With less than 24 hours remaining until the national semifinals, fans of all four teams were well represented in Houston throughout the day today. My flight arrived in San Antonio late Thursday night and I managed to make the 3 hour drive through the Lone Star State today to catch UConn’s open practice at Reliant Stadium.
The practice was pretty light in general, but it was good to see the team assimilating into the unique atmosphere–the largest buildings we’ve played in this year aren’t even a third of the size of this massive arena. One of the highlights of practice was Charles Okwandu hitting about 10 straight free throws in a speed drill from the stripe. Coach Calhoun chatted with Jim Nantz after the game and seemed in a very carefree mood–everyone seems to be happy but simply anxious for this game to get under way.
Kentucky fans are everywhere in town, as most of us would expect. However, as I inferred earlier I was very impressed by the turnout for Butler and VCU as well. It will be interesting to see who those fans choose to side with in game 2 since they’ll play a valuable role in the way the crowd leans. Given that Kentucky is considered the favorite by most “experts” and media personalities, hopefully fans of the mid-majors will be pulling for UConn.
Not much else to report from Texas. I’m done breaking down things like how the surroundings will effect Kentucky’s superb 3 point shooting and whether Shabazz Napier will come off the bench before the first TV timeout. This is by no means the de facto title game–Butler and VCU are playing far too well for that declaration to be made–but it certainly has to be a dream late night semi for the NCAA.
The best player in college basketball against one of the best overall programs.
It’s go time.
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