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Tag:College Basketball Road Trip
Posted on: March 1, 2010 5:38 pm
 

Thats All Folks

MATT JONES

4:00 PM

After driving through the mountains of West Virginia in the snow and darkness (and let me tell you, not a lot of people on the roads in West Virginia in the middle of the night...a horror movie may be in order), we are back home and exhausted.  The last ten days have been an amazing run for us and our trip is one for the books.  Drew gave a top 10 list below of the great moments and it is certainly appropriate.  But there were also some fantastic basketball moments as well, such as:

---  Watching Northern Iowa prove why they are a Bracket Buster team with Sweet 16 potential

---  Seeing Evan Turner up close and personal and witnessing why he may be Player of the Year

---  Watching Kansas at its peak prove why they are the favorites in the NCAA on a neutral court

---  Evaluating the demise of UNC Basketball this season in an unbelievably empty arena that still boggles the mind

---  Watching one of the great games of the season in Maryland vs Virginia Tech and their double OT thriller.  Greivis Vasquez is for real.

---  Seeing a scary Duke team that will be a #1 seed with no hype.

In addition to that, we had great experiences and interactions with coaches, players and media types.  I was told a joke by Bill Raftery, Drew was ignored by Kid Rock, we were heckled by Bob Valvano, given a weary eye by a number of Sports Information Directors, mocked (in a loving way) by Coach K and congratulated on the Kia Rondo by Patrick Patterson.  Nearly everywhere we went, people were tremendously nice and we got to see college basketball from every angle, the good, bad and the ugly.  It was a dream trip.

I want to thank our great group of travelers, Drew Franklin, CM Tomlin, TJ Beisner and the man they call Hubby.  And we also have to give a big shout out to CBS for setting this whole thing up.  It has been great.

We hope to see all you folks again soon, and until then remember, a Kia Rondo driving in the middle of the night down a snowy backroad in Iowa so you can make a Louisville-Depaul 2 pm tipoff is most definitely the way to live life.

Posted on: March 1, 2010 7:59 am
Edited on: March 1, 2010 8:10 am
 

Top Ten Highlights From The Trip

Drew Franklin

8:00 AM

The Kia Rondo I just got home from our college basketball road trip and I'm about to go into a three-month hibernation.  But before I do, let me share my ten favorite moments from our journey:

Top Ten Highlights from the College Basketball Road Trip

10.) Bob Valvano – ESPN announcer and Louisville, KY resident Bob Valvano was undoubtedly stunned when he spotted us in Northern Iowa.   Valvano, who is familiar with our Kentucky blog, asked us how we ended up on press row at the Northern Iowa-Old Dominion game in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  We explained our road trip and offered Bob a seat in the car, but he respectfully declined, as he had to catch a flight to Chicago after the game.  The next morning, inclimate weather forced us to DePaul where we once again saw a clean, well-rested Bob Valvano.  We, on the other hand, hadn’t slept or showered, and were in the same clothes from the night before.  Valvano couldn’t believe his eyes. 

9.) Kentucky’s Joe Craft Center – Halfway through the drive from Lawrence to Chapel Hill, we stopped by Lexington for a tour of Kentucky’s practice facility.   Our good friend Dave Scott showed us around the Craft Center with stops at John Calipari’s office and John Wall’s locker.  I (unexpectedly) sat down with Patrick Patterson for an interview after the Wildcats’ practice where I asked him hard-hitting questions like, “Hey what’s up?” and “So, you like basketball, huh?”  It was a great afternoon for this lifelong Kentucky fan and one I certainly won’t forget.

8.) Snow, a blessing in disguise. – Snow was a constant theme on the road trip.  Though it might seem like snow was out to ruin our trip, I think it was a blessing in disguise.  Without snow, #10, #5 and #2 would be absent from this list.  Without snow, we make it to Siena-Butler and Matt never writes his controversial column on Rick Pitino.  Without snow, there is no sense of danger or 4-hour late night stop at Junie's Diner in Iowa.  Would the trip have been better if we stuck to the original schedule?  Maybe.  But we'll never know.  All we do know is snow grabbed us by the balls and re-routed the trip, and we still had one hell of a time.

7.) Entering The Phog - You see it on television and hear all of the hype but it’s hard to really appreciate a game in Kansas’ Phog Allen Fieldhouse until you experience it firsthand.  Students make up a vast majority of the lower arena and are unbelievably loud and organized with their cheers.  Even the old folks in the crowd stand up and get in on the action.  And as much as I want to downplay it, the famous “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” chant is pretty incredible.  I tip my UK hat to you, Kansas.

