Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/14/2008 11:25:00 PM
Dispatch From The Tornado Zone
(Late Friday night, SI.com's Bill Trocchi checked in with a dispatch from the SEC tournament, where a mild disaster struck the night games. A shot of the wreckage is above; below is Bill's report:)
ATLANTA -- Amid the anxiety that swept Georgia Dome after a tornado shook its roof and sent Mississippi State and Alabama running for their locker rooms, Bulldogs guard Ben Hansbrough headed into the front row of the stands -- to be with his father, Gene, who was sitting behind the team's deserted bench.
While SEC officials deliberated how to handle the potentially volatile situation, Hansbrough caught up with his father, who had spent the afternoon in Charlotte watching his other son, North Carolina star Tyler, beat Florida State at the ACC tournament before flying to Atlanta.
"I didn't want to leave my family, because if something bad happened, I wanted to be with my family," Ben Hansbrough said.
Hansbrough said he didn't know if it was a tornado or a terrorist attack when the playing surface shook and a locomotive-like roar filled the stadium. What he did know is that his father may have needed his help after a recent ankle surgery.
"I know [Gene] can't move around, so if it was going to be something that was going to collapse the building, you [wanted to be there]," Hansbrough said.
Hansbrough joined his teammates about 20 minutes into the delay; he said the locker room was calm when he got there. The Bulldogs then went out and finished off the final 2:11 of overtime to win 69-67 and advance to the SEC semifinals.
"We played awful tonight," said Hansbrough, "but we survived."
Yeah, that was a tense night in The Dome. We were on the risers-side, sorta near the rip in the side. At first, when the insulation started blowing over the giant curtain divider, there was a rumour that the back of the building was on fire. This started some of the panic. After a minute we all realized that since no alarms had gone off, there was probably no fire - just the really high winds. All-in-all, very scary.