Let's Dance! (Part Two)
There are a couple of guarantees every time we follow the Bluejays down to St. Louis for Arch Madness:
1. There will be some sort of mini natural disaster related to the hotel room. Sometimes it is man-made (couch cushions left outside on a 12th-story deck on a rainy night), and sometimes it is out of our control. The later reared its ugly head this year, in the form of a broken toilet. Luckly, we had prepared and rented a two-bed, two-bath suite. Toiletes abound!
2. The lobby and bar at the Sheraton (Creighton’s team hotel and the designated meeting place for thousands of Bluejay fans all weekend long) will be so congested with inebriated fans that strangers — and even acquaintances — whom you’ve been standing next to for a few minutes will turn around and act like they’re just meeting — or seeing — you for the first time. Jays fans + alcohol + hotel lobbies = short-term memory loss and friendly (and sometimes frequent) reintroductions and awkward waving spells.
3. Throughout the weekend, a collection or genre or era of music will take shape as the underlying soundtrack for the trip.
This doesn’t just happen in St. Louis — music is obviously a staple of the American road trip. But when you’re sharing a room with Creighton’s Dancing Guy* you know the music will start jumpin’ and the bass will start bumpin’ and it won’t stop until the road trip vehicle makes its last turn down the final stretch of pavement and in to a driveway 400-plus miles away from the Arch.
[*You might know “Dancing Guy” as the 2006-2007 champion of the Dance-Cam dance-off at Creighton home games. During the 12-minute media timeout in the second half, the good folks in the Creighton Athletics marketing department fire up “Apache” by The Sugar Hill Gang, and fans throughout the Qwest Center unleash a few minutes of booty-shakin’ dance moves.
Well, Dancing Guy is a fan favorite, not only at the Q, but across all swatches of Bluejay Nation.]
So, I’ll pace the rest of this entry based on a few of the artists and tunes that stuck out during Creighton’s run to the MVC tournament championship.
“Is This Hootie Again?”
Dancing Guy drove his car, Rhoda, to Arch Madness, and Mrs. Dancing Guy, Panon, my fiancé, and I took the rest of the seats in the caravan. And Dancing Guy was prepared; he gave Rhoda a little “surgery” a couple of days before the trip and had a car adapter kit for his XM satellite radio installed before the drive to the Gateway City.
That meant no fumbling with CDs during the drive (although as you’ll come to find later, one essential disc made it into the dashboard) and no mindless scanning for yet another country music station in central Missouri (or southeast Nebraska, or southwest Iowa). It meant 100% commercial- and static-free songs from any genre or era we could think of.
We started in the 90s and we really never left. Almost 7 hours later, a lot of good friends had stopped by to check in on us: the Material Girl, numerous Power Ballad hair metal crooners, and just about every one-hit wonder whose song marked an important time in each of our adolescent and early adult lives.
But it was Hootie who took the cake.
Hootie and his Blowfish only wanted to be with us, via satellite radio, during our drive to STL
As I’m sure most of you are well aware, I’m not exactly blessed with great skills in mathematics, so I’m sure I couldn’t exactly tell you the odds that we’d hear more than one Hootie and the Blowfish song in our drive to St. Louis, but they can’t be that good. With literally hundreds of thousands of songs to choose from in the decade, how did this happen?
It was just the sign of things to come in the weekend. Dustin Sitzmann and Brice Nengsu both received their most playing time in months. We found a random piece of wood burning in a parking lot near Laclede’s Landing (St. Louis’ somewhat-similar version of the Old Market). We actually beat Southern Illinois.
It all started with Hootie.
“We Want the Funk!”
Creighton 75, Missouri State 58
You’ll have to forgive any Jays fans leaving the Scottrade Center after Saturday’s semifinal win over Missouri State (Another improbability statistically, right? Beating MSU three times in one season? AGAIN (it happened most recently in 2004-2005)) who were whistling George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic’s seminal funk hit “Give up the funk”.
Nate Funk took the 2007 Arch Madness tournament over, and he started his campaign for the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award by laying 33 points on Barry Hinson’s Bears. He made 10 of 15 shots from the field, 3 of 6 three-point shots, and hit all 10 of his free-throw attempts in 38 minutes of play. He was (relatively) well rested after being able to sit most of the second half against Indiana State the night before, and he made difficult shots look easy in what amounted to arguably his best offensive performance of the year. He made great passes (3 assists to show for it), grabbed 8 rebounds (2 offensive caroms), and reminded three of four tables full of media and sports information directors why Omaha and the rest of Bluejay Nation considers him to be the Player of the Year in the Valley.
Lost in the funkiness of Nate’s night was Nick Porter’s continued dominance in the tournament. Porter, from Compton, California (which itself has produced some of the most legendary hip-hop performers and gangsta rappers in the last two decades), posted 19 points and 13 strong-armed rebounds, marking his first double-double in a Bluejay uniform.
Coming into this year, everyone associated with the Creighton basketball program regarded Porter’s play as the “X” factor to the Jays’ success; in fact, it has been. In games early in the season when Porter struggled to take some of the scoring load off the shoulders of Funk and Anthony Tolliver, Creighton struggled. When he has been at his best, so have the Jays.
You can insert any Dr. Dre lyric or any Snoop Dogg song title into this paragraph, and it would serve as fine imagery to describe the tough, gritty performance turned in by Porter during the championship weekend. Just like the leaders of West Coast rap, who represented neighborhoods like Long Beach and Compton, Porter had to take what he wanted, with no one giving him an inch to make a move with basketball or to take it softly to the hoop. He created the space with his strength and some special dribbling skills, and he drew fouls and finished plays at the basket with controlled power and physical tenacity. Tough and hard-nosed, just like the music from his area, and just in time to help Nate and Anthony take the Jays to the title game.
Next: The only song that matters — “The White and the Blue”; and, a preview of Creighton’s first-round NCAA tournament match-up against the Nevada Wolfpack.