A Q&A with Troy Machir from Ballin’ is a Habit
I would be less jealous of Troy Machir and Rob Dauster if they both went home every night to supermodels. The two college basketball bloggers that run Ballinisahabit.net just finished a cross-country road trip, the sole purpose of which was to visit some of the nation’s best college basketball venues. Hipsters go back-packing in Europe. Hoopsters dream of a trip like this.
Both Troy and Rob left their day jobs in Washington D.C. for nearly a month and returned mostly broke but with a bucket list filled with check marks. I had the pleasure of sitting next to the BIAH guys during the Kansas-Texas A&M game at Allen Fieldhouse. I had heard about their trip and had a tough time concentrating on the game that night because I had so many questions.
Troy was nice enough to take the time this week to answer everything I wanted to know. Get ready to be insanely jealous.
First thought when you stepped foot in Allen Fieldhouse?
“You know that thing they do in movies, when the gold light from above shines down, and the angels start to sing? That’s kinda what it felt like. Except there was a lot more buzz, a lot more noise. We were late in arriving because Rob took his time at the hotel as usual, so I felt rushed when I got there. I like to get to arenas 60+ minutes in advance so I can take in everything, but we really only had 45 minutes or so. But nonetheless, I felt honored to able to step inside The Phog. Going to Allen Fieldhouse has always been right near the top of my “Bucket List” and I was so happy that I was able to cross it off my list.”
Did you have any preconceived notions of Allen Fieldhouse that turned out not to be true?
“To be honest, I didn’t think it was going to be as nice as it was. I figured it would be similar to Indiana’s Assembly Hall. AH was a great place, but it’s old, and hasn’t been updated too much. But Allen Fieldhouse looked brand-new. The concourse area was state-of-the-art, the Walk of Fame looked fantastic, and even the arena itself looked fresh and modern. I was thoroughly impressed.”
You guys sat behind the cheerleaders on press row. Do you remember anything from the game other than those cheerleaders?
“Of course I do. Thomas Robinson is a freak. I mean, I was aware of that beforehand, but just seeing him up-close and in person is something else. The guy is a freight-train. I would like to see him improve his face-up ball skills, but if you give him the ball with his back to the basket, you aren’t stopping him. Ever.”
How did the Kansas co-eds rank compared to other schools?
“They’re right near the top. See, I went to a small liberal arts school on the East Coast, about 2,000 total, and being from Washington, D.C., we aren’t familiar with that big-school, Greek/football dominated environment. So at all the BCS-schools we went to, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Oklahoma State, I was just blown away. If there’s one thing I learned from this entire trip it’s that I made a HUGE mistake with my college placement. Big 12/SEC girls are worth the price of admission.”
Rob wrote that Tyshawn Taylor is the most important player on the KU roster. Taylor is highly criticized by KU fans for his willingness to give the ball to the other team and his off-court issues. Do you think that’s deserved? (Warning: I’m a Tyshawn apologist and might give you the Terry Tate treatment next time I run into you if you hate on Tyshawn. Proceed.)
“One of the big things I took away from the experience, especially from the press conference, is in reference to Tyshawn Taylor. Over the past couple of years, he’s been blasted in the media, and has been perceived as well, not having the greatest reputation. But after watching his body language during the game, and listening to him in the press conference, I got a completely different impression of him. He’s intelligent, well-spoken and insightful. I could definitely see that he has a fiery side to him, but every good player needs to have that. I know he didn’t handle some things well in the past, but I was just very impressed with his overall demeanor.”
Is Thomas Robinson the best player you saw on the trip?
“Probably. He wasn’t the most exciting player we saw — that would be Dez Wells from Xavier — but T-Rob was certainly the most dominant and most talented. We saw Anthony Davis at Kentucky, and he’s going to be a monster. We saw Cody Zeller at Indiana, and he’s going to be a monster as well. Creighton’s Doug McDermott was very impressive. He went cold for a good part of the game we saw, but he also scored 8 of his team’s first 11 points. Some of the mid-major guys really impressed me too: Utah State’s Preston Medlin can ball with the best of them and Oral Robert’s Dominique Morrison has one of the smoothest mid-range games I’ve seen in a long time. He’s definitely got some NBA potential.”
How far do you think KU will go in the NCAA Tournament?
“Probably as far as they have in recent years — Sweet-16 or Elite-8. At the beginning of the year, I pegged them to struggle in the Big 12 and probably be out of the tournament after the first weekend, but this team keeps proving me wrong. I think depth will certainly play a part in their tournament success, or lack thereof, but if Taylor and Robinson are in a groove, not many teams can stop them.”
First impression of Bill Self?
