Monday, February 17, 2014

Another OT thriller in Waco!

Since Elliot and I had propelled Baylor to four wins in the four games we have attended, we felt compelled to head back to Waco tonight to see if we could help them get a fifth.  We felt confident, since they had beaten Oklahoma State in Stillwater, and tonight OSU was playing without their top scorer, the suspended Marcus not-so-Smart.  Even though it was an 8:00 tipoff, and even though I have to be at work at 7 tomorrow, and even though Elliot is 14 and needs his sleep, we decided the Bears needed us in Waco.
Bruiser gets some extra help cheering with these student bears.
So we ate a quick dinner and hit the road.  We didn't have tickets, and figured we'd just pick some up when we got there.  While we were on our way, Mark texted that his friend Bart had offered him some extras.  We were certainly pleased to hear that Mark had once again wrangled some free tickets for us, but when we got to our seats, we were even more pleased that we were on the second row, directly across from the Baylor bench!  Wow, thanks Bart!  I could get spoiled watching games from that vantage point!
We got to sit with Mark and Regina.  I hope we didn't embarrass them too much.
Baylor started out looking pretty good.  They were hitting 3 pointers, and jumped out to a 12-6 lead.  But OSU went on a run, took the lead, and kept it most of the rest of the game.  Baylor was down by 5 at the half, then trailed by as much as 10 early in the second half.  But they chipped away at OSU's lead, tying the games a few times and trading leads in the final minutes.
I'm always surprised at how many coaches they have.  I think it's about a 1:1 coach-player ratio.
When OSU missed a 3 pointer and knocked the ball out of bounds with 2 seconds left, it looked like Baylor had the game in the bag. All they had to do was inbound the ball, and hold on to it to run out the clock.  But, no, Baylor can't keep things simple, can they?  They botched the inbound pass, and some OSU joker who never makes 3 pointers grabbed it and made a 3 at the buzzer.  Overtime, for the second time in two games.
This was taken by Baylor photographer Matthew Minard, who was sitting a few feet to my left.
I couldn't get a good action pic with my iPhone.
Thankfully, Baylor scored first in OT and lead the whole time, winning by 6.  Now they are on a 3 game winning streak, and have 5 games left in Big 12 play, plus the Big 12 tournament.  Win out, and they would have a winning record in the Big 12.  I'm not giving up on the Bears' chances to play in the NCAA tournament.  I just hope they can find a way to win the next on the road without Elliot and me.
It was fun visiting with the always amiable Judge Starr.
If I heard him correctly, he may have encouraged Elliot to take a sick day from school tomorrow. . . . Surely not . . . .


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Two Baylor Basketball Games in a Week

This year, Baylor basketball fans have seen some highs and lows.  The Bears finished the non-conference season 12-1, their only loss coming against Syracuse, who is still undefeated and currently ranked #1 in the country.  Baylor climbed up the rankings to #7 before getting hit with the reality of Big 12 basketball, losing 8 of their first 10 Big 12 games.  Only TCU, who still has not won a Big 12 game,  is behind the Bears in the conference standings.

But Elliot and I still believe this is a great team with some great players!  I can't explain their losing streak, but we want to see it turn around.  We hadn't been to any games in Waco this season, but had seen the Bears win their season opener at the American Airlines Center in November (post), and braved the ice storm to see them upset Kentucky at AT&T Stadium in December (post).

Since the Bears were playing close to home once again, this time at TCU, we decided to see if we could see another win.  They did not disappoint.  Brady Heslip had a hot hand, shooting 8 of Baylor's season-high 16 3 pointers.  They dominated this game, start to finish.  It was not a big surprise, as TCU is just not very good this year.  It was great to see Baylor win, and nice to see that the home crowd was outnumbered by the Baylor faithful in attendance.
I know Elliot looks bored, but that's just his "I don't like my picture taken" face.
Now that the Bears were 3-0 in games Elliot and I have attended, we felt obligated to cheer them on in Waco Saturday night.  Thanks to Mark's Facebook post, we got some tickets from one of my favorite professors, Dr. Beaty, and his wife.  They couldn't make the game and let us use their tickets.  It was great visiting with him.  He still seems to remember me, even though it's been 25 years or so since I took a class with him!
Kansas State came into the game in 3rd in the Big 12, and earlier week defeated a powerful Kansas team.  For most of this game, it looked like KSU was going to take a victory home to Manhattan.  Baylor finished the first half with 21 points, having shot only 26%.  Heslip's hot hand from Wednesday night had cooled off; he couldn't hit a 3 pointer to save his life.


