While helping run the WBCA Hospitality Suite I had a great view of all the happenings from this past weekend. Below are some of my thoughts.
There has been a lot of analyzing of the multi year trend of declining attendance at the WIAA State Basketball tournament. What did this year teach us?
Well, it's a pretty simple formula. The following four factors will lead to butts in seats:
1) Teams that haven't been there in awhile, if at all
2) The closer to Madison the better
3) Top level talent
4) Decent weather
It has little to do with the city, five divisions, private schools, city schools, etc.
Not only did top level talent make the state tournament, they put on a show.
Sam Dekker put up arguably one of the best performances in title game history and easily the best 50 second stretch to end a game. His 40 points were impressive, the fact that he scored 12 of them in the last 50 seconds was just silly. His off-balanced last second shot had the Kohl Center bonkers. For me it over took Griffin LaDew's last second three to defeat Seymour as my favorite buzzer beater from games I've been at.
Fellow Wisconsin recruit Zak Showalter was just as good. He got it all started on Friday night with a one handed dunk over Jamar Morris off the tip. It immediately got into the discussion of best dunks ever. But it wasn't just about high flying heroics, Showalter competes out of the floor with as much intensity as has ever been seen and has a superior basketball IQ.
Matt Thomas, Duane Wilson and Diamond Stone all had superior performances while locking up state titles for their teams.
In any other year Zak Showalter would be an easy choice for this annual award. However, with the season, with the career and with the final game that Sam Dekker put out there, I think most would agree the choice was a good one.
We should be looking at a similarly close race next year. With their performances on Saturday Duane Wilson, Jr and Matt Thomas definitely declared their candidacy. Bronson Koenig was in the stands watching, he should be in the mix with several others from the very strong class of 2013.
Speaking of Showalter and Dekker, there is something that will always get to me about those Parent / Child moments that happen at state tournaments. You can throw the Kittel connection in Brillion in there along with Jerry Petitgoue having his family with him in his press conference, potentially his last if he decides to retire. It's the type of thing that had me near tears when I watched Lance Randall's press conference after winning the state title a few years back.
I guess you could call it the “Field of Dreams” effect.
So much goes in to being a coach, so many sacrifices, you have to have a supporting cast around you to be successful. And when you can bring your family into that world further by coaching your child, it makes it even more special.
Like it or hate it, five divisions is here to stay. Regardless, if you're going to complain about it, please get your facts straight. The new division 5 is almost identical to the old division 4. The five divisions didn't create D5. Not only were people (including journalists) on Twitter complaining about D5, someone actually asked Todd Dekker, Sheboygan Lutheran's coach, about it in his championship press conference.
I will repeat, the five division model made old D4 into new D5. Based on old criteria and a rough guestimate based on this year's tourney, here is what the four division look of the State tournament might have been:
Madison v Green Bay
We have yet to learn the fate of the state tournament in regards to what city it will be played in. Jim Gosz had an interesting take on it in his final press conference.
I feel the history of Madison and playing in the Kohl Center are a big deal. I am also personally biased because I live here and makes covering the tournament a breeze. I want it to stay in Madison.
That being said, Madison is making it hard for me to want to keep it here. This weekend started with me seeing a Madison VCB billboard ad advertising the state tournament. So, someone, somewhere thinks it shows they want to keep it by having a billboard? Assuming it wasn't comped that's a lot of money to spend to try and show you care all of a sudden.
I then picked up the local newspaper and read an article about how there was no "substitute" for Madison. The first example was an interview with two high school girls from Drummond who loved their time in Madison because of the great time they had at East Towne Mall, Olive Garden and Primer Quarter steak house. News Flash to news reporter Barry Adams, these are chains, they have these things in Green Bay. And the mall in nearby Appleton is like 10 times better based on the Scheels alone.
Later, I was at a busy bar/restaurant eating lunch and a lady bumped into me and said “excuse me.” I didn't understand what she said and thought she said something else and probably gave her a weird look. Then I heard her turn to her friend and say, “yeah, we say 'excuse me' in Madison.” I know this sounds ridiculous to bring up, but it just speaks to the elitist attitude that you can run into here.
Then, all weekend they were pushing people on the PA system at the Kohl Center to park at the Alliant Energy Center. It was $6 to park and then they had shuttles running back and forth between there and the Kohl Center. That sounded great, until they said it was $5 per person to ride that shuttle. So if you had a family of four it would cost you $26 to park. All of the lots around the Kohl Center were $10. I am not sure I understand why this was advertised at all. Was this their answer to the ample parking that the Resch Center provides? If so, someone should have done a better job running the numbers.
Lastly, rolling in Friday morning at around 10:15 we drove by about 25 cars in 2 hour street parking that had parking tickets and a parking jeep that was trolling for more. Now, the law is the law, but if you want to try and keep people's attitudes positive about Madison you probably shouldn't try and use them as a cash cow for parking tickets.
Then again, the $15 parking ticket would save a family $11 compared with parking at the Alliant Energy Center.