6.) This-is-SPARTA!  Overall, Michigan State was the best stop on the trip.  It wasn’t the nicest arena, it wasn’t the loudest crowd, and it wasn’t the best game, but I'd rank our Spartan experience in the top 3 in nearly every category across the board.  We had a fun Saturday night in East Lansing and the Breslin Center was rockin' on Sunday for the Spartans matchup with Ohio State.  But honestly, the cheese omelettes in the media room are what really won me over.  And meeting Kid Rock.  But, mainly just the omelettes.

5.) H-O-R-S-E – While waiting for Virginia Tech and Maryland to tipoff, we conned the cheerleaders into finding a basketball for us so we could prove that bloggers got game, too.   Unfortunately for me, all I proved was that three plus years of boozing and Taco Bell without setting foot in a gym can really have a negative effect on one’s hoop dreams.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I was eliminated first (and quickly) while Hubby pulled off the upset win.  Despite my humiliating performance, I can now say that I’ve played basketball in an ACC arena.  On a side note, I’ll be joining a gym first thing in the morning.

4.) The McLeod Center at Northern Iowa – There was a lot of excitement coming into this road trip and I can’t say that an ounce of it was for the stop at Northern Iowa. With sites like Michigan State, Kansas, North Carolina, and Syracuse on the schedule, how were we supposed to get amped up for UNI?  We expected a barn for a gym and a dismal turnout in the stands.  Boy, were we wrong.  We entered the jam-packed McLeod Center just minutes before the tip to find our seats on the baseline, two feet in front of the student section.  And this wasn’t just any student section, these kids were borderline crazy.  Nearly everyone not wearing Bert and Ernie costumes were covered in white body paint and screaming their lungs out.  The students were very friendly with us and loved what we were doing at the table in front of them, just as we loved their craziness behind us.  The McLeod Center might not have the powerful atmosphere of an Allen Fieldhouse or Cameron Indoor but the passion is certainly there.  Now, if they could just do something with all of that snow.

3.) Marquette, So You Think You Can Dance? – Our first night out on the road trip made for one of the most awkward nights I’ve had in quite some time.  As a recent college grad and liver of the dream, bars and partying are nothing new to me.  I feel like I’ve seen and experienced enough to adapt to the various environments.  But, Marquette threw me off my game.  While most bars/clubs offer a designated area for dancing, the kids in Milwaukee will spontaneously dance wherever, whenever and they don’t need a reason or give a heads up.  They just dance.  It’s what they do. Some danced in pairs, many danced alone, some danced in the corner, and some danced by the bar.  The only consistency was that NO ONE had ANY rhythm.  It was like a convention for “that uncoordinated white guy” who can be found on dance floors across America.  I’ve never seen anything like it and I really can’t put into words how absurd it was.  With that being said, it was a lot of fun partying at Marquette and seeing so many people having a good time without worrying that someone might mistake their dancing for a seizure.  Keep on keepin’ on, Marquette.  You might look like band camp but you’re America’s best dance crew! 

2.) A snow hurricane, a beer truck, and a fire hydrant – Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:  An epic snowstorm in the northeast detoured our trip to Blacksburg, Virginia where we spent eight hours in Virginia Tech’s arena due to a water main break caused by a beer truck backing over a fire hydrant.  You can’t make that up.  10,000 fans entered Cassell Coliseum after a three and a half hour delay to find that there were no working restrooms in the building.  Fans were allowed to leave the arena to relieve themselves during the game.  And as if the game wasn’t prolonged enough, it went into double overtime.   Only on the road trip.

1.) The Kia Rondo – You can call her a station wagon, a snowplow, the Harangody, or the Rajon, but for the past week and a half we called her home.  She traveled through 13 different states in just 11 days.  She saw new faces board the ship halfway through and said goodbye to old ones along the way.  She saw rain, shine, snow, more snow, and everything in between.  She was littered with McDonald’s cups, Mountain Dew bottles, and Starburst wrappers, and she held more luggage than she was probably manufactured to hold.  She served as an office, a trashcan, a country music jukebox, and even a hotel room.  I can’t say I enjoyed traveling 6 hours a day for 11 days but the ol’ Kia Rondo somehow made it bearable.  While our stories, columns, pictures, and memories will live on from the trip, we won’t forget what got us there.  Rondo, it’s been real and when you’re riding around town with whatever old woman rents you next, just remember who took you out and showed you the world.  

Honorable Mention: Tomlin getting turned down by the Golden Eagle, a Morehead State frat party, "Are you better than Iowa?", a hysterical call-in to a West Virginia radio station, and Bojangles Famous Chicken'n Biscuits

To the readers, thanks for following along.  We appreciate the support and hope you enjoyed our stuff.

