Monday, March 6, 2017
Louisville women's basketball --ACC WBB Tournament -- A recap and some thoughts...MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
CONWAY OK DURING A FOUR-DAY STAY
I was fortunate enough to spend four days at the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament and saw lots of great basketball, met some very nice people and had a big time for the most part. Even got to Myrtle Beach a couple of times to see the ocean. I think a prefer this tournament in Greensboro and hopefully the North Carolina folks can get this HR-2 thing straightened out.
Here's the recap.
I wanted to be there for the opening game and just barely pulled that feat off. Leaving Louisville at 2 a.m. in a driving rain storm that stayed with me for the first 90 minutes of the trip...I finally got out of monsoon around Richmond, KY. That was intense. Also intense in the many roads and highways you take to get to Conway. I-64, I-640, I-40, I-26, I-20 (someone yell "Bingo"! already...right?) I-95, SC 327, US 301 and finally US 501. I did it in just under 10 hours. Two gas stops, two "necessary" stops and one pull-over for much needed coffee.
I arrived at the Econo Lodge in Conway, SC at noon. It is 4.6 miles from the HTC Center on the Coastal Carolina Campus. Check-in didn't go so pretty. It seems they had me down for (2) rooms and the desk clerk couldn't figure out how to cancel one. I offered to sub-lease. I checked twice to make sure my doppelganger wasn't in the front seat of the car. Finally, the manager was called and solved the issue. It was 12:30 and my room was not clean yet...so I paid, got a receipt and took off again for the campus.
To get to the HTC once upon campus...you take three roads, go thru three parking lots, avoid hundreds of students, go over a half-dozen speed bumps and look for the Media Parking signs. The good thing is you can park right in front of the arena (if you get there early enough). I had a short trek to Media Entrance and while on the sidewalk...a young lady on a bicycle zipped by me, lost her steering control, hit a curb and did an head-over-heels over the front of the bike onto the pavement. She was shaken, but OK. I made sure. Didn't want any "Ugly Cardinal" references circulating.
I finally got inside the building at 12:45. A nice ACC official-type young lady obviously noticed my deer-in the headlights look...and personally showed me where the media room, dining arena and entrance to the court were. I sat down court-side just in time to stand back up again for the National Anthem. I was ready for the first of 13 games, four days of basketball.
FIRST DAY GAMES.
There were some thrillers. Clemson with the buzzer beater shot and a elated Danielle Edwards (who sank it) with Nelly Perry and coach Audra Smith in the post game media interview. In what was a continuing saga, it was basically me and one other guy for the first day asking the media questions for all three games. We tried to do our best. I don't think we pissed off any of the coaches or players...but those are pretty much hit and miss. Kenny Brooks (VT) was pretty much stunned by the loss. Eric Johnson was matter-of-fact about Boston College's loss to Ga Tech but highly complimentary of his senior Kelly Hughes...who was gracious in defeat. That's one special young lady there. MaChelle Joseph optimistic about her win over the Eagles but cautious about saying much about Miami...their next foe. Sylvia Hatchell holds some of the most entertaining post-game pressers and this one was no different...after her win over Pitt
ME: What will need to happen for UNC to get by Syracuse?
Hatchell: We'll need lots of prayers.
Suzie McConnell-Serio disappointed and almost sullen about the loss to the TarHeels.
Finally it was over. I hit the hotel around 10 p.m. and discovered the wi-fi wasn't working in my room. I called the front desk and they assured me it was. It never did work in the room. When I checked out Sunday morning and discussed it with them, they told me that my particular room, in the far corner from the office, had a different wi-fi address. Thanks, folks.
After 20 straight hours and 650 miles driven...plus three exciting games...I surrendered...left the bags unpacked and crawled off to sleep.
Not a bad little venue...with seating on all four sides and a scoreboard overhead. They don't have a stats progress board...like the YUM! does...but they do have two huge projection screens where the games are shown. Out-of-focus...but still shown. The media-working arena was convenient to press row...the interview room a bit further of a walk. Easy to get to and plentiful bathrooms and comfortable chairs on media row.
