Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hoppers Season Opener

It felt more like the start of football season than baseball, and the night ended with a football-like score.

The Lake County Captains beat the Greensboro Grasshoppers 14-8.

People were literally jumping out of planes to see tonight’s season opener at First Horizon Park.

The Black Daggers, a special operations unit from Fort Bragg, kicked off the night parachuting into center field.

It was the first inning jitters for the Hoppers. The captains scored three easy runs, made off of two home runs.

Infielder Jared Goedert of the Captains continued his homerun streak hitting one in the first and another at the top of the fourth. Goedert now has three home runs for the season-- he hit his first this past Saturday against West Virginia.

John Raynor was the first Hopper to get on base at the bottom of the fourth and stole second the next play.

It also took to the fourth for the Hoppers to get on the board, Scott Cousins hit deep into the left field batting Raynor in for the score.

Hoppers scored twice in the fourth with another long ball to left and a sacrifice hit to first.

At the bottom of the fifth Greensboro had two men in scoring position off of two consecutive stolen bases, a walk loaded bases with only one out.

A ground ball hugging the right field foul line hit by Christ Coglan brought in three runs for the Hoppers putting them in the lead for the first and only time tonight. The Hoppers ended the inning with a four run lead over the Captains.

But, by the end of the sixth, Lake County was back in the lead by four runs. The Captains scored seven runs on six hits.

Pitching was the story of the night; the Hoppers went deep into their line up calling out four pitchers.

6,229 people braved the cold temperatures. By the end of the game, the temperature dipped into the low 40s.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Women's Final Four in Cleveland

We're in Cleveland!!!! My photographer, MauriceGriffin and myself (the 1 and only Terry Brooks) are back covering the Women's Final Four. This time only one Triangle team is here in the National Semifinals. North Carolina is back in the building. Last year theTar Heels advanced to the finals by beating Tennessee in Cleveland in the Elite Eight. This year it's theLady Vols in the Final Four. Revenge vs Unfinished business.

I absolutely love Ivory Latta. I don't mean that in a love way that may be akward, but in the way you love your niece. Ivory is my GIRL! She lights up the room and she lights up a game. By far my favorite Tar Heel of the last four years, any sport. She says she's going to make sure her team is going to be loose when they take on Tennessee. This girl could make the dead smile. I think that the experience of losing the FinalFour last year is going to prepare Carolina for the Lady Vols. Latta will not let her career end with a loss in the national semifinals.

We'll be here to cover the Heels for the duration. Look for my game day blog coming up later...I'm out...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Trade show or carnival?

It's sometimes hard to remember that the High Point Market is a large trade show dedicated to the furniture industry-- there's this overall carnival feel to it.

You experience it as soon as you hit downtown. Floats are driven around downtown, my favorite has a Mardi Gras theme, complete with a cut out band playing jazz music.

There's a man who walks around town on stilts, he has to be at least 10 feet tall and right next to him is a long line of people handing out bags filled with pens, water and anything else.

People walk around will large billboards on their backs, free ice cream is handed out by High Point University students and there are people shouting out catchy slogans trying to get your attention.

Market even has its own pair of super heroes dressed in masks and capes.

If you see past all of this, you'll quickly realize that this isn't a normal carnival atmosphere.

The Mardi Gras float is telling people to stop by a furniture showroom that specializes in furniture from New Orleans.

If you look close enough, the man on stilts is handing out brochures to visit another showroom.

The bags handed out carry the logos of various manufacturers, even the water is furniture themed.

The super heroes, well the only heroic thing they are capable of is telling you why the company the work for has the best furniture.

This just isn't an outside thing either.

Inside the showrooms bands line the halls playing music next to large beds and bookcases.

Sometimes I feel like I'm back in college when I walk past blank walls, on them are fliers posted to this and that party. In big bold letters the fliers shout out "live music, open bar!"

Look closer, and you'll realize the party has a certain theme be it bedding or couches.

After you get past your first impressions you realize that this is very much a trade show.

Even the popcorn handed out to you isn't regular popcorn, it's popcorn wrapped in a notice telling you that the company that just handed you the free food has the best mattresses at market.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Going bananas

No I'm not going crazy from working a full shift and then spending my days at market.

I'm talking about furniture going quite literally bananas.

Greensboro-based JT Michael Designs uses banana leaves in their furniture designs. The only thing that I can compare it to is wicker, yet a lot more natural looking and durable.

The collection makes you feel as if you are on the beach.

The furniture is built in China and makes use of one of the largest indigenous trees available in the area, bananas.

The leaves are cut from the trees and set out in the sun to dry naturally. They are then soaked in a solution to make the material flexible. The material is then weaved together to make furniture.

The product can be considered "green" because the product is completely natural and unlike most "green" products the company claims their pieces will last forever.

You can find JT Michael Designs' pieces across the United States and here in the Triad.

Elizabeth Edwards

Sorry for no earlier posts, major technical issues at the press center today.

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of Sen. John Edwards, made an appearance at the High Point Market today.

She wasn't here to talk politics, she spoke about cancer and her book "Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers."

She made the appearance at the showroom of a friend of the family.

Before her comments she was presented a a pink ribbon bag from High Point Regional for her efforts in cancer awareness.

Edwards talked about how she receives strength from everyone around her.

She said her book is about getting support during bad times-- she noted that she has gone through some bad times before with her cancer and hinted that she was going through another rough time.

"Get to know the people around you," Edwards implored.

For Edwards, everyone around her weaves a tapestry of support.

Her talk went slightly political only once.

Edwards talked about a time where she went out on a furniture shopping trip with a bunch of strangers. They all met at her house and they carpooled together. When she got back from the trip her husband asked, "why was there a car with a Bush sticker in my driveway?"

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Yes, his hair really does look like that

Donald Trump is known for his pomp and circumstance and his visit to the Triad did not disappoint.

Trump is here because he is launching a personal brand of furniture modeled after his lifestyle.

Members of the press arrived at Lexington Home Brands in Thomasville around 3:30 pm. They stashed us off to the side on a second floor landing overlooking the room below and looking straight on the balcony Trump was going to talk on.

We waited and made small talk.

The room smelled like chocolate and strawberries. I looked below me and there was a table filled with strawberries, the centerpiece was a chocolate fountain.

Ice sculptures dotted the room, an open bar was off to the side with a cocktail shrimp display flanking it.

I got the impression that I was on the set of "The Bachelor" instead waiting for the launch of a furniture line.

Several young ladies strolled the room, dressed in black cocktail dresses, they looked like they could have been pulled straight from last weeks Ms. USA pageant (which by the way Trump owns).

Lexington Home Brands associates were dressed in black suit coats with the Trump crest embroidered in gold on their chests.

The only thing missing was the rose ceremony.