To CBSSports.com, thanks for the opportunity and for not pulling the plug on us midway through the trip.

Farewell.

Franklin, out.

Posted on: February 28, 2010 7:36 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2010 7:43 pm
 

Trying Not to Hate Duke

MATT JONES

7:30 PM


I will be honest, hating Duke has been a big part of my life.  From the moment Christian Laettner made his famous shot in 1992 against my Kentucky Wildcats until the present day, I have spent too much of my life hoping Duke would lose basketball games.  It isnt really a healthy way to be, as we all should rise above such petty problems and move onto a higher level of consciousness.  And I definitely try.  But then I would see Greg Paulus slap the floor or Coach K bait an official, and cheering for a loss seemed so natural.  It has been even worse for me because I actually attended Duke for law school, and while I was there they won a national title in 2001.  You dont know misery until the team you dislike with all your heart wins a championship with you on campus...it
doesnt seem fair.

But now it is time to attempt to move on.  Since we have been doing this CBS gig, I have done my best to remain neutral.  That has meant that I have called them as I have seen them, with praise coming for Evan Turner and scorn for Rick Pitino.  Those werent due to biases, but the facts as I saw them.  But this is Duke...and that makes it harder.  Still I can do it.  This Duke team is legitimately good ans actually is surprisingly under the radar.  So I will give them a fair take here in Charlottesville, no matter how hard it is for me to stomach.

Speaking of Charlottesville, there is no better college town in America.  If you were to draw up how you wanted a major college campus to look, feel and be administered, you would probably choose Charlottesville and UVA.  There is a good mix of old and new, classic architecture, great academics and beautiful women.  You cant beat that in my view.  I almost went here for both undergraduate and law school, and I have thought about going to a graduate school, just so it could be here.

On the basketball end of things, UVA has the best newer arena in America.  For you Kentucky fans out there, when they build a new Rupp Arena, it will look like a larger version of this place.  All the seats are great, the setup is modern, with lots of space and luxury boxes that are not gaudy.  It was an expensive building, but they have managed to keep the students around the court and when UVA plays well (which hasnt been all that often on this six-game losing streak), the place rocks.  This is actually my third game here and I have had a great time at all of them and I hope this one is similar.

So hating Duke and loving Charlottesville must be put aside.  We are quasi-journalists darnit and as much as I may want to go nuts when I see a Plumlee brother or Ryan Kelly get up off the bench and cheer like a 12 year old school girl, I wont do it.  Objectivity rules, at least for one night.

By the way it has been suggested that you guys may have missed some of our columns on the various games that we have attended, since they havent been linked here.  These are a few, and make sure and check them out if you can.  More during the game:

Maryland Has College Basketball's Enemy #1

Kansas is the Favorite to Win it All

Evan Turner is College Basketball Great

UNC Basketball Hurts My Eyes

Rick Pitino Has Lost His Mojo

Patrick Patterson Profile

Morehead State Player Headed for Big Things

Posted on: February 28, 2010 4:56 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2010 5:29 pm
 

FAQ: University of Virginia

By C.M. Tomlin

5:00 PM


As the Road Crew pulls into its final stop to watch Coach K's Blue Devils take on the Virginia Cavaliers, it's worth noting that, in the course of history, very little -- if anything at all -- is known about the university itself. As a service to you, America, we are proud to present, for the first time ever, a wealth of information that no one knows, in the following Frequently Asked Questions About the University of Virginia.

What is this University of Virginia?

The University of Virginia is a public university founded in 1819 by President Thomas Jefferson. Its early board of administrators once included Jefferson and fellow presidents James Madison and James Monroe.

Yes, I know all those those people. They live at Disneyworld.

No, they don't. It should also be noted that the University of Virginia was the first educational institution to offer programs in disciplines such as astronomy and philosophy. 

There's a guy in my building who's into astronomy and philosophy, and his apartment stinks and he sits around listening to Phish all day long. I don't think he has a job. What else you got?

The University of Virginia also boasts impressive schools focusing on architecture, business, engineering and applied sciences, public policy and medicine. There are also, it is well known, a number of secret societies at the University of Virginia.

What do you mean "secret societies?"

Some of these societies, often open by invitation only, are over 100 years old and one which is no longer a secret -- The Jefferson Debating Society -- dates back to 1825. Other secret societies said to exist on campus include the Seven Society, the Z Society, the IMP Society, The Society of Purple Shadows, The Information Society, The Babysitters Club, The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Monster Squad, A Tribe Called Quest, The Goodie Mob, The Getalong Gang and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Have any famous people come from the University of Virginia?

