The Big Orange

You don’t often get a chance to be a part of a spectacle, in a good way. When my moonlighting gig at the local arena listed the NCAA’s regional, I knew I kind of wanted to see some of it. I’ve long thought its good for your soul to lose yourself in something bigger than you and this seemed like one of those times. I’m not the biggest basketball fan. The pro game doesn’t do much for me. Just as I was starting to appreciate it, the Buffalo Braves were taken from me. 4 years at St. Bonaventure in the early 80s got you used to hearing how good Syracuse was and the games were more something to organize your saturday evening beverage consumption around. In a way, it was perfect training for a Mets fan.

But working the event is something, even if it was relegated to WTBS.
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It’s kind of a big deal. I couldn’t fit all the media outlet trucks in the photo, but they were in such number, they enveloped the First Niagara Center.

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Below is one of the invites for tourney fans to have a cold drink, which you couldn’t do inside at the game. Given that it took so long to get the two games in, that was a good thing. But no points for guessing what the first thing I did once I got dismissed.

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The back of our downtown sports palace is a little warehouse like, depending on the event. With the basketball circus in town, backstage turned into a maze of makeshift draped corridors to accommodate the television networks, the schools, and other dignitaries, both real and imagined.

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The souvenir offerings were a little lacking. There wasn’t much to commemorate the Buffalo locale or the schools involved. In a sense I understand that. Most of the stuff was promoting the final four, but in my guise as usherman, a few folks, mostly SU peeps, were looking for ways to part with their monies.

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I took this one as it was the first view I had of the actual thing, never been involved with a TV show at the level before, and first time I’d ever been to a basketball game of any significance.

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The tourney organizers brought Sabre covers for the scoreboard, guess they heard.

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That’s the Orange pep band. Their polo shirts had a big blue stripe across them. From my vantage point, it initially looked like they were paying homage to Charlie Brown.

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And this was where I was paid to watch basketball.

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Got the basketball jones…..

Truth be told, with all the brackets getting busted on Thursday, I think that is why this one got played at night, and while I don’t watch much basketball, the Syracuse Dayton game wasn’t very good. The Uconn Villanova game was a little more entertaining, but I didn’t give it its due, because after standing in the same general turf for seven hours, they needed to be playing dodgeball to hold my interest.

But still, Buffalo doesn’t get many opportunities to play on this scale, so it was cool to play a part in it this one time.

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