The room slowly filled to standing room only. I would guess there were 150-200 industry people standing in front of the indoor balcony waiting for Trump to arrive at the invitation only event.

Then on cue, the theme song to the "Apprentice" came on over the speakers.

Enter Donald.

The room exploded with cheers and applause.

He strolled easily through the barricaded parts of the room to an elevator, riding it up to the level we in the press were on.

Exiting the elevator he spotted our cameras.

He paused and stood still, turning to face us.

Then came his iconic smile, a "v" for victory symbol and a wink.

Reaching the balcony he waited to be introduced by the president and chief executive officer of Lexington Home Brands.

Trump spoke on furniture, on the area-- but I'll cut to the chase.

The one thing he'll more than likely be most remembered for is his comments about Rosie O'Donnell.

Someone from the crowd asked Trump if Rosie would buy a piece of his furniture.

"We build a very high quality bed," replied Trump. "They're not strong enough for her."

Looks like the bad blood between the two isn't going anywhere fast.

Back to serious matters.

Trump praised the area saying, "It's an amazing place to buy furniture. I think it's the best place in the world to buy furniture, if people don't come here they're making a big mistake."

Media, media everywhere!

Despite the small amount of coverage you actually see on our news casts at News 14, there are a lot of representatives from the media covering this event.

Nearly 500 to be somewhat exact.

What are these 500 people doing here?

Well besides eating the free food, we're all here for different reasons.

There is the usual cadre of local news people (like myself) who come from local TV stations, newspapers and radio stations.

We're here covering market as an event, lots of people here, how it's affecting the local people, what this means for the area, etc...

There's also people from the wire services. The Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg and so on and so forth. They're here for a variety of reasons. Business stories, features, trends, style and on and on and on.

Magazine publications are also here. Magazine writers are here for the fashion, they're looking for the new cool thing that everyone is going to want to have.

Then there's the trade magazines folks, and they are well represented-- I had no idea that there were magazines dedicated to things like light fixtures, rugs and upholstery.

The largest of the bunch, Furniture Today, is actually based here in High Point.

This is their shining moment.

They are here in force writing about the industry for the industry. I've overheard people writing stories on entertainment centers, apparently the new thing is designing them with more cable holes and smaller to handle flat screen TVs.

Oh and I can't forget color, warm purples are all the rage. That's according to "The Trend Curve" published by the International Authority on Trend Forecasting for Home Furnishings.

That's a mouthful and a half.

They're writing about fabrics and textures, dovetailing-- it's mind boggling.

Then there's the rogue agents.

Take for example Ivan Cutler, he's a furniture blogger. He writes about the industry just for his personal blog.

There's also a married couple here who operate a rug blog, that's right folks, they blog about rugs and from my understanding, they have a lot of fun doing it.

Speaking of food, it's lunch time and there's already a long line. More later.

Made in the Triad

You hear it on the news all the time, XYZ Corp. is shutting down its local plant to move overseas.

You hardly ever hear of a company bringing its overseas operations back to the United States... until now.

The High Point based company Red Egg used to manufacture its entire furniture line in China. Now the company makes four pieces from its collection here in town and will add another four in the near future.

Owner Carol Gregg said she moved back to North Carolina to tap into the quality talent in the area.

"There's a huge quality difference, said Gregg. "We're making real furniture from manufactures who understand how to make furniture."

What makes this transition back to America all the more interesting is that the Red Egg collection is heavily Asian.

The irony for them was that they weren't able to get the diversity they needed in order to satisfy American costumers.

"We don't need that kind of volume," said Gregg. "We can be fashion forward."

In China production runs need to be large in order for the plants to manufacture them. Setting up shop here in High Point allows Red Egg to cater to each client's individual needs.

There is a lot of buzz here about a company making furniture in America again.

Gregg says that people are stopping by her space just to take a look at the line and see what the company is doing.

She says she gained two clients just because her furniture is made in the USA.

There is a downside to all of this. Gregg says that her prices have risen slightly since she brought the line back to America. She quickly added though that she's still within the same price range as she was when she operated out of China.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A bit of a scare

Oh the irony. An entire event surrounded around things to sit on and you can't.

It's so tempting to sit down on one of the showcase pieces that line the halls of the showrooms here, but sadly you can't.

One scare so far today.

Market affects everyone it seems, even the police and firefighters here in High Point.

I'm told they have to sign up for extra shifts this week.

Walking into one of the showrooms, I hear a siren go by. Naturally as a journalist I'm curious as to what it means. But I resisted the urge because I was going to meet up with a couple of designers to talk about their new line.

Another siren.

Now, my curiosity is getting to me, I walk towards the door and out of the glass window I see the battalion chief's car go by.

Now I knew I had to go.

The incident was only a block up the road. As I got closer I could see a hook-and-ladder and several other emergency vehicles blocking the road.

It was one of those things that looked a lot worse than it really was.

Talking to one of the police officers on site, he said there was nothing newsworthy-- just an electrical outlet in one of the smaller show rooms throwing off sparks.

I asked if such a heavy response was typical, he shrugged and said to me, "It's market."

I think I'm starting to grasp the enormity of this event.

Virtual ribbon cutting

The High Point Market just isn't about the consumer, it's about business-- a lot of business.

I was just speaking with the IT person here (I was having a bit of a problem connecting to the Internet), the amount of bandwidth High Point uses this one week quadruples, he says they can barely keep up with the demand.

Anyone who wants to be someone in the furniture industry is here this week fighting for exposure. I was told by an industry person, if you want to grab the attention of the furniture industry, market is the place to do it.

That's why one Canadian company decided to "go live" today in High Point.

Tucked away in one of the many spots in the large exhibition halls here, 3Dream.net launched its services with a click of a button.

It might not seem like much, but with some 70,000 people here for the week, and all in the industry you are catering to ,I'm told it's a smart move.

The website plays on the theme of consumer products, allowing people to use the Internet to see how furniture would look in their house.

The launchers say the Internet is the future for furniture, and with their product people will be able to walk into a design studio and see exactly how the furniture they picked out would look in their home.

The point is to take away the stress of going store to store, for example if a North Carolina design firm showcased only products from our state, the designer is able to pull up an entire catalog of NC furniture products.

Just another example of how the furniture industry is trying to adapt.

Seeing green

A buzz word here is "green," green as in green energy.

It seems that green is everywhere-- you see it in the High Point logo, you see it on the walls, the press center here even has a green motif.

What is green energy? Well, as Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue put it earlier today, North Carolina is going to convert this initiative into green cold cash.

Or better put, turning green into gold.

"Today much of the buzz surrounds environmentally friendly furniture," said Perdue.

Perdue said the government is going to work with local companies to make our state a leader in this movement.

"It starts in the the home," Perdue said.

That means furniture designers are looking at new ways to light rooms and create furniture from recycled wood products for example.

