Notes and observations from the trip to, and the first day, at the NCAA tournament in Auburn Hills.
Why The NCAA makes me mad: Thirty bucks – thirty bucks! – per day for wireless access at the tournament sites. That's three times as much as hotels rip you off for the same service. With the NCAA making more money than the GNP of many nations on this one event, you'd think they would provide such a service for free.
The Palace of Auburn Hills is very nice inside, but from the outside it has a strange appearance. It squats against a low hill, and is marked by a pattern of brickwork that is supposed, I guess, to look like a palace, perhaps from the Middle East. In the middle of a classic American suburb, however, it looks a bit out of place.
Conditions in the media center here are much more crowded than they were last year at Cleveland and Albuquerque. Were Greg Hunter and I to try to sit on opposite sides of the table, we'd fill the aisle like Grant Wiley plugging a hole in the defensive line.
There is enough security here to crush an Iraqi uprising. No exaggeration – every ten feet of the corridors from the entrance to the media center and the floor is staffed with some sort of security person. I feel much safer than I did last week at Madison Square Garden, where our bags were barely looked at.
Each school received 40 minutes of practice time, but since it comes the day before the game, there's nothing in the way of heavy work done. Most teams simply shoot and run a few drills – nothing to wear the players out. WVU, as usual, did something a bit different. The Mountaineers played about 10 minutes worth of three-on-three at both ends of the court.
West Virginia's assistant coaches watched SIU's shootaround, but there certainly wasn't much to see. The Salukis' workout consisted mostly of shooting and a few full court three on none drills.
SIU's practice shorts feature the inscription "PLAY HARD" across the backside.
Driving through Detroit on the way to the Palace afforded me a view of the old Tiger Stadium, new Ford Field, and the Pontiac Silverdome. How frustrating must it be to once have hosted the NFL, as the Silverdome did, and now be relegated to computer expos and jewelry expos?
Actual business seen on I 75 north of Toledo: "Jerky Unlimited"
First impression of the rims at The Palace are that they are tight. There doesn't seem to be a great deal of play in them – shots that aren't clearly inside were bounding out during both teams' practice shooting sessions. WVU didn't have a lot of those, however. The Mountaineers hit a good number of their shots during their afternoon time on the floor.