Austin: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

By Jean Neuberger - March 20, 2007


As always, when you travel somewhere, you find the good and the not so good in whatever locale you're in. Here's some of the good, the bad, and the ugly from our stay here in Austin.

THE GOOD

OKLAHOMA CENTER COURTNEY PARIS: She's in a different league from anyone else I've seen. No one's been able to stop her yet. She picked up her 60th straight double-double tonight. SIXTY STRAIGHT! This girl is worth the price of admission.

THE MEDIA ROOM: The Lone Star Room at the Erwin Center was a fantastic location for the media. The press conferences ran smoothly, the wireless Internet was spot-on (for once!!!!) and the fridge was never out of cold water and soft drinks. By the way, three Diet Cokes "mysteriously" found their way into my hands as I was leaving tonight. Ok, so I took them...let's face it, it's a long drive home tomorrow!

THE STAFF: Never do I go to a regional or tournament without thanking the volunteers and staffers for all they do. Many times, they don't even get to enjoy the games; they're too busy working. But I have to give credit to all the staffers that helped me while working. Jayna Rasmussen not only helped with getting through the Univ. of Texas wireless security check, she constantly was making sure all of us were ok, getting us information, and running non-stop, never ceasing to smile. In the media room, Rachel Lindsay was all over the place, giving stats, running up and down press row with name tags, running up and down rows with the mic for the press, and directing us on where to go after press conferences. She was so good, the moderator and remaining press applauded her when the last press conference was done.

TEX-MEX: Now, Texans claim that they're the best when it comes to Mexican food and BBQ. While the BBQ served to us was definitely lacking (great beef but poor sauce), the Mexican food was for real. Where else are you going to find good Tex-Mex but right in Austin? I was determined to eat Tex-Mex at least once here, so I went on a search for a place that was popular with the locals. I found it in a small patio restaurant known as Taco Cabana. Good tacos, plus VERY hot salsa that nearly burned off my tongue!

THE BAD

ERWIN CENTER RESTROOM LOCATIONS: It's a lonnnnng walk from the media center to press row at the Erwin Center (161 steps if you want to be exact). While that's great exercise for legs that sit for a long time, it's the same amount of steps to the nearest restroom....so needless to say, one must be very careful when consuming beverages.

THE ADVERTISING FOR THE TOURNAMENT: When Oklahoma City hosted the Big XII Tournament, there were signs all over the city selling the tournament to the public. Billboards, bus signs, park benches, banners on streets....everyone knew what was going on. However, there were no signs at all here in Austin. Furthermore, there was advertising for the 07 Soccer Championships...in College Station! That doesn't help the women's game much here.

THE UGLY

THE CROWDS: I think the largest crowd for a game was announced at 3,900, and that was a stretch. The Austin public didn't know much about it, or didn't care since Texas wasn't in the tournament, and the fans just didn't want to travel that far to watch these games (esp. Marquette and West Virginia fans...that's a long trip!). The crowds just didn't show up, and it didn't bring the March Madness atmosphere that these girls deserve.

Think I'm joking? Sherri Coale agreed with the above statement. In fact, she wants a change in the tournament system.

"We're not ready for pre-determined sites yet in women's basketball," Coale said. "We're growing, but we're behind the men right now. We need to learn from what they do. The passion for the women's game just hasn't swept the entire country just yet. Now, we were fortunate to have a lot of fans come down to support us. But we're a spoiled team. We played in front of crowds of 7,000-8,000 a game at the Lloyd Noble Center. In Oklahoma City...it was a sellout crowd that was definitely partial to us. But even if it was a huge crowd against us, we'd play better. I'd rather play in a hostile arena than an empty one. We feed off the crowd's energy, and when there's no crowd, we have a tough time getting energized."

No doubt, better advertising, and putting games at sites where the fans show up would definitely create a better feel for this tournament.

Posted by Jean Neuberger at 01:12 AM on March 20, 2007
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