Sports 56 WHBlog Q

March 28, 2008

Tonight’s the Night

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Peter Edmiston @ 11:22 am

I thought I’d pop up a few pictures from the open practices yesterday at Reliant Stadium so you could get an idea of what exactly the setup is going to look like. I can tell you that it is very cool, but also potentially a bit dangerous. The court is quite literally in the middle of the stadium and is elevated precisely 27 inches off the ground on a stage. There are two issues with this system:

Issue 1: There’s only about 5 feet of room between the sideline and the edge of the stage.

Reason for concern: If a player dives for a loose ball, there is a distinct possibility that the player could fly off the stage, WWF-style, into the scorer’s table, the team benches, or just to the floor.

Issue 2: There’s about 40 yards between the goals and the black curtains put up to cut off part of the stadium.

Reason for concern: This might be the toughest gym to shoot in I’ve ever seen. No depth perception at all. It is going to take a serious adjustment period for the players to start hitting shots. The Tigers missed a ton of shots during the open practice. So did Michigan State (although not as many as the Tigers). Could be trouble.

So be aware of that as you watch tonight’s games. The setup is supposedly similar at Ford Field in Detroit, though I certainly wouldn’t know about that. I should point out also that Reliant Stadium is just enormous – it’s huge and really cool. The exterior just towers over the Astrodome, which is right next door. And the folks in Houston really are very friendly and easy to work with. I’ve enjoyed it so far.

George-style restaurant review: Ragin’ Cajun, 4302 Richmond Ave. Ate dinner here last night. It’s an inexpensive place started by Lafayette expatriots (and Louisiana-Lafayette alums, hence the name). Brilliant crawfish, so I’m told, though I went with the grilled red snapper along with the chicken and shrimp gumbo. It was excellent. Very authentic and casual. The big salads here are indeed BIG (try the buffalo shrimp salad). $, ***

For what it’s worth, I’ve picked Stanford and Memphis to win tonight, but my picks have not exactly been fantastic as of late. Here are the pictures:

Houston 1

The Tigers prepare for their practice session. Note the steps – you have to climb up to the court.

Getting loose. You can see the curtain in the back and the potential for difficult shooting.

Michigan State working out.

More Spartans.

The Tiger bigs go through a layup drill.

Not an extraordinary crowd or anything…not even for Texas. But check out how high some of those seats are. $165!

They’ve hoisted this scoreboard/video screen rigging especially for the South Regional. It’s enormous.

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