NCAA Tournament Travel Blog (Day 2)
March 20, 2008
Raleigh, North Carolina - The second day of Indiana University's trip to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament was filled with meetings and media obligations as the Hoosiers prepare for their Friday evening matchup with Arkansas.
Wake Up Call
The morning began for Jeff Keag and myself with a trip to the RBC Center for the meeting of each institution's sports information directors. The NCAA is very precise in how they manage the media at their championships and they do a great job of giving the massive amounts of media great access in covering what is without a doubt the organization's signature event.
Following the meeting, we got a tour of the facility and it is tremendous. Jeff was with the team last year when they went to Sacramento and commented on how the layout underneath seemed much more spread out in California and how he thought the setup this year was very well thought out.
Let's Go to Practice
On the day before their first NCAA Tournament game most teams hold two practices. The first is a real workout that is closed to most everyone and all of the finer points of the game plan are gone over.
This year, Indiana had the chance to work out about 10 miles south of the hotel at the Cary Academy. The school was very impressive and the team began practice in the middle school gym, which has a court about 84-feet long.
After Georgetown finished working out in the high school gym, we packed up our things and headed to the gym with the regulation size court. Along the way D.J. White, Adam Ahlfeld and Kyle Taber ran into former Hoosier Patrick Ewing Jr. and hugs and handshakes were exchanged. D.J. was looking for his Pan American Games teammate Roy Hibbert, but the 7-foot Hoya had already boarded the Georgetown bus.
Indiana practiced for another hour and then went back to the hotel.
We grabbed Coach Dakich and took him to the RBC Center where the NCAA holds a pre-tournament meeting with each head coach, the SID, and top administrators from each school. On the way to the arena from Cary Academy, Coach did an interview with Rece Davis, Tom Brennan and Doug Gottlieb, which would air later in the day on the ESPN family of networks.
Kent State Athletic Director Laing Kennedy ran the meeting, which goes over everything from how teams are introduced to when each coach finds out who is officiating the game. None of the teams will use their allotted 20-minute practice time on Friday morning. IU will instead go over to NC State's practice facility for a final walk-thru later in the morning.
The team also was given NCAA patches, which they will wear on their right side since we already have the American flag on the left of each jersey.
The meeting also is the last time you can make any changes to your pass list and each school is allowed just 12 cheerleaders and their sponsor and the band has 29 members and a director. In addition, the team will be issued just 22 pins, allowing you to sit in the bench area. Also, halftime is 20 minutes in the tournament, instead of the regular 15 minutes you have in the regular season.
Media and Public Practice
While killing time prior to North Carolina's public practice, Coach Dakich took the floor and invited several young fans in the stands (I would guess there were about 3,000 UNC fans at their practice) to come down on the floor for a free throw shooting contest. The gesture drew applause from the Tar Heel fans and a good time was had by all.
Later, Coach Dakich sat down with CBS and did a brief interview where they asked some general questions about style of play, especially in the Big Ten.
The team arrived about 4:20 and Armon Bassett, Eric Gordon and D.J. White met with a large group of media in the press conference area. The rest of the team went to the locker room where more media was waiting for them. After Bassett, Gordon and White were done, White answered the same questions as Coach Dakich did in the CBS interview room and then Coach came to the main media area for a 15-minute session.
The team took the floor for practice at 5:10 and participated in the 40-minute workout on the game floor. Got to meet with Jim Nantz and Billy Packer and met the radio team of Brad Sham and John Thompson.
With our media obligations done, we headed back to the hotel for dinner and spent the night watching games.
Seems like we have been here a long time. Can't wait for the game tomorrow.
(J.D. Campbell, Director of Media Relations)
Check back soon