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NIT Journal: Wins, Blackjack, Food

LAS VEGAS — We wrote this morning about the game, proper. This ain’t that. This is the latest entry in the journal. So I was jokingly bragging about how I woke up early Sunday, played rec-league soccer stayed up. Worked early Monday, flew out, hung out, woke up early, worked, then did the whole game experience. The truth is I am tired. I am also powering through some of it. That’s the price of a good experience.

The Orleans Arena had a little blip with the media table. There were no power strips. One of the Wisconsin beat writers complained and the event staff got to work on it. By the time I sat at my media seat, I was sitting with a power strip. Someone — perhaps the guy who did the connection, or the local paper guy — moved my little marker one seat over. Still, it was fine.

It was all I went early to grab some pictures and check the set up. The floor felt bouncy, but that’s just me and I haven’t stepped on a ton of courts all season. It was fine. The NIT folks do a great job, and I believe the main people running the stuff are from the Las Vegas Convention Visitor’s Bureau. Originally when I saw the set up I wondered if there were enough seats. I suppose I was thinking the drawing power of the NIT Last Four was greater than originally thought. Wisconsin brought a great crowd, but NT/UVU/UAB only had an okay crowd. Also we couldn’t bring the band so instead we had some session guys (UNLV’s band) play, wearing green shirts. I wonder how common of a practice this is. There was something off about it. The music was fine, but the timing and enthusiasm wasn’t there. Those people don’t care about the buckets and haven’t watched like, Aaron Scott all season. They can’t possible care at the same level. One time they played a song — Zombie Nation’s “oh oh oh oh” song — and like, the 103 section was not into it. I saw the music director like, looking over at us to see if we were digging it. I was wondering if the hoops band ever plays that? I don’t know that they do. I know it is a thing, though, in college. Just weird vibes.

That difference — call it brand reach or whatever — is what separates the “power” 5 or “high-major” from the “mid-major” or “G5”. North Texas needs more t-shirt fans. For my part, I brought my buddy. He used my tickets (I also bought tickets — sort of as a hedge against not getting credentialed by the NCAA — but also just in case I wanted to give some away [I did!]) and had a great time. I know more people are trying to make it in the day’s break we have. Make it happen folks. Wisconsin brought their band. I think. I honestly can’t tell.

Beyond that, it is a nice place to watch basketball. The ticket map looked weird, but every seat has a great view. I didn’t ask about shooting sight-lines or backgrounds or anything, but that’s always a silly topic and the fact is that it doesn’t really effect shooting that much.

The concessions were much better than anything you get in Frisco (just facts folks) and the beer and wine selection is superior also. I mean, it makes sense from a place known for being the entertainment capital of the nation that it is easy to be entertained and fed and whatnot.

If you are staying in the Orleans Hotel, the walk from the Arena is very chill and you *can* do it all within the building. Those clever casino people. I played a little blackjack and was up, then I was out of cash that quickly. It happens, folks. Vegas is very good at taking your money and making you feel good about it all.

Today was chill. I tried to see if I could see the squad to a shoot around, but was ignored 1. As I noted to some people in and around the area, I am working my work job for work during the day and doing the MGN stuff in the off-hours. So it has not been pure vacation stuff (saving some PTO, folks) but it has been fun. It is easy to get right into the fun after closing my work laptop. The change in time-zones makes it easy to also do this. Work ends at 5pm, but that’s only 3pm here in Las Vegas, so I have plenty of time to get things done. It does mean I need to start earlier. I have had to pace myself a bit.

Speaking of the hotel again: one guy said “we are all meeting up at [some place]!” I said, “sure let’s do it” but then I see everyone — including said guy — at one of the bars on the way back. I’m sure at least a few folks did go to wherever, but it is hard to break the momentum. They have drinks here! Let’s just drink here! The bar in question was near the sports-book area so there were plenty of televisions and shots to be had while enjoying UVU’s near-win. Yes, even though intellectually we wanted UAB to win, no one could muster the enthusiasm to root for them.

Eventually I joined some friends-of-the-site at TGI Fridays. Everything in life cannot be special and sometimes you end up at a chain place and its fine. For the record, while there are fancier places to eat, sometimes you just want convenience. (My burger was fine, the beer was good).

Tonight, the plan is unclear. People love to talk — we all know those people and perhaps you are even one to make grand plans and then just decide staying in is the best option — and my personal goal is to try to make myself available. Am I getting a little tired? Yes.

I can rest next week. It’s Vegas, baby!

  1. I’m joking. But I asked about it. I didn’t get a response. So no extra insider-stuff, y’all

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