Isaiah Austin getting one of his 9 blocks
for the night.
 Things improved in the second half, and Baylor got within 1 a couple of times, but they never could get over the hump.  Finally, with the clock winding down, and Baylor within 3, Isaiah Austin somehow got the ball to Helsip and he nailed his first 3 pointer of the night, just before the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

Baylor and KSU traded leads through the first overtime, and, thanks to KSU missing a free throw at the end of the period, they were still tied.  However, in the second OT, Baylor dominated, and ended up winning by 14!

So now Baylor is 4-0 in the games Elliot and I have attended.  So my next task is convincing Kelly that it's OK to take Elliot to Monday's game, with an 8:00 start time, on a school night.  Baylor needs us to be there!
You gotta love a team that gathers for prayer at the end of every game.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Baylor Stadium Update: 12/30/13

The biggest Baylor Stadium update this week is that Baylor Stadium will not be called Baylor Stadium, but McLane Stadium.  You may recall that when the Drayton McLane family made the initial seed gift (amount undisclosed, but it was a lot), they said that the stadium belonged to the Baylor family, and they wanted it to be named Baylor Stadium.

I don't know what all went on behind the scenes, but the regents apparently thought the McLanes ought to be recognized for their generosity for the life of the facility, so they decided to change the name.  As long as the McLanes are OK with that, I'm OK with that.  I am grateful for the McLane family's generosity to Baylor and will enjoy many games at the new stadium.

On the way to meet my mom and dad in Salado, to join them for the drive west to Glendale, Elliot and I stopped for a look at the progress.  The crews had been busy, even during the holidays.
 The roof is coming along, and you can see the first set pedestrian bridge pilings on the right side of the picture below.
 This picture shows the second pilings out into the river.
 And here the next one going in . . . .
 In this picture, it appears that the suites dominate the west side of the stadium.  Again, I'm pretty excited that so many people put up big bucks to sit in these premium seats.  If they want to give more to the stadium building project than I'll probably ever make in my lifetime, let them have an air-conditioned, catered, fifty-yard-line seat with all the perks!  (And if they want to invite me to join them for a game, well, I'd be delighted to come!)

Sic 'em!!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bowl Week: Fiesta Bowl Game Day

Well, what can we say. It's been a great, record-breaking season for Baylor. Six months ago, if someone told me Baylor would finish 11-2, be outright Big 12 champs, and play in a BCS bowl, I would not have argued with an outcome like that. 

But last night's 52-42 loss to the University of Central Florida ends the season on a sour note. The OSU loss was tough. We knew Baylor's chances  of playing for a national championship were slim, but the OSU loss took away all hope. However, we knew we could still win out and get at least a Big 12 co-championship. Not only did the Bears win those last two games, but OU beat OSU, giving Baylor the outright championship. But now the season is over and the pain of this loss to UCF in the Fiesta Bowl will sting all the way til next season. 

But enough whining and negativity!  We had a fun trip, and got to experience a great BCS game in the last year of the BCS. Elliot did not want to get in a picture here with dorky me ....
.... so I had to sneak this one of him.
We went to the Tostitos Tailgate Party at the stadium, watched the band march in and sang the fight song with many other Baylor faithful.
Somehow I convinced Elliot to dress up like a jar of queso.
When we'd had our fill of the tailgate, we found our way to our seats. We had great seats--10 rows up behind the bench. Thanks, Mom and Dad!  The stadium feels like a big, drafty barn. (After going to games at Jerry World, I think every other stadium will feel like a dump.) There was a nice-sized Baylor crowd on hand, pretty clearly outnumbering UCF fans.  The team ran onto the field looking ready to play. 
Unfortunately they weren't. The Bears spotted UCF 2 touchdowns, so they were down 14-0 halfway through the first quarter. The rest of the night was playing catch up, and they never quite could get in front.
They committed way too many penalties, including 2 key pass interference calls which extended drives resulting in TDs. They did not capitalize on turnovers. And, most disappointingly, Tevin Reese was a non-factor; the revived passing game I was hoping for failed to materilaize. 
What a horribly disappointing end to an unimaginably fantastic season. We have had some good times going to every Baylor game this year. We may never get to every game in a season again but we will certainly get to every one we can. Lots of starters will be returning next year, the new stadium will be opening, and a Big 12 title is not out do the question. Now to start counting the days until kickoff against SMU. Sic 'em!
By the way, we saw some cool desert scenery while we were in Arizona. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bowl Week: Fiesta Bowl Pep Rally

