Feb. 23, 2006
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - The Big Ten Conference and the Indiana Sports Corporation will host the first annual "Talk of the Town" on Saturday, March 4 - an event which has replaced the Big Ten Tournament off-day press conference held in years past. The "Talk of the Town" event, which runs from 2:30-4:00 p.m. ET, is open to both media and the public, and will feature an autograph session involving coaches and selected players from the four tournament semifinal participants, as well as other planned events.
The event will take place at the Indianapolis Artsgarden, which is located above the intersection of Illinois and Washington Streets and is accessible through Circle Centre Mall.
"Talk of the Town" is a unique opportunity for both media and the general public to hear from the four remaining Big Ten Tournament semifinalists. Coaches will field questions from the public and be available to media for one-on-one interviews from 2:30-3:30 p.m., while the student-athletes take part in the autograph session. At 3:30 p.m., selected student-athletes will become available to the media for 30 minutes, but will remain at the autograph table if no interview requests are made.
Also scheduled to appear at the autograph session are current WNBA and former conference standouts Kristin Haynie and Shereka Wright, who together have earned the last three Most Outstanding Player awards at the Big Ten Tournament. Haynie earned the honor in 2005, leading Michigan State to the tournament title and the NCAA national championship game. Her efforts were rewarded as she was selected ninth overall in the 2005 WNBA Draft by Sacramento, where she then helped lead the Monarchs to the WNBA Championship this past summer. Having earned the tournament honor in 2003 and 2004 while playing for Purdue, Wright stakes claim as the only player to have ever won two Most Outstanding Player awards in the event's 11-year history. Wright is currently preparing for her third season with the Phoenix Mercury, after being selected as the 13th overall pick in the 2004 WNBA Draft. While at Purdue, Wright was a member of the winningest class in Big Ten history with 113 victories over four years. One of six players in Boilermaker history to have her jersey retired, Wright graduated as the school's second-leading scorer with 2,251 points.
In addition to the autograph session, basketball fans will also be able to roam the Artsgarden and view artwork from participants of the Big Ten Tournament Middle School Program. This year, over 3,200 students from 22 middle schools representing Indianapolis public, township, suburban and parochial schools were given the opportunity to submit artwork for the annual Middle School Program T-shirt. Each student in the program is given a free ticket to Friday's games and encouraged to wear the artistic T-shirt and cheer for the team their school has been assigned. The top 10 T-shirt designs, including the winner, will be on display at the Artsgarden, with participants and their families invited to attend.
The event is easily accessible to fans of all ages and is located next to the Circle Centre Mall food court. Although parking is available in a number of parking garages attached to Circle Centre Mall, the Artsgarden is easily accessible by foot from Conseco Fieldhouse and downtown hotels and restaurants.