Saturday, March 19, 2005

Excuse Me, Can We Borrow Your Band?

March Madness is upon us, and I've caught a lot of the games this weekend--a relief of sorts from this cleaning binge I've been on lately (you can tell I'm bored when I start cleaning the house). Perhaps the funniest story I've read so far about the tournament had to be the fact that Bucknell, a 14th-seeded team who upset 3rd seed Kansas on Friday night, didn't even bring their pep band to the game; they had to "borrow" one from another school. As Dallas Morning News columnist Brad Townsend noted,
Bucknell did not send its pep band to Oklahoma City, but a deal was struck with Northern Iowa's. An alumnus arranged for T-shirts to be printed for the band to wear during the Kansas game.

Unfortunately, Northern Iowa's band went home after the school's loss to Wisconsin and attempts to scrounge another for today have been unsuccessful.

But when Bucknell returned late Friday night to "the Holiday Inn where 14 seeds go," as [Bucknell coach Pat] Flannery called it, the Northern Iowa band had stayed long enough to serenade the Bison with their school song – which someone hastily faxed from Lewisburg. (source)
All I can say is, if I were a Bucknell band member, I would've definitely wanted to make the trip. After all, the team (from a school located in Lewisburg, PA, with an enrollment of 3500 students) is making its first trip to the BIg Dance in sixteen years; this would've been a good time for a wealthy alumnus (perhaps Les Moonves, president of the same CBS network that's televising the tournament) to throw down the money to bring the band. The one time that my alma mater, UNT, got to go, they definitely sent the band (for a really, really short trip to Salt Lake City, since they drew North Carolina in the first round and got summarily stomped), because, for a school that doesn't get invited every year, it might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the students. So if the Bison manage to survive Wisconsin tomorrow, the alumni should band together (heh) and send the team some homegrown musical accompaniment for the second round.

At any rate, it's a Cinderella story (and what true sports fan doesn't think of Bill Murray when reading that phrase?), just like 13th-seeded Vermont knocking off 2nd-seeded Syracuse the same night, and it's definitely one of the things that makes March Madness so compelling (OK, that and the office pool).

(Incidentally, while surfing the BuckneIl website, I took the Virtual Campus Tour. It takes a while, but the campus seems really nice--very "college-y" looking.)

Whoa....Nellie? I was really surprised to see that Don Nelson stepped down as Mavs coach earlier today, but, as owner Mark Cuban said, he's earned the right to leave on his own terms. Best of luck to new coach Avery Johnson, who's had the reins of the team a few times already this season (he won his official debut tonight, incidentally), and thanks to Nellie for bringing the team back from perennial laughingstock to playoff contender.

Thunder from down under: Over at American Australian Fun, I talk about the typical March Madness office pool (see the comments) in contrast to the "tipping competitions" they have over there for the Rugby League (and no, as James explains, it's not a contest to see how generous you can be to your waitperson).


Gary P. said...

The auditions for the basketball band at Louisiana Tech were always quite competitive when I was there because the success of the women's team guaranteed multiple field trips in late March. (LA Tech and Tennessee are the only two universities who have played in every NCAA Women's tournament.)

The women's team went to the Final Four all three years I was there and won it all my Sophomore year. The men's team was also still doing well in the post-Karl Malone era. They made two NCAA tournament appearances and an NIT appearance with Randy White (Remember him, Mavs fans???) and P.J. Brown anchoring the team.

Kev said...

So did the women's team outdraw the men's team in those days? I remember that happening at Stephen F. Austin for a while; they actually gave the men the crappy 5:30 starting spot and the women played in "prime time."

Gary P. said...

ISTR hearing the Lady Techsters would outdraw the Bulldogs, but can't find any old attendance figures to verify. However the locals seem to be much more loyal to the Techsters than the Bulldogs.

I'm sure it doesn't hurt that the women play their solo non-conference home games against national powers like Tennessee, Penn State, Georgia, Old Dominion, and Stanford while the men get teams like Cetenary, McNeese State, and Louisiana College who may not even be the best teams in their respective neighborhoods.

Kev said...

And I always got a kick out of that whole "Lady Techsters" thing, because it's one of the few times that a women's team's mascot doesn't mirror that of the guys....but it makes total sense why they wouldn't want to be the "Lady Bulldogs." ;-)