Here the furniture industry is trying to start a new trend by not relying on the consumer.

A lot is invested in this movement already in our state. State leaders are in the process of creating a new work force educated in all things green.

As Perdue said, "We in North Carolina do it best."

News 14 Carolina reporter Adrianne Flores will have more tomorrow morning on green energy.

High Point Furniture Market kicks off

News 14 Carolina producer John Kunza is covering the High Point Market exclusively on News14.Com. Check in daily for various updates on Market and the events surrounding Market.

Today is the first day of the High Point Furniture Market, or as industry leaders here call it, simply "market."

The day kicked off with a news conference hosted by High Point's Mayor Becky Smothers and Lt. Gov Bev Perdue.

There is a reason why people in the know call this event "market;" North Carolina and the Triad are working hard to make High Point THE capital of the international furniture industry.

Furniture in North Carolina is still big money. North Carolina ranks as a top four furniture manufacturer in the country, and the High Point Market has a yearly economic impact of $1.5 billion on our state.

As Perdue put it, "That's not chump change."

That means everyone from furniture manufacturers to rental car agencies benefit from the bi-annual event. For more information, view News 14 Carolina reporter Stephanie Stilwell story here.

The furniture industry is very consumer-driven and this year everyone here has a hyper awareness about it. Perdue even noted it at the news conference, "I'm a friend of market, maybe it's because I'm a woman and I love to shop."

Industry analysts are noting a slip in retail sales, or as one briefing put it "weakness in retail" and blaming in part "credit anxious consumers."

Perdue says the General Assembly is working hard to keep the High Point Market competitive. Right now, the GA appropriates $1.7 million for the event and that figure is reviewed every year.

There was some talk about the Las Vegas Furniture Market. Some people are concerned that it will take buyers away from High Point.

"Vegas would like to take this away from us," said Perdue. "High Point has to remain the largest and most successful furniture market in the world ... and I will do whatever it takes."

More later.

Tough loss...the road ends here

Well, it all came to an end tonight with a 31-9 run in the final 10 minutes and overtime by Georgetown. The hard thing for Tar Heel Nation to accept is that Georgetown was the better team tonight. If you had just watched the first half, you might think Carolina had this one sewed up. Although they only lead by a few points at the break, I thought scoring 50 points in 20 minutes of basketball almost assured them a win. Here's how I was looking at it, Georgetown only gave up 57 points per game this season and now they had given up 50 points in one half, there was no way they could keep up in a shootout with UNC. Unfortunately in the long run, the Tar Heels couldn't keep up in a shootout with the Hoyas. Carolina shot 33% in the 2nd half and an awful 7% in overtime.

To tell you the truth, while I had enjoyed this weekend getting to know the team and the players of both these schools, I was dreading heading into the locker room after that tough loss. We first made it over to Marcus Ginyard and I basically had to ask him "what went wrong?" These guys are professionals at this point of the season in dealing with the media, but he was surprisingly honest talking about breakdowns that occurred on both sides of the floor. Then I asked him what Coach Williams had to say and he got a little choked up saying that coach had apologized to them after the game because he didn't think he put them in a position to win, meanwhile Marcus said that wasn't the case and the blame laid on the five guys on the floor. We slowly made the rounds to each of the players and a lot of it was the same old questions like "how do you feel?" I am sometimes guilty of asking those questions too, but I'm just waiting for the day when a player just snaps back with "how do you think I feel, we just lost the game you idiot!" But the guys on this Tar Heel team have too much class for that, they just try to answer your questions as best they can. After pretty much talking to the entire roster we made our way back to the interview room to catch the tail end of Coach Williams presser, he was contrite and very congratulatory to Georgetown and Coach Thompson in particular.

Much has been made about the history between these two teams, but in reality none of that affected this game tonight in the Meadowlands. Two teams lead by two totally different coaches took the court and left it all on the floor...I must say that I felt bad for the guys after seeing the looks on their faces, they were sort of in shock, unable to comprehend the fact that they weren't going to Atlanta next weekend to play for a National Championship.

All that aside, the Tar Heels should be proud of their season, they were a damn good team this year and while I know the goal was to win an NCAA title, I have a feeling they'll be back in the mix next March. Terry Brooks asked me about this on the show, but I have the feeling Brandan Wright might leave after this season, I don't know if this tournament loss will leave a good taste in his mouth. But let me follow that up by saying in no way did he tip his hat in either direction after the game. He said he plans to meet with Coach Williams in the next couple weeks to discuss his future, so we'll keep following it for you on News 14. Thanks for checking in this weekend here on news14.com, it's been fun sharing our weekend with you and I look forward to getting back to Charlotte.

-Tim Baier

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Late Night, but a Great Night

Wow! That's pretty much all I can say about tonight... that was probably some of the best basketball I've ever seen. It all started off with the Vandy Georgetown game that came down to a last second shot by Jeff Green and then followed up by North Carolina's 18-0 run in the 2nd half to beat Southern Cal and advance.

I thought there was a buzz at the arena on Thursday, but nothing compared to the buildup to Friday night's games. There were people from every media outlet you could imagine chowing down on Lasagna and cold cuts at the media buffet. At one table you had Bob Ryan catching up with Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese, then at another ESPN's Andy Katz was chatting away on his phone undoubtedly doing yet another radio interview. You guess it and they were probably there...it's pretty fun as a member of the media to see all these people you watch on a daily basis grouped together in the same setting as you.

Ok enough about my celeb sightings... the real story from Friday was basketball and how two teams that were expected to win had to dig down deep and pull out a win in tough games. Going into the Georgetown locker room you could sense relief as they were able to hold off Vandy for just long enough to pull out the one point win. Jeff Green talked about his last second shot saying there is no way he walked and later on Billy Packer agreed with him on the CBS broadcast. He said he was blocked out and couldn't even see the rim so he shot for the backboard...the only problem, he didn't call glass! This Georgetown team is confident in their style of play which sort of seems like an updated Big East style with a little bit of the Princeton game thrown in for flavor. The Hoyas can run the court when they need to, but they seem most at home in their half court offense making the game run at their own pace.

As for the Tar Heels, what can I say, it was a tale of two halves. There's a rule that you aren't supposed to cheer in the press area, and I didn't do that, but man was it hard to hold back when UNC went on that run. First of all, the families of most of the players were sitting right behind me for most of the game cheering the team on and at the same time, if Carolina lost I was headed back to Charlotte, but if they won I would get to see another tremendous basketball game. So I had a little something invested in this one.

After the game, a number of players referenced Coach Williams words at half time as the motivator to get them going. He supposedly told them they were embarrassing their state, their school and their peers and that it was now or never. It obviously worked because in the 2nd half they blew the doors off the arena. Hansbrough was pretty reserved after the game seeing as he put up a less than stellar performance, but his teammates stepped up in his place which meant his lack of activity didn't end up hurting the team that bad. The most telling stat of the game was that in the 1st half Carolina went 2 for 12 from three point land (16%), but in the 2nd half they only attempted two threes opting instead to go inside and that was the difference.

