It Doesn't Get Much Better Than This.
Some reflections on Friday at the ACC Tournament
Just think about it. If you're women's basketball junkies, as we are, you can hardly beat Day 2 of the ACC Tourney! (Well, okay, there was last year's Final Four . . . ) But for a single conference, a single day, in a single place, you get to see some of the absolutely best basketball teams in the country . . . and it happens every year! Of course, that includes our own beloved Terps, plus the country's number one (and only undefeated D-I) team, Duke, not to mention you get to see a whole latta of Carolina's starters (they were still in the game in the late minutes yesterday when the Hokies were down by thirty). Then throw in a few other quality teams like NC State and Florida State, and it's simply an unbelievable day!
Which is why it was no surprise to see so many WNBA Coaches and General Managers in the stands, checking out the talent as the April 4 draft approaches. Among the folks we spotted were: our very favorite GM -- the Mystics' Linda Hargrove (looking fashionable in a Terrapin-red jacket . . . she claimed the color was just a coincidence!), Jenny Boucek -- the new head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs, and Paul Westhead -- head coach of the Phoenix Mercury, the team that has the enviable task of picking first overall in next month's WNBA draft. Coach Westhead made it clear that was the reason he was here in Greensboro --- Latta? Harding? Bales? or a big surprise? The Basketcases also spotted Brian Winters and Lin Dunn of the Indiana Fever. (Dunn's hair is so distinctive, you can spot her across an entire arena, no matter how crowded it is!) We heard that the Liberty's Patty Coyle was in town (but haven't spotted her yet ourselves) and we expect there are several more pro scouts enjoying Greensboro's southern hospitality this weekend. One fun thing about the Tourney is getting to chat with these folks from some of our favorite WNBA teams.
Gettin back to Day 2 . . . there were four games. Count 'em, four. At 11AM, 3PM, 6PM, and 8PM. Even for the BasketCases, that was
a latta a lot of basketball to watch. And pretty exhausting. (It's hard work being a fan!) We also managed to squeeze in some time to take in the Fan Fest, held in a separate building. As expected, it's mostly shooting games for kids, but we did get to have our picture taken with the Chick-fil-A cow, truly a highlight of our trip to Greensboro! Eat Mor Chikin!
Millions of local school children were bused in for yesterday's first game of the day (and Thursday's). Okay, maybe not millions, but it sure sounded like millions! It was kinda like "I Scream for Ice Cream" . . . all game long! The various groups were attired in color-coded tee shirts, no doubt to make it easier to re-load the buses. We had a bunch of lime-green clad kids sitting behind us. The boy directly over our shoulder, who was about ten years old, actually kept up a pretty good running commentary during the game. We particularly loved the fact that each time a player got loose on a fast break and was headed full tilt for the basket, the kid screamed out, "Slam it!" We gave him an ACC tee shirt that we snagged during one of the periodic tee shirt tosses into the crowd. You have to reward a kid like that.
For pure emotion yesterday, nothing even came close to NC State Head Coach Kay Yow's appearance on the court, and the inspired play of her Wolfpack team. We didn't envy Florida State's Sue Semrau having to face Yow's team in a North Carolina arena. To say that the crowd was one-sided would be an understatement. The Wolfpack's prize for their victory yesterday is getting to play undefeated in-state rival Duke this afternoon. Now that will be an interesting time for the crowd. The BasketCases predict that everyone not wearing Duke blue will be a State fan today. We surely will. Kay Yow being greeted by her sister, Maryland AD Debbie Yow, just before the NC State-FSU game.
The rest of the day consisted of three top-ranked teams and an inspired NC State beating four good teams and advancing to today's semis --- Duke, Carolina, Maryland and State --- all we're missing for an encore of last year's final four is LSU! What a day! What a tournament! It really doesn't get much better than this!
Photo credits: DC BasketCases