We finally arrived in Arizona (it's a long way out here!).  We decided to go straight to the pep rally, at the team hotel in Scottsdale, before going to our hotel in Glendale. 

The timing was perfect. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw a young lady leaving the hotel. I thought, "That looks like RG3's wife." Then I realized that the man just ahead of her was RG3!  I fell in step with her and said hi, then I found myself standing there with Coach Art Briles and RG3! I was a bit star-struck, I must admit. 

I wish I could tell you about the great conversation we had, but needless to say there were a few other people who wanted to chat. I did get to shake hands with RG3 and talk to these two Baylor greats for a moment. 

We stayed there in front of the hotel and watched as the team loaded the buses to go to their final practice. It was fun seeing them in their street clothes, joking around with each other and with the fans present. 

After milling around for a bit, we headed to the back of the hotel where the pep rally would be held.
It was a good sized crowd of Baylor faithful. The band, the cheerleaders, Bruiser, and the Voice of the Bears, John Morris, rallied the crowd.
Baylor great Walter Abercrombie, who led the Bears to their last conference championship, had some good words. 
Briles and the team came back from practice in time for a Walk of the Bears. Briles is here with the seniors, the winningest senior class in Baylor history, getting ready to play on their fourth consecutive bowl game. 
The highlight of the night for Elliot was getting to meet Lache Seastruck, the Big 12's leading rusher, and Antwon Goodley, who leads the Big 12 in receiving yards. Both of these young men  were very friendly to Elliot and seemed happy to visit with fans.

The rally has us pepped up, the players seemed excited and ready to play, and the fans are ready for some football!

Sic 'em!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Bowl Week: Fiesta Bowl Bound!

It's Bowl Week!

Monday morning Elliot and I got up early to drive to Salado to meet Mom and Dad for the drive to Glendale.  I am thankful to be driving with them.  While it would not have been impossible for me to drive the entire route with Elliot as co-pilot, it will be nice to share the driving while sharing lots of time with #1 Baylor fans, Mom and Dad!


I was thinking about the last time Baylor won a conference championship.  I was in 6th grade, and Baylor went undefeated in the Southwest Conference, earning a spot in the Cotton Bowl.  Sadly, they had little answer for Bear Bryant and his Alabama Crimson Tide team, who won 30-2.

What do I remember?  Not as much as I'd like. . . . I remember that we stayed at La Quinta on Central Expressway. . . . I remember sitting in the way back of the station wagon, facing backwards, and an Alabama lady in the car behind us mocking me with fake crying after the game. . . .  I remember coming back to school and taking down the sign on which I had been posting the scores of every game. . . .

Elliot is 2 years older than I was that year, and much more engaged and knowledgable about football, so hopefully his memories of the Fiesta Bowl will be clearer and, well, more memorable.  And that's what this season has been all about, making memories.  Sure, it would be cheaper and easier to stay home and watch the game on TV.  But that's not how memories are made.



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Baylor Stadium Update: 12/22/13

Last weekend we drove to Salado to celebrate Christmas with my parents and siblings.  On the way home, Kelly was nice enough to let me hop out to take some pictures of the stadium.  It's looking better and better all the time!




Below is the view from where the pedestrian bridge will start.  You can see the smaller pedestrian bridge, crossing the lagoon entrance to the right.


On the right you can see the supports for the bridge.


The work on I-35 is coming along nicely, too.  This bridge work should all be done in time for the completion of the stadium.