Wednesday, March 18, 2009

P.I.G Party Sets the Tone

Tonight's NCAA Tournament Opening Round game gave us our first taste of what this so-called "madness" is all about...even if it was a rather unspectacular contest.

What is spectacular about this event year in and year out, is the support that the city of Dayton has shown. The crowds simply keep getting larger and larger...despite the city having zero affiliation with the teams involved. Needless to say, Dayton loves their basketball.

Dayton's South Park Tavern has become somewhat of a flag-bearer for the event...eating up a lot of tickets for the game each year. All this while customers stop in beforehand to eat up all sorts of pizza, and perhaps enjoy a fairly priced bottle of malted hops.

This year, Kyle Whelliston encouraged his readers at The Mid-Majority to make the trip to Dayton and enjoy an afternoon and evening full of talking and watching hoops. It just so happened that my driving directions to Greensboro, NC suggested I drive through Dayton...so I couldn't say no. While I wasn't able to stick around for the game (that whole "driving all night to Greensboro, NC thing" takes a little time), I was able stop by the South Park Tavern to dig a little deeper.

One of the first people I met was SPT's self-proclaimed President/Pizza Maker/Janitor, Bill Daniels. Bill is as friendly as his Hawaiian Pizza is tasty...and he took a few minutes out of his busy evening to talk to me about SPT, the Opening Round game, and how Dayton has come to love the event.

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Bill forgot to mention on-camera that he's a Wright State alum. Trust me, he's impressed with how quickly Coach Brownell has brought the Raiders along.

Believe it or not, Bill wasn't the only one in the house with Horizon League ties. I also met Steve Timble, a Loyola Ramblers season ticket-holder. Steve and I talked all-things Horizon League. Current teams, old teams, venues...you name it, we discussed it. I also had to ask him some pointed questions about his Ramblers...and, of course, his interest in the Opening Round game.

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Of course, Mr. Whelliston was in attendance as well. Being on camera isn't really his "thing" but it's worth noting that he did say he was happy that the HL ended up with two bids. Kyle says an awful lot of nice things about the HL all season long, so there was really no need to press the issue.

So we're underway with our NCAA Tournament coverage. Tomorrow...err...today (Wednesday), Butler has an open practice and media session which I'll be sure to gather lots of video from, and post later in the day.

Hey Adam, you going to make your flight to Miami??

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