Oh yes. Poet Edgar Allen Poe, for instance, has had his original dorm room restored to how it looked when he was a student at UVA. Current CBS anchor Katie Couric's old UVA dorm room is said to still smell like Avon's popular 1970's scent "Sweet Honesty," while mid-1900's modern artist Georgia O'Keefe's former dorm room is still said to smell like artfully arranged cattle skulls.

What about the University of Virginia Men's Basketball Team, the Chevy Cavaliers?

Actually, it's just the Cavaliers, a middle-of-the-road general contender in the ACC with 16 NCAA Tourney appearances, four Elite Eight appearances and two trips to the Final Four. They play in John Paul Jones Arena.

John Paul Jones is awesome. I saw Led Zeppelin at the Meadowlands in '77. 

Yeah, this is a different John Paul Jones. 

Who coaches the Cavaliers?

The Cavs are coached by ex-Washington State head coach Tony Bennett.

Tony Bennett is awesome. I saw him at the Tropicana in '68.

Again, a different Tony Bennett.

Where is UVA located?

The University of Virginia is located in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is named after Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Good Charlotte's a great band. Did you ever have their last album? It's-

Awesome?

Totally.

You're not even listening to what I'm saying anymore, are you?

Not really.

Let's just wrap this up, then.

Sure. You want to get something to eat?

Yeah. Alright.
Posted on: February 27, 2010 7:29 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2010 7:48 pm
 

Finally underway in Blacksburg...

Thomas Beisner

7:07 PM


After broken water pipes and wrecked beer trucks pushed the start time back a few hours, the tip between the second and third place teams in the ACC is underway - and the crowd is ready. Despite being sent home and asked to come back, Hokie fans brought their "A" game tonight for a game which could tremendously help their NCAA seeding. Greivas Vasquez has heard his share of taunts, which he seems to enjoy, but there's clearly one thing that everyone is focused on. It's Virginia Tech basketball time.

Let's do this!

 
Posted on: February 27, 2010 5:53 pm
 

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

MATT JONES

6:00 PM



We tried to be the good young reporters.  We watched Kentucky lose to the Vols at "Big Al's" in Blacksburg, but then quickly departed because it was time to do our jobs.  We are here to watch Maryland vs Virginia Tech and we were not going to have the same experience as we did at Northern Iowa, Depaul, UNC and Morehead, where we arrived just before tipoff.  No, we were going to the game early, set the scene and experience all that Hokie basketball had to offer.

Four hours later, we are still waiting.  In a scene that is reminiscent of "Lord of the Flies", the Maryland vs Virginia Tech game is under delay again...this time for a second water line breaking after a beer truck ran over a fire hydrant earlier tonight.  Read that sentence again.  This game is under delay because a beer truck ran over a fire hydrant.  The tip is now scheduled for 7 pm.  The fans will be let in, but we are told that there will be NO RESTROOM FACILITIES IN THE ARENA.  Yes you read that correctly...10,000 people in attendance, but no one can go relieve themselves.

All that is needed now is Piggy and a conch, and things could get really interesting.  We are already trying to prepare for dire circumstances, and have decided that if things go poorly, we are going to sacrifice Drew first, because as of now he is the least employable.  Over the course of the last three hours, we have:

1.  Played 2 on 2 on the Virginia Tech court (it was more enjoyable for most of the people in the stands than UNC's performance against Florida State would have been)

2.  Recognized that the Virginia Tech cheerleaders are BY FAR the hottest of the trip so far

3.  Attempted to keep one of our group from getting into an argument with a security guard (slightly unsuccessful)

4.  Seen Gary Williams up close and realized that he always frowns in real life as well as during games.

It is upset central in college basketball today as Kentucky lost to Tennessee, Wake forest to UNC and Kansas is trailing Oklahoma State late.  But for us, we are only caring about the simple pleasures...such as where we are going to use the restroom after downing a liter of water.  The Road Trip rolls on!

Posted on: February 27, 2010 11:59 am
Edited on: February 27, 2010 12:01 pm
 

Terps, Hokies and the Trip to Charlottesville

By C.M. Tomlin

11:55 PM


Rise and shine, America -- it's the penultimate day of the College Basketball Road Trip. After an evening in Blacksburg it's time to peep the Hokies and hit the road. Maryland tips off at Cassell Coliseum at 4:00, after which the Road crew says goodbye to the Fighting Gobblers (look it up) and takes off down the road to Charlottesville to watch #5 Duke assault Virginia.
 
