Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Pool Party

The NCAA is holding its women's water polo tournament in Davis, which is actually a nice break from the day-to-day drudgery of covering baseball in May. I have octupled my live water polo experience in about two days. The game is entertaining to watch -- a mix between basketbal and hockey. There are power plays for more brutal looking fouls.

So far, I'm having a hard time figuring out just how offenses are supposed to work. Everyone talks about post-ups and cutters after games, but every post player is nearly drowned on every entry pass, and the offenses only seem to use bad passes to move players around in the pool. And this is the highest level. I spent much of Friday trailing Lisa, Davis' resident water polo expert, trying to pick up terms and strategy hints. By Saturday I was throwing around terms like double-ejection and bar-down and probably sounding like an idiot to the coaches and players. Probably the fans too, given the Davis is a savvy water polo town. I'll have to see what the e-mail is like.

Professionally, this has given me an opportunity to see how the NCAA conducts a team championship from a media angle. The NCAA has tons of media polices, meaning there are designated press areas on the pool deck and a nicely constructed tent that only allows the sun in for about an hour between 3 and 4. There are also mandatory press conferences after each game, so we're getting enough access.

The only thing missing, is media. There are two newspaper reporters covering the event, me (for both my paper and the AP) and a dude from the big paper across the river. There are lot PR types poking around as well. The ones from New York are happy to be in town, the ones from Hawaii and SoCal could have done without this trip. I've covered the NCAA track finals in the past, but the press requirements during the preliminaries are more forgiving to the athletes. That's funny because there are about 100 credentialed media members at that event.

Anyway the finals are today at 8 Eastern and if your cable system gets CSTV, look for me on the pool deck.

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