March 19, 2009
Contact: Greg Murphy
I had lived for 28 years and never been to an NCAA Tournament. Since arriving at Cleveland State in the summer of 2007, I can now say that I have been to a pair of NCAA Tournaments in the last two years.
Last season, I had the privilege to the CSU women's team to the tournament after they won the Horizon League Championship for the first time in program history. Seeded 15th, we traveled out to second-seeded Stanford where we lost in the first round, but the experience of being out there was one I will never forget.
Fast forward one year and here I am in Miami, Fla., with our men's team where they are preparing for a first round match-up with Wake Forest on Friday (March 19) night.
So far, the trip has been great. We boarded the bus at the Wolstein Center around 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday to hit the road for the airport. Prior to departing, several of the players did interviews with the local TV stations. The last few days have been unbeliveable in the amount of media that has wanted to talk with Coach Waters and/or players. My boss, Brian McCann, has probably gotten at least 75 requests since the Vikings won the league title at Butler last Tuesday. And that number may be a little low!!
But I digress.
We arrived at the airport and unloaded the bus. We were told to leave our bags on as the bus was going to drive them right on the tarmak to the plane and load them up there. I kind of wish we could have done the same, but nevertheless, we got our boarding pass, went to the gate and waited for about 20 minutes before we began to board.
I wound up with a seat in Row 8 with Al Pawlowski, the Voice of the Vikings, and we decided it was the John Carroll row as we are both graduates from the school.
The flight was an easy one, lasting about two and a half hours. I spent some of my time in the back of the plane chatting it up with some of the other folks on the plane.
After we arrived, I went with McCann and Bill Rieter (the university photographer) to get our rental car. It seemed easy enough... until we left. What should have been a five minute ride to the hotel turned into a 45 minute adventure as a few twists and turns caused us to be lost. But we should have known it was coming as the first direction out of the rental car place was "Turn Northwest on Southeast Street"!!!
Anyway, we finally made it to the hotel and decided to find some dinner. After dinner, I went back to the hotel and got a bunch of the photos that Rieter had taken and created a photo gallery from the day.
You can check it out here... http://www.csuvikings.com/view.gal?id=44861. And for those interested, I am going to try and have a daily photogallery on the men's basketball page.
I wound up crashing around 12:30 p.m. in preparation for a big day. Brian and I left the hotel this morning about 9:00 a.m. to get down to American Airlines Arena for the sports information directors meeting.
I was hoping to see Dwyane Wade or maybe Jermaine O'Neal, but they were nowhere to be found.
But what I did see was very impressive. It was almost as if everything I had seen and experienced at Stanford was doubled. After all, we are playing in an NBA arena. The size of the press room seemed larger, the media work area was bigger and there were endless blue and black curtains that partitioned everything off.
For those who have never been to a tournament, it is quite an experience. Most people just get to see the game on TV and have no idea about the hundreds of people behind the scenes who help out with the TV production, the press room, the copiers, the runners and numerous other things that go into putting this event on. These crews have put in countless hours over the last year to make sure the event will run smoothly.
Now, I am sitting courtside watching Utah go through its 40 minute workout. Each team has that much time for a workout inside the arena, in addition to about 30 minutes worth of news conferences.
A majority of the teams will also have a more intense workout at a secluded location, much like CSU did earlier today.
Our news conferences start in about an hour (6:00 p.m.) with the student-athletes going first and Coach Waters to follow at 6:15 p.m. During that time, I am scheduled to monitor the locker room in case any media wants to talk to a student-athlete who is not at the news conference.
All in all, the trip has been a great experience... especially with the 80 degree weather we are experiencing today!! I had to throw that in as that temperature is about double of what it is back in Cleveland... but we will do our best to bring home some nice weather and two wins!!
Stay tuned to the blog page as the staff will keep you updated on what is going on down here.
Also, please send any questions or comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.