I'm not used to things opening an hour and a half before things are supposed to start. The gates opened at 9:30, and it's quarter past ten, and I'm expecting things to be happening already.
The UConn autograph line is already packed, and UConn doesn't sign until after 12. Good Lord, people. Cal's line is pretty much empty.
Teams spotted so far: Monmouth, Texas, Southern Miss, Wyoming, Southern, Louisiana Tech, Drew, New Hampshire, Texas Southern, Marquette, San Diego State, UConn (of course), Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, North Carolina State, North Carolina (and I think she might have been Charlotte Smith, but we're currently having a philosophical debate as to whether known affiliation allows for a double count for Elon), Oakland, Cal State Dominiguez Hills, Sam Houston State, East Carolina (though they were here for the combine, so maybe that doesn't count?), Boston College, LSU, Ole Miss, Allegany, Moravian, West Chester, Vermont, Washington, VCU, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Memphis, Cal (of course), Tulane, Louisville (of course), Notre Dame (eventually, of course), Michigan, Colorado State, Maryland (who are really showing out- fear the Turtle!), Wichita State, Baruch (CUNY up in here!), Arizona State, Oregon, NYU, Georgetown, Wake Forest, Richmond, Rutgers, Stanford, Detroit Mercy, Regis, Niagara, Quinnipiac, Texas A&M, Cal State Northridge, Baylor, St. John's (not us), Buffalo, Minnesota, Michigan State, Duke, Missouri State, Syracuse, DePaul, Delaware, Navy, Tulsa, Alabama, Nebraska, Illinois State, Marist, Temple, Middle Tennessee, Texas Tech, Florida State, Rock Valley, Harvard, Wisconsin, Emory, Maryville, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, one very nifty Canberra Caps Ardossi jersey, Seattle Storm, Minnesota Lynx, and Connecticut Sun.
I love marching bands! I love traveling fans! I love the tournament atmosphere! Boom de yada! Boom de yada!
I think ESPN is doing a piece on Shoni and Angel, because, well, Angel just wandered through, hair all slicked back and pretty.
The trophy is in the building. I got a picture. I have taken many pictures. I will take many more pictures.
The Golden Bears have rolled out, and so far the practice seems fairly serious, at least until the band starts up and the tuba stands alone. They're pretty loose, though. I'm not sure what my favorite part about Cal being in the Final Four is, the pleasant surprise or the Straw Hat Band. But this is so much fun, and they have more beads! Shiny things! The Cal players were really hyped about seeing their fans- I think some of the people behind us may be serious boosters.
Louisville's band is AWOL, presumably in Atlanta with the boys, so they're borrowing part of the Tulane band. They're doing basic stretching first, and Monique Reid is biking to nowhere. Seriously, someday someone's going to hook a generator to those bikes and reduce energy bills in arenas by something like 5%. The Dark Angel herself appears to be the Cards' special guest for this. I guess she's supposed to inspire them or something. Louisville is taking this practice dead serious- one of the grad assistants is handing out a practice schedule. Good Lord, that's neurotic. And the band came out late, so they are here. A bit disorganized, but here. And rocking the heck out of "Stayin' Alive" and the Ghostbusters theme. Louisville players are helping throw the beads now. Shelby Harper has no arm. Cortnee Walton does.
WBCA All-American team about to be announced. Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins, Stefanie Dolson, Chelsea Gray, Brittney Griner, Kayla McBride, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Chiney Ogwumike, Odyssey Sims, Alyssa Thomas. Delle Donne gave a little speech. Pictures were taken. Plugs were made. Alyssa Thomas immediately went to find the Maryland staff and Laura Harper (who just ran off to glomp someone)
Notre Dame's turn to practice. They have names even on their practice jerseys. They are really committed to that gods awful lime green. :( Niele Ivey is gorgeous, though. Absolutely breathtaking. Jewell Loyd had a fantastic tip-in from a very defensive drill. The band started taunting declaring their intent to beat UConn. And then Diggins and McBride danced with pom-poms.
Capital One is sponsoring a contest in which all the shots have to be banked in, which is a little ridiculous, but both of the contestants managed it, which is awesome.
UConn's open practice was mostly three-shooting. I took pictures, but that's about it.
Battle of the Bands needs to stop being decided on crowd noise, because UConn fans would cheer for their band if they just farted in a vague sense of rhythm. Notre Dame's male cheerleaders did a remarkable worm stunt six deep. Cal was musically the best. Louisville was outmanned and stood no chance, though the flip on top of the pyramid was awesome. UConn's band took direct aim at Notre Dame- both of them played "When the Saints Go Marching in". UConn's was technically better, but they lost me when they decided to throw in "Who dat say dey gon' beat dem Huskies?" You do not steal the "who dat". And then they decided to take an encore they weren't entitled to. That stuff gets you thrown out of band competitions in some places. Musically, I think it was close between UConn and Cal, but Notre Dame was good and had great stunts. But UConn fans... sorry, guys, but stop with the blind loyalty and get some musical taste.
High-schoolers have taken the floor. Tamika Catchings and Swin Cash are the honorary(?) coaches. What is with the neon green on ALL the things this year? Seriously. I recognize a few more of the high schoolers this year.
Tulane band was very disappointing. I assume that's not the whole band, but they hit several sour notes.
Purple starters: Jessica Washington, Saniya Chong, Jessica Jackson, Diamond DeShields, Stephanie Mauvinga. Black starters: Kaela Davis, Alexis Brown, Kendall Cooper, Mercedes Russell, a young lady named Harper whose first name I didn't catch. (Linnae?)
I didn't really follow the game, because I wasn't interested, but it looks like Arkansas got a nice little shooter in Jackson, and maybe Rutgers fans have reason to be excited about Scaife.
Coda: after we adventured on Bourbon Street and found it not to our liking, we wound our way back to Canal and public transit through a side street. Suddenly I hear "Rebecca!" We turn around, and there's Shenneika Smith. Of all the places, and all the people, and all the times... it put a wonderful capper on the day. We chatted about Jeopardy! and the WBCA team, and it was good.