Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – Delta Airlines has stepped up big to help Nevada basketball fans wishing to avoid driving eight hours to Salt Lake City for Thursday’s opening-round game (noon, CBS) against Montana at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
The airline, according to Nevada officials, have added an extra flight today and Thursday. Check http://www.delta.com for more information.
According to local airport officials at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Delta was asked earlier this week when Nevada was assigned to Salt Lake City if the airline could add additional flights and that was done.
The Nevada Alumni Association is having a get-together at 10 a.m.Thursday at Squatter’s, a local brew pub in Salt Lake City.
Squatters is located at 147 West Broadway. Kurt Esser, assistant athletic director for marketing, said a small fee will be charged, and each attendee will receive a rally towel.
No rallies are planned at the present time, according to Esser, who was leaving Reno today with the rest of the official traveling party. The team departed on Tuesday.
TICKETS GO FAST
Nevada sold its allotment of approximately 500 tickets in three hours, according to school personnel.
Tickets can be picked up at the downtown Marriott today and Thursday, according to Nevada officials. For more information on ticket pick-up in Salt Lake City, go to the Nevada website at http://www.nevadawolfpack.com.
Nevada fans also will be able to watch the early game between UOP and Boston College, which starts at 9:40 MDT. Nevada barely beat UOP earlier this year.
If Nevada beats Montana, it would play the UOP-Boston College winner on Saturday. The Tigers are making their third straight NCAA appearance under coach Bob Thomason.
SWAN SONG AT HUNTSMAN?
According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, this will probably be the last time that the NCAA Tournament will be held at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
The Huntsman Center has hosted 37 sessions of the tournament and 75 games, second-most in NCAA history behind the old Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, according to the Salt Lake paper.
University of Utah officials said that the 15,000-seat Huntsman Center is probably too small. Utah already has a bid in to host the 2010 first-and-second round games. If the bid is accepted, look for those games to be played at the Delta Center, home of the Utah Jazz. The Delta Center holds approximately 18,000 spectators.
In 1979, Magic Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans won the NCAA title at the Huntsman Center by beating Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores, 75-64. Salt Lake Trib writer Jay Drew ranked that as his No. 1 all-time tournament game in the Huntsman Center.
More and more, the NCAA has gone to the indoor football venues to hold their title games each year because they can sell more tickets. Indianapolis is the championship site this year, and was a first and second-round site last year.
BOSTON COLLEGE ANGRY
The Eagles, after a successful ACC Tournament, were dismayed to learn that they were playing on Thursday and not Friday. Oh well.
Veteran coach Al Skinner flew his team into Utah on Monday, and its probably a good thing. The Eagles will be playing a high-altitude game for the first time this season, and no doubt want an extra day to get acclimated.
Montana is a seven-point underdog to Nevada in Thursday’s games. The one advantage Montana does have is that the Big Sky finals were last Wednesday, thus giving the Grizzlies several extra days to practice.
Nevada finished up the WAC Tournament on Saturday night with a 70-63 overtime victory over Utah State, and coach Mark Fox gave the players Sunday off before resuming practice on Monday.