Patrick Talty, the general manager of U.S. Bank Stadium, has worked Final Fours dating back to his time at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis in 1997, and he said that the event put on in downtown Minneapolis over the past week was the best he has seen.
“I think it was a huge success,” he said. “This one was probably the best that I have been a part of. First of all the games were unbelievable. We had amazing games at the stadium. And then I thought the stadium set up so well for basketball.
“It was perfect. The seating looked great. It felt like a basketball arena. It had a lot of electricity in it, it was exciting. You could feel the excitement from all of the college basketball fans.”
Yes, more than 72,000 fans attended the Final Four semifinals Saturday and again for the championship game Monday, and the reception from such people as Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Charles Barkley and other prominent members of the media was that the city put on a world-class event.
Talty said that one of the biggest elements of the Final Four here was how the preparation by the staff members at the stadium made it a smooth tournament.
“Staff did a great job,” he said. “I think our biggest success was that our team was able to really deliver and make U.S. Bank Stadium the best basketball venue. I don’t think there is anything better out there for watching a Final Four. It was perfect, and it was the staff. They delivered. They delivered great customer service. They worked hard. It paid off.”
Does he think this will lead to more major events?
“I sure hope so,” Talty said. “Any time you get on the national stage and people talk about you, it definitely helps with your booking and selling the venue, trying to get more events.”
He detailed some of the major upcoming events at the stadium but also said that whether they are big events like the Final Four or more localized events, the stadium continues to be used daily.
“We have Garth Brooks in a month, two nights,” he said. “Don’t forget we have the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship next March. We have a ton of events happening. We have private events, other things, we’re constantly busy. We do almost 400 events a year. We never stop. The building is getting torn apart right now because we’re getting ready for a big annual meeting [for Mortenson Construction] we have on the floor next week.”
Bennett’s Big Ten ties
Tony Bennett led Virginia to one of the great comebacks in college basketball history after the Cavaliers became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed last season in the NCAA tournament and then turned it around to win it all this year in Minneapolis over Texas Tech.
His father, Dick Bennett, was a longtime head coach at Wisconsin, and when he got hired there in 1995, Bobby Knight told me that Wisconsin had made the right decision.
“Dick really understands the game and the important facts of it,” Knight said then. “Wisconsin’s history in hiring coaches has been up and down, and in my opinion, hiring Dick was a big up point.”
Bennett went on to have great success there, going to three NCAA tournaments in six seasons, including a Final Four in 2000, the first in program history.
Maybe the biggest decision that led to his son winning a national title on Monday was when Dick was named Washington State’s head coach in 2003 and brought his son there as an assistant coach.
After the game, in an on-court interview with the NCAA, Dick said taking that job had a lot to do with helping his son get his first head coaching job, which came three years later, when Dick resigned and Tony took over the head coaching position.
“As long as he wanted to coach I wanted to see that he had a chance,” Dick said. “Jim Sterk, the AD [Washington State athletic director] at the time, didn’t guarantee it but he said likely we will give him that job. I’m so happy that we went and he still loves the game enough to want to stay in it.”
The Vegas oddsmakers have already released the betting lines for who will win the 2020 NCAA championship, with Kentucky as the favorite (5-1) followed by Duke (6-1) and Virginia (13-2).
The star for Virginia was Kyle Guy, who doesn’t figure to be back next season.
Guy was the No. 37 recruit in the country in the Class of 2016 and had offers from such schools as Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Butler, Cal and Purdue before settling on Virginia.
Guy averaged 15.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game this season but really came on in the final three games of the NCAA tournament.
He had 25 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Purdue, and in the Final Four he had 15 points, four assists and three rebounds against Auburn before posting 24 points and hitting four three-pointers in 45 minutes in the national title win over Texas Tech.
What’s amazing is that in its latest mock drafts, ESPN has De’Andre Hunter, who was also amazing in the title game with 27 points, going No. 5 overall to Atlanta. ESPN also has Virginia guard Ty Jerome, who had 16 points and eight rebounds against Texas Tech, going No. 28 overall to the Warriors. But Guy isn’t considered an NBA prospect at this point.
Jerome told CBS after the game that going from being the first team to lose to a No. 16 seed to winning a national title a year later was a great story.
“It’s more I’m just so proud of my group, so proud of this team, so proud of these coaches. And just so happy. So happy,” he said. “But I love playing basketball, so I still, I want to work out still. I want to play more games. I’m kind of mad the season’s over.”
• NBAdraft.net has Jarrett Culver, the Texas Tech star, going No. 6 overall in the draft, but he’s the lone player from the Red Raiders on the list. Meanwhile, it has the Wolves taking North Carolina small forward Nassir Little No. 11 overall and then drafting Jontay Porter, a 6-11 center out of Missouri, at No. 43 overall in the second round.
• Chris Beard, the Texas Tech head coach, should have some more tournament-ready teams going forward. 247 Sports has Texas Tech with the No. 14 overall recruiting class in the country next season. Virginia ranks No. 34. Tech landed a top recruit in Jahmius Ramsey of Duncanville, Texas. The 6-4 guard is the 30th-ranked prospect in the country.