Filed by Wesley Rucker
I've covered the NCAA women's basketball tournament in Knoxville, and I've covered it in Chattanooga.
Neither is small, but neither one is Chicago, either.
Judging from today's press conferences, though, you wouldn't know. One of the world's largest skylines sits mere miles outside these walls, and you wouldn't know.
You wouldn't know that eight of the country's best women's hoops teams are in one place by today's media turnout.
I haven't seen more than 10 reporters at any of the team's press conferences - some way fewer than that - and that surprised me. I thought the women's game had come farther than this.
One reporter asked a question to a coach about a game he wasn't writing about " because it's better than silence."
I laughed, but I almost did the same thing an hour earlier.
The SEC (Kentucky), Big 10 (Michigan State), ACC (North Carolina State) and Big East (DePaul) are all represented at this pod, and DePaul plays just a few Rex Grossman throws across the way. But there's just barely more media here than there were in Chattanooga last year, and there were more at times when it was in Knoxville.
The women's selection show was moved to Monday this year in an attempt to draw more interest - a decision that caused one women's coach on Friday to say "it's not like people stop caring about the men's bracket on Monday."
I just thought it would be better in such a large, progressive city. But it's not. At least not yet.
I wouldn't expect a great fan turnout, either. Other than Wisconsin-Milwaukee (90 miles away), Michigan State (220 miles away) and host DePaul, this is a haul for these schools' fan bases. And DePaul only draws 2,645 fans per home game despite being ranked No. 13 in this week's Associated Press Poll.
Then again, these are the thoughts of the only non-green-wearing person in the greater Chicagoland area. And there's about 10 million people here, so consider the source.
I also slept three hours last night and got to the Chattanooga airport at 5:30 a.m. Again, consider the source.
The Lady Mocs looked more comfortable than I thought they would, but all four people at the podium - Coach Wes Moore and seniors Katasha Brown, Nicole Mattison and Tiffani Roberson - have all been here before. They've played and won in this tournament, albeit on their home floor.
"We are the only three (players) that have ever been here," Brown said. "I think some of our younger players are a little bit more intense than we are right now, but I wouldn't say that anybody is relaxed by any means."
Mattison said she's been on the younger players as a precautionary matter to keep them focused.
This isn't a vacation, and they're not treating it like one. And this is just a hunch " again, consider the source " but I don't think Brown, Mattison and Roberson will have their careers end like their junior season's did.
Winning would be a tall order, but no one here thinks a repeat of last year's WNIT blowout will happen. If only there were more people here to see it.
Wesley Rucker can be reached at email@example.com