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Single-session tickets for NCAA games in Tampa go on sale

Not on board: Vandy’s Alan Metcalfe goes for a rebound in the SEC tourney. The Commodores are near the bottom of the SEC in rebounding.

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Not on board: Vandy’s Alan Metcalfe goes for a rebound in the SEC tourney. The Commodores are near the bottom of the SEC in rebounding.

With about 3,000 tickets remaining, local organizers will have single-session tickets to NCAA Tournament games at the St. Pete Times Forum on sale at 8 a.m. today.

The two first-session games on Friday are Drake-Western Kentucky at 12:30 p.m. followed by Connecticut-San Diego. The evening session begins with Vanderbilt-Siena at 7:20 and ends with Clemson-Villanova. The Sunday games begin at 12:10 p.m.

NCAA officials said it's "normal" practice to sell single-session tickets at a couple of sites every year. Tampa not only didn't draw the biggest-name teams or a No.  1 or 2 seed, but it has one of the largest venues (a little more than 21,000 seats) outside of domes.

Tickets are $76 for each session and can be purchased at the Times Forum box office, online at sptimesforum.com or ticketmaster.com or by calling (813) 301-6600.

Board weakness

When Siena began breaking down Vanderbilt for its scouting report, it most likely noticed Vandy's Achilles' heel.

Rebounding.

The Commodores were eighth in the 12-team SEC in rebound average by opponents (36.2) and ninth in rebounding offense (35.3), and the problem was clearly evident in the SEC tournament last week when Vandy was outrebounded 45-24 in a loss to Arkansas.

Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said the rebounding woes aren't going to be miraculously fixed. So the Commodores' strategy is to excel at what they do best: hitting 3-pointers (they led the league at 40 percent) and outscoring their opponents (they were second in the league at 80.6).

"Rebounding has been a concern for our team all season long, and that's a critical thing for us as we enter the tournament," Stallings said. "It's just a matter of us doing the best we can. We're not going to be a great rebounding team, that's just not in our composition. Hopefully we can be good enough just to be neutral, then we can win the games some other ways. It certainly is a concern, it's been a concern all season long. We've shown that we can rebound, but certainly great offensive rebounding teams have shown they can be problematic for us."

RIDING HIGH: As a No.  4, Vanderbilt enters the tournament with its highest seed since 1993. This is also the Commodores' third appearance in five years, the program's best five-year run since 1988-93.

Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report.

Single-session tickets for NCAA games in Tampa go on sale 03/19/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 11:52pm]
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