The older, sunburned fella conducting the post-game press interviews affairs the first and second day was a contrast between bewilderment and protocal. He couldn't wrap himself around "Paulie" and called me either Phil or Carl each time I had a question for a player or coach. The microphone guy and gal were very nice. They even held the microphone in front of me...and eventually the nice girl just sat down next to me...since I was asking the vast majority of questions. The annoying and varying, strobe-light effect behind the tables was fortunately solved after the first day.
The lack of media attendance didn't change much until the venerable Doug Feinberg appeared on Friday. I'll admit, I'm not too much up on him knowledge-wise...he's an AP writer and covers basketball from what I gathered...but he was treated like the great God of Goals. I suppose he's earned the status. All the coaches knew him and the staff fawned over him. I'm sure he appreciated that. Seems like a great guy, I didn't get a chance to talk with him but appreciate that he was there to cover the women's sports events. A few student newspaper kids from the Carolina colleges showed up. As for Louisville media...beside Nick Curran calling the games and asst. SID Ira Green, I was the only Louisville media there.
I finally met Arthur from Greer, SC...who frequents our site. A delightful guy about my age (ancient) who had his lovely wife Janet with him. We chatted a bit after Louisville defeated Clemson on Thursday and he offered to buy me a beer at the concession stand. I declined (shocking, right?) I had three more game to watch and didn't want to get started on the chug-a-lug train. I took a rain-check and fully expect payment, pal.
Julie (J.C.) Sullivan was there (Birdlady) and it was great chatting with her. She even spoke to the guys back at the studio during the Saturday morning radio show. We'll try to get some more from her before NCAA Tournament time.
There were many more people I ran into that it was good to see made the trip and I made a few new acquaintances as well. Friendly people in Conway, SC. Even the folks at the Waffle House were chatting me up about the tournament and how my trip was going. I had Angel Gray...the ESPN announcer and former Florida State star sitting next to me for a couple of games and that was a lot of fun. That young lady has a bright future. Deb Antonelli was there and gracious as always. A few long-time Duke media people around me made for some great conversation. The guy from the Roanoke Times was self-important and full of himself. I'm glad the Hokies lost...he disappeared after that. And then there was Amy...but we'll save that for the very end of today's article.
THE OFFICIALS AT THE TABLE
The pride and joys of Louisville were handling those duties and it was good to see Lee and the crew. We had a few nice chats and the fellas did a fine job. Their job starts way before the game does...researching and looking at specifics. They handled it well...especially those officials' review situations when they gather around and review the monitor.
Some of my buddies were on hand to call the games. Dee Kanter, Billy Smith, "Silly Joe" Vaszily, pretty Pualani Spurlock, Luis "the Mummy" Gonzales, Bruce "Iceman" Morris and Eric Brewton...a few of the crew. They did a good job...even if the NC State folks didn't think so. All stopped by to either give me a wave, fist-bump or handshake. As always, I offered them a food item...no halftime cookies...but an array of Snickers Ice Cream bars, Doritos, muffins and energy bars. None of them accepted. They never do. I guess I need to up my food-offering game. Ham sandwiches and hummus dip?
A "about-as-expected" win over Clemson. A nail-biting, heart-racing triumph over NC State. (Thank you Myisha for hitting the free throws!). A tough loss against eventual Tournament winner Notre Dame.
Remember these things:
- Louisville was down only by six with less than four minutes to go and missed a layup against Notre Dame.
- The Cards gave up too many turnovers that led to points and didn't create many turnovers at all. It was the difference in the game.
- Asia Durr...you are awesome. Myisha Hines-Allen was the NC State game hero and how about Kylee Shook and Jazz Jones' performances in the tournament? Mariya was efficient at times...but I'm still waiting for her to have a huge post-season tournament effort. Poor Cortnee. No one, for the most part, understands her role on this team. She do what she do with skill and carries it through.
- The Cards need a great point-guard. Taylor tries but good opposing guards gobble her up and you can't have that. Help on the way, maybe...if B.J. can rest up and play in the NCAA. Definite help coming when Arica is available again next year and when Dana Evans gets on campus.
FIVE THINGS I'LL REMEMBER
1) Unlimited Snickers Ice Cream bars in the Media Room. I ate my weight in them, I do believe. The media buffets were so-so.
