Before South Florida's dismantling of Cal began last Wednesday night, these were coveted items for the CGBers in attendance: a game ticket and the "GO BEARS" sign to wave in Dayton Arena.
Last Wednesday night, Dayton, Ohio was Bear Territory. At least, it was Bear Territory for a motley collection of CGB denizens who came from the far flung places of Columbus, OH, and Louisville, KY, to watch our Bears play their NCAA Tournament "First Four" game against the South Florida Bulls. CALumbus Bear, Mrs. CALumbus Bear, The Buckeye Bear, longpasses, and yours truly trekked down to Dayton from Columbus while HeyAlumniGo and his "Oldest Lil HeyAlumniGo" made the trip to Dayton from Louisville, KY. These are our stories.
Ohio Bear: The Columbus Bears met in a Meijer parking lot in a western suburb of the city. I got there a little early and hit a nearby pub to take the edge off before meeting everyone else. I was excited about the game, but felt that familiar nervousness of a football game day. (With good reason, apparently.) I drank a couple of Rogue Dead Guy ales and took some grief about my Cal rugby shirt from a guy who thought they were Michigan colors. I had the last laugh: dude and his GF were drunk and the bartender refused to serve them!
TheBuckeye Bear: I tried to meet at the wrong place, but quickly spotted the bumblebees, thank goodness. (Ed. note: CALumbus Bear, Mrs. CALumbus Bear, and Ohio Bear wore Cal Rally Comm-style rugby shirts. Ironically, despite TheBuckeyeBear's Rally Comm pedigree, TheBuckeyeBear did not join our fashion statement.) On the road to Dayton, we saw signs of what was to come. No, really. They said: HELL IS REAL.
Ohio Bear: In retrospect, we could have really used a picture of one of those billboards for this post. Seems fitting for the night's events, amirite?!? We rode in longpasses' sweet ride. We all just met him and he was cool enough to volunteer his roomy vehicle. Props to TheBuckeyeBear for bringing cookies, which apparently were sent to her from California. I probably partook in a couple too many of those.
CALumbus Bear: Ohio Bear was the only one to have "imbibed" a couple beers before starting the journey, the lucky bum. I was more concerned that his hydration activities might cause us to need to find a restroom (or several) during our trip; however, something else happened. Ohio Bear instead entertained us with many robo-brain-remembered facts about Cal sports history at a somewhat higher-than-normal volume level. As a result, not 3 minutes into the game, Ohio Bear completely lost his voice and was no longer able to cheer (or wail). Ergo, most of the blame for our team's performance rests with Ohio Bear.
Ohio Bear: I dispute this. I don't think my voice gave out until the second half. I was unable to cheer with the requisite enthusiasm when Rob Filley made his shot at the end.
Meanwhile, the HeyAlumniGo duo was driving up from Rick Pitinoville.
HeyAlumniGo: When the day started, I was excited to meet my fellow Midwestern CGBers. Even though I was swamped at work, I took time off to watch my Bears play in the tourney. Oldest Lil HeyAlumniGo came with me and we left around 4:30 to try to get to Dayton by 7 to eat. We did drive by the site of the now destroyed "Sweet Cream Jesus" between Cincy and Dayton. It was this huge above the waist Jesus in a pond with his arms pointing up to heaven in front of this church. Someone made a song about him. "Big Butter Jesus....Sweet cream Jesus..." A couple of years ago it was hit by lightning and burned down.
Ohio Bear: Sweet Cream Jesus. Again, maybe a photo we could have used for this photo essay...
HeyAlumniGo: We didn't get there until about 7:45. The Columbus Bears were only about 20 minutes away so Chipotle was the choice. Plus we don't have Chipotle in Louisville so it worked. So my son and I were eating and all of a sudden, the number of Asians in Chipotle, or maybe even Dayton for that matter, jumps 150%. The Chipotle definitely just took a turn for the Ohio. The Columbus Bears found us and we moved to a bigger table. Just about all of them were in their long sleeve Cal rugby shirts. We hung out for about 20 min for us to finish our food and then we headed over.