This is as good time to reflect, get out the guitar and commence the hug circle as we look back at what we've learned over the last nine days. It hasn't always gone according to plan, and it hasn't always been pretty, but -- as might read the many shirts and trucker hats of the many Flying J and Pilot truck stops we've been in over lo these many miles -- we "got 'er done." Some lessons from the roads:

-Coaches at any level take losses harder than you might think. From Marquette's Buzz Williams to Murray State's Billy Kennedy, losing is a big deal. Tom Izzo is notoriously hard on himself after a Michigan State loss, but watching him beat up on himself in the post-game press conference is actually painful. If you think your favorite coach isn't taking things seriously, you're wrong. These guys are working hard for you, I assure you. 

-Super 8's efficient and accessible line of hotels offers a welcome respite both indoors and out. As Matt and Drew discovered in Kansas, sometimes the parking lot of the motel chain can be just as effective as the interior. And just like a real Super 8 motel room, the interior of your Kia Rondo will also not be entirely sanitary and/or smell like dirty hair. 

-The Izzone is as impressive as you'd imagine it to be when you watch it on television. It's incredibly well-organized, the band is one of the best in the country, and it makes me want to be in college again. At Michigan State, which would mean I'd actually be electing to live in East Lansing, which is terrible. That's how great the Izzone is. 

-Do NOT make fun of Austin, Minnesota's Spam Museum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. You will receive the browbeating of a lifetime by an eighty year-old lady. Because you are not better than iowa, even though the Spam Museum is in Minnesota. So shut up, you snot-nosed punk. 

-The service at America's BW3s varies from location to location. Case in point, at one location we were only charged for a "lunch combo" when we had clearly exceeded lunch combo order content, which was very kind of our server. At another, I was asked "what's a pint? Sorry, I'm new here."  Take this information as you will, CEO of BW3s. You might consider contacting the team behind smash hit Undercover Boss -- only right here on CBS!

-If there is a boulder sitting on the side of the road in rural Iowa, someone has spray-painted a smiley face smoking a joint on it. This is a growing cottage industry during Iowa's economic downturn and, someday, will branch out to roadside boulders all across this great land.

-College basketball is amazing wherever you go, on any level. Having toured both our nation's most famous arenas and some of the smaller, less-known ones, we're happy to report that college ball is as loved and fun across the nation as it is for your particular school. Get out of your time  zone and see some other schools and fans do their thing; you won't be sorry.

The crew sidles into Charlottesville late tonight. Stick around.
Posted on: February 26, 2010 4:25 pm
 

Its Virginia Tech!!!

MATT JONES

4:10 PM



Well as the other posters have told you by now, we got detoured thanks to the "Snowicane" of 2010 in the Northeast.  Our trip to hang out with the Fighting Andy Bernards of Cornell and the big showdown between Villanova and Syracuse are thus both out of the picture and we are left with our second detour of the trip.  After much deliberation, it was determined that we would be headed to Blacksburg for the Maryland-Virginia Tech game tomorrow.  It is a matchup between the 2nd and 3rd best team in the ACC and a rivalry that has heated up since the Hokies have come to the ACC.

Ok so thats the official preview.  But the reality is that we know very little about each team other than the fact that Maryland has that Vasquez kid who has been in school for 15 years and seems to take more shots than Billy Gillispie at a Bourbon Street bar during Mardi Gras.  We however are going to learn and plan on being ready tomorrow by tipoff.

However there is a lot of time between now and then and without the Cornell game on tap, there isnt a basketball game to attend for the first time since the launch of this trip.  We just stopped at a casino in West Virginia, but the smell of desperation was so prevalent that it became impossible to breathe.  We noticed one very good looking waitress, but when Drew flashed his five dollar bill and gave his winning smile, she walked away and headed for the bigger spenders at the off-track harness racing betting lounge.  So we decided that like Buffalo for Willie and Paul, West Virginia just wasnt geared for the KSR crew.

We are currently at the Hampton Inn lobby in Beckley, West Virginia (the exact hotel where one of my friends used to come every weekend to meet his girlfriend halfway between Raleigh, North Carolina and Lexington, Kentucky for weekend rendezvous....I am not sure why I am telling you that, but it makes me feel creepy and I feel that you need to as well) and are headed towards Blacksburg within the hour.  We will arrive in time to have something we havent really had on this trip....FREE TIME.

Thus I am asking the College Basketball Road Trip Nation....let us know what to do in Blacksburg!  If you live in Blacksburg and want some national notoriety, email us.  If you have know restaurants, local hangouts or places where women are more friendly than West Virginia casinos, email us at Collegebasketballroadtrip@gmail.com.  Our night in Blacksburg depends on it.

And by tomorrow, we will have the lowdown on an ACC battle for 2nd place in the conference.  The Road Trip rolls on.... 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com