Orin Day responded to an earlier article with this:
An Open Letter to Vicki Friedman, The Virginian-Pilot
Dear Ms. Friedman:
I take great exception to your article titled "Larry's plea: Help us keep NCAA tourney in Norfolk" published on hamptonroads.com on February 28, 2004, and on odusports.com on March 1, 2004. Specifically the quote,...some predictions have Duke receiving the top seed in the Mideast, with Purdue second. That would be near-disaster for the Mideast Regional. The Blue Devils don't draw well even at home, and in March, their fans tend to get caught up more in the men's team.
I'd really like to know what basis in recent fact, if any, you have for the above statements.
This year Duke averaged over 6,000 fans per home game including two 9300+ fan sellouts. Last year Duke was #13 in the nation in average attendance (ODU was 15th), this year's Duke attendance represents about a 10% increase. If those figures are "not drawing well at home," then where would ODU, as a school in an area that, "is so spoiled by the success of women's basketball," fall with an average of 4,500 fans per game and zero sellouts?
(sources: http://www.ncaa.org/stats/w_basketball/attendance/2002-03/d1.pdf goduke.com, odusports.com)
In addition to home success, Duke has been a very strong draw on the road this year, providing the high attendance game of the year for many ACC programs. Cases in point are drawing 13,446 at Maryland (1/3 of their season total, without it they average under 2,000), 10,278 at North Carolina on Valentine's Day (7000 above UNC season average), 5370 fans vs. NC State tonight (twice their season average), etc.
(sources: gopack.com, goheels.com, umterps.com)
With a legitimate player of the year candidate in Alana Beard and an exciting supporting cast, many women's college basketball fans regardless of loyalties are coming out to see her and Duke play. And Duke fans have recently travelled well in situations where contests are in driving distance. The core Duke Women's fan base is also one that is becoming increasingly distinct from those who would travel to see Duke's Men's team play.
I do agree that it's a shame that only 1,600 Mideast Regional tickets have been sold (only 1/3 of ODU's average draw), and feel that local support is a key to the success of a Sunday/Tuesday event. But suggesting that the event will fail if the NCAA Selection Committee sends Duke to Norfolk is in my opinion way out of bounds. If NCAA Women's Basketball (aside from ODU) has so little local support in Norfolk, then perhaps Norfolk is indeed the problem, and the NCAA should be considering sites other than the Constant Center for future regionals.
I have great respect for ODU and Coach Larry in particular, she has done so much to support women's college basketball so many levels. Thus I hope that your misinformed perceptions do not truly reflect her opinions or the ODU administration's perception of the Duke Women's Basketball program and its increasing numbers of loyal supporters.