Road Trip – Traveling With the Matadors Basketball Team

By Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations)

Tempe, Az – On the road, AGAIN !!!           

Willie Nelson, the legendary country western singer, would be proud of the Cal State Northridge men's basketball team.

The Matadors will play anyone, anytime, anywhere.

In past years, the Northridge basketball road map has led to such faraway collegiate venues such as Iowa (Iowa City, Ia), Ohio State (Columbus, Oh), Purdue (East Lafayette, In), Oklahoma (Norman, Ok) and Marquette (Milwaukee, Wi).

Cal State Northridge has played 215 colleges and universities that have represented 43 states since the school started playing basketball in 1958-59.

Geographically, Cal State Northridge has played as Far West as Hawai'i (played at Hawai'i in 2011-12) and as Far East as New Jersey (played at Rider College in 2008-09).

Seven of the team's ten games thus far this season (2012-12) have been on the road. Last weekend, the latest venture found the Matadors in the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, Arizona, to play the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Pack your suitcase. Life on the road is not an easy endeavor.

Each team member is given a detailed travel itinerary before departing the Cal State Northridge campus. The players always make sure they read the document carefully. If they're a minute late for the team bus, a team meeting or a team practice, you might as well go home.

This will not be an easy road trip. The Matadors didn't have a lot of time to prepare for a tough Arizona State team from the Pac-12 Conference. ASU had chalked up a 7-1 record. Following last Wednesday night's 120-69 victory over Vanguard, CSUN only had a one full day (Thursday, Dec. 6) to prepare for the Sun Devils. Friday was an all-day event with school classes, packing their luggage, and then the flight from Burbank to Phoenix. Friday night was the only time to practice at ASU's Wells Fargo Arena, followed by Saturday's game at Noon.

Friday, December 7, 2012
1:30 pm –
The 14 CSUN players on the basketball trip to Arizona State have spent the last several hours packing their suitcases and their team uniform bag. Each player boards the bus on time. Head coach Bobby Braswell simply tells the bus driver … "We're ready. Let's go."

Enroute to the Burbank Airport – The ride to the Burbank Airport is only a short distance from the CSUN campus, but there is a lot of activity on the bus. The coaches are busy reviewing their scouting report on their opponent, Arizona State, and going over the day's activities that lies ahead including the team's practice plan that evening at ASU's Wells Fargo Arena. The players receive their per diem (meal money for the trip), settle into their seats, read their school books, listen to some music, enjoy some chatter with their teammates, or simply enjoy a short nap.

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm –
Once their baggage has been checked and once cleared through airport security at the Burbank Airport, the team has another opportunity to relax before the 90-minute flight to Phoenix. Finals are approaching so it's another time to get in some study time, relax by listening to their IPods or make a cell phone call to a friend or relative. Other players engage in small talk.

3:30 pm –
The team's flight from Burbank to Phoenix, is full. There is little room for this tall group of basketball players to stretch out for a little more comfort. Plus, it seems like every passenger has brought their luggage on board. Sardines have more room space.

6:45 pm – A delay on the team's arrival into the Phoenix Airport and in getting its luggage, causes the Matadors entourage to arrive late at the hotel. Practice was slated for 7:30 p.m. at ASU's Well Fargo Arena. Coach Braswell decides to delay practice until 8:00 pm. Fortunately, the hotel is only ten minutes from the Arizona State campus.

8:15 pm – Coach Braswell
holds a brief, but spirited practice on this Friday night. It's a great opportunity to run through the scouting report on Arizona State, and for the team to work up a good sweat after a tough day of traveling from Northridge to Phoenix.

A familiar face greets the team at their practice at Arizona State, Calvin Chitwood, who played for the Matadors from 2004-08. Chitwood had been playing professional basketball in Holland and Japan since graduating from CSUN, but is now retired and working in Phoenix.
Because Saturday's game is being televised nationwide on the Pac-12 Networks, Coach Braswell meets with the two television announcers from Pac-12 Networks to give them an insight into the team's game plan and to review the team's successful 7-2 record.

9:45 pm –
The workday is almost over. The team is hungry. Dinner is on the agenda even at this late hour. A nearby mall has several restaurants to give the team an opportunity to choose their favorite meal. While waiting for dinner, Coach Braswell relays the news that today (Dec. 7) he and his wife, Penny, are celebrating their 27th wedding anniversary. However, any anniversary plans will have to wait until the team arrives back home on Saturday night. Penny Braswell is at home in Northridge while Coach Braswell is on the road for the game at Arizona State.

11:00 pm –
The team gathers at a meeting room at the hotel for a final scouting report. This is an important game. A victory over a Pac-12 opponent would give the Matadors a healthy dose of added respect for the team's strong start to the 2012-13 season.

Good Night !!! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

7:45 am – Because the game is being televised on the Pac-12 Networks, tipoff time is Noon (mst). Normally, CSUN plays on a Saturday evening. That gives the team added time to rest, eat two meals and to attend a shoot around at the opponent's home court. However, the early game (Noon, mst) means the team must wake up early (7:45 am) for breakfast and then back to their rooms to pack their suitcases for the mid-morning checkout. Once the team packs its luggage on the bus, it's time to depart for the short trip to Arizona State for this important non-league game. The coaches use the remaining time on the bus to finalize their game plan against the Sun Devils.

Noon – Arizona State proves to be a tough opponent. The Matadors have to compete against an opponent that has a talented 7-foot-2 center. The Matadors have not seen a player that tall in years, and they won't again this year. ASU's 7-foot-2 center has the game of his life, chalking up 13 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks, the first triple-double in Sun Devil history. Cal State Northridge puts up a good fight from start-to-finish, but the Sun Devils prevail, 87-76.

Post-Game –
The team will not fly back home until Saturday night so there is plenty of time to eat a late lunch/early dinner at a nearby restaurant, and to arrive early enough at the airport for the team to relax and to forget about basketball until Dec. 18 (their next game vs San Diego Christian). Why? … Finals start on Monday. Each player has brought their computer and their books to get started on their term papers and to prepare for their final exams. Gate 17 at the Southwest Airlines terminal has turned into a study hall area for the CSUN players.

8:15 pm –
The team arrives home to the CSUN campus. Before departing the bus, Coach Braswell reminds the players about Sunday's study hall, and to remind the team to study, and make sure to be prepared for their finals.

It's good to be back home. 

Homeward Bound … Home Cooking … Home Sweet Home !!!