We just wrapped up four straight days of IUPUI Jaguars basketball in the Jungle. Sadly, we only went 1-3 against the Dakotas. The women’s team beat North Dakota State on Wednesday night. The next three nights were a trilogy of losses that were heartbreaking, frustrating and disappointing. The men’s team dropped an overtime nail biter to South Dakota State on Thursday night; charging back from as much as an 18-point deficit to force OT, only to lose in the extra period.
Friday night’s women’s game against South Dakota State wasn’t quite as dramatic. It was more like we were lulled into losing by 10 points. The men’s Saturday night game vs. North Dakota State was even more maddening than the previous three games. They can’t seem to get their offense rolling until it’s too late. The game was tied 6-6 early in the first half, then NDSU went on something like an 8-0 run and it was all over from there. The 84-79 final score belies the reality that the Jags were never really that close after early in the first half.
I’m not arguing that they aren’t trying. They are. The team isn’t finding its offensive rhythm until late in the game. That needs to change if they stand a chance in the post season.
By the Saturday night, I was fried. My voice just didn’t seem to have anything left. The Jungle felt more like a mausoleum than a college basketball game. With the exception of the band, cheerleaders and the few dedicated students who never miss a game, IUPUI’s fans are remarkably courteous to the opposing teams. I miss the games we had a few years ago, when the place was rocking. I miss the games when it was so loud you couldn’t hear me on the PA. We need more games like that. We need more students at the games.
Instead, I’m getting heckled by five-year olds from North Dakota correcting me on the pronunciation of “Bison.” I get interrupted during the game by a kid from the other team so he can tell me, essentially, “it’s not pronounced ‘bison’, it’s pronounced ‘bison’.” Huh? For one thing, I rarely referred to them as “Bison,” in favor of simply saying “North Dakota State,” whenever announcing a foul, sub, etc. So why is this kid bugging me during a game? Your guess is as good as mine. I wasn’t mean to the kid; just smiled and nodded and then went about my business. I still don’t know what he was trying to say to me.
I’m hardly perfect. I screwed up an IUPUI scoring play by announcing the wrong player. I knew I jacked it up the moment I said the name. It was too late to correct it, so you just move on. Did I hear about it? Sure I did. It happens. I own my mistakes.
For the four-day stretch of games, I’d say the middle two games were my best outings. But having said that, I need to start revving this crowd up again. They seem to be too comfortable sitting on their hands or something. It’s unnerving. We don’t want our home court to be known as having the politest fans in the conference. Especially when Oral freakin’ Roberts comes to town.
I just hope our teams figure out how to play better by then, otherwise this will be a long season.