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McCollum: With a salute to hospitality, some basketball observations

Posted: March 10, 2014 - 6:07pm

With state tournaments hot an heavy, here’s a fresh batch of “David’s Appetizers,” assorted musings and observations on the sports scene:

 

UNSUNG HEROES

One of the key ingredients for a good state tournament for coaches, officials, workers and media are the hospitality rooms.

With wall-to-wall action, those of us who are involved with varous aspects of the tournaments have to eat and be merry on the fly. Having a first-class hospitality room is a key ingredient in the bidding for a state tournament.

And operating and managing the hospitality room, with eight games a day some days, is one of the toughest jobs at a tournament.

It’s really like coaching eight straight games without a break.

Activity is a constant flow tournament officials coming and going.

It’s a fullcourt press.

Crock pots must be plugged in and monitored. Food, much of it donated from various restaurants, must be set up in an orderly fashion. Tea and water containers must be kept filled. Tables must be cleaned. Messes must be cleaned up. Menus must be scheduled.

It’s like the Duggar clan comes in every eight minutes.

Smiling faces mandatory.

I’m sure it’s a similar situation at all state sites, but what I’ve seen over a week in the 7A state tournament at Buzz Bolding Arena from Cheryl Daniels, wife of Conway athletic director Steve Daniels, and her crew of volunteers, was impressive in class and thoroughness. Those folks worked and worked relentlessly in a tournament that had chances and delays due to weather.

Conway businesses stepped up big, but so did the volunteer workers. Several of the dishes and desserts were homemade and the workers made sure there was a good selection. Daniels made five desserts Sunday for the final round Monday.

So, with the need to head to the gym, here’s a salute to hospitality rooms everywhere and the workers who made it special. While I’m in praise mode, Conway, using both its athletic staff, volunteers and workers from UCA, did an extremely efficient and effective job in running the tournament, which was tossed into their lap at the last minute when North Little Rock was unable to host.

PACKED

The crowd for Monday’s Bentonville-North Little Rock semifinal was the largest ever at Buzz Bolding Arena.

The arena seats 2,600. But there were at least 500 to 600 people standing along the concoure and in every nook and cranny. The line for tickets was all the way along one side of the area by the second quarter. Conway officials locked the doors the second half.

“We could have let a few more people in but we were concerned there one be problems with the large crowd leaving and another coming in,” said Steve Daniels. “We asked folks to leave in an orderly fashion and they did. For awhile, they we were selling tickets as fast as we could sell them.”

 

THE OTHER SIDE

After the Arkansas Razorbacks did everything right against Ole Miss, folks wondered when the “antithesis” game would occur.

It happened against Alabama, the nature of which placed the Razorbacks’ NCAA hopes in serious jeopardy. Most observers now say they have to win one to three games in the tourney to make the NCAA field.

It all depends on what surprises occur in conference tournaments — which high seeds whose NCAA bids are already assurred and which teams win automatic bids that would not otherwise make the field.

Right now, there are too many variables. There are educated guesses but they are just guesses.

 

WICHITA STATE

The Shockers, who will enter the NCAA tourney at 34-0, are fun to watch.

The Shockers are now the new poster folks for the type of program all mid-majors aspire.

Remember, when mid-major programs wanted to be the new Gonzaga? Then, it was becoming the new Butler. With a Finl Four appearance last year and this year’s record, Wichita State wears the mid-major crown.

Some friends of mine in Kansas are bewildered. Kansas, perennial power and the Big 12 champion that is pretty darn good, is being upstaged in its own state.

(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or david.mccollum@thecabin.net or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)

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