CLEVELAND – Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.
Here are the opinions du jour.
n The atmosphere here for the Cleveland Classic on Sunday was nearly off the charts.
It’s because I’ve felt it once before.
But only once.
When West Virginia University upset Ohio State, 67-59, and, then, Marshall University dominated Duquesne, 83-61, before an extremely vocal crowd of 16,780 on Sunday here in the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, it was reminiscent of another tournament a couple of years ago.
It was the 2018 NCAA Tournament regional in San Diego. And, ironically, both of West Virginia’s NCAA Division I basketball programs – WVU and Marshall – were also present for that event.
Pair WVU and Marshall in a tournament scenario matched up with other teams or against each other and the atmosphere is guaranteed to be off the charts.
That’s just the way it is.
“It felt NCAA tournament-ish,” said Marshall junior guard Jarrod West. “I can remember being in the NCAA Tournament in a neutral venue with a big crowd.”
That’s what it felt like when West arrived and watched the end of WVU’s victory.
“First game was sold out, man,” said West. “It was fun to watch, honestly. It’s a great opportunity. It was a blessing to come out here and play in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ home. Nice arena. Good fan base. I thought we traveled pretty well.
“It’s just a great atmosphere. It’s a blessing to come out here and do this. Not a lot of people can say that they have ... and come out with a win.”
Marshall’s Taevion Kinsey just wished he could have watched more of the WVU-Ohio State matchup.
“They wouldn’t let us watch the first game,” said the 6-foot-5 sophomore. “They wouldn’t let us. We saw the end of it. We saw that the stands were packed.
“We said, ‘Please stay for our game just for a little bit.’ But we knew it was going to air out. We got to see the tail end of it and saw West Virginia start taking over and Ohio State was taking some bad shots and had some flustered turnovers.
“That’s basically what we saw.”
Yet, it still was enough to motivate Kinsey.
“Oh, it got me juiced,” he said with a grin. “I was juiced by the atmosphere. We are at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ arena. If you’re not juiced off of that, I don’t know. You don’t love this game like that.”
Especially for a Columbus, Ohio, native such as Kinsey.
“This is like a second home to me,” said Kinsey. “I used to play basketball here when I was younger. I played for an AAU team called OBC. It was the Cleveland, Ohio, Basketball Club.
“I used to be here and back every week. And this just feels like home.”
n Give promoter Bob Patton credit for the matchups and subsequent emotional atmosphere.
The Ona, West Virginia, resident did a tremendous job.
“Bob did a great job putting this on,” said Marshall coach Danny D’Antoni. “I am very grateful to him for inviting us and giving our kids a chance.”
About then Patton walked up and joined the conversation.
“I had a couple of people in the stands yell at me,” D’Antoni told Patton, “and said, ‘You’ve got to do this every year.’ “
Patton just smiled.
n Will the Cleveland Classic ride again?
I believe so.
An educated guess is 2021.