 
Minnesota 83 - UCLA 63

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