Nov. 30, 2008
The Week Ahead ...
Traveling with the Matadors 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.
Traveling for any college athletic team is no easy endeavor ... This is a business trip where the cost of transportation, hotels, food, etc can run into the thousands of dollars in the pursuit of victory ... Join us as the Cal State Northridge men's basketball team embarks on its longest road trip of the 2008-09 season ... Bob Vazquez, Assistant Athletic Director (Media Relations), recounts the trials and tribulations in traveling during the Thanksgiving holidays from the West Coast to the East Coast for games at Rider University (Lawrenceville, NJ) and at Drexel (Philadelphia, Pa).
Thursday, November 27
The day starts at 5 a.m. when the Matadors basketball team (15 players, five coaches, two administrators, a team manager, one broadcaster) quietly board a bus on campus to take the long ride to LAX ... Who ever said there is traffic gridlock 24-7 on L.A. freeways ... On Thanksgiving Day morning, there is little or no traffic on the 405 freeway heading to LAX ... So where is everybody? ... Hey, they are all at the airport ... When the team arrives at LAX around 5:45 a.m., the airport is jammed with traffic and people trying to get to their destination in time for Thanksgiving dinner ... The stress level is heightened a bit as the security line is out the door and down the sidewalk ... On road trips, always expect the unexpected ... After a uneventful flight from Los Angeles to Denver to Philadelphia, the team boards a bus for the expected 45-minute ride from Philly to Trenton, NJ ... Everything seems fine as the team enjoys the scenery or grabs a nap as the evening fast approaches ... Some players are intrigued as the team bus passes the new stadiums for the world champion Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles and the 76ers ... For the older staffers on the trip, their memory banks kick in as the bus passes The Spectrum, the old home of the 76ers ... The Spectrum formerly served as the home of the 76ers that included some of the all-time greats including Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Charles Barkley ... A late lunch is served on the bus, and everything seems find until a major traffic accident involving at least two cars and a truck forces the closure of U.S. Route 1 North to Trenton, New Jersey ... The bus ride then is forced to use the two-lane back roads of New Jersey to get to Trenton ... To get back on U.S. Route 1 North is not easy ... Several on-ramp exits are closed because of the seriousness of the accidents, so the bus ride continues through the back roads of towns that include Morrisville and Yardley ... A bus ride that normally would take 45 minutes is now taking close to 90 minutes ... Luckily, the bus driver finally finds an entrance ramp to U.S. Route 1 North and the hotel in Trenton is just minutes away ... It is now 7 p.m., but Thanksgiving Day is just beginning ... Practice is slated at Rider University in nearby Lawrenceville, so once the team quickly checks into the hotel, it's back on the bus for a trip to the arena for practice at Rider ... After practice, it's now 9:30 p.m., and the day is almost over ... Now, it's time for Thanksgiving dinner at the team hotel ... Head coach Bobby Braswell gathers the team together in a banquet room and each player expresses their thanks to family and friends on this special day ... Then it's time to relax and enjoy a hearty, healthy Thanksgiving dinner that includes plenty of turkey, ham, dressing, vegetables, salad, bread, beverages and desert ... The long day that started at 5 a.m. (pt) finally ends around 10:30 p.m. (et) ... Exhausting, yes!!!, but part of life on the road ... Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Trenton, New Jersey, where the Matadors basketball team is staying until Saturday afternoon, is the capital of the state, so why not take a brief walk to see the sites of this historical, colonial city? ... Not so fast, buster!!! ... A biting, cold wind (44 degrees) easily cuts through a couple layers of clothing ... Tour canceled ... A cup of coffee and the morning newspaper offers a nice alternative in the hotel lounge ... Practice goes from noon to around 2 p.m. at Rider University, and the trip to the campus in Lawrenceville is just 15 minutes away ... The immediate area north of Trenton (en route to Rider University) is a tough area with rundown, old homes and apartments ... Called the North Ward, it a economically distressed area, torn apart by race riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 ... More than 200 Trenton businesses were either ransacked or burned ... As the team bus approaches Rider University, the area becomes much nicer with old, colonial homes dotting the roadside, and you can sense that autumn has passed with the fallen leaves everywhere ... Practice is lively, and it's a good opportunity to work up a good sweat after the long journey from the west coast to the east coast the day before ... Coach Braswell reminds the teams that it's also time for a little pay back against a good Rider team that came to The Matadome last year and scored a 73-72 upset victory over the Big West champions ... After the two-hour practice, it's back to the hotel for lunch, study hall, dinner, and a good night's sleep.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Not a good day for the Matadors ... A disappointing 85-72 loss at Rider leaves everybody in a somber mood ... The hour bus trip to Philadelphia is a time for some serious reflection for everyone ... About 50 Northridge fans attend the game including the family and friends of Jermaine Smith, who grew up in Irvington, NJ, about 90 minutes away from Lawreneville ... Also in attendance was former CSUN volleyball standout Travis Bleumling, who took the train from New York City to Philadelphia, and then a cab ride to Lawrenceville to root on the Matadors ... Bleumling, who lives in Brooklyn, is in the modeling business in New York City.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Practice isn't scheduled until 6 p.m. at Drexel University so that gives the Matadors basketball team a chance to get some extra sleep, study or just relax and watch some NFL games on tv ... The coaches, meanwhile, are busy preparing a scouting report on Drexel ... The team hotel is located in the heart of historic downtown Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation ... Philly offers visitors the opportunity to walk the same streets as our Founding Fathers ... So what better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than to tour some of the historic sights of the city ... The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are only seven blocks away, but not so fast, brother!!! ... A blustery rainy day in the low 40's doesn't allow anybody to venture much further than the front door of the hotel ... Maybe another day ... Ok, then about lunch at Gino's, a great place to eat a great Philly cheesesteak ... Drexel, CSUN's next opponent, is only a short distance away from the hotel ... In case you're wondering, Drexel is a private coeducational university located in downtown Philadelphia ... One final note ... Today is the 53rd birthday for Matador broadcaster Alan Zinsmeister ... Happy Birthday Alan!!!
Monday, December 1, 2008
A new month hopefully is a new start for the Matadors basketball team ... A late morning shoot-a-round, a pre-game meal in the mid-afternoon, and hopefully a win at Drexel is on the agenda ... But no such good fortune as the Matadors dropped their fifth straight game, a 55-47 decision to the Dragons ... The late night news says that President-elect Barack Obama has arrived in Philadelphia and is staying at a nearby hotel ... Obama will address a governors convention this week ... Perhaps, Obama will exchange friendly hellos with Alaska governor Sarah Pallin ... You betha!!!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Getting from Philadelphia to Northridge is a bit exhausting ... Seven hours on a crowded jetliner from Philly to Denver to Los Angeles makes for a very long day ... Then there is the bus trip from LAX to the CSUN campus, 90 minutes in L.A. gridlock ... Gotta love that traffic ... Finally back home on the CSUN campus around 4:45 p.m. ... But wait, the road trip is not over ... Next Sunday (Dec. 7) at UCLA.
Athletic Events THIS WEEK At Cal State Northridge
Monday, December 1
Men's Basketball at Drexel, 7:00 p.m. et
Friday, December 5
Swimming at Mustang Invitational, SLO, 11:00 a.m.
Sunday, December 7
Women's Basketball vs San Jose State, The Matadome, 2:00 p.m.
Men's Basketball at UCLA, 7:30 p.m.