NCAA Tournament Travel Blog (Day 1)
March 19, 2008
Raleigh, North Carolina - The Indiana University men's basketball team, administrators, cheerleaders and members of the band arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina this afternoon to begin final preparations for Friday evening's NCAA tournament first round game against Arkansas at 9:40 at the RBC Center on the campus of North Carolina State University. More than 100 people are in the official travel party.
The Day Begins--Media, Media, Media
The work day began with Coach Dan Dakich appearing on the "Mike and Mike in the Morning" show. Generally, a program like that will call a few days ahead and I double check with Coach to see if he is free at the time requested and then we finalize arrangements for the interview.
Watched it live myself on ESPN2 and got to see why they are two of the best in the business. They make the guest feel welcome and even when they have to dance over a touchy subject you don't feel attacked.
This week, we have done more radio call-in shows than we have in any other week. We usually average about four or five a week for players or coaches, but we have had about 25 inquiries this week and we have been able to fulfill about two thirds of the requests.
We tried to take care of the local personalities first, followed by a couple of stations in Arkansas. It is hard because what most people don't realize is I'm lucky if I can get a coach to give me a 20 minute window during the day with all they have to do. It is especially hard for evening shows, because the only time we have to tape those is around 1 p.m. and it is a chore to get those guys to come in that early to tape.
Today, Coach Dakich did his interview with Mike and Mike in the car. I also was able to have him on two radio stations in Chicago - the Waddle and Silvie Show on ESPN 1000 and with Dave Kaplan on WGN this evening.
Tomorrow we hope to have him on locally in Bloomington in the morning and possibly with ESPN TV's studio show around 2:30 as we travel from the hotel to the arena for practice and media obligations. D.J. White also will be on ESPN News in the early evening.
(Random Thought #1--Have been studying a lot of different media guides and I noticed that a number of coaches have it in their contracts that they can not do radio call in shows during the season. That is about 40 percent of our media requests at IU.)
Getting Out of Here
The team traveling party gathered in Assembly Hall for lunch around noon and headed out to the airport about 40 minutes later. During the regular season, the team usually takes two smaller planes to away games. The larger IU plane seats about 20 or so and includes the team and coaches and support staff. The "faster" IU plane, which seats eight, carries the rest of the support staff, graduate managers and sometimes two walk-ons.
We are spoiled because we always got on the plane and were on our way. Security checks, while necessary, add another 30 to 40 minutes to your departure. The security team did their best to get us out to the plane quick and before we knew it we were ready for takeoff.
(Random Thought #2--'One of the reasons why I think we have had a better year away from home is the fact that we began traveling on the day of a game when we played an evening game on the road. It was great to sleep in your own bed each night. Usually, we ate breakfast in Assembly Hall, flew to whatever city we were playing in, went to shootaround, had lunch, caught a nap in the hotel, ate pregame, were ready to leave for the game and were usually home a couple hours after the game.')
This will be the first trip since the Chicago Invitational where we will stay at least two nights in a hotel before a game.
We arrived in Raleigh around 3:30 p.m. and the buses were on the tarmac to pick us up and 30 minutes later we had our keys to our rooms without a hitch.
How you get your hotel
The NCAA assigns a hotel to each team based on seeding. We are the fourth highest seed here so they assigned us to the Embassy Suites-Crabtree. I can tell you, this is the biggest room we have had on the road yet. Good for us. Two TVs and wireless in the room.
Off To Practice
The team boarded a bus, armed with a Big Mac and Chicken sandwich for all, for a 10-minute ride to the NC State campus where the Hoosiers practiced in the Dale Center, a renovated practice facility where the host Wolfpack train each day.
The court inside is just like the one in the RBC Center and getting a chance to see this is why everyone is so excited to have the Basketball Development Center at IU. Also connected to the Dale Center was a state of the art weight facility and academic areas.
The two-hour practice was spirited as the Hoosiers continued preparing for Arkansas.
The team enjoyed a well-deserved meal in a private room at Sullivan's Steakhouse in Raleigh. While the team enjoyed its meal, they were able to watch the NIT on the big screen. We got to watch the end of the UAB-VCU game and the beginning of the Florida-San Diego State contest.
The team rolled out of the room, took pictures with many of the patrons and boarded the bus to head back to the hotel.
As we got back around 10 p.m., the team had a short meeting and it was off to bed.
Tomorrow begins at 10 a.m. for the Hoosiers!
(J.D. Campbell, Director of Media Relations)
Check back soon