March 10, 2005

And They Shall Gather At Kelly's

Ah, it's Tournament Time. The time when the nuttiness that is Iowa State men's basketball truly comes to the fore.

Of course, being good little Iowans, people like to partake in this nuttiness away from their homes, working under the assumption that you do not poison the well out of which you drink. It's one thing to get nutty at home, where everyone will be talking about your antics for months---perhaps years---on end. It's entirely another thing entirely to gather in a bar that has acted as a veritable home away from home for years, and then get crazy. It's safe, it's familiar, yet it's also somewhat dangerous because there's no threat of neighborly scorn to keep you in line. A good time to be had all around, no?

Well, that and they can get some shopping in at the same time.

No doubt, you are wondering what the hell I am talking about. The Big XII tournament begins today at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. We used to call this tourney, "Big Eight's." We can't do that any longer, unfortunately, but it's still an excuse to go to KC to get ripped. Because, most of the time, this tournament is as close as our beloved Cyclones get to the "actual" madness that is March for basketball fans and we feel we must take advantage of the opportunity while we've got the chance. KC is about a five hour drive from Ames, four if you're coming from Des Moines, and every March, right about this time, thousands of Iowa State fans descend upon KC like a swarm of locusts. Some of them, invariably, wind up at Kelly's.

Kelly's is the unofficial Iowa State Bar in Westport. If you want the Mizzou bar, you go here. I have no idea where the other teams' fans do their drinking, but I'm sure they have their own venues, with their own legends, sorted out. It's just the way things work. Kelly's, to be blunt about it, is about two steps up from a dive. It's in Westport, which, in the contrary notion that always seems to surround fine drinking establishments, resides in a dump of a neighborhood. Westport, not to put too fine a point on it, is not someplace you want to get lost late at night. But, if you're with a group of people, who have a. no tickets to the games and b. nothing better to do over a long weekend than scope out a booth early and then sit in said booth for the better part of a weekend, well, this is the place for you. Of course this doesn't mention the fact that you're bound to run into people you knew in school. It's sort of like a mini-homecoming, or VEISHEA, only you don't have to go anywhere near Ames to see these people.

It should be particularly exciting at Kelly's this year. I'm sure the fans are rarin' to go, and there is probably one guy who's is staking out the entrance to Kelly's as I write this, just waiting for the clock to strike eleven, so they can get in there and snag a premium viewing spot. After all, we did knock off Kansas this year---at the Fieldhouse. We got close with Oklahoma and Okie State. It could happen and it's best to scope out prime territory while they've got the chance. Considering the competition, the Clones haven't done too badly for themselves and I'm thinking that they'll make it through Baylor and Texas Tech today and tomorrow, and will then be summarily trounced by Oklahoma (#1 seed and Big XII regular season champion) on Saturday. Some say they're on the bubble for one of the 64 slots that will be awarded come Sunday, but I doubt it, unless by some miracle they manage to win the tournament. But that would mean knocking off the likes of Kansas or Oklahoma State but only after they knocked off Oklahoma. There's Cinderella potential with this team, but not that much Cinderella potential, if you get what I'm saying.

So, it should be interesting. For the next two days anyway. Saturday will, no doubt, be a heartbreaker for all of us ISU fans. But there's plenty of fun to be had in the meantime and I wish I was in KC this weekend, slurping shitty beer at Kelly's with everyone else.

Posted by Kathy at March 10, 2005 11:00 AM

Just a heads up, you can watch some games on the Yahoo!

PS. I don't know why but "Remember personal info?" never does. *sigh*

Posted by: Paladin at March 10, 2005 04:37 PM

Not to nitpick, but ISU already beat Oklahoma this year in Ames. They also beat Texas in Austin, and they finished 9-7 in a great conference. IMHO, they're already in the tournament, and right now they're playing for seeding.

Of course, this afternoon, ISU beat Baylor by 20 points in the first round of the tournament. The final score of the game was not an indication of the total mismatch here. The beating resembled LGF and Powerline beating Dan Rather with his own severed limbs.

I'm delighted to hear that you're "ONE OF US" (ISU Civil Engineering '91), but you should be more optimistic about the basketball team. They've gotten pretty good since early January.

Posted by: RussfromWinterset at March 10, 2005 08:26 PM

Hey Russ!

Forgive me if I'm wrong (and I very well might be, the level of coffee consumed at that point wasn't enough) but isn't that pretty much what you alluded to in your post this morning on the Cyclone site?

;) (I was that close to linking you, but decided to write about Kelly's instead.)

I don't mean to diss the boys, but facts are facts---The NCAA is notoriously fickle with teams who have records like ISU's. If they make it in, great, but don't count on it. (I remember Victor Alexander!!! PoliSci '93) Nevertheless, I'll be rooting for them all the way.

Have fun down in KC and have a beer for me.

Posted by: Kathy at March 10, 2005 08:40 PM

Kelly's used to be a great place. When I worked down the road from there back in the early 70s, at night, we usually got our meals from there. They had the best sandwiches in Westport. They used to make what they called a "Grinder". It was a small loaf of bread, hollowed out, and filled with meat and cheese and sauce, then plugged up and baked. Man, that was good! Good luck to your team.

Posted by: Denise at March 11, 2005 05:10 AM

I'm flattered that you read my work, but you shouldn't put too much stock in it, since I write most of my stuff after the staff at Kelly's throws us out into the street at 3am.

I agree that the NCAA's record of picking teams who don't have classic winning records is spotty at best, but I have a feeling about this year. I think our quality wins against KU, OU, Texas, Texas Tech and hopefully Texas Tech again today will get the attention of the selection committee. Besides, our short bench makes us a real underdog, and the committee loves to include "Cinderellas" whenever they can justify doing so, 'cause it makes the media coverage more positive.

Have a beer for you? No, I'm going to go first class for you, young lady. I'm going to go to Kelly's this afternoon after the game and order a lukewarm Miller Lite in one of those 64 ounce wax paper glasses. You remember, the ones where the wax flakes off the paper & floats around in your drink unless you consume the whole thing within 10 minutes of getting it from the bartender.

Have faith, Kathy, these guys WILL get into the Big Dance. The women are already in, and the men only have to win today to cement their position.

Posted by: Russ from Winterset at March 11, 2005 08:38 AM


I am truly humbled and honored. I bow low to thee! Enjoy that beer!

I shall look forward to making Bobby Knight my bitch when they win against Texas Tech ;)

Posted by: Kathy at March 11, 2005 12:14 PM

I've noticed Iowa State crowds at Kelly's during the Big 12 at Kelly's but it's mostly a KU bar the rest of the time (and even during the tournament). Not a bad spot.

Looks like ISU has played its way in. AS an alumn of KU and UConn, I'll be watching the NCAA tournament with great interest.

Posted by: SteveL at March 11, 2005 01:42 PM
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