Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's a special day in Charlotte

I’m missing out on one of my favorite events of the college basketball season today.

ACC teams are holding their pre-tournament shootarounds at Bobcats Arena today, and their one-hour practices are open to the media and the public. (Note to fans: Duke and North Carolina, which have first-round byes, are practicing on campus today, not in Charlotte).

Unfortunately, North Carolina also is holding its pre-tournament news conference at 2 p.m. today on campus. The Observer has plenty of reporters to cover the open practices, but just one Raleigh Bureau sports reporter to collect news and notes from the No. 1 seed today in Chapel Hill.

So by the time I get to Charlotte, the open practices will be just about finished.

What am I missing? For starters, this is a great, free opportunity for fans to see players and coaches in a relaxed setting. Many of these fans aren’t the high-dollar contributors who get courtside seats at ACC arenas. Their enthusiasm – especially the children’s – just to get close to a practice is refreshing.

The players also are fired up. Almost to a man, the players believe they have a shot to get on a roll that will lead them to special things in a postseason.

This is true whether they’re seeded No. 12 or No. 1. Their excitement is energizing and a reminder that one of the best times of the year is here.

– Ken Tysiac