The Big East Tournament is one of the greatest events in college basketball and is held at one of the best arenas, Madison Square Garden. This year, I was a credentialed media member, unlike past years when I would be chilling on the couch watching it on TV.
When I got off the train, I tried to follow the directions to Tower B, which is where I needed to pick up my media credential. I found out that I had to go to another media entrance to pick up my credential. Wandering around the massive arena looking for another glass door entrance that was labeled media, I went into the first place marked media.
Erin Andrews, the sideline reporter for Fox Sports in the tournament, was lagged behind me. OMG. She is someone that I really admire and is a very very attractive woman. I am not a starstruck person, but in this case I was. Sweating and trying to keep calm, I succeeded and got some words out of my mouth. I couldn’t believe it when she took the time to introduce herself.
Unfortunately, I was unable to keep the conversation going because that area was for people who already had their credentials. I am not that familiar with MSG and I guess I had a confused look on my face. Happily, The New York Knicks/Liberty Entertainment Marketing Director showed me the way to my place. It turned out to be a positive because she asked me to write an article for them.
Once I arrived into the media room, I saw some familiar faces from the previous Seton Hall games I have covered, which makes sense because Seton Hall was playing that night. I grabbed some stat booklets about each of the teams that would be playing later that day.
After gathering everything I needed, I sat down at a table in the cafe area. Since I am a student, I received food for free. What a perk! I learned a lesson while eating on Friday night, a lesson I thought I had learned previously, but when you are new to an environment and you are a bit nervous you forget things. Not trying to make excuses for myself, but I usually have my plate closer when I am eating. As I brought the colossal and slimy tomato closer to my mouth it slipped off my fork and went flying onto the table. Thankfully no one was watching me.
Gobbling up my sandwich, I scurried to the court to take a seat in order to get a closer look at both squads. This was also necessary for networking and for insider tweeting, what I do throughout the games. Within arm’s-length were people I only see on TV and in magazines, Bill Raftery, Gus Johnson and John Thompson Jr. to name a few. The first day, I sat in the press box, not the press row, where I usually sit, and it was no big deal because the seat provided a view of everything going on in the game.
I chatted it up during the game with a broadcaster for Bluejay Banter, who enlightened me with information about Creighton Basketball as we watched Syracuse fall on the mini TV at our seats and Seton Hall lose to eventual champion, Providence. I appreciate everyone’s insight and enjoy soaking up knowledge.
The second day, I was more comfortable with the stadium and had the same credential from the day before, so I didn't need to wander looking for it. I went through the main entrance and proceeded to the media area. I got there even earlier in advance in order to do more networking, get an early start on my sandwich, explore the stadium and watch the teams practice.
For the championship game, the press row was available and I was able to take my place among prestigious sports writers. It was a perfect view from behind the basket. It's always great to see an upset and the victor was one of the founding teams of the Big East and a group who has only been in the finals once before. It was an emotional win for Providence and it was incredible to witness it firsthand. Being on the court for the trophy ceremony and cutting of the net added to the experience.
After I was done taking pictures of Providence on the court, I worked up the courage to talk to Erin Andrews again. She was just as kind and personable. Ms. Andrews told me she would contact me and she even wanted to take a picture with me. It’s always a good thing when Erin Andrews wants to take a picture with you. This photo appeared on her Instagram and Twitter page, and was the highlight of my time there.
As Ms. Andrews went through the tunnel one way, I went the other way finding Doug McDermott of Creighton. It was worth missing the Bluejays press conference and I was still able to catch McDermott in the hallway after he spoke with Erin Andrews about some pain he was feeling in the game.
After I finished interviewing McDermott, I found a spot in the press conference to hear Providence's thoughts. I recorded the conference and tweeted live. I sat back, and was grateful for the experience and opportunity. Most importantly, I am appreciative that my family supports everything I want to do to pursue my dreams.
March Madness, here I come.
March Madness, here I come.