Tennessee has sold approximately 5,000 tickets in advance of today’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament first-round doubleheader, said Jimmy Delaney, UT’s senior director for marketing and sales.
Delaney said Friday that the total was “a little bit off” recent years in which the school has hosted tournament games. He said the prospect of “a couple thousand” in walk-up sales along with Tennessee’s 1:30 p.m. tipoff against Oral Roberts should help today’s final count.
“The fans don’t have to rush to get here,” Delaney said, “and it gives them enough time to get home.”
Today’s play opens with Syracuse versus Creighton at 11:20 a.m.
When Tennessee last hosted NCAA games, in 2011, a Saturday doubleheader drew 7,948. Monday’s second-round game drew 9,007.
NCAA ticket sales reflect the regular season.
UT averaged 11,993 for 16 home dates, which led the nation in home attendance. The average was about 2,000 more than second-place Iowa State (9,921), but down from last season’s 14,414.
The Lady Vols aren’t as inclined to dwell on the numbers as they are to savor their status.
“We’re one of the women’s basketball programs that everybody else is trying to keep up with,” Delaney said. “People historically have called us about what we do about attendance. We wanted to maintain that.”
Delaney said that UT has submitted a bid to host tournament games next season. The NCAA hasn’t decided yet whether to use pre-determined sites for opening-round games or return to a format in which the top four seeds in a regional host.
Lady Vols assistant coach Jolette Law spent Tuesday night with her former team — the Harlem Globetrotters.
She was introduced during the team’s appearance at Thompson-Boling Arena. Following her collegiate career at Iowa, she played with the Globetrotters from 1990-94.
“Some of the things I remember — just the laughter — I thought ‘I was a part of this,’ ’’ Law said. “It was a heart-warming feeling.”
Creighton and Wichita State shared the Missouri Valley Conference regular season championship and the Shockers won the conference tournament to earn the NCAA automatic bid.
Creighton coach Jim Flanery complimented the work of Wichita coach Jody Adams, who played for the Lady Vols.
“They were not very good when she got there and she’s changed the culture of the program,” Flanery said. They’re a very hard-working team. For our level, they’re very athletic.”
Syracuse was considering a visit to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame while in Knoxville.
“I think it’s important that, when you go on these trips, you take care of business first,” Orange coach Quentin Hillsman said. “But it’s also about learning and growing too.”