Anyway, it should be a classic match up on Sunday between Georgetown and Carolina can't wait to see it and keep you updated on all that's happening up here in East Rutherford.

-Tim Baier

Friday, March 23, 2007

Hello Friends...from Jersey

Well day two is now behind us and I'm going to try and give you a quick recap of a what ended up being a pretty busy afternoon. We headed over to the Continental Airlines Arena around 11:30 this morning trying to get a jump on the day. Maurice (pictured earlier) and I managed to talk to a few fans and get a good feel for what practice had in store for us.

We even pulled Billy Packer aside to do a quick interview and I must say while it was pretty cool to be talking to the guy that's called probably the most incredible college basketball games of all-time, he wasn't too excited about Friday's games. He's a very cerebral person and approaches the game with X's and O's in mind, not like most of us as fans do with a certain anticipation. His reasoning was that he doesn't want to lead the fans down a road expecting something that doesn't come true...actually not a bad reason. But to tell you the truth I was expecting him to give me the classic "I've never lost the excitement for the game" line.

The real highlight of the day though had to be meeting Jim Nance... now I'm not the type of person who gushes over celebrities (especially news celebs), but c'mon this guy has taken me to Augusta National every year as one of his "friends." Of course I'm referring to his classic opening line of "Hello friends," listen tomorrow night to see if he says it at the top of the broadcast. I was pretty impressed at the homework he was knocking out on practice day... while he had an entourage that included a few production assistants, he was doing most of the actual work. He and Billy both sat at the media tables watching each team practice for 50 minutes jotting down various notes that undoubtedly will come across the air tomorrow night.

As for us at News 14, once we shot a few elements for stories to run, we went up to feed them from our sattellite truck that Bill Welch so graciously drove up from Raleigh. The only problem being that the arena staff plugged us in at 220 volts when we only needed 110 volts and so whammy smoke started coming out of the truck. We supposedly blew a circuit and somehow Maurice was able to rewire the panels to make the truck work again, but without AC. Of course, this time of the year, who needs AC in Jersey...well it was actually 67 degrees here today.

Anyway, after that was fixed we were cooking and able to get the stories out and fed down to the station in North Carolina. The only other highlight of the day would have to be doing interviews in the locker rooms with North Carolina and USC. First of all you need to know that the "lockerrooms" are tiny at the CAA...and I was amazed that we all fit in there to do the interviews because you had media from all the markets in NC and also a bunch of stations from Los Angeles. The funniest part of talking to the guys was Marcus Ginyard discussing his need for pedicures because he has "raptor toes." Well we ran with that a little bit and got the low down from his teammates, who continue to make fun of his ugly feet. A pretty light moment in a busy day.

Probably the most interesting conversation I had was with Dwight Lewis, a freshmen for USC. He grew up in New Orleans and when Katrina hit, he was forced to move to Texas to finish his senior year. The adjustment was tough for him because he didn't know anyone, but he said he relied on basketball as an escape. Fortunately, USC had been interested in him before the move and he was able to go onto play at Southern Cal. The amazing thing to me was that his family hasn't been able to move back to the city yet because it is all still a mess down there. I know we've seen the news and heard about the problems that took place in the Big Easy, but to actually meet someone who was affected by the storm and is still dealing with it today really puts it in perspective.

Well, I just finished watching some close games from tonight's NCAA action, so if that is any indication of what Friday brings, then let's get it on. UNC seems pretty confident in their level of play these days and I don't think they are taking USC lightly. Ty Lawson said he spoke to Kevin Durant this morning to get the lowdown on the team and Durant thinks they can beat the Trojans. So I'll agree with Kevin and predict a Heels win tomorrow night over USC. Make sure to keep watching because we'll try to keep you updated on the channel and check back often because I'll be updating the blog everyday we are here...good night.

-Tim Baier

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bada Bing...We're in Jersey

Howdy from the frozen tundra of East Rutherford, New Jersey home of the Sopranos, Bon Jovi and at the moment a lot of melting snow. Actually I can't really complain about the weather because surprisingly it is expected to reach 62 degrees tomorrow, an unseasonably warm day here. I'm going to use this blog this weekend to give you a little insight into our days and also maybe a little behind the scenes stories from the Tar Heels. (by "we" I mean, myself and photographer Maurice Griffin)

So we hit the road today, flying up to Newark from Charlotte...Maurice was nice enough to fly over from Raleigh and then continue on up to Jersey with me. We landed around 2:30, got the luggage and picked up the rental car...and we're off to the Sheraton Meadowlands. Now this is where it got a little interesting, if you ever driven in the New York area, you probably know what I'm talking about, but it is probably only 5 miles from the Newark airport to the Meadowlands but none of the highways are a straight shot, so you spend most of your time wrapping around in circles trying to find the right exit. A little confusing, but managed to make it here to the Sheraton which I must say is a pretty nice spot.

After getting settled in we headed over to the Continental Airlines Arena (where UNC will play Friday night) and tried to get inside to shoot a standup, unfortunately security said we couldn't get in today because they were setting up the floor. Spent some time talking to the guys in there and they showed us there security camera shots of the arena. It was actually pretty cool because they had a joystick that let them control the cameras and zoom in on areas of the floor. One of the crew from the CAA told us they had brought in the floor just for the NCAA regionals and didn't use Seton Hall's usual floor or the one the New Jersey Nets usually use. It's interesting that Seton Hall isn't the host even though they play their games here, this week it's Rutgers who will be welcoming in the teams for the East Regional.

Anyway, without access to the arena we were forced to head out to the parking lots to shoot a couple quick standups to essentially let you, the viewers, know we were here and ready to cover the weekend. It was pretty cool to stand up on the top level of the parking deck looking in one direction at Giants stadium and the other at New York City.

So then we headed back to the hotel to edit the short stories and send them via the internet back to the station in Raleigh. I am still amazed by the technology and how we can send broadcast quality video over the internet for tonight's Sports Night. Anyway, here's a picture of Maurice editing (the camera phone let me down on this one).
So we are off and running...the busy time doesn't get underway til tomorrow with open practices and press conferences with the teams. I'm looking forward to it and I'll try to bring you interesting stories that don't quite make the air on Sports Night or elsewhere. Can't wait for the 60 degree weather to hit tomorrow...until then...good night.
-Tim Baier

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Basketball during Lent

Last year during the ACC and NCAA tournament, I wrote about the free "all you can eat" popcorn, soda and chocolate ice cream bars for the media . So what was I thinking when this year I decided to give up chocolate for Lent. Lent of course symbolic of the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. ( I had to look it up on the Internet to make sure I was clear). I'm a practicing Catholic not a devout Catholic so sometimes my recollections of Sunday school are a little cloudy. Well, the devil we know as the NCAA upped the temptation this year. They've thrown in "all you can eat" Reese Cups, M&Ms and my all time favorite, Snickers. What's a chocoholic to do. It's bad enough I have to remember to eat fish on Friday, which by the way was overlooked thanks to Jim Connors (another Catholic boy) who talked me into a pork pulled sandwich at "Pig Pickings" across the street from the "Joel". I can hear Father Mark now, "that'll cost ya three Hail Mary's, two Our Father's and an extra contribution to the collection plate. So it's popcorn, potato chips and soda for me. Not so bad considering the fasting endured some 2000 years ago.

See you on Sunday Father Mark. I'm bringing the checkbook.


Have One for Me

Alcohol Free Tournament

When I signed up for this event, no one said it was alcohol free. No doubt the parking lot at the "Joel" will be overflowing with fans and suds before tonight's game against Michigan State, but unfortuately, the company has an issue with employees working while impaired. And yes, at times my work appears as though I'm under the influence, but that's due more in part to the gray matter between my ears and not the amber ale in a long neck bottle. So what sporting event could a guy throw back a cold one or two and seemingly blend in? You guessed it before I could type out the acronym. NASCAR! Grown men with country twangs, driving a circle at 200 mph, jones'n for a title cup from a cell phone company that no longer exists. (Sprint bought Nextel two years ago). The "600" in Coca-cola 600 doesn't stand for the number of miles driven, it's the number of port-a-johns needed to dispense of all the golden flow. In fact, the aluminum recycling program from the "600" and the UAW 500 is said to be the second largest revenue source for the state of North Carolina after tourism. Talk about your pot of gold, or in this case "pond" of gold.

All kidding aside, please drink and drive responsibly. Keep this in mind tonight after Carolina serves up Michigan State.

Happy St. Patty's Day


Sunday, March 18, 2007

How "Sweet" it is...

The expression "the gloves came off" is now "the mask came off". And when it did, it spelled doom for Michigan State. Tyler Hansbrough, despite the still recovering broken nose, beat the Spartans at their own rough and tumble game Saturday night in Winston-Salem. His 33 points and 9 rebounds pushed the Heels to an 81-67 victory and into the Sweet 16.

Psycho T did have some help. Ty Lawson was spectacular. Feeding Hansbrough off dribble penetration, taking it to the rack himself or knocking down a three. Reyshawn Terry, whose status was up in the air due to illness even up until tipoff, was barely a blip on the radar until exploding late in the 2nd half to hammer the final nails in Michigan State's coffin.

Have to single out the defensive job Marcus Ginyard did on MSU's Drew Neitzel. Ginyard, Wes Miller and Lawson all took turns guarding him. Sure Neitzel shot lights out most of the way, en route to a 26 point night. He was nothing short of spectacular. But midway through the second half, Ginyard took the ball from him, it went back down the floor and Lawson drilled a three. The beginning of the end. Neitzel was worn down, the Heels superior depth finally doing him in.

The Heels are headed to the Meadowlands in New Jersey. How "Sweet" it is.

Jim C.

Friday, March 16, 2007

First round action from Winston-Salem

Bobby Knight's latest visit to Winston-Salem was short and sweet. While combative and entertaining during his Wednesday press conference, Knight seemed rather subdued during his team's NCAA ouster at the hands of Boston College on Thursday. Especially in the latter stages of the game, the General sat relatively motionless, almost resigned to defeat. For some reason, I was expecting fire and brimstone.

After Michigan State made relatively easy work of Marquette, the Tar Heels took the LJVM Coliseum floor and broke out to a 22-3 lead on Eastern Kentucky. Did I mention the game did not tip off until 10:06pm? The only thing worse than having to work a game that won't end until midnight (and won't allow you to finish interviews, writing, editing & blogging until 4am) is having to endure a blowout. Fortunately, the Colonels came to the Joel with the intention of leaving their mark. Their character was revealed as they whittled a 27 point deficit to four. The Heels collected themselves and eventually ran away with it, but at least it was entertaining. Special kudos to Tyler Hansbrough for delivering big in the second half. The new mask seems to agree with him. Reyshawn Terry was superb playing in front of his hometown crowd. And Marcus Ginyard (who turned an ankle during the game) was a calming influence whose 2nd half defense allowed the Heels to finally open up a large lead....and keep it.

Roy Williams informed the team after the game that his sister passed away Wednesday night following a lengthy illness. While not entirely unexpected, the Heels coach was clearly and understandably shaken. He says the funeral will be on Sunday and that he plans to coach the team Saturday night against Michigan State.

Our condolences and best wishes to the Williams family.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

VCU vs. Duke: First Half impressions

It's just before tip, I'm in my seat and it seems like everybody from the VCU campus is in there's, too. About 500 VCU fans are sitting right acrooss from me. Game time.... Paulus with a 3, Henderson is fouled first time he touches the ball. Both of those 2 need big games to handle VCU's 3 guard attack. Wow, a big slam by Henderson ties the game 5-5. Big jam by McRoberts now, and VCU is missing a lot of outside J's. They can't stay with Duke if that stays constant. Here's my thing -- they're quicker than Duke, some screen and rolls would open things up for the Rams. Another big alley oop to McRoberts. Duke's rolling, out to a 16-5 lead and it looks like I'll be home on Sunday. Noticing the refs hair, if you're watching the game, he makes Jimmy Johnson's hair seem lively. Ashley the intern just remarked that VCU can't make a basket. It's 18-7, so I'd have to agree. I'm going into my Billy Packer mode -- just harp on one point. VCU's not playing well. At the halfway point of the first half, it's Duke 22, VCU 10. McRoberts just went coast to coast. You know he's done that this season. Did VCU watch any tape? Okay I'm out of Billy Packer mode. Duke's up 9. Maynor, the kid who singlehandedly beat George Mason in the CAA finals hits a floater. If he can wake up, maybe this game won't be as boring in the second half, because if it stays at this pace, Duke will not only win but win by 18 or more. Jesse Pellot-Rosa just nailed a 3. It's back to a 6-point game. Rams showing life. I'm giddy only because no one likes a blowout. Duke's in the bonus, but Paulus misses the front end of a 1-1. There's 6 minutes left in the half. VCU has to keep their hands to themselves the rest of the half. Free throws could push the Devils advantage back above double digits before the break. Maynor fouled makes both -- 3 point game. VCU has clawed back into the game thanks to a stagnant offense and some ugly possesions for the Devils. McRoberts got the ball poked away from behind and there was a phantom foul called. About 75 percent of the building started booing -- so much for this being a pro-Duke crowd. Everyone not wearing a Duke sweatshirt is rooting against the Devils -- Butler fans, ODU fans... Pocius slam AND 1. The first "refs you suck chant of the night"... good times. Under 4 min TV timeout, Duke is up 35-29. Unfortunately I cannot complete the statement that coach K just called the ref, but he called him... well I'll leave it out so they won't pull my blog out, but it's funny to the folks on press row and within earshot. Just trust me. B.A Walker just nailed a 3 making it a 3-point game. The crowd breaks out a V-C-U chant and the Madness has arived. Jamal Shuler just tied it up with a 3 and the building just went berserk. 3 seconds on the clock in the half, shot clock running down, Paulus a desperate 3 pt attempt... poor foul call. Official checks the replay monitor... Paulus makes 1, misses, 1 makes 1. It's Duke 40-38. The inbound play is tipped away with 2.4 seconds left. Coach K yelling at the refs... I mean classic. The half ends with a turnover, and K leaves the court and one of the refs says don't talk to me. It's 40-38 at the half, and we've got a game!

-Terry Brooks

Davidson vs. Maryland final thoughts

The 2nd half looks like a continuation of the first with some GREAT BASKETBALL! Curry opens with a 3, another great reveverse and later an assist. He's directly responsible for 7 of the 'Cats first 9 points in the second half. Maryland's defense and sloppy passes by the Cats are leading to easy dunks. Gist and Jones have one apiece in this half. At the midway point, it's 60-59 'Cats. Maryland's Bambale Osby is crashing the boards and setting some mean picks. He is just everywhere. He just threw an alley to James Gist... awkward but effective. Thanks to a couple of turnovers and made buckets, Maryland is now up 6 points with 6:35 to play. Davidson needs a bucket in the worse way. Curry on cue, 69-66 now. If this article seems like a glowing endorsement of Stephen Curry, it is. The kid just went to the hoop as the defender thought he would pull up from deep. It's 71-68 at the 4:00 TV timeout. Not to sound too contrived, but this is what March Madness is all about -- small schools hanging with big schools. We're into the last four minutes and it's anybody's game. This is a weird observation -- Davidson's band director is actually playing the trombone. This is the kind of stuff you notice during long timeouts. MIKE JONES for 3. It's now 75-68 Terps. Curry with a bad pass leads to a turnoover. That could be it. Curry gets the offensive board and gets fouled. That's 5 fouls on Ibekwe with 1:12 left and the score 75-68. Both free throws good, 75-70 Terps. Gary Williams is sweating but not to an obnoxious degree. It's just a 5 point game. Is there a glass slipper coming??? Big Dave Neal just made 2 clutch freebies for the the Terps. Curry just took 2 big threes and both missed. The 'Cats look done and Maryland fans are on their feet. Davidson fans look dejected. 44 seconds left. Vazquez 1 of 2 free throws. Will, the Canadian, misses a 3. It's all over but the singing. This was a great game to start it all off. Davidson seemed to just run out of gas. As a guy who graduated from a Southern Conference school, I'm more than appreciative of the effort and the guts. Curry just fouled out and the kid got a STANDING OVATION. They have three more years of the kid at Davidson and that should mean three more years of the 'Cats being the team to beat in the SoCon. Props to the freshman. Thoroughly entertaining game. Crowd chants, "He's a freshman." Yes he is. Let's get ready for Duke at 7:10 vs VCU.

-Terry Brooks

Davidson vs. Maryland thoughts

Davidson's going to need to keep knockinng down outside shots and not get outphysicaled by a tough Maryland, and yes, I know outphysicaled is not a word, but I call it like I see it. The game started with Ebekwe taking it right at the rim to start the game 2-0. Curry missed his first couple for Davidson... he better heat up fast. There he goes -- Curry from deep, 8-4 Wildcats. I'm loving DJ Strawberry's leadership. He's constantly talking to teammates and he's on the refs but in a respectful way. One of the Canadaniens just knocked down back-to-back 3's... I love it. 17-17 tie right now. McKillop waits until the last second to make subs, a move that makes sure Williams can't respond... the little things baby... love it! Back and forth game, just what I expected. Davidson's not afraid of the Turtle. Davidson just ran off a 10-0 run, highlited by a Curry 3 and a mean reverse dunk that puts the 'Cats up 35-27. Now it's the Terps turn. Maryland makes an 8-0 run... MIKE JONES... two bombs ties the game 35-35. Curry just made a beautiful pull up 3 on a the break. I'm about to cheer on press row...41-39 'Cats. Parrish Brown makes the final basket of the half, a fitting 3 that makes the score 44-43 at the half. This is a great game!

-Terry Brooks

Duke and Davidson in Buffalo for the NCAA Tourney

From Terry Brooks:

What's up everybody? Before we get to the Blue Devils and Wildcats let me take you through my journey here to the home of the Bills and Sabres. My photographer Gavin MacRoberts and myself (the1 and only Terry Brooks) got to Buffalo Tuesday at 5:03. The airport looks a little smaller than RDU but the rental cars are right next to baggage claim. Gets you out in a hurry. We get to our hotel the Hyatt Regency and it's got a really nice lobby. We check in and find out that a couple of teams that are competing in the college national swim tournament are staying here as well. Who knew? Off to the arena to give you faithful viewers an establishing shot. That's TV talk for a shot that lets you know we're here. After we wrap, problem...The laptop won't feed. We try and try but nothing....We come up with Plan B...Believe me there's always Plan B in TV...I'll do a phoner with Jim Connors during Sportsnight...Not to talk down to anybody, but a phoner is a phone interview. Just making sure we're all on the same page....The phoner goes great. We talk about the weather...about 50 degrees lower than Raleigh....and I give my take on both Duke and Davidson games....Duke has to show up against VCU...Davidson can stay with Maryland because of Stephen Curry's shooting....After that we eat at the home for buffalo wings...Hey we're in Buffalo why not....So we go to the Anchor Bar...This is the place where it all started....anddddddddd....I was not impressed...Maybe I ordered the wrong ones but buffalo wings in buffalo were about a 'C'. Enough of my menu let's move on. Wednesday arrives and we get to the arnena at a little after 11 to setup for the week..camera, editors, computer, everything you need to make you feel like you're right here in Buffalo...12 gets here and it's time to go into the lockerroom and interview Davidson players. I look over the media guide and see 2 guys went to the same high school and that it was in Quebec....QUEBEC!!!!! How did Davidson get not 1 but 2 Canadiens on the same team in the middle of NC...I had to find out..The story ran on Sportsnight last night and I'm pretty sure you can find it on News14.com.....Anyway that was interesting.....Curry gets off the podium and he looks like he's 14 or 15 year's old and this is the kid who's second in the nation among college freshmen in scoring...WOW...He reminds me of another babyfaced assassin Randolph Childress...Same kind of game, same kind of school boy look, but will drop a dagger on you in a minute...We wrap with Davidson and get our stuff back to the station...Duke's on at 3:45...K hits the podium and turns on the charm....The national writers drool...and he leaves American Express applications for everybody.....That's just a joke....It's a blog....Just a blog....While K's on the podium the lockerroom's open and we wind up turning a story on Gerald Henderson....My impression of the Duke players...They are extremely hype for the VCU game....People are openly picking against them and questioning whether this is going to be the team that breaks the 9 year streak of Sweet 16 apperances...Let me tell you Josh McRoberts and especially DeMarcus Nelson look like they're ready to go to war and will not be taking any prisoners...For all the talk about whether or not the dynasty is dead in Durham I really think people have awaken the sleeping dog if you will...Objectively I believe I'll be here for the entire weekend because if the feelilng that those players translate to the floor on Thursday it's going to be a long day for VCU...Duke 74 VCU 60....Davidson scares Maryland, Gary Williams sweats through his jacket, but the Terps knock off the Wildcats...80-75.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

