Monday, January 29, 2007

A very successful trip to Arizona

By: Dave Cortesi Flew to PHX; got rental car (brand new Toyota Avalon, v. nice); drove to Tucson just in time for supper at famous eatery El Charro. Had time for a drink before... ... joining Peter, Nancy, Millie, Mitch and Don for famous house specialty carne seca. Marian liked it; I didn't. McKale Center is large, and the crowd was small. Only general admission tickets sold, and you could sit just about anywhere you liked. Wildcat fans wear red too, so there weren't quite as many of us as you might think. This arena has a nice selection of banners. 6-6 Suzy Bofia commiserated with her twin, 6-7 Beatrice, out for the season. The UA band is an OK musical outfit. Nothing special except they wear white gloves. UA has two mascots, Wilbur and Wilma -- they are cute and do creative stunts. Especially I'd never seen a mascot in a cheerleader stunt. Early next morning in the motel, Marian updated the FBC website with the latest results. Then we headed off to a favorite place, just west of Tucson, the Desert Museum. This saguaro seemed to be trying to hitch a ride. Outside the Desert Museum we got close to a Cactus Wren who was puffed up against the chilly (43ºF) air. Inside we saw a coyote, an ocelot, and in a special raptor session, a roadrunner, a barn owl, and a hawk. Then we had to buzz back to Phoenix. On the Friday, Arlene Rusche and several other fans went to Mesa see our next year's recruit, Kayla Pederson (see the recruiting blog) play at Red Mountain High School. Arlene reports,
The gym was full! The crowd was loud and the temperature hot. The Lions, Kayla's team lost, but not because of her. She is very good and so versatile. She can take the ball up the floor with better than average speed. She plays defense! ... She has an outside 3 shot possibility and we were generally impressed. However, she did miss at least 6 free throws... Maybe she was nervous because the Stanford coaches were there.... Scoring wise she was the only player for the Lions in double figures. Most of the time when she rebounded the ball, the point guard was not there to take the ball. She took the ball up court herself.
On to game day. Wells Fargo Arena is not as large as some, but it was pretty well filled with 4,200 enthusiastic fans. As at Tucson we got general admission tickets, but not because that was all they sold. We got them because that was all they had left--all reserved seats were sold out! Arlene showed Mitch the section she planned to move into as soon as the ushers let down their guard. (They never did.)We attended with our friend and host, Diane. She's a major Phoenix Suns fan. Here she is reminding me that the Suns had just won their 16th straight and she expected no less from the Cardinal. Before the game, Charli T. T. came around for the usual coach's smooze-fest. What they say: "Hi, you look great!" What they think is: "We are so gonna kick your butt..." The ASU band plays loud and smooth, mostly old college rah-rah standard fight songs. Mitch commented on how they add materially to the excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd. The crowd was really into it, partly because the ASU yell squad is very active along the sidelines whipping people up. But this crowd was totally into the game. Whenever ASU had the ball and a chance to tie or lead, they were on their feet without prompting and the noise level was intense. Only at Mac Court have I heard cheering as loud. They had plenty of occasions for standing; this was a very tense and exciting game! We watched it again on Tivo afterward and there is no comparison: the noise, the color, the suspense unbroken by commercials or commentator chit-chat--the actual game experience is ten times as gripping as the TV experience. Crucial moments called for duelling timeouts... Anyway, Candice took it over. Here's one of her overtime free-throws. The joy and relief of the team at the end was noticeable. A few hours later we were awaiting our flight at PHX where they have free wi-fi and Marian could update the website... See that shiny spot on the floor between the seats? I believe that's my cellphone which was missing when we got home. Anyway, thankfully that is our last airport experience until we fly to Cleveland for the final four!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A snowy trip to Washington

By: David and Marian Cortesi

Our trip to the Washington schools set basketball in a frame of snow and mountains. The first mountain up is Shasta. Unfortunately we flew almost above it. Still, you can never have too many pictures of Shasta, even partial ones. Next up was a fabulous view of St. Helens lined up with Mt. Adams. And the usual profile of Rainier on the approach to SeaTac. We spent Thursday afternoon at the Experience Music Project Which is just below the Space Needle in Seattle Center. At game time the temp was in the teens with crunchy snow on the ground. During warm-ups, Cori Enghusen's mom stopped by. Heidi VanDerveer chatted with her mom. Kate Starbird watched the game from the fan section. Harriet Benson joined us in the fan section. Left to right, niece Katie, grand-nephew Quinn, nephew Paul. The UW pep band plays tight, jazzy arrangements and a wide variety of material, from "Tequila" to "Video Killed the Radio Star." At halftime, Su Schaffer and Harriet talked about the amazing collapse of the Huskies. Hec Edmundsen is one of few Pac-10 arenas that have that great snack food, Dippin' Dots. Marian, Quinn and Katie share some. Jane had a great game and afterward, was flattered with an interview by Comcast Sports. Next morning, while waiting in SeaTac for our flight to Spokane, Marian updated the FBC website. This flight gave us another splendid view of Rainier with Adams to its left and St. Helens to its right. Approaching Spokane we could see the soft landforms of the Palouse country. Temp was in the teens as we disembarked at Spokane's small airport. To occupy the rest of Friday we went for a walk along the Spokane river. We wrote GO CARDINAL in the snow, in case any of the team passed that way. The falls of the Spokane river were running high. This squirrel was saying, "Nut... nut... where did I leave that nut..." The goose was muttering, "Mamma told me to fly south; why didn't I listen?" Local ducks were waiting for... ...the official City of Spokane Duck Feeding Person. Among the very common mallards were some Common Goldeneye. Marian checked the view from a Spokane icon. This sculpture of a footrace runs in front of City Hall. Saturday morning started like Friday, only without sun. The drive to Pullman through the rolling Palouse country takes about 2 hours. Beasley Coliseum was ready... ...guarded by its resident cougars. It's a large and comfortable arena inside. Coach Sherri Murrell made the usual courtesy call. We and Brooke's parents were the only fans from California, but there were a couple dozen Stanford shirts in the stands. The Wazoo pep band was in uniform and well-trained. The Wazoo mascot was being touted as being "the best mascot" in some poll or other. He was ok. Even during warm-ups the team seemed listless. It was noticeable during the game that the people playing hard were JJ, Jillian, and Brooke. The game featured special guest referees Captain Picard and First Officer Troi. Next morning we watched our plane being de-iced. The first leg, a flight from Spokane diagonally south-west to Portland on a sparkling morning, gave us fabulous views. Here is Adams with St. Helens beyond. And here is Adams lined up with Rainier. And that was the Washington trip.