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Simon Says: Inside AU's NCAA Tourney Trip, Part III

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 and his second entry here. He'll be back in this space at some point tomorrow.

Welcome to day three of my (live) blog. Our team is in Philadelphia, gearing up for our first-round NCAA Tournament game versus Villanova.

We woke up Wednesday morning and headed for a team practice at a local college. It's worth mentioning right here that the many members of our team were very disappointed when we found out we had driven by the "Rocky Stairs" without our knowledge on our way to practice. (And Joe Hill, a freshman guard, is from Philadelphia. Thanks for helping us out on that one, Joe.)

As for practice, there were no cameras or fans there; it was all business for two solid hours. I think we had a good session, and I feel like our team is well-prepared heading into the game. After that practice, we headed back to our downtown Philadelphia hotel and rested for a bit before going to the Wachovia Center for media day and a shoot-around.

It is always nice to get a chance to shoot around in a gym like this beforehand because it is so much bigger than our gym back in D.C. Nothing against Bender, I love it, but your depth perception is just a little different in a place like the Wachovