Centenary College Gents v University Dallas Crusaders

National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III

Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference

Saturday 14th January 2017

Tip Off 18.00

Centenary College Gents 97 University Dallas Crusaders 81,  attendance 327

@ Centenary Gold Dome

Dixie Drive

Shreveport, LA 71104

No admission

Programme free, 4 pages.

Well, it took just about an hour to get here from Marshall, even allowing time to call in and pick up a sandwich at Subway en route. Even then, the game was 14 minutes late getting underway.

The Centenary Golden Dome is impressive from the outside and easy to see where it gets its name from. It was built in 1970 and renovated in 2011. Seated capacity here is 3,000..

Gents top scorers were James Sapp, 27 points from the bench, and KJ Boyd with 21. For Crusaders, both Prince Giadolor and Michael Sarrat scored 15 points. There were 4 lead changes and three ties, and despite leading by 5 points early on, Dallas rarely looked like they could win it.

East Texas Baptist University Tigers v Belhaven University Blazers

National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III

American Southwest Conference *

Saturday 14th January 2017

Tip Off 15.00

East Texas Baptist University Tigers 102 Belhaven University Blazers 55,  attendance 414

@ Ornelas Gymnasium

1209, North Grove Street

Marshall, TX 75670

$3 Admission

Programme free, 4 pages.

*Despite this being an American Southwest Conference game, the result does not count towards the league tables or end of season play offs, as Belhaven, from Jackson, Mississippi, have made a recent transition into NCAA Division III, and are therefore not yet eligible to qualify for the tournament, but do play all the teams home and away, as if they were.

They were pretty poor and at one stage looked like they might score the lowest points total of any team I have seen in basketball, but in the end easily made the pathetic 39 points that USF Bulls had managed as my current worst score witnessed. Their only player to reach double figure points was Brandon Pressley, with 14. Not surprisingly, Tigers had six players into double figures, the highest being the 14 points by Dylan Augustine.

It made a welcome change to have the home team band present, something you see more at the American Football games, and them playing the national anthem was far better than the usual warbling that is blurted out by so many of the karaoke type singers, who try and put their own mark on the anthem.

The one bright spot about the game being so one sided, thus avoiding the possibility of overtime, meant that I still had plenty of time to head 41 miles east, into Louisiana, for a second game of the day, despite the game here starting eleven minutes late, even though the women’s game beforehand had already finished when I arrived at 2.40 pm.

Texas Legends v Rio Grande Valley Vipers

National Basketball Association – Development League

Friday 13th January 2017

Tip Off 19.30

Texas Legends 121 Rio Grande Valley Vipers 139,  attendance 5,475

@ Dr Pepper Arena

2601, Avenue of the Stars

Frisco, TX 75034

Admission $10 + $7.50 fees, Print at Home Ticket

Programme free, 44 pages.

Well, where do I start with this ? Perhaps try and see a few positives from the evening.

The Dr Pepper Arena was opened in 2003 and underwent renovation in 2009. There are around 6,000 seats, set out in a horseshoe, although the ones at the end of the court offer a dreadful view of the action, although that is not too much of a problem to the average American sports fan, as the actual game is of no interest to them whatsoever. On arrival, you park next to the arena in one of two multi storey car parks, for $10. When entering the building you would never know Basketball even existed. There is an ice rink inside the entrance and a huge club shop…….which is all for the Dallas Stars of the NHL. They also have their offices here. The basketball is up the escalators, on the next level, although no signs tell you that.

The foyer area was teaming with loads of kids, perhaps ten years old and below, who I assumed were there for some kind of event at the ice rink…….how wrong could I be. Unfortunately, they were here for some promotion involving Frisco Independant Schools District and Texas Legends, according to what was printed on the front of the match programme. It got even worse when actually entering the arena itself. Set up at each end of the court were inflatable ‘bouncy castle’ type contraptions and a ‘bucking bronco’. There were also hula hoops and basketballs flying back and forth in a melee of a couple of hundred kids at each end. Still, at least once the game started it would quieten down. Wrong again, as it continued through the entire game, and as is always the case when kids are dragged along to a game, some of them get bored and the running up and down the aisles of the seats becomes the ‘in thing’.

Luckily, I had bought the cheapest available ticket, which was actually on a corner, just set back behind the court. Needless to say, it was possible to move to a better seat, which I did, over in the Club Seats, which were on sale at $28 and were very nicely padded and far better than the plain plastic ones elsewhere. This was also the only place where the match programme was available, as there was a copy hung over the back of each seat. Another problem remained here though, the fact that music was played full blast throughout the game. I know they play it at all NBA games, but that is just occasional bursts at to whether the team are attacking or defending, not non stop for over 2 hours !

I am not too sure just what kind of players actually play in the Development League, as to me it says ‘reserves’ or ‘up and coming’. Surely, if these younger players were any good, they would be playing at a decent level of College Basketball ?

