Final Four: Ohio State Open Practice

By - March 30, 2007

Jerry's name droppings from earlier this morning gets the point across just fine -- but it's impossible to overstate the number of basketball luminaries, semi-luminaries and just plain faces of the game that this weekend's convention draws. During my 20-second foray to from the elevator in the lobby of the Marriott Marquis to the media shuttle outside the hotel entrance, I bumped into Illinois men's coach Bruce Weber, Villanova women's coach and one-of-a-kind personality Harry Perretta and Gotham prep hoops guru Ron Naclerio, who was wearing a Mitchell-and-Ness style Cardozo High shirt that I want. (Meaning serious propers to the reader who can tell me where to get one.)

Open practice day at the Georgia Dome continues to operate like clockwork as the Buckeyes have just taken the court for their session at 2:10 p.m. on the dot. Even as the lunchtime crowd files out, there's still healthy number of diehard fans and curious onlookers in the lower bowl, with the heaviest concentration behind the scorer's table and player benches. Among the sights in my immediate field of vision: the Hoops Odyssey duo getting their game faces ready for a TV interview, the Ohio State pep band going through their reps (including staple anthem "Across the Field"), a stunning redhead seated on press row five empty seats to my right who's knows I'm staring, Washington Post scribe John Feinstein conducting an interview with CSTV's own Craig Esherick, another anonymous reporter doing the same with ESPN talking head Jay Bilas, a group of teenagers in the front row behind the press tables playfully jawing with Ron Lewis and Ivan Harris -- colorful banter that the players can't help but acknowledge with a nod and a smile.

There's an Ohio State player on the court swishing jumpers whose name and practice jersey number (No. 32) don't appear in my media guide. It doesn't take Grantland Rice to realize the kid's a walk-on since the crew-cutted everyman looks like the guy whose history notes you'd ask to borrow, but the lack of information has whet my curiosity. More to follow.

Posted by at 02:35 PM on March 30, 2007

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