Your Hoopscribe has arrived at the MassMutual Center to cover his 23rd consecutive MAAC tournament, the first one ever played here in Springfield, Mass., the birthplace of basketball.
Initial impressions? The facility that will hold a crowd in the low-7,000's, is bright and sharp looking. It's an older place (I recall covering college games here as far back as the mid-1980's), but looks to have been substantially renovated since then and has held its age well.
The arena is probably the perfect size for this event. It remains to be seen how crowds will be, but there are probably 100, or so, fans here for the Iona-Rider women's first-round game. Not bad for a Thursday at noon contest on a snowy day (much fog and slush coming through the Berkshires this morning, but no real travel woes).
There are several outstanding hotels within easy walking distance and, it looks like, several appealing sports-pub type facilities where one can get a cold libation and some good eats after games.
All in all a good impression so far, albeit an early one.
If you're a basketball fan, there are certainly worse places to be starting today and through Monday night than downtown Springfield, Mass.
But, if you can't make it the hope is that you'll check in to this blog early and often. We'll have reports on every game whether they be in the form of game reports or other interesting items ... and there are always plenty of those.