Howdy all. Cornshoe here. First off let me clear up any confusion for those who don't know: I am Hawkeye Elvis. Have been for over four years. So when folks are shouting out Cornshoe in the comments, that's me.
As you know, I made the trip to North Carolina to see the Hawks take on the Tar Heels. And what a trip it was. I thought I would share some of the sights and stories from the trip.
First and most importantly, the whole trip would not have happened without the extreme generosity of Ryan Rivera and Summey Orr. Ryan is a 2001 Iowa grad and Summey an alumnus of North Carolina. They are the ones responsible for the awesome seats we had at the game. We dreamed this trip up in May when Summey said: "Hawkeye Elvis has got to come to Carolina!"
So off to Chapel Hill we went. First after dropping off bags at the Carolina Inn (the old-school, classic hotel located on campus) we headed to Franklin Street. First stop: Top of the Hill.
In order: Summey, Ryan, me, and Brian.
This is on the rooftop deck where UNC fans were huddled inside by heaters and Iowa fans were outside enjoying the temps. And there were a BUNCH of Iowa fans who made the trip. I'm sure part of it was to experience a heralded college basketball town, but we also knew our boys would need all the Black and Gold voices they could hear.
Next it was time to get dressed for the game. But we couldn't just rush out the door without stopping at the hotel bar for a drink before heading to the Smith Center.
The blue-haired ladies seemed particularly smitten with me.
We hoofed it across the way stopping for photos with with people and enjoying a beautiful campus. Then we made it to the Dean Dome. Upon entering, my instincts kicked in. There is one thing I have learned when I attend events dressed as Hawkeye Elvis: you can go pretty much anywhere you want. My entourage was hesitant, but followed as I marched down the stairs and straight to courtside. I had people to meet.
After high-fiving a couple of players as they came to the sidelines, out came Dickie V. He did stop for a handshake but then he went straight to the table and got to work. Vitale was all business pre-game as he reviewed and wrote some notes for the broadcast. It was kind of impressive. Next I headed across the court for a chat with My Man Fran.
So anyway Coach, I think you're gonna want to mix in some zone on defense...
Section 100, Row A, Seats 5-8. That's where we sat, directly behind the basket, eight feet from the baseline. The mobile cameraman for ESPN was directly in front of me. That's why you all saw Ryan and I mugging for the camera as the Hawks took their lead to the locker room.
A quick note about that. They gave everyone a green shirt (made from two recycled bottles) and the guy behind me and to my left tried draping it over my head. He jawed at me throughout the game, but he never swore or was offensive so it never bothered me. He didn't have much to say at the end and left before the clock hit zero.
Everyone and I mean EVERYONE else that I met was courteous, welcoming and gracious. They were some of the best fans I have ever encountered on the road at any event.
What was great about being that close to the floor was being able to listen. To the players talking, to Fran working both the refs and his team, to the refs working the players. And also to see how the players interact with each other.
Late in the game, Clemmons drove the lane only to end up on his ass under the basket. White went over and helped him up. Sapp was upset at himself as a few plays before was when he had tried the same thing and ended up losing the ball. White grabbed him pulled him and talked to him. It was Whitey being a senior leader. I have no doubt that helped settle Clemmons down and got him in the frame of mind to take the game-changing charge from Paige.
The other really great thing about the seats was the fact that I happened to be front and center for the most pivotal moment of the game.
Yeah, this pivotal moment. Bob Donnan from USA TODAY Sports took this picture and I will forever love him for it..
With the game tied and the clock closing down on one minute to play, everyone in the building was standing and yelling. When Gesell drove and got fouled, he ended up literally at my feet. The reason I didn't immediately stoop over to help him up? I was watching the ball as it bounced and ultimately fell in. By the time I turned, Woody had already helped Mike to his feet and all of us were screaming.
By the time the final horn sounded, a lot of the Carolina folks had hit the road. The rest of us stayed, hugged and cheered. Witnesses to one of the best Iowa basketball wins in a long time.
After the game? Franklin Street and the Four Corners Bar & Grill. Met more Iowa fans including ncthawk, who posted some great pictures in the comments of the Franalysis story. Great to meet him.
The last stop of the night was at a bar called He's Not Here. As Wednesday was the last day of classes, the place was full. And fun. The beer was cheep, but cold and we drank it since there isn't any in Heaven. Finally, it was time for Elvis to leave the building. But not before posing for one more photo with a Carolina fan.
I'll leave it up to you all to caption this one.
It really wasn't until I got back to the room (alone, c'mon you guys) and saw that photo from the game. You better believe that one is getting enlarged and hung up in my Black and Gold jungle room.
Thanks to all of you for the great comments and follows on Twitter (@HawkeyeElvis if you didn't already know). It is great to be able to meet a lot of you. If you ever see me at a game, don't hesitate to come up and say hi.
I will be in Iowa City for the game with ISU next Friday and you better believe I will be in full jumpsuit.