Beantown Doings -- Day One -- Sort Of
The other uses her hands to give you the first night of local and semi-social action that I no longer have the energy to provide.
So, Kate, the blog is all yours.
BOSTON — Hello all. This is Kate Burkholder coming to you from Boston. I’m here with Mel at the Final Four and WNBA festivities, and as our first day is nearing a close it has already provided us with a few worthy stories.
Upon check-in the media hotel here, we immediately had a Pat Summitt sighting.
I haven’t seen her in, oh, about a week since the press conference after the Rutgers-Tennessee game when she told us how much she loves Vivian Stringer.
Which reminds me to introduce myself more formally: I’m the associate sports editor at the independent Rutgers student newspaper (The Daily Targum) and have covered the Scarlet Knights women for the past two years — a.k.a., since I’ve been a college student.
After we checked in we were off to the NCAA Women’s Basketball 25th Anniversary Salute Dinner, and as we were waiting for the shuttle to take us we spotted Stacy Dales-Shuman outside.
What I know about her is that on Selection Monday she picked all of the No. 1 seeds to make it here to Boston, and while I didn’t think that was very gutsy of her, wouldn’t you know she was 75-percent right.
When we got to the dinner I immediately learned one important fact: Mel knows everybody, and everybody knows Mel.
And now I know more than I ever did about Mel because I got the whole history, all five hours, all 325 miles on the odometer, between Piscataway, N.J., and here.
But don't think it was such a bad thing because the hours flew by. Mel's original plan to kill the trip was to program driving music from among the 8,000 or songs in his I-Pod.
Instead, I endured the first New Jersey-Boston podcast covering 25 years of women's basketball, but it was a good thing, really.
I finally found a way to create a break in the action when we made a brief snack stop and discovered my chex mix kept hm under control for at least 15 minutes.
Seriously, though, Mel was a gracious host to get me connected.
He introduced me to a handful of famous basketball personalities, the most fun to me being Diana Taurasi, who stopped eating her chocolate mousse long enough to ask me about what it has been like to cover Cappie Pondexter and what I think of college so far.
That made my night.
(I also found out that she and Mel have a line-topper competition. She asked who let him in the house and Mel responded that the only reason she was invited to the dinner was he punched the wrong entry on his committee ballot when he was really trying to enter Dawn Staley.
Why are we not surprised. :) )
Then there were the two older women at our table from Iowa, who literally worshiped Coach Stringer and asked all about my trip out there earlier in this Rutgers season when she made her historic homecoming for the Hawkeye Challenge.
Watching the 25th Anniversary tribute videos was also a lot of fun.
They talked with Maryland player Crystal Langhorne who played high school ball at Willingboro, which is about 20 minutes from my house in South Jersey.
Then hosts Debbie Antonelli and Beth Mowins took a tape measure to North Carolina’s star point guard Ivory Latta — announcing she was 5-foot-7, only an inch taller than me! (I think they were being generous, though).
But I would say that probably the most important thing I’ve learned so far is how much that women’s basketball means to the people here.
The celebration of 25 years is impressive to me, especially considering that most of these people have seen all 25 of the tournaments and have seen the tremendous growth in the women’s game, which is one of the main reasons for celebration this weekend.
I think that is a great thing.
Ok, so it’s probably the end of Day 1 for us, unless Mel decides there’s still enough time in the day for us to go out and be social. (His phone has been ringing since he got here, although he claims it's his editors in the office.)
Saturday is going to be jam-packed with an early ESPN event, the preview press conferences, Player of the Year Announcements, and the Night of the Stars (senior all-star game and high school All-America game) at which I’ll get to see the past and future of Rutgers women’s hoops come together in the form of Cappie and Epiphany Prince.
So on that note, goodnight! Or as you know from reading him if Mel has anything to do with it, Good morning!