COLUMBIA, S.C. - Dawn Staley finally ran into an opponent she could not beat. Monday's big campus return celebration for the NCAA champion South Carolina Gamecocks, conquerors of women's hoops, was pushed back four hours because of dangerous southern weather reaching town.
Jim Lynam took two steps at a time going up Section 110 of the Wells Fargo Center. The clock was ticking, and if you're a basketball guy, you respect the clock. Lynam was due on the air at Comcast SportsNet but he wanted to talk to a New York Knicks assistant coach, and then get in and see the Knicks head coach.
STORRS, Conn. - Kathy Auriemma leaned in to make herself heard. A section over, the Connecticut Huskies band had begun playing, and Gampel Pavilion was starting to fill up for the greatest show in the state. Before Auriemma took her seat across from the UConn bench, second row on the aisle, a gray-haired man with an American flag on his sweater stopped to talk of a friend, a man "named Yo . . . "
Chet Zukowski knew his job. The moment the game ended, he was to lead the ticket manager from the winning school to the Spectrum ticket office to get their allotment of Final Four tickets. Zukowski was eye-balling the ticket reps from Kentucky and Duke that 1992 night, tracking their movements as the game wound down to a final play.
Del Val Charter basketball coach James Lewis, looking to be thorough in his scouting report for Sunday's PIAA Class 3A state quarterfinal against Valley Forge Military Academy, went through the X's and O's, but his players, knowing the elephant in their own locker room, weren't going to let him off the hook.
A note on the door said not to knock, just to come in. A dog barked but otherwise, not much noise, until you heard a voice behind a door, "Who's picking next?" The door led to the basement, all seats taken, about 20 guys, from 15 years old to grandfather.
First reaction: The NCAA tournament selection committee did Villanova no big favors again. Of course, putting Villanova in the same East region as overall top seed Kansas last season ended up hurting only Kansas.
For all the old building has seen in 90 years, here was something new, Yale's players out of their locker room, standing over in the northeast corner of the Palestra, taking in the last seconds. Harvard's players did the same over in the northwest corner, the bedlam drawing them out.
Among other assignments, Mike Jensen writes "Off Campus," a regular column on college sports for the Inquirer. A staff writer with the paper since 1988, Jensen covered college basketball and football beats for 15 years, wrote about soccer from 10 countries on five continents, and was assigned to the Kentucky Derby the year of Smarty Jones. He won Eclipse Awards for his coverage of Smarty Jones and Barbaro.