Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Crisscrossing the Nation for College Hoops - Austin, Texas

Austin from my hotel window

The view of the capitol building wasn't as clear as in Madison, but I was happy I could see it peeking around the larger buildings.  My cab driver on Sunday morning said that no building in Austin could be higher than the capitol so as not to obstruct its view.  Not sure if that's true, but it sounds good.

The buildings on the front row make up part of Austin's infamous 6th Street

The discussion about the potential blockage of Austin's state capitol arose from talk of the expansion of the Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium where the University of Texas Longhorns play football, which is in the distance of the above picture.  Trust me, it's there, all 94,113 seats of it. The well-informed cabbie, an Austin native, told us that UT has been expanding its seating capacity by adding seats under the stadium at ground level rather than building up.  (Again, no idea if that's true.)

The Game: 2 Oklahoma Sooners vs Texas Longhorns
This was a Big 12 matchup of perennial football schools; the rivalry is more palpable on the gridiron rather than the court.  This hoops game was much-hyped due to the presence of the likely National Player of the Year, Oklahoma's monster forward Blake Griffin.  So guess what? The big man suffered a concussion in the opening minutes of the game and spent the second half sitting on the bench, eyes glazed and mouth agape.  The efforts of Griffin's older brother, Tyler, and super freshman Willie Warren notwithstanding, Oklahoma didn't have enough juice without its star and lost the game 73-68 and its #2 ranking.  (I won't mention that had Carolina not relinquished a 16-point lead and lost to Maryland in overtime earlier that day, my Heels would have been number one.  But no, they forgot how to play defense - again! - and allowed Greivis Vasquez to explode for a triple-double.  Because of that, they dropped two spots to #5 in the ESPN/USA Today poll.  But I'm not going to mention that.)

The city of Austin celebrated Mardi Gras last Saturday, so it took almost half an hour to drive the mile and a half from the Erwin Special Events Center to the hotel.  I considered going up to 6th Street to check out the scene, but decided that I will wait until next time to discover why the college town's slogan is "Keep Austin Weird."

Instead of flying home, I went from the capital of Texas to the nation's capital: Next stop, Washington, DC.

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