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Sometimes It Just Feels Right
The Basketball Tournament (TBT) just feels right in Lubbock in July.
Whether the Air Raiders, a group of former Texas Tech players who’ve moved on to pro ball for the most part, some to coaching ( Hi there, Parker Hicks ), are performing at a high-level or if it’s just three-days of great basketball; this summer tournament belongs in Lubbock every year.
Hopefully the tournament organizers took note of the solid crowds generated the first time out of the gate for the Air Raiders this past Wednesday and then again Friday night. Reports were initially around 5K-plus but that was later revised down to around 4 thousand or so for Wednesday. That’s good. A summer mid-week night with a little Broadway production called “Hamilton” in town, ( personally I wanted to see the production”BURR!” – now that’s a found who really knew what it means to Get Your Guns Up!) which probably drew off more than a few fans who would have otherwise been there and you still are within distance of a TBT record of around 7K.
Either way, it was a great crowd by TBT standards and Lubbock and Texas Tech folks followed it up with another solid crowd Friday night, at least as big if not bigger than Wednesday. Had the Air Raiders gotten by The Enchantment, not a but of warlocks as I was led to believe but certainly some basketball wizards who pole-axed the Air Raiders early, you would have seen a really large crowd Sunday afternoon I believe. Even with good pre-promotion, a lot of folks were just learning about the TBT, what it was all about and who all was playing.
These guys aren’t scrubs. At one point, you had four members of the Final Four team from 2019 on the floor in Hicks, Owens, Morertti and Mooney. These teams are made up of legit pros and high-level former college players. It’s great basketball. It’s fun. It’s in an air conditioned arena! It’s a perfect fit for Lubbock and the summer.
We say this, not to fall into the old saw that there’s not anything to do in Lubbock in the summer. Far from it these days. This past week alone you had a major Broadway production in “Hamilton” in town for several nights, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen were playing, you’ve consistently got live events at the Buddy Holly Hall and Cook’s Garage plus the Cactus Theater. That’s just a start.
This time of year though really fits I think for TBT and Lubbock. For many, it’s the final week or so before you go back to school for pre-season practices, teachers report in a few weeks and that’s big deal in Lubbock and the area. This is the last little stretch to squeeze some summer fun in for many families, and this is a great family event.
The ESPN announcers were very impressed with the crowds in Lubbock and spoke favorably about how the community got behind the event. As one pointed out, imagine if the students were in town… Heck, the flagship station for Tech sports aired the games on radio. It probably hurt attendance though with folks getting a chance to hear Geoff Haxton and Chris Level in the summer! In short, Lubbock responded, even if the team laid a bit of an egg Friday night.
Now, if Lubbock really wants to send a message, it can do so on Sunday afternoon when the New Mexico formers play the North Texas ex’s. If Lubbock wants to prove that it can be a permanent home each summer to this event, then drop 3-4 thousand fans in United Supermarkets Arena Sunday for two teams, one of which folks around here really don’t care for…, and show that Lubbock supports great basketball; not just Texas Tech basketball.
It would be huge.
This even is just what Lubbock needs for a few days each summer. Rekindle memories of past Texas Tech greats. Give them a reason to come home. It’s like a family reunion of sorts on the hardcourt. It’s also a great recruiting tool for Texas Tech hoops, both men and women. If the even comes back next year, I’m guessing the games will be shown on ESPN and not ESPN+. They’ve broadcast from Wichita this year because they know the environment will be great. Now they can learn the same about Lubbock.
Lubbock leaders are always looking for ways to showcase the city and the region. Well, here ya go. This is the perfect summer fit.
Did I mention the arena has Air Conditioning?