UNC players to NBA?

Just talked to Ty Lawson in the lockerroom after the Heels ACC Championship. He says he's almost positive he's coming back next year and so is Wayne Ellington. He said he hasn't talked to Brandon Wright but believes he should go if he's projected as a high draft pick. Lawson also said he has no idea what Hansbrough will do.

Lawson was funny because he said Coach Williams told him he needs to stay and has things to learn so he plans to stay. Pretty funny.

We'll see if things change if they were to win a national championship!

The biggest thing that I'll take away from after the game in the lockerrooms was NC State. It was not a depressing sad scene in there. While they are upset they lost, I think this is really something the team feels they can learn from and come back as a strong team next year.

Should be fun!

45 minutes til game time...

Well, here we are. One team expected, another well, not expected. It's 45 minutes til game time and I'm enjoying a little sandwich while typing this here old blog. Went to save my seat and a few of the players are out shooting around. Wes Miller seemed real relaxed talking with a couple friends. He should be relaxed though, he's in his senior year and this will be his last ACC tournament although it's his first in the championship game.

Conventional wisdom is Carolina will cruise to a victory. They are far superior in talent, depth, and rest. However, conventional wisdom means that NC State shouldn't even be here. A #10 seed never won a game little alone got to a championship game like this. Five days ago NC State though it's season would be over Thursday night. Now they have a chance to get into the NCAA tournament. Bottom line is they have nothing to lose in a lot of ways and can just play.

Should be fun!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

UNC vs. NCSU by the numbers in the tourney

North Carolina and N.C. State have met five times previously in the finals. North Carolina holds a 3-2 edge, winning in 1968 as the top seed, in 1975 as the second seed, and in 1997 as the third seed. N.C. State won in 1959 as the No.1 seed and in 1987 as the sixth seed.
* North Carolina most recently won an ACC Tournament in 1998. N.C. State most recently won an ACC title in 1987. 
* Since N.C. State upset UNC to win the 1987 tournament championship under head coach Jim Valvano, the Wolfpack has played for the title three times without a win (1997, 2002, 2003), while the Tar Heels have competed for the title 11 times, winning in 1989, 1991, 1994, 1997 and 1998.
* This will be the first ACC Tournament championship game in which the coaches are both alumni of the schools they direct. Sidney Lowe played at N.C. State from 1980-83, and Roy Williams attended North Carolina, played on the junior varsity, and graduated in 1972.
* Sidney Lowe could become the third coach to win the ACC Tournament in his first year as a head coach. Duke's Vic Bubas, an N.C. State alumnus, won in 1960 and UNC's Bill Guthridge won in 1998.
* ACC Tournament finals have not been kind to the top seed since 1980, when Georgia Tech joined the league. During that span No.1 has reached the championship game 17 times and posted a 8-9 mark. North Carolina has done especially poorly under such circumstances. The Heels are 1-4 playing for the title as the top seed, losing in 1987, 1988, 1993 and 2001. Their sole victory as the top seed came in 1982, when they won both the ACC and NCAA titles. Duke won the ACC Tournament last year as the No.1 seed.
* North Carolina and N.C. State have met four times previously in the ACC Tournament at venues outside the state of North Carolina. They played twice in Atlanta, in 1983 and 1985. The Wolfpack won in '83 en route to the title, the Heels won in 1985. The schools also played twice in Landover, Md., in 1981, when UNC won on its way to the championship, and in the 1987 title game. 
* Teams from the state of North Carolina have now met 29 times in 54 years for the ACC championship. Such matchups occurred 13 times in the league's first 16 years of existence, and 12 times in the 20 years since UNC and N.C. State met in 1987.
* N.C. State has been in three of the last six finals - 2002, 2003 and 2007. During that span, UNC did not reach the finals. The Wolfpack lost to Duke in '02 and '03.

Rival game anyone?

If you like rivalries then this ACC championship is one you don't want to miss. NC State continues to play Cinderella in the ACC tournament. They are now not only the only #10 seed to win an ACC game but the lowest seed to ever reach the ACC championship game. State was looking at no postseason or NIT, but now with one win it can reach the NCAA tourney. Carolina could be playing for a #1 seed in Winston-Salem.

This is the first time since 1997 the two teams have met. UNC won 64-54. UNC last won in 1998 and NC State hasn't won since 1987. They just happened to beat UNC by one that year.

NC State coach Sidney Lowe unveiled the red coat for the first time against UNC in Raleigh and won during the regular season. He's won again every game in the tournament with the coat and you better believe he's going to wear it again on Sunday.

Engin Atsure reinjured his hamstring and we hear from his teammates he's hurting. Looks like State will have to play zone because there's very little chance anyone can keep up with UNC's Ty Lawson. Can NC State slow the game down and pull off the greatest upset in ACC tournament history? Or, will UNC manhandle the Wolfpack like it did Boston College on Saturday? UNC had 16 offensive rebounds which matched Boston Colleges defenseive rebounds. State cannot turn over the ball like they did on Saturday or Carolina will make layups and dunks and run away with it.

Interesting day behind the bench again too. Roy Williams slapped the padding on the score table and it echoes loud. The ref came over and warned Coach Williams, but coach was mad at his players and not the refs. The ref said though perception is he's mad at the refs and he needs to watch it.

Pretty interesting. More writers are writing about things the coaches, refs, and players have said than normal because this time we're sitting behind the benches instead of across the way. Intersting to see if that ever happens again!

Friday, March 09, 2007

UNC cheering for NC State?

Just watched NC State pull off yet another upset. This time at the expense of #2 seed Virginia. And you won't believe it (or maybe you will) but UNC fans were standing and cheering for NC State. Let me repeat that. UNC fans were standing and cheering for NC State. Oh, and NC State wasn't playing Duke.