Ohio Bear: TheBuckeye Bear took a group photo of the rest of us before we left for the arena. Aren't we cool?
After the Dayton meetup at Chipotle, it was time to head to the University of Dayton Arena. Good thing our CGB heroes had plenty of time before tipoff.
TheBuckeyeBear: Tired of my constant efforts to peddle Californian cookies, the Columbus contingent kicked me over to HeyAlumniGo's car, where I inflicted my annoying nature on him and his son. The Columbus contingent missed a turn, but we reconvened in a gas station parking lot and all was well. Aside from still being in Dayton, of course.
HeyAlumniGo: I gave Longpasses the wrong streetname so he missed the turn to the arena. We got there and found out, FREE PARKING!!! Didn't know it at the time but that was possibly the best thing post dinner.
Ohio Bear: Once at the Arena, we got our tickets --- and free signs!
L to R: Ohio Bear, Mrs. CALumbus Bear, and CALumbus Bear.
HeyAlumniGo: As we walked up, we couldn't imagine there being many South Floridians in Dayton. CALumbus Bear got the sweet tickets using his contact so we found the will call window. They told him to go to the players entrance to get the will call tix. We found the table with the Cal reps who told him to go back to the will call. They did have these great Go Bears signs that we took, which were larger than 8.5x11 (supposedly the largest sign we could have). We got our tickets and went in. Not a bad arena. "Luxury" boxes on the 2nd level on the baselines. The seats on the length of the court go up 4 levels. Not sure of the capacity of the arena (maybe 8500) but not too bad.
TheBuckeyeBear: We were a lot more impressed by CALumbus Bear when we thought he had gotten us players' tickets, but alas, that admiration quickly dissipated when we were sent back to the plebeians' will call.
Ohio Bear: When we finally got into the arena, it was during the closing minutes of the Lamar-Vermont game. There was a pretty good crowd on hand, especially with Vermont fans. The Catamounts brought some peeps to Dayton! As soon as that game was over, the place cleared out quite a bit. Not only did Vermont and Lamar fans not hang around, there seemed to be a lot of Daytonians who didn't stay for a 9:10 pm tipoff.
Ticket procurer CALumbus Bear did right by us. When we finally got to our seats near the end of the Lamar-Vermont game, this was our view.
TheBuckeyeBear took a pic of The First Four sign. "We contemplated photoshopping it to say Final Four," says HeyAlumniGo. They probably forgot all about that idea before the second media timeout in the first half.
HeyAlumniGo: We were in the last 2 rows ofthe lower bowl just on the Cal side of midcourt. We were rows N and O so we were maybe 35-40 rows up. These were really good seats. What was nice about being in the last 2 rows was that we stood up the entire game and didn't have to be told to sit down. Only saw a small group of Cal fans across the way from us (15-20) and our "band" along the baseline by the bench.
Ohio Bear: That's a good point by HeyAlumniGo. We DID stand up --- all of us --- for the entire game. We were like students in Haas!
TheBuckeyeBear: I'd been warned that the ceiling was lower than the topmost seats, but still, that didn't prepare me for the oppressive nature of the arena. It was dark and the atmosphere had accumulated years of athletic sweat. Spirits were still bright as we saw the end of the previous game and waited for their personnel to clear out.
Ohio Bear: Once we got settled in, it was time for the highlight of our on-court basketball action that night. PREGAME WARMUPS!
Stretching the Thurmanator:
This was a pregame drill. Too bad we couldn't play this many guys on defense during the actual game.
HeyAlumniGo: The players came out and warmed up. My son asked if that was an Indian on the team and I had to tell him he scored a 2350 on the SATs. He hasn't seen too many of the games this year and doesn't read the blog so I'll give him a pass. That's about all I will recap of the game.
Ohio Bear: As the game drew near, it became clear that were going to be at a school spirit disadvantage. Not because of a lack of enthusiasm on our part. It's just that USF brought their full spirit contingent. They had the bull mascot there. They had their band there. And they had cheerleaders AND a dance team there. BOTH!
