When making my extensive road trip plan for this season the Air Force roadie was the last game added to my itinerary. I had already planned to go to 7 other games away from home, so I figured this game is on a weekend, might as well just tack it on for good measure. This particular trip however I would be traveling alone. Believe it or not there aren’t many people that want to travel from San Diego to Colorado Springs in February.
I was pumped for this trip nonetheless, even if only to say that I did it. I headed out to Colorado on Friday morning. When I disembarked the plane in Denver I was of course sporting one of my favorite Aztecs basketball t-shirts in hopes that someone would make mention of the team or the game. The first person to mention the game was a CSU alum working at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. We briefly discussed the Aztecs’ and Rams’ success this season, and congratulated each other. It was a nice little conversation, until the woman helping me with my rental asked what division we were talking about. My new CSU friend said Division I of course, to which my attendee responded “oh I’ve never heard of those schools.” Seriously? You work in Denver and you’ve never heard of Colorado State? She then mentioned that she is an Ohio State alumnus and told me that her school is the best at everything. I told her that we’d know who is better come tournament time. I doubt she knows what tournament I was even referring to.
We stepped outside so I could choose a car. I eventually settled on this bright yellow Aveo. It made it very easy to pick out in parking lots. I was a little hesitant when I noticed that the car had Utah license plates though. Nothing good comes out of that state. I’m not superstitious, just a little stitious, so I stuck with the car.
During the hour long drive from Denver to Colorado Springs I couldn’t help but notice how much more beautiful Colorado is than Utah. It’s not even close. Eventually I arrived at my lodging for the evening, the Fairfield Inn by Marriott. Yes a Marriott, I was not proud. After settling in at the hotel I had some time to kill so I headed to the Air Force Academy. There’s not much negative I can say about a service Academy, so this blog won’t be as scathing as some of the others. Nevertheless there are some things I’ll say. The scenery and setting of the base is all beautiful, but the only thing more boring than the facilities (the chapel excepted) is the basketball team’s style of play.
Some of the places I went on my self-guided tour were the Cadet Field House (which houses Cadet Ice Arena and Clune Arena), Falcon Stadium, the bomber display, and the cadet chapel.
On gameday morning I was very excited, and I showed up to the arena an hour early to take in the atmosphere. By the time the game started I was amazed at the number of SDSU fans in attendance. One by one they kept entering the arena, at tipoff I estimate there were a few hundred Aztecs. I thought Air Force was able to muster a decent crowd (3,463), but there were few to no cadets in attendance.
Air Force played a good game in the first half but ultimately couldn’t keep up with the more talented Aztecs. One thing that stuck out to me was just how loud Coach Fisher is. It might have just been because it was a smaller gym, but even from near the top of the arena I could hear Fisher throughout the game. The highlights of the game for me were when my favorite player Jamaal Franklin secured a key rebound and when Rahon made his 3 to put the Aztecs up 12. After the game ended, as the Air Force fans streamed out I overheard several complaints about the officiating. Falcon fans believed the intentional fouls were all unwarranted and that the foul on Billy was “all ball.” Winners win. Whiners Whine.
After the game I stuck around for a while to take some pics and talk a little with the players and some other fans, but after that it was right back to the airport to head home. While waiting for the flight I was not surprised to see James Rahon walk up to the gate. Before too long the whole team was there. On the plane I sat in a window seat, with Coach Dutcher in the middle and Billy White in the aisle seat, across the aisle sat Kawhi Leonard and in front of Billy was Coach Fisher.
Among the topics discussed during the flight were: what the Aztecs would possibly be ranked come Monday, the best way to stop Jimmer (Billy wants the job), Beats by Dre, UNLV and CSU’s chances at an at large bid and the Fab 5, among others. One thing Coach Dutcher mentioned, while watching a video of a potential recruit, is that people expect our recruiting to get better after the team’s success this year. He made a point that it’s already that good! How are you going to recruit better than 27-1?
So now having concluded my final regular season road trip of the year, I feel a little sad that this part of the season is over, but I also look forward to the excitement I’ll experience on the road in March. I think I’ll end with a summary of the trips for this year.
1. UNLV- probably the best time I’ve ever had in Vegas. Walking the strip with friends and randomly singing the fight song is a ton of fun.
2. Long Beach State- A great way to start off the year. Although the football team lost that day, it was still a blast singing the fight song and watching Matt stand in the booth at the sports bar during the football game. The atmosphere inside the pyramid was also a lot of fun.
3. New Mexico- I was thrilled to come away with a victory in a tough place to play. The Lobos have lost only 2 games at home this season. DJ’s half court shot was incredible.
4. LV Holiday Hoops- The close games were a little nerve-racking, but 2 days in Vegas is usually always a good time.
5. Cal- It was a great time absolutely dominating a Pac-10 opponent. The loud cheers from the Aztec crowd near the end made this one special.
6. Utah- 20 hours in the car round trip was all worth it to see the Aztecs win in SLC. I don’t ever want to see that city again though.
7. Air Force- I’m glad I took the trip to Colorado, but I don’t think I’ll be doing any more solo roadies.
That’s it for now. The next Road Show blog will be from the MWC Tournament, and hopefully after that Tucson. Until then…