NC State just won't lose. They have a will to win and just seem to be able to turn a switch at halftime. And how about Raleigh native Bryan Nieman. The kid doesn't get a ton of playing time and he drills two huge three pointers! Keys in the second half were shutting Singletary down to two points in the second half until garbage free throw time came. They were also lights out shooting halfway through the second half after a miserable first half. Can Wake Forest shock the ACC as well? Man, I would almost hate to be a higher seed right now.

Sitting behind the bench continues to be an incredible learning experience. While there are always questionable calls and arguments and whining will happen, I have to give the refs credit. No matter who the coach is, the refs are always very patient and listen to every gribe by every coach no matter how ridiculous it is! Interesting watching too because you think of the coach running the team but during timeouts assistants often talk as much as the head coach in the huddle. All the refs call the coaches by their first names too like they hang out.

Roy Williams was relatively quiet and calm today, but his team played pretty well.

The one thing I've noticed this tournament is a large number of traveling calls so kids take the lesson and keep that pivot foot on the ground!

Wow, I need to catch my breathe and see if Wake can pull off another double overtime victory! Until the next buzzer....

Cinderella anyone?

It's 1:51am and we're still working. Guess that's what happens when you have an AMAZING day of hoops! Are you kidding me? All four low seeds win! Oh wait, NC State/Duke goes to OT. Oh wait, Wake Forest upsets Georgia Tech in double overtime as a Yellowjacket shot bounces and bounces just out as time expires. WOW!! The game didn't officially end until 12:55am. It's now the highest scoring game in ACC tournament history. If you want to see what a bunch of people who normally look put together on tv not so put together you should be in the television work area right now. We are in rough shape but happy to have been here to see such an amazing day. Who says the first day isn't fun? Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Boston College are all coming off last game losses so watch out for perhaps an upset or two again if those teams haven't practiced well this week. When NC State is running on all cylinders they are a very very competitive team, but you just have to wonder how much it will hurt they are just 6-7 players deep if they do pull out another upset. How does Wake Forest respond to an emotional double overtime 12:55am victory? That will be keys tomorrow. With UNC it's an early, first game. Will they be ready and intense to play and how will the mask affect Psycho T? All interesting questions that will be awesome to follow tomorrow. Good night, well good morning. Can't wait to be back in a few hours?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Behind the bench...

Sitting behind the bench is one wild experience! We normally sit opposite the benches and this was an eye opener to say the least. We are literly 10 feet or less from the players and coaches. It is fascinating at what you hear and see. During the Miami/Maryland game, I sat behind Gary Williams. I have never seen the "F" word used as a noun, verb, adverb, and adjective all in one sentence! He is incredibly intense. At one point, one of the referees screamed back, "I can't make up rules for you". Even more interesting as Maryland was losing he made one player switch from red to white shoes. They must have all got new shoes, because just before halftime Williams was yelling at the equipment manager to have every player in a different pair of shoes for the second half. Just an interesting tidbit to say the least!

In the Duke/NC State game there was another funny moment when NC State forward Ben McCauley got called for an offensive foul when he knocked down a Duke guard. McCauley came back down the court and looked at coach Lowe as he was playing defense and said "he's too tiny, he flopped". Of course tiny to him is probably 6'3, 220lbs!

It's a really neat experience to sit behind the benches though so I'll probably write more about it later. Quite a day with two upsets and it's only Thursday!

By the way if you didn't see my story yet, plenty of tickets available. It was pretty full inside by the end of the day, but scalpers we're seriously 2 for 1 sales on the tickets and selling them way below face value.

Anyone can win...

Anyone can win. That's the theme today for sure. Not only in most cases is it true, but the fans and players believe it themselves. That, within itself, is a strange thing to say about the conference. Typically, there are plenty of good teams but more than two or three that could win? Not usually. ACC commish John Swofford said yesterday he could argue 9 teams from the ACC should make the NCAA tourney. He's obviously a homer, but there's a lot of truth to it. Conventional wisdom around here is 6, maybe 7. That's the beauty of the conference tournament. Pride is not only on the line but so is making the national tournament as well as seeding for teams like North Carolina. Think about it. If UNC wins, they likely get a #1 seed and will stay in North Carolina for rounds 1 and 2. There's a big belief that Clemson and Florida State will be playing today for a spot in the NCAA tournament. Can't get much more on the line for a first round conference game. How about Duke and NC State playing the first round? There is definitely a lot more excitement and buzz about these first round games than in the past. Now, you just have to get people off the beach and into a dark arena? This is truly a test to the pure heart ACC fan, because it is gorgeous here in Tampa! As I sip on my complimentary hotel coffee, it's definitely a good morning. Then again, it's the ACC tournament and if it was held in Siberia, I'd be feeling the same. Take that sunshine! But hey if it's here might as well enjoy it right!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Life is good!

It's 6:00pm and it's 72 degrees. Slap me now, I know! What a truly marvelous and amazing weather day here in Tampa, Florida. I'll be honest though, if you took away the warm weather, palm trees, and ACC Tournament it's really not that great of a work trip. Okay slap me again!

We're here and it's a pretty good set up. All you hear about from anyone and everyone is the weather. This is clearly one huge vacation for the fans that are coming.

Let's get right to the juice though shall we? I am dumbfounded by all the people selling books and books of tickets out front. Never have I seen books for sale at the end when teams are losing and leaving let alone at the very beginning of the tournament. A scalper out front told me an NC State alum sold him 40 books of tickets! He had a hundred in his pocket and I know because I saw the books myself. We talked to another guy who had two books and had a last minute issue and couldn't use the tickets he bought. He says he's likely going to sell them for less than face value!!! What makes it even worse for these guys is scalping is legal in Florida!

This is the first time ever for the ACC tournament in Florida. Tampa officials held a special press conference with the ACC commissioner. I'm told by ACC officials no other venue has done that. Both sets of officials are playing up the venue. Swofford says it was necessary to be fair to other schools to move the tourney around especially now with two teams in Florida. It's key they want to push the ACC in Florida for recruiting and tv markets which may still be related to the football issue and expanding the ACC.

The problem is when the tourney is closer to North Carolina, fans from teams that win will drive and pick up tickets from fans of teams that lose. Problem is, it took us 10 hours to drive here and a flight isn't short or cheap and hotels and everything is expensive here. Will there actually be open seats at an ACC basketball tournament final? Wow are ACC officials a little nervous and while everyone is putting on a happy face, I can tell you first hand there are plenty of tickets to be had and the scalpers say they expect it to remain that way.

Monday, March 05, 2007

2007 ACC Tournament

News 14 Carolina Reporter Tim Boyum will have all the behind-the-scenes action from the ACC Tournament March 8-11 in Tampa, Florida. Stay tuned for his blog coming soon!