“I always thought Bill Self was kinda goofy, maybe a bit nerdy. I’d see pictures of him at Midnight Madness in disco shirts and goofy attire, and just think, ‘Man this guy is such a goober.’ But after watching him in the press conference and watching him interact with people, the guy is really smooth. He’s got personality and character. But he’s also the type of guy who demands respect. If I were to have played D-I basketball, he’s one of the types of coach I would want to play for.”
How were you treated at the Fieldhouse and around Lawrence?
“We were treated great. Not all BCS-schools have staff that are hospitable and friendly, but the Kansas people certainly were. Feeling welcomed in a place with such prestige as Allen Fieldhouse made the experience that much better.”
Where did you eat/drink in Lawrence? Did you make it to Mass Street?
“Before the game we went to West Coast Saloon, and let me tell you, the burgers were off-the-charts good. The place started filling up with KU fans as we started to leave, but if I lived in Lawrence, I would certainly frequent that place on a regular basis. Before we left on Tuesday, we stopped at Yellow Sub, and their hot Italian sub was awesome. Arguably one of the best sandwiches I had on the trip. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to make it to Mass Street. We had a bunch of work to catch up on after the game, so we weren’t able to go out for refreshments.”
Best story from your time in Lawrence?
“Well, after the game while we were working in our hotel room, Rob had this crazy idea that we should wake up at 6:00AM and drive to Laramie, WY to cover the SDSU/Wyoming game. He kept forcing the issue for like an hour, but I had to shoot it down. Rob isn’t very good at planning things or evaluating an idea. He’s like a little kid. Once I said “No”, he pressed on even harder. They always want what they can’t have.”
Best restaurant from your trip?
“Probably The Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati. Best ribs I’ve ever had. Wish I could have gotten a whole slab, but we were in a rush. The BBQ sauce is fantastic as well. But, I mean, we ate a lot of great food on the trip. After the Montogmery Inn, there are about 7-10 places tied for second.”
“We drank a lot of the Boulevard Brewery’s beers during our time in Missouri. Rob loved their IPA; I was a big fan of the wheat ale.”
“So difficult to choose. Hinkle Fieldhouse is amazing, but the atmosphere at Allen Fieldhouse and Assembly Hall was just incredible. The Mabee Center at Oral Roberts was really cool too. We saw ORU play Oakland, and according to numerous sources, it was the biggest crowd and best atmosphere the Mabee Center had seen in 15 years.”
“Gotta be Buzz Williams. He’s a great story-teller, delivers a fantastic presser, and is just an all-around nice guy. We’ve met him before, and he remembered who we are and what site we write for. Plus, he’s a sharp dresser. Xavier’s Chris Mack is a hilarious guy. Belmont’s Rick Byrd is one of the kindest guys in the business, and I was very impressed with the Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters. He’s got so much charisma.”
“Kentucky, Big Blue Nation. But it’s funny because if we were to have just gone to the game and then left town afterwards, my answer would be completely different. The environment at the game was rather dull. But a good portion of their fan base is made up of a much older generation, know as “The Blue Tics.” They like going to the games, but they just don’t have a lot of energy. But since we stayed in Lexington for two days, we really got to experience the severity of Big Blue Nation, and let me tell you, it’s overwhelming. Everybody wears blue, all day every day. They do everything 110 percent. We were mentally exhausted when we finally left.”
Craziest story from your trip?
“Surprisingly enough, our trip was rather tame. Our night out in Columbia, MO was really fun. The hangover wasn’t, but the cab driver we had was totally awesome. We certainly don’t have cab drivers that friendly in Washington, D.C. But the best story is probably our trip to the Casino in Blackhawk,CO. We drove to Denver from Lawrence, and stayed with one of Rob’s college teammates. Within 30 minutes of arriving he had determined that we were going to drive 40 minutes up into the mountains to go to one of the casinos in Blackhawk. But here’s the thing: I’d never been to a casino, and I absolutely suck at poker and well, gambling in general. When we got there, Rob’s friend gave us a brief tutorial on how to play Craps, and well, we were off. We played for close to 3 hours and I walked away with $90 more than I had arrived with.”
Will there be a BIAH Road Trip II?
“I’m not sure I can handle another trip with Rob. It was just too much. Living out of a car for 23 days with your roommate is mentally taxing. I think a lot of people want us to do another one, and if we are financial secure at that point, we might be able to do it. Even though we were able to visit Hinkle Fieldhouse, Rupp Arena, Allen Fieldhouse, Assembly Hall, Gallagher-Iba Arena, the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum and the Cintas Center, there are still a bunch of great environments we weren’t able to hit up. If we were to do another one, we’d probably attack the West Coast. The Pit at New Mexico is a must, as is the McKale Center at Arizona. Then you got Pauley Pavillion (UCLA), The Hec-Edmundson Arena (Washington) , Viejas Center (SDSU), Mac Court(Oregon) and the McCarthey Center at Gonzaga. But I think we would probably fly out to the West Coast and rent an RV for the trip. That would probably be the best bet for us.”