The St. Pete Times Forum is a major league facility...certainly good sightlines in the lower level. The parking garage ($10) is a short walk from the Forum...no further than the end of Card Gym lot to Cameron. There is a mega Marriott in walking distance, if the Final Four is in your plans.
I had great seats in the 4th row behind the Duke bench...seated next to me was Mark Stein (Duke, 1997), head of the Duke Club in Tampa. He organized the turnout that looked to be a couple of hundred and the Coach P meet and greet after the victory.
The second game was Tennessee and Oklahoma---and it might as well have been a Tennessee home game. There was a sea of orange in every section. Their roar when Tennessee took the floor for warm-ups was intense. They are great fans and deserve all the respect and accolades that can be given.
The first site to greet me was Abby Waner on crutches and in a boot. The add thing to me was she wore a high heel on the other foot. Whenever I have been on crutches, the doc has told me the uninjured leg has to do all the work and needs to be stable.
There was a lot to like in this game. The Denver game sounded very lackadaisical and sluggish to me. This one showed off the speed---especially Jasmine. Most surprising to me is the speed that Joy and Krystal get down the floor for bigs. They have far, far greater mobility than Bales.
Krystal had a nice personal cheering section from Orlando. Too bad she got two fouls almost immediately after being subbed in and had to sit the rest of the first half. When she played, she was a force---at least a half dozen blocks---a couple which were thunderous.
Jasmine had a handful of steals, assists and blocks from the smallest player on the floor, and did not the same mistake twice.
Chante and Ketura seemed to be dominant on the boards. Brittany had a few assists...a couple that were eye popping.
For most of the first half our free throw attempts were atrocious...then we started a run of never missing. Chante was particularly deadly from the line---may not have missed any of her attempts.
USF played all 40 minutes and was very physical. They had two centers listed at 6'3" who both fouled out by the first half of the second period.
Brittany went out with a cut to eye area from an elbow. At the second half 8 minute timeout, Wanisha was in obvious pain and called a trainer over and spent the rest of the game with ice on her hand.
Coach P was most gracious at the meet and greet. About 50 in attendance.
She is a good salesman...and just might fill Cameron on a regular basis. She knows the average attendance figures for all the elite programs, and stressed that for Duke to get to the Tennessee/U-Conn level we need eight to nine thousand a night in Cameron. She will go door-to-door to sell them. Somehow she needs to get the students to take the lead in that quest---in my opinion.
Said Abby has a high ankle sprain and will be out at least thru the Paradise Jam...was most enthusiastic about the recruits for next year...praised the girls as special people...could not say enough nice things about the assistants and staff.
Strength and conditioning continue to be in her mantra. She said we will continue to see an emphasis on post play. With four bigs and a couple who can play big, she plans to exploit that area.
Still says point will be by committee. Does not want to rely on only one player in case of injury---wants to keep as many people involved as possible.
With a two-hour drive home, I left with about 5 minutes to go in the first half of the Tennessee/Oklahoma game.
Watching Candice Parker go against Courtney Paris is like watching beauty and the beast...a cement mixer vs. a Corvette.
Paris is a wide load who can bully her way into position regularly...no finesse, just brute strength. She picked up a couple of quick fouls and was replaced by Abi Olajuwon...just as tall at 6'4" and even wider.
Candice is simply poetry in motion. I think she is the first player I have seen listed in the program's position column as F/C/G. An amazing athlete.