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Tournament in blue

by Nate Billings Modified: April 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm •  Published: March 22, 2013
The Oklahoma Sooners take shots during the practice and press conference day for the second round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Thursday, March 21, 2013. OU will play San Diego State in the second round on Friday. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman
The Oklahoma Sooners take shots during the practice and press conference day for the second round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Thursday, March 21, 2013. OU will play San Diego State in the second round on Friday. Photo by Nate Billings, The Oklahoman

 

I’ve been lucky enough to have covered Oklahoma teams in the NCAA Tournament for more than a decade.

And, when I think about the Tournament the first thing that comes to mind is not the crazy upsets I’ve covered, such as Kansas losing to both Bucknell and Northern Iowa, or the cities I’ve been able to visit.

No, I think of the color blue.

One area in which the NCAA excels is the consistency of the Tournament’s brand and feel at the games, especially in the work areas. Every site seems familiar because of the ubiquitous blue carpet and drapes, as well as NCAA-specific basketball floors at each arena.

It’s been this way since as long as I’ve been covering these games, except for the floors. Those were just starting to become consistent when I photographed my first few NCAA men’s basketball tourneys.

The blue mandate goes so far as to include drinking cups. If you take a beverage or some popcorn to press row, it has to be in a blue NCAA cup. This year’s cups are sponsored by Powerade. It was Dasani for a long time.

Here are some pics to give you a sense of what it looks like behind the scenes in Philadelphia where the Sooners will play tonight.

 

Coaches and players meet the media here.
Coaches and players meet the media here.

 

If you're drinking it near a TV camera, it's going to be in these cups.
If you're drinking it near a TV camera, it's going to be in these cups.

 

A chance to grab some simple but appreciated food between games.
A chance to grab some simple but appreciated food between games.

 

This is the "Digital Darkroom." That means photographers work here and must pay $200+ to get the internet to send pictures. It is also often full of more blue than workspace.
This is the "Digital Darkroom." That means photographers work here and must pay $200+ to get the internet to send pictures. It is also often full of more blue than workspace.

 

Here's the room that holds the writers. They must have run out of blue carpet.
Here's the room that holds the writers. They must have run out of blue carpet.

 

The blue carpet leads to the light at the end of the tunnel, where the basketball games get played.
The blue carpet leads to the light at the end of the tunnel, where the basketball games get played.

 

Here’s a gallery from the practice and press conference day for the Sooners.

Check tomorrow in The Oklahoman and late tonight on NewsOK for pictures from the game against San Diego State.

 

-Nate Billings

 

 

 

 

 

 

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by Nate Billings
Photographer
Nate Billings never planned to become a photojournalist. He took pictures as a hobby growing up and worked as an assistant for his father, a commercial still and video photographer, but chose to study English Literature in college. Billings did...
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