One of the great things about the day before an NCAA subregional, regional or Final Four is that the public can come and watch the teams practice for free! This is enormous Ford Field in Detroit, which is normally used for American-style football. The stadium will have 72,000 available seats for this weekend -- for basketball! You can't tell from this shot, but the Davidson Wildcats are out there on the floor. Can you find Bally in this picture?
Oh, there he is. It's easy to get lost in such a ginormous building.
These padded-back chairs were added on the endlines on two risers, and will cost people $150 per session.
This here is what will be the Davidson section. If you're a student there, you won't have to pay nearly as much. Thanks to the board of trustees, you can get in for free!
As we're sure you know, Detroit will be the site of next year's Final Four. The NCAA is experimenting with a new floor layout for this regional and the one at Reliant Stadium in Houston (the site of the 2010 Final Four) -- the playing surface is raised several feet off the ground like a stage. Here, Bally sits behind one of the two benches and demonstrates how he'll be able to see the floor at exactly eye level.
There's a set of stairs next to each bench. The head coaches will have the option whether to stand on the higher level during the game, or stand in the pit with his players. When Davidson head coach Bob McKillop was asked which level he'd stand on during the game, he answered, "I'm delighted that CBS has two-and-a-half minute timeouts because it's going to take me that long to get down from the court, down the steps and kneel in front of our bench. So I'll probably be up on the main court during the game."
There are also a set of stairs on each baseline so that photographers and stuff can get up and down. (That's Kansas out there practicing. Boo!)
Here's one of the official coach stools. Bally's just trying it out.
Getting around in such a huge building is really difficult, and there are color-coded arrows all over the floors so that folks can get to where they're going. When you have short legs like Bally, however, it can be exhausting as well as confusing.
There's a giant bracket here too, just like at Birmingham and all other NCAA sites. Here's the Midwest region, a reminder of how far we've come with this thing in just under two weeks.
One of our favorite parts of any NCAA event is the media hospitality. On today's menu: salad and cookies!
There are also the ubiquitous NCAA/Dasani cups, which you have to keep your beverages in if you want to even think about going out onto the floor. This backstage water cooler is filled with a local vendor's water, however (which, by the way, tastes a lot better).
There's a lot of cheese popcorn to eat in between meals if you're so inclined. This is one of Bally's favorite snacks, mostly because it's the only one that is as iridescent orange as he is. It's also the perfect snack for kicking back and watching exciting NCAA basketball from the other regional sites. Enjoy the games!