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Huntsman Center is past its prime

Darrell Moody

Mopping up after four uneventful days last week in Salt Lake City.

After spending a couple of days tromping around the Huntsman Center at the NCAA Tournament, I’ve come to the conclusion that the old building has outlived its usefulness.

It doesn’t have as much seating (15,000) as the NCAA would like, and it certainly isn’t media friendly as Northern Nevada reporters found out last week. Floor seating was extremely cramped, and reporters had to essentially walk across the street for post-game interviews.

Apparently, Salt Lake has put a bid into hosting the first and second-round again in 2009 or 2010. However, there is a good chance that it could be held at the Delta Center, home of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, which seats 18,000.

The NCAA is in love with Salt Lake City for some reason. The Huntsman Center has hosted the second-most NCAA games to date.

I can think of at least nine of 10 sites in the West that would be better than Salt Lake from both a media and fan standpoint.

The New Arena in Oakland, the Staples Center and the Forum in Los Angeles, Key Arena in Seattle, Rose Garden in Portland, the Tacoma Dome, Cox Arena in San Diego, Arco Arena in Sacramento, Save Mart Center in Fresno and HP Pavilion in San Jose.

All of these arenas should be in a regular rotation each year. All I’m sure have enough seating to meet NCAA standards, and being pro facilities, I’m sure they are much more media friendly.

The only drawback to going to Fresno as a first and second-round site is that Fresno might not have enough good hotels to house eight teams and their traveling parties. Other than that, the Save Mart Center is one of the best arenas in the country. It has already hosted games in the women’s tournament, and Fresno State did that to prepare for hosting a men’s tourney somewhere along the road.

(insert bullet) Four former Douglas High softball players are currently playing Division I softball.

Kaycee Wilcks has appeared in 13 of Nevada’s 28 games. She is currently hitting .364 with three RBI and has seen action in the outfield and as the team’s designated player.

Brittany Puzey, who missed almost all of her senior season at Douglas last year with a thumb injury, is hitting .272 for the Wolf Pack. Puzey has two homers and a team-leading 22 RBI in 27 games.

Valerie Smith, a four-year starter at Douglas, is currently the starting catcher at Columbia, a member of the Ivy League. Smith has appeared in all but one of Columbia’s 18 games. She’s hitting .339 with four homers and 14 RBI.

Columbia just finished playing in the Capitol Classic in Sacramento, and Smith helped her team to a 2-2 record. Smith went 2-for-4, including a two-run homer, to lead Columbia to a 4-3 win over Minnesota.

Smith went 1-for-3 in a 2-1 win over Nevada, went 1-for-3 in a 2-1 loss to Cal and went 1-for-3 with an RBI in a 4-3 loss to Colorado State.

Kristy Olsen is a sophomore outfielder at Iowa State of the Big 12. Olsen is currently hitting .245 with two RBI thus far.

Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281