2) Catching "Q" off guard. The look of confusion on his face when I asked him in the post-game interviews if he could be a bit more demonstrative and exciting on the sidelines. I told him afterwards I wasn't trying to "set-him-up". He smiled, shook my hand, punched me on the shoulder and said: "Oh, yes you were."
3) Making the catch. During the Clemson-UofL game, a Louisville player threw me a direct pass during a possession. I made the catch, put the ball under my arm and raised two fingers. I should have taken the shot.
4) The Virginia fan who came up to me in the causeway and tearfully pleaded with me to beat Notre Dame after the Cavs fell to them. I told her that we'd try.
5) The parking attendant. When I pulled up to park before the second day action, I rolled down the window and asked him if this was the Shriners convention parking area. His look was priceless, then he got it and started laughing. I tossed him a UofL towel I had in the front seat with me. Drop the microphone and GET OFF THE STAGE, Paulie.
AND THEN THERE WAS AMY.
I try to be organized and prepared going into a situation whenever possible. Have a plan, think it through and have a back-up. When I applied for credentials for the Tournament, I specifically asked for a dedicated land-line on media row to do call in and do part of Saturday Radio show. In this age of technology, maybe land-lines are passe...but they do provide for a clearer signal than cell phones. I thought it would be exciting to talk to the guys back in the studio during pre-game warm-up on Media Row.
When I arrived on Wednesday, I found no land-line on Media Row. I began inquires. I e-mailed, spoke with and texted Amy, the associate director of communications, multiple times. The replies were:
1) We'll get you set-up
2) You'll probably have to do your show from a cubicle in the Media offices.
3) You can't do it there. Maybe the front desk.
4) You can't use the phone at the front desk. Maybe you can do it on media row.
5) You'll need to bring your own phone. What? So I borrow the phone from the hotel. Interestingly, I still had to dial "9" on the phone to get an outside line. I also wondered if I'd be getting reservation, availability and wake-up calls requests.
Each response from Amy seemed to end with "That's the best I can do." All righty, then.
Saturday morning, I started to panic a bit. I asked several people working there if they could be of any assistance. They were sympathetic but unable to help. I texted Amy and sent another e-mail. No reply. It was 10 o'clock and I had an hour to go. I hadn't planned how I was going to handle the show yet, but started that long process. Finally, I e-mailed George Lane, director of communications, about my plight. Two minutes later...at around 10:25...a guy who handles the wiring specs for press row shows up and I explain the situation. While he's assuring me he can get this done, Amy calls him.
He goes to work and I go for stat sheets and coffee. When I get back, at 10:30...I'm set up. I call Worldwide to make sure it works. It does. Wiring guy even wrote the phone number down for me. I call Monk at the studio to see how it sounds. We're coming through loud and clear. My man had come through in the bottom of the ninth and even checked back with me to make sure all was well. That guy deserves an assist on the stat-sheets.
Then, guess who shows up? Why, it's Amy! She looks at me and condescendingly says...
"And how many minutes until your show?"
I let it slide. I make a comment about having to bring my own phone. That starts a tirade about how they don't provide radio equipment for the announcers, laptops for the journalists, microphones...etc, etc...yada, yada, yada.
I am appalled and stunned. Speechless.
She storms off after sarcastically telling me she's glad I was able to get a phone and a hookup. And, then, I see her standing at the end of media row...watching me do the show when I finally get on the air with the guys. Did she think I was going to call for Chinese delivery? Or check the weather in Houston? Maybe a long-overdue call to my cousin in Seattle or a quick call to Sam Purcell to see what he was wearing for the game?
Fortunately, the segment went well and we even got some pep band music and the chat with Jeff, Jared and Case was a fun and lively one. One drawback and downer in an other-wise fun and exciting stay in Conway.
I realize that it can't be easy directing the communications aspect of a tournament. But how hard can it be to get a request for a phone line handled? How hard can it be to provide one telephone? How hard can it be to show a little courtesy, kindness and understanding to an old man who knows not of these things? Yes, I got the phone line. Battle won. But getting there was akin to climbing Mt. Everest in a swimsuit. I wonder if the "communications" part of her title should be reviewed.
A nice job of communications there, sis.