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

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