Well, the Vingle has landed. This time in beautiful San Diego.
I’ll spare those not here the details. About the palm trees. About the mild weather. About the incredible architecture. About the Weather Channel warning of a “small craft advisory” when a slight rain breezed through. About that Pacific Ocean thing.
What I will frame, though, is the basketball setting. The Viejas Arena is on the campus of San Diego State University, which has its Spanish Revival architecture. (In my next life, I promise it will be a college option.)
Anyway, the arena is small. The seating is steep. The place holds but 12,414 folks, although it is neat. I would think that’s very small for an NCAA tournament site.
The problem, however, is the distance from West Virginia. It’s a five-hour flight from the Mountain State. It’s about 2,300 miles from home. And that’s a problem.
The cost of airfare here was insane. Even Murray State coach Matt McMahon told me some of his school’s die-hard fans couldn’t afford the trip. And if you tried to get a rental car at the San Diego airport on Wednesday, well, you were out of luck. There were none. Thankfully, there are shuttle services and, for the media, shuttles from the media hotel to the Viejas Arena. (Funny story: On Thursday morning’s first shuttle run, the van driver got lost trying to find the drop-off. Apparently, GPS doesn’t track media drop-offs.)
Anyway, it’s a shame more WVU – and, for that matter, Marshall – fans can’t afford to experience this exciting time and beautiful venue. The airlines and hotels gouge fans. And the NCAA committee didn’t help by sending the Mountaineers all the way here. It seems to me it could do a little better – especially since the team finished No. 2 in the brutal Big 12 – placing squads.
Rest assured, however, the Gazette-Mail will keep you covered. I’m here to provide the WVU news. Doug Smock is here to blanket Marshall.