State Tournament Impressions

Thursday night the whole fam was downtown. Q went to an all ages show at First Avenue, Beck went to The Dakota to see Pat Donahue play with an accordianist and I went to Target Center to watch the Class A finals and then buzz over to Lee’s Liquor Lounge to catch The Dieselfitters, fronted by one of the guys who reports to me.

The parking ramps for the Target Center are designed for easy access from 394. I came in on Glenwood and got hopelessly confused and ended up parking about as far away as possible.

When I was in high school there was only one class and the games were played at Williams. The arena would be packed. Now there are four classes and Target Center wasn’t even a third full. But there still was a buzz.

Janet Karvonnen and Leah B. Olson were commentators for TV, not doing the game but interviews and half time analysis. I have to say that they represent a pretty much unbeatable combination of basketball talent and beauty. Janet is a former holder of the state scoring record and a high school legend. She had a jump shot before girls really had jump shots and was maybe the best shooter ever to hit the hardwood in this state. Leah B. played for the Gophers before they got big and I don’t remember anything about her career, but she does a lot of broadcast work in town and she’s just eye popping.

I came to get a look at Ashley Ellis-Milan, the Metro Player of the Year who’s a future Gopher. She will fit right in to powerful Minnesota front court. Although she looked a little slow of foot to play at that level. I also saw 6’3″ junior Jenna Smith, who plays for Bloomington Kennedy and is uncommitted. Stanford, Tennessee, UConn…get away, this girl needs to be a Gopher. She’s the real deal. Tremendous skills and extremely atheletic.

Hopkins was playing in the late game. My nieghbor is a former D3 point guard and coaches tennis at Hopkins. She’s a Minnesota archtype. Short, Blonde to Strawberry hair, round face, button nose and freckles, in a word Scandanavian. I looked for her in the crowd but there must have been fifty women that looked just like her. They even all wear their hair the same.

The Hopkins point guard (who has the look) was pulled from the game at one point. As she came off the floor, the camera was right in tight on her face and the image was displayed on the huge screen on the scoreboard. She high fived the coach and gave him an eye roll and as she headed for the bench it wasn’t difficult to read her lips. “Fuck that shit.” Apparently she didn’t want to come out.

Ellis-Milan had gotten into foul trouble early and they couldn’t play with Hopkins without her, although she brought them back in the second half without picking up her fourth foul. But the game was over with about three minutes left.

Now Lee’s is about three blocks north of the Target Center, on the opposite side of downtown and they have a big parking lot. But I was alone and that three blocks is an urban wasteland. All industrial or warehouse. No people. I opted for the safety of the ramp. I used to pride myself on my lack of “city fear” but I guess there’s that discression and valor thing to fall back on.

Pulling out of the ramp I managed to find an exit that fed only to 394, the freeway that heads west out of downtown. You can’t get off until Penn Avenue, maybe two miles out. I cursed, exited Penn and found that the logical way to go didn’t work. Then I made a mistake about which way to go to correct my first mistake and ended up on Wirth Parkway and then Cedar Lake Parkway. Still thinking I could correct myself I continued around the lake until I saw the skyline, where I wanted to be. I realized I’d have to go almost to Lake Street to get back. Lake is 30th South, I wanted to get to single digits North. So I did a Uie and picked my way back to Glenwood and back to the bar. I turned a three block drive into about ten miles.

The Dieselfitters were great as always. I felt sorry for them though. It’s a pretty big bar and the crowd consisted of my buddy’s wife another woman (another band member’s wife?) About six people from the previous band, a couple of fans and maybe four people at the bar. By the time I left the crowd was down to single digits. The boys played their hearts out. My pal is a great rockabilly guitar player, I mean he really smokes. Too bad for all you chumps watching Pat Donahue.

At noon is the 1A championship and Katie Ohm who now holds the state scoring record is playing in that one. She’s a future Gopher. I’m going down I think.

3 thoughts on “

  1. i thought that the highways around minneapolis were poorly marked.  it was one of the most difficult cities i’ve driven in.  i have such a bad sense of direction anyway.  i got lost twice because of bad signs. 

  2. I hate those strange urban wanderings when it takes God knows how long to go ten blocks… ah well, your tournament is ahead of ours…

  3. Seems to have been much easier, in the past, going to Williams Arena. My sense of direction is bad, I don’t go into Minneapolis anymore, except by bus. Can tell you’re an avid fan!

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