As for Texas Legends……..that conjures up images of the likes of Dirk Nowitzki at Dallas Mavericks, Tim Duncan at San Antonio Spurs, or members of the Houston Rockets that won back to back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995, not a team of players hopeful of perhaps one day getting a game at the highest level. It has to be possibly the worst name ever thought up to brand a team like this.

As for the game itself, I can’t really comment, as it was so hard to try and concentrate amid the constant distractions, that it became nothing more than an endurance test, which I failed to complete, as with 7 minutes left on the clock, and Vipers up by 18 points, I called it a day. Enough is enough.

In case anyone wonders…..Legends are affiliated to Dallas Mavericks, whilst the Vipers are linked to Houston Rockets.

Texas College Steers v Louisiana State University Shreveport Pilots

National Association Intercollegiate Athletics

Red River Athletic Conference

Thursday 12th January 2017

Tip Off 19.30

Texas College Steers 65 Louisiana State University Shreveport Pilots  77,  attendance 300

@ Gus F. Taylor Gymnasium

2404, North Grand Avenue

Tyler, TX 75702

$5 Admission

No programme.

We finally got underway 37 minutes late as the preceding women’s game went in to overtime. After a very slow start, Pilots, the Number 23 ranked team in the NAIA, settled down and at halftime it was 36-38. They were more dominant in the second half and always looked comfortable in hanging on for the win. John Ruffin top scored for the Steers with 16 points, whilst Benjamin Batts led the way for the visitors with 18 points.

The atmosphere here was superb with the crowd right on top of the court. I doubt whether more than fifty or so more people could have actually squeezed in to a packed house, as a decent view was hard to find due to the pillars of the roof blocking the view of the baskets from a lot of areas.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Memphis Grizzlies

National Basketball Association

Wednesday 11th January 2017

Tip Off 19.00

Oklahoma City Thunder 103 Memphis Grizzlies 95,  attendance 18,203

Thunder Starters ;

Andre Roberson, 8 pts, 8 reb, 1 blk

Domantas Sabonis, 0 pts, 2 reb, 1 ast, 1 blk

Steven Adams, 12 pts, 8 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl, 2 blk

Victor Oladipo, 16 pts, 3 reb, 2 ast

Russell Westbrook, 24 pts, 13 reb, 12 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk

Playing Reserves ;

Enes Kanter, Alex Abrines, Jerami Grant, Cameron Payne, Nick Collison, Joffrey Lauvergne

Grizzlies Starters ;

Chandler Parsons, 14 pts, 1 stl

JaMychal Green, 4 pts,10 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk

Marc Gasol, 9. Pts, 7 reb, 2 stl, 2 blk

Tony Allen, 2 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl

Mike Conley, 22 pts, 4 reb, 6 ast, 3 stl

Playing Reserves ;

Zach Randolph, Vince Carter, Andrew Harrison, James Ennis III, Troy Daniels

@ Chesapeake Energy Arena

100, West Reno Avenue

Oklahoma City, OK 73102

Admission $43 + $11.50 fees, Resale, Print at Home ticket

Programme free, 32 pages.

The Chesapeake Energy Arena was opened in 2002, known as the Ford Center until 2010, before one year as Oklahoma City Arena, then taking on the name of the current sponsor. From 2005-2007 it played host to the New Orleans Hornets NBA team as damage caused by Huricane Katrina prevented them from playing in their own city. In 2008, the Seattle SuperSonics franchise was moved to Oklahoma City and the Thunder have played here since then.

The arena is very easy to reach from Dallas, albeit a three hour drive north on I-35, then one  junction west along I-40 and the arena is clearly visible on the right hand side. I parked in the first car park as i exited the highway, for a bargain $7, and from here it was maybe 7-8 minutes walk. Plenty of eateries less than ten minutes walk from the arena, although the food inside looked ok, so it wouldn’t have been a problem if this had been a last resort. It also made a change to visit a large city where there were not groups of low life’s on every corner. Despite the attendance being given as an 18,203 sell out, there were plenty of empty seats and i had one to my left and four to my right that were free and i think that there were probably only around 16,500-17,000 actually here. Despite being on the top tier, the view was really good, and it was still possible to make out who all the players were without the use of the overhead screens. The oddest thing concerning the actual buying of tickets for Thunder matches, is that they will not sell to anyone with a Texas address. There is no problem buying from resale ticket outlets however. This has to be one of the most stupid marketing ploys, especially as the NBA is supposed to be a global brand.

Both teams look good bets to make the end of season play offs. Russell Westbrook was once again outstanding for the Thunder, notching up his 18th Triple-Double of the season. It is not hard to see how, along with James Harden at Houston Rockets, he is widely tipped to be named MVP this season in the NBA.

Another statistical milestone tonight saw Vince Carter come off the bench for the Grizzlies to shoot three 3-pointers, taking him above Jason Kidd on the all-time 3 point scorers list in the NBA. He now stands 5th, on 1,989.

Southwestern Adventist University Knights v North Lake College Blazers

United States Collegiate Athletic Association

Tuesday 10th January 2017

Tip Off 19.00

Southwestern Adventist University Knights 75 North Lake College Blazers 68,  attendance 120

@ Leiske-Pultar Gymnasium

100, West Hillcrest Street

Keene, TX 76059

$5 Admission

No programme.

Knights led by 12 points at the break and were up by 15 points a couple of minutes into the second half. The game saw four ties and six lead changes. Travis Gagau top scored with 31 points for the Knights, including an impressive 12-13 free throws, with Ayo Daya leading the way for the Blazers with 22 points.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University Lions v Oklahoma City University Stars

National Association Intercollegiate Athletics

Sooner Athletic Conference

Saturday 7th January 2017

Tip Off 17.00

Southwestern Assemblies of God University Lions 76 Oklahoma City University Stars 73,  attendance 260

@ Sheaffer Center

1200, Sycamore Street

Waxahachie, TX 75165

$5 Admission

Team sheet, free.

Season Guide, free, 16 pages.

This game was a cracker. SAGU managed to topple the NAIA ranked number 5 team, although they were hanging on at the end, having been up by 18 points early in the second half. Lou Dunbar scored 34 points for the visitors, with Keyunta Watkins getting 20 points for the Lions.

Hill College Rebels v Redlands Community College Cougars

National Junior College Athletic Association

Saturday 7th January 2017

Tip Off 14.00

Hill College Rebels v Redlands Community College Cougars, GAME POSTPONED

@ Bob Bullock Sports Center

112, Lamar Drive

Hillsboro, TX 76645.

Arrived here half an hour before the start to find a totally deserted car park. A quick check on the home teams website showed the game still on, and the fact that I was indeed in the right place, as it was being played at Hillsboro Gym, according to their post of today’s scheduled events. A look at the NJCAA website however, showed that the game was postponed.

This was supposed to be part one of a double of games for me today. At least I had plenty of time to head back north for the second game……3 hours to kill, as it was only 34 miles !

University Texas Tyler Patriots v University Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders

National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III

American Southwest Conference

Thursday 5th January 2017

Tip Off 19.30

University Texas Tyler Patriots 76 University Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders 73,  attendance 280

@ Louise Herrington Patriot Center

3900, University Boulevard

Tyler, TX 75799

$5 Admission

Team Sheet, free.

Even though I arrived 20 minutes before the start, there were no team sheets left. This is always a problem when the women are scheduled to play beforehand and their team line up is printed on the back of the same sheet as the men’s. In fact, I only saw three people with them, so perhaps there weren’t many printed ? Luckily, someone had left one on their seat at the end of the game, which although creased, was good enough to be put in a drawer when I got home, unlikely to ever see the light of day again !

Tyler led 42-36 at the break with a 9-0 points run to end the half. It was 71-71 with under two minutes remaining  and 73-73 with just 23.9 seconds left. Skyler Hadden and Melvin Anthony top scored for Tyler with 14 points each, the latter scoring 8 from 9 free throws. Braden Hammond led the way for the visitors with 21 points.

University Texas Longhorns v Oklahoma State University Cowboys

National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I

Big 12 Conference

Wednesday 4th January 2017

Tip Off 19.00

University Texas Longhorns 82 Oklahoma State University Cowboys 79,  attendance 9,753

@ Frank Erwin Center

1701, Red River Street

Austin, TX 78701

$6 Admission

Team sheet, free

Season Guide, free, 92 pages.

Longhorns hung on for the win having led by 11 points early in the second half. A good result against a team with a better winning record so far this season. Tevin Mack top scored with 27 pts for the Longhorns, with Jeffrey Carroll posting 24 pts for the Cowboys.

Excellent pricing for this game as well, which was the same for all the games over the festive period. I was very surprised at the number of ticket touts trying to drum up business outside the arena. Just exactly what trade do they expect with 8,000 empty seats and half the available tickets only costing $6.

Yet again it was possible to buy the cheapest ticket and move to a better seat once everything settled down, although, unlike some of the ridiculously exaggerated attendances given out, this was pretty close to genuine, so more concentration required to spot the seats that were going to remain empty. Also, with the arena holding so many, there was no need to pre book either, which saves on a booking fee. Parking was $10 and just a 7 minute walk away and only two sets of traffic lights to negotiate before rejoining the I-35 back north for the all too familiar three hour drive.

The Frank Erwin Center (Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center, to give it its full name) was opened in November 1977, undergoing expansion and renovation between 2001 and 2003, giving it a seated capacity of 16,540.