What did we have? No venerable California Straw Hat Band. No Oski. No cheerleaders. No Rally Comm folks. Just this pathetic band:
TheBuckeyeBear: The Golden Bears coming out to warm up was our cue to stand up and cheer, and we waited for the Straw Hat Band to strike up...but no. There was nothing. USF had sent their cheerleaders *and* dance team, and we had...CGBears. USF had a large fan section, and we had...CGBears. USF's band was raucous and cheerful, and we had...NOT CGBears! It was a decoy band in black! Our fight songs were all penned by Lady Gaga, and it certainly was a Bad Romance.
HeyAlumniGo: I can't remember who made the comment, but our "band" lookedmore like a jazz band, complete with drums and 1 tuba. They mostly played 80's-90's rock songs and played the fight song twice. The first time it was excruciatingly slow. As soon as they were done, Ohio Bear yelled out as loud as he could, "Faster". Unfortunately they were too far away. Not as good as the "band" we hired in Kansas/Missouri. USF on the other hand had their band, cheerleaders, yell leaders, and a huge group of fans. Maybe 300 fans or so and they were loud. They also had their mascot the bull. They were by far louder than we were and coordinated in their cheering. Very surprised they travelled so well.
Ohio Bear: The "band" played Fight for California only once and it was in an annoyingly slow cadence. I yelled "Faster" about as loud as I yelled anything all night.
longpasses: I was very disappointed that a school like South Florida had a much bigger presence in terms of a band, mascot, and cheerleaders than cal. It never felt like a true road game for the bears, but I would prefer they didn't even hire a band if they won't send the straw hats. It's just embarrassing.
Ohio Bear: The band would have been bearable if we had been competitive in the game. Alas, it was not to be. TheBuckeyeBear took this great photo of our most competitive moment of the first half:
Ohio Bear: At this point, Kamp was at the line shooting one free throw to complete the "and one" after scoring Cal's first basket of the game. He made the free throw to cut the South Florida lead to 8-3! Note the time, too -- 14:56 left in the first half. We went the first 5:04 of the game without scoring. Then, we didn't score for the last 8:55 of the first half. That means we played 13:59 of scoreless basketball in the first half. MY EYES! MY EYES!
longpasses: Never expected to see such a blowout in this game! Harper Kamp seemed like he was the only one who showed up interested in playing a basketball game. The rest of the team, including Jorge, seemed like they didn't want to be there. Very strange. It was also just bad luck that the Bulls happened to have their best shooting game ever.
There weren't very many folks left in the building to see Cal's 16-4 run in the last 3:35. And probably even fewer saw it on truTV!
But on the positive side...
longpasses: The Buckeye Bear had some awesome free throw distractions! I attribute the horrible free throw shooting by USF in the first half to The Buckeye Bear.
Ohio Bear: longpasses isn't kidding. That noise The Buckeye Bear made was phenomenal. If we had a closer game where free-throw shooting was a factor, The Buckeye Bear might have been a game changer!
CALumbus Bear: Let's stop beating around the bush. TheBuckeyeBear YODELED. Hmm, maybe that's being too nice. It was the noise produced by the ungodly offspring of a Bavarian and a banshee -- a yodeled scream, or a screamed yodel, not quite sure which. But I pity the poor fools who sat right in front of TBB. Even when we were down by 20+, that banshee yodel rang out in the stadium and caused everyone, particularly cats and dogs, to take notice.
Our group was pretty fly. But apparently, we weren't flyer than this guy a few rows in front of us.
Some last thoughts from our fearless debacle watchers:
TheBuckeyeBear: Dr. Mrs. CALumbus- cute as always, encouraged healthy food choices.
Ohio Bear- much louder than the only other time I'd met him; must've been the extra beer.
longpasses- WE HAVE ANOTHER BUCKEYEBEAR! A flying buckeyebear, at that! [Ed note: longpasses knows how to fly an airplane!]