The Big Blue Mist is starting to form in Atlanta, although I must admit at a slower than I would have hoped for rate. The Cat fans are likely still the largest contingent, but the Tennessee group is impressive. Cats fans that I have spoken with however are very excited about the next couple of days, and why not? There is nothing stopping this team from winning this tournament. I spoke with an individual from one of the major sports networks who said to me, “Besides Tennessee, every team has major flaws….and Tennessee can be beaten if you play tougher than they do. So I think any one of seven teams can win this thing.” While I am still down at losing the LSU cheerleaders, I am pumped for the basketball tomorrow.
As you can see above, I was finally able to get a picture with my favorite all time NBA player, Charles Barkley. Watching Sir Charles at the event is always interesting because it combines two fascinating qualities….a pro athlete who is genuinely nice and the celebrity worship that is everywhere. When Charles walks around, everyone and I mean EVERYONE surrounds him….whether it be media types, former coaches, fans, players, etc. Charles is the kind of personality that absolutely everyone likes….he can say anything, do anything and people still adore him. And part of the reason why is just how nice he is to everyone that approaches him. Even though he was chatting with his former coach Sonny Smith, Barkley took time to say hello and pose for pictures with everyone that came up to him….something almost no one else would do. He said hello, thanked you for approaching him and is genuinely as nice a celebrity as you will meet. The picture above (while blurry….thanks Macon Vol Fan), is one I will keep for a long time.
On the court, this Vandy-Auburn game is very indicative of the Commodore team. They can score rather easily, but they struggle with teams that decide to hit them in the mouth and play tough. Just as they did this year in Nashville, Auburn is doing that and as I write this, they are only down 7, after being down 13 in the first half. Should be interesting to see if they can keep it up. And tomorrow’s matchup with Arkansas should be a dandy (did I just use the word dandy?).
I am off to the CNN Center to do a podcast between sessions, before returning to blog more tonight. The crowd has gotten much better and the atmosphere has really improved. This tournament (especially both sessions tomorrow) is going to be great…..