Over the past season I've seen a lot of photographers shooting for national publications that show up in their shooting spot right before the game and leave the second the game is over. I understand the latter as they are on deadline, but if you don't show up early, you miss out on a bunch of shots no one else is taking.
One example is the shot below I took a year ago. All the photographers were in the media room eating food, but I was out on the floor because I knew Bill Walton was broadcasting the game and that he liked to talk to the players before the game. Not only was I the only person to get this shot, the player and his family loved it as I was able to document something for them that was special to them.
I also got this great shot of the Colorado's guitar player in their basketball pep band. You can't just keep your eyes on the court, you have to be looking everywhere, even behind you.
There are a ton of aspiring photographers out there, you don't have to have a Nikon D5 to outwork the guy next to you, you just need to have a great eye that is always looking for a shot in different directions than the rest of your people.