The Week Ahead ...
The Week Ahead ...
Traveling with the Matador's Basketball Team ... Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations, offers his weekly insights on the accomplishments of the teams, coaches, and student-athletes who compete for Cal State Northridge ... The weekly report includes upcoming key games, and a report on what other activities are happening in the Matador Athletic Department ... For more information on Matador Athletics, go to www.gomatadors.com
Traveling with the Matadors ...
Editors Note: Traveling on the road can be a difficult ordeal. Just ask the Cal State Northridge men's basketball team which recently had to endure a tough trip to the Windy City to face Chicago State. Planning a basketball trip takes a lot of hard work; setting up air flights, providing quality ground transportation, selecting a quality hotel, ordering healthy meals, setting up team meetings and practices, and the list goes on and on. Of course, that doesn't include playing a game on an opponents' home court in front of a hostile crowd. This year, the Matadors have endured freezing rain, snow and windy weather traveling to the states of Ohio, Iowa, Washington, Utah and now Illinois. But through it all, the Matadors are 6-3 on the road. Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations), travels with the team during the season, and chronicles another excursion on the road; this time a trip to the Midwest for a non-league game at Chicago State. Traveling is not an easy experience.
Monday, January 21, 2008
7:45 a.m. - School has not been in session since mid-December, but the collegiate basketball season does not rest. Cal State Northridge has been practicing and playing games during the winter school break. Although it is a holiday (Martin Luther King Day), the team boards a bus which will take the Matadors from the CSUN campus to Los Angeles International Airport for a four-hour flight to the Midwest to play Chicago State the following evening.
10:30 a.m. - The flight is delayed because of poor weather in the Midwest which is delaying flights in and out of Chicago. The Matadors wait nearly three hours to board their flight which includes an hour wait on the jet on the runway. Luckily the nearly four hour flight is without turbulences which gives the team a chance to sleep or listen to music. The coaches are hard at work reviewing video tape of Chicago State, and even taking a sneak peak at Long Beach State, the next opponent after Chicago State. Head coach Bobby Braswell also has time to read a good book (Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy) and listen to his IPod, while assistant coach Louis Wilson, an avid reader, buys four magazines and a newspaper.
6:00 p.m. (ct) - Light snow is falling as the plane approaches O'Hare Airport in Chicago. Welcome to winter weather in the Midwest. It's 22 degrees.
6:30 p.m. (ct) - The Matadors are scheduled to practice at Chicago State at 7:00 p.m. which is located on the south side of the Windy City. The three-hour delay in leaving Los Angeles has clearly put the team behind the eight-ball in terms of getting to the Chicago State campus to practice. The bus driver tells the coaching staff the ride from the airport to Chicago State will take at least 45 minutes with light snow falling and temperatures dropping into the low 20's. The team still has to check into its hotel to change into their practice gear. The coaches decide to cancel practice at Chicago State, and instead improvise a walk-through practice at the hotel.
8:00 p.m. - The walk-though practice is surprisingly productive. The Matadors are able to practice in a large ballroom, and the coaches use trainers tape to create an outline of a basketball court on the carpet. A large bath towel wrapped in duct tape serves as a basketball. Practice is followed by dinner and a team meeting. The day finally ends around 11 p.m. (ct). No one dares walks outside the hotel. It's cold outside and light snow is falling. Perhaps the following day will be a little less hectic.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
9:00 a.m. - Snow has fallen overnight and the temperature is expected to reach only a high of 20 degrees with an overnight low of seven degrees. Welcome to Chicago. The bus driver is caught in rush hour traffic and arrives late at the hotel. He tells the coaching staff the ride from the hotel to Chicago State for the morning shoot around will take 90 minutes to two hours because of traffic. That is not good news since the shoot around is suppose to start in less than half an hour. The driver takes the side streets of Chicago to save a little time, but he still has to get on the Dan Ryan Expressway which cuts through the heart of downtown Chicago en route to the south side of Chicago. The driver is right about the heavy traffic. If you can imagine getting caught in morning rush hour gridlock traffic in Los Angeles, but adding snow, an icy freeway and wind, and it makes for an interesting adventure. Life on the road isn't easy.
10:20 a.m. - Luckily the bus ride takes less than the expected two hours, and the team is able to practice for an hour. After practice, the team boards the bus for the long ride back to the hotel for lunch and a nap. Some Californians are just not very tough. Although it is sunny outside, the weather is cold walking from the arena to the bus, and the Chicago wind easily cuts through layers of clothing. Getting back to the mild winter weather of California can't come soon enough.
4:30 p.m. - Normally for a 7 p.m. game on the road, the Matadors will leave the hotel no later than 5:30 p.m. However, because of the distance from the hotel to Chicago State and the expected heavy traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway, the team decides to leave at 4:30 p.m. And sure enough, traffic is heavy and the pace is slow. Snails move quicker. The team finally makes it to the arena, but CSUN's six-game winning streak ends with a 83-75 loss to Chicago State. The Matador party of 14 players, coaches and support staff boards the bus for the long ride ride back to the hotel. This group is tired and grumpy.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
8:00 a.m. - It will be good to get back home to face rain and 60 degree weather. Why? because today's forecast in Chicago calls for a high of 16 degrees and a low of a -2. The players sleep on the four-hour flight from Chicago to Los Angeles while Ryan Dodd (Basketball Operations Director) prepares a video scouting report for the coaches on the next opponent, Long Beach State. The bus trip from LAX to CSUN takes 40 minutes. It's good to see the CSUN campus again. Homeward Bound!!! Home Cooking!!! Home Sweet Home!!!