We’re Here & We’re Ready to Play Hurt: Battle 4 Atlantis

HDNet is bringing you non-stop online coverage from men’s college basketball tournament Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Seasoned sports writer Bill Briggs will take you through the 3 day tourney filled with sights, sounds and even some mishaps. Here’s the first installment… come back for more or visit our Facebook page where they’ll be posted.

You’ve gotta wonder what a 19-year-old dude from Connecticut (where it’s currently 46 degrees and falling) is thinking as he swoops into Nassau at sunset, steps off a prop plane onto Bahamian soil, zooms across the island but who eventually crosses a wide bridge and steps out onto gorgeous Atlantis Paradise Island. Just to play a little basketball.

Maybe, like the little kid from “Animal House,” he blurts out: “Thank you, God!!” Or at the very least: “Thanks, Coach Calhoun!”

I’m on the ground at Atlantis. Ready to give you the flavor and fervor of a college bball feast, Thanksgiving-in-the-Tropics style. Only two mishaps to report so far. On my immigration papers, I checked a box saying I was here to attend a wedding. (My eyes are going, people.) But the nice customs lady just giggled and scribbled my true purpose for this trip, as you can see.

Incident Number Two: I stepped onto the balcony from my darkened, eighth-floor hotel room to snap you a pic of the resort lights below. After returning to the room — still no lights on — I promptly tripped over a glass table, spilling my backpack, my camera and my ass on the carpeted floor. Nothing broken. (Yet). Just a gashed shin. But I’ll play hurt.

I’m headed over next — just a few hundred feet away — to check out the Imperial Ballroom-turned-Imperial Arena. In a plush, palatial space where Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus recently performed, some boys from UConn, Harvard, Florida State, Charleston and four other schools are about to get it on in the Battle 4 Atlantis hoops tournament. Some 4,000 fans can squeeze into this makeshift gym. Each team gets $2 million just for showing up. But three squads – starting with UNC-Asheville at 7 p.m. Eastern on Thursday night — get a crack at toppling depending NCAA champs UConn. You can catch two evening games live on Thursday, Friday and Saturday on HDNet. And you can follow my coverage — and my pratfalls — for the next five days on this blog and on the HDNet Facebook page and Twitter feed.

For now, it’s time to shed the dress shoes, grab the flip flops and go see if Coach Calhoun is buying down in the hotel bar. But I can already say with confidence: There will be blood.


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