Inside AU's NCAA Tourney Trip, Part II
American's Bryce Simon has agreed to provide daily reports this week as the Eagles go to their second straight NCAA tournament. You can read more about Bryce in this John Feinstein column, and find the rest of The Post's tournament coverage here. Also, read Bryce's first entry here. He'll be back in this space tomorrow at the same time. And yes, we're trying to figure out just what it was he ate that he thought was mashed potatoes. See below.
Welcome back for two day of my blog. Looks like the creative folks behind the scenes have named this blog "Bryce is Right," but I've heard they are fighting over another title -- "Simon Says," which I personally like more. I think my favorite judge, Simon Cowell, would agree with me on this one.
Speaking of American Idol, I am missing Tuesday's night show as I am typing this out. For some reason, I am not smart enough to find it on the TV up here, but no worries. It's DVR'd back at the house in D.C.
But back to the important topic: hoops. The last 24 hours have been busy around AU's campus. In yesterday's post, I mentioned the student ticket line, where many AU students waited over eight hours in cold temperatures and drizzly rain so that they could get tickets to Thursday's game. Pretty impressive to say the least. I have never stood in line for a ticket of any kind, and I'm not sure that I would ever have the patience.
What I do know is that my teammates and I discussed in the locker room how much we appreciated our fellow students taking time out of their week to not only get the tickets but travel to our game. All the effort they put in is greatly appreciated by all the guys. I can only think of one way to re-pay them...with a "W" on Thursday.
Before practice on Monday, we had another media day. This is something this team has had to learn to deal with on pretty much a daily basis. We are not the type of team that gets tons of attention throughout the season, but it is always nice to get a little bit of attention this time of the
year and I feel like my teammates and I have learned how to handle it well.
With that said, we hit the court for practice right after the media had left on Monday, and did not put together one of our best practices. The great thing about this team is we have been very good at bouncing back from days like this, and our practice Tuesday morning was much better. I think the team is starting to really focus in on the game and getting ready to play.
After practice on Tuesday, we headed out to the quad on campus for a send-off party. Hundreds of students, faculty and media were in attendance, and it was yet another great experience. I feel like the campus community has really embraced our basketball program, maybe a little different than what we saw when I arrived at AU two years ago.
Our bus trip to Philadelphia started off with the all the guys talking about how much people have changed over their time at AU. I believe that the conclusion was that Derrick Mercer had been the one to change the most over his four-year career and Steve Luptak had changed the most in a one-year time period. This conversation ended just in time for the movie to come on.
After about 30 minutes of previews and 10 minutes of the actual movie, almost everyone on the team was asleep. Sleeping would have been a good strategy, because the movie we watched was horrible. Although my teammate Matt Wilson might disagree, as halfway through the movie I tried and failed to get his attention because he was glued to the TV. Overall, another good
bus trip that got us to our destination safely.
Our team dinner was a typical team dinner for us. A table full of 15 college basketball players talking about any topic that came to us. The team chemistry on our team cannot be like any other team in the country. I ordered a rib-eye steak, which was pretty good, and I thought I had a bad plate of mashed potatoes until my coaches informed me later that it was actually
something completely different. I still have not completely adjusted to the East Coast choices of food.
After supper--yes, "supper," as we call it back home--it was back to our own rooms and lights out to get our rest for another day of preparation for the big game. My roommate, freshman Simon McCormack, and I usually spend our time watching highlights on SportsCenter before falling asleep.
The feeling around the team is a little different this year than last. Last year, we had a little bit of that "just happy to be here" attitude when we traveled to Birmingham to play Tennessee. This year we still are happy to be here, but we also think we still have more to prove to ourselves.
Like the former head coach of my Kansas City Chiefs Herm Edwards says, "You play to win the game." I think this is an attitude this team has taken on a lot more for the game this year. We are not just "happy to be here." We also want to go out on Thursday and compete to win a basketball game.
That's about all for now, folks. Today we have a closed practice early in the day, and then a shoot-around at the Wachovia Center that's open to the public. Hopefully I will have some more good stories to tell.
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