I attended Oregon State University; not because I had a burning desire to go there, but because it was the university of convenience when the company I worked for shut down. Since the engineering employment opportunities were pretty slim, I went for a business degree, and the campus was eight blocks up the road. That said, I enjoyed my time there. I didn’t think that the quality of instruction was lacking, and it’s a gorgeous campus. I didn’t attend any sporting events while there: 40-hour weeks plus school will do that. I did attend a women’s basketball game soon after graduation, and enjoyed it.
During the 2014 – 2015 season women’s Head Coach Scott Rueck guided his team to a 26 -4 regular season. They were ousted in the first round of the PAC-12 tournament, but still managed a regional 3rd seed in the NCAA playoffs. Last Friday they beat South Dakota State to advance to the round of 32. The next game was on Sunday, and as I knew I’d be done with work by noon, and the game was at 1600, I bought the best ticket available ($23 inclusive of charges), and made plans to attend.
Since I last attended a game, the University had built a convenient parking garage amongst the sports complexes, and parking on game day is reasonably priced. The garage is situated so that there is easy access to the baseball, football, and coliseum venues. Much better than parking on city streets and hiking to the venue. No metal detectors at the entrance, and the view from my seat was excellent:
Five rows up from the floor. Now this is more like it Not the vertigo-inducing seats I can afford for pro events.
Built in 1949, Gill Coliseum is, frankly, a hole. The upper seats are black, and the upper walls are covered in half-tone grey images of former player. Along with the barely adequate lighting, the combined effect is that the upper reaches suck up every photon available. I doubt that even a white dwarf would adequately light this arena.
I had bought the ‘best ticket available’, and a perusal of the seating chart showed it in the Student Section. I wasn’t really happy with this, as the last thing I wanted was to wind up with a bevy of drunken, screaming 20 year olds while I was watching the game. These fears turned out to be ill-founded, as my seatmate was about my age, and most of the other fans within eyeshot were families or older individuals. Maybe ‘former student section’ was what the chart meant.
In my seat, ready to watch some Division I playoff basketball.
- When the teams came out for shoot-around, it was apparent the Beavers were significantly larger than their Gonzaga counterparts. The center was a woman 6′ 4″. This looked good for our side.
- During the starting line-up announcements, the starting players were alternately called from each side, and the players shook hands at center court. Never seen that before.
- The Gonzaga band were much better cheerleaders than their Beaver counterparts.
- Gill Coliseum has the most uncomfortable seats known to man. The benches are solid plastic with a nominal concave curve to (I suppose) accommodate the human anatomy. It doesn’t work. I wondered if this wasn’t a ploy to get people to donate to the Athletic Department for better seating. I’ve been to arenas with bench seating; this is the worst. Oregon State is the largest supplier of engineers locally; perhaps they should get on this.
Observations during the run of play:
- The pick seems to be almost unknown in women’s college basketball. At the NBA level, when the ball is brought into the front court, the center will usually set a pick to free the ball-handler for a shot or pass. This almost never occurred during the game. Even when I played high-school ball, this was the usual opening move.
- The Beaver’s went with the obvious play of putting their big center in the low post, then feeding her so she could loft the ball into the basket without much opposition. The Bulldogs caught onto this quickly, and started boxing out the lane.
- The Beaver’s tried to counter the increased interior defense by spreading the offense so the Zags would have to come out and defend the perimeter. This only works if shots are falling, and for the Beaver’s, they weren’t. I considered donating to the Athletic Fund so the Beaver’s could buy a shot.
The Beavs were down 34 – 37 at the half, and looking at the stats, there was an obvious problem. 30 of the Beaver’s points came from just four players, while the Bulldogs had more balanced scoring. This indicates a lack of depth.
As one might expect from a national championship tournament, play was spirited. I credit the refs with not calling ticky-tacky fouls: they let the players play, but that’s the extent of my accolades for the zebras. And the beginning of a dark mood that settled on me and most of the crowd. People expect that refs will make bad calls in the course of a game: they’re human, and the occasional miss-call will occur. But for much of the first half, the calls against Oregon State were egregious. Or, more precisely, the non-calls against Gonzaga. Traveling? Walk all you want. Hacking? Flail away. On the other hand, defenses run by Oregon State were continually flagged. You could say that I’m partisan, and that would be true, but I was sitting close enough to see everything, and the video replays confirmed. Something wasn’t right in Denmark. It’s one thing to compete against the opponent, quite another to compete against the refs too.
The officiating was so lopsided that one began to suspect a fix. Fixing games through partisan refereeing has dogged the NBA. I’m no conspiracy nut, but if there is anything to the suspicion, it puts the NCAA’s anti-gambling message in a new and sinister light. Oregon State didn’t do themselves any favors (2 points off the bench?!) outside of intense pressure on the boards in the second half, but the officiating left a bad taste in people’s mouths.
Final score. Beaver Nation will have to try again next year. The women had a great season, and Coach seems to have the team on the right track. But can we please God get better seating.
I’m a bit of a weather junkie, and got to witness some interesting phenomenon on the way up Hwy 34 out of Corvallis on the way to the Interstate. There was this baby mesocyclone:
That’s a nearly 180-degree view. You can see the well-defined shelf cloud on the right, the rain in the northwest quadrant of the structure, and the tailing clouds off to the West. Nothing like it’s monstrous brethren of the Midwest, but interesting nonetheless. I hit the rain just north of Albany in Millersburg, and it was like driving through a waterfall.
The combination of clouds and mountains formed crepuscular rays from the setting Sun. They were unusually well-defined, illuminating clouds to the East:
And forming bands of light across the sky:
This is actually not an uncommon sight in this part of Oregon, but still cool to see.