Another trip to Las Vegas is in the books. Here is what I'll remember. Game and team details can be found in my Northstar Hoops Report article. I was on my own for the trip so thanks to the outlying venues of the other tournaments, I ended up only doing the Adidas Super 64.
Fury Dixon vs Pump N Run 16s. This game was setup by both teams winning their way to the round of 16. No team held a lead of any note in the 2nd half and it came right down to a Fury buzzer beater to win it. Fury storms the court after the win and you can't blame them. They lost the 1st 3 meetings of the year, including last week at the buzzer during the Best Buy Summer Classic. Great win for the Fury squad.
Fury Davis over Dallas Mustangs. Fury Davis took on the loaded Dallas Mustangs squad and controlled the 2nd half. Another typical performance from a Fury team where if you don't play well, they can make you look bad. Very impressive.
I made it out to a handful of outer gyms and the officiating for those gyms was just fine. The main gyms at the 17U super pools court was another story. Last year this was a NBA officials camp and the games were well done. Not this year as the officials were still being evaluated but they were positively awful. PNR 17s head man hit it on the head with "Do you guys just pick names?". It was so bad that the evaluators came out during a timeout and chewed the refs tails. Wish it would have gone on for the whole minute. Absolutely shocking how bad it was for those premier games.
The Urban DFW vs Compton Magic round of 16 game saw a donnybrook breakout. The benches emptied and a punch was thrown (that thankfully missed, think Kermit Washington). Both benches emptied and all players on the bench and the 2 players in the game who fought were ejected. The last 5 minutes were played 4 on 4. Urban DFW ended up winning that game and still had guys to play PNR in the quarters. There was some question if DFW would be allowed to play that game as all of those players may have had to sit out. Ultimately the game was played with PNR winning.
At one point on Saturday night at the PNR 15s game, there was 1 college coach watching and 2 fans using blankets thanks to the frigid air conditioning. Not the only building where that happened. Then there were a couple of other buildings that chose to open the doors and play with out AC despite the heat.
The casino floor had NBC, but no NBC in the rooms to watch the Olympics.
Had a group of teenage girls hoops players come up to me and ask me if I was a coach. I showed my media pass and then asked what tournament they were in. They had no idea.
Last year, they had outstanding pizza at the main Super 64 venue and didn't have it this year. Major disappointment. Thanks to getting in early, I was able to spend some time at the buffet. While it was an expensive $16 (by Vegas standards), it was brunch and the bacon was some of the best I've ever had. French toast, biscuits and gravy, a big slab of turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy. A great way to fill up. But no scramble eggs anywhere to be found, pretty surprised at that. Had McDonald as part of the shops in the hotel. But a 15 minute line at 12:30 AM? What's up with that? Thankfully the Super 64 is a Pepsi outfit. With the Vegas heat, they did rather well out of my pocket book at the wonderful cost of just $1 per 12 oz can. See locals, you can still make a profit at just $1.
I won 3 out of 4 nights. More shocking is that I actually had the discipline to get up and walk away while on a streak. This was really true on opening night. Once again I had a big opening night and with nowhere to be until the games started at 5 PM, I had plenty of time to stay up. But I took my winnings and left early that night. Of course, on night 3, I wasn't smart enough to do that with losses and threw away some extra bucks in the last 30 minutes which ultimately kept me from a profit for the trip. Night 4 was about the entertainment value of the dealers dressed as cocktail waitresses (for the record, yes its a distraction, hit me generally gets you smacked because you're not looking at your cards). No Xena the Warrior Cocktail Waitress this year but we did get a quality Marilyn Monroe look-alike. Overall, same as last year, dead even if you throw out the tips. For 4 nights of entertainment, I'll take that.
The trip was book-ended by tragic news. We awoke in Vegas on Wednesday to find out about the deaths of former Henry stars Jordan Hughes and Mandela Jackson. I saw both play numerous times at Henry. Its a harsh reminder of how short life can be. Then the trip ended with word of Southwest Minnesota State head coach Brad Bigler being seriously injured and losing his 5 month old son Drake in a car accident thanks to a repeat drunk driver. We'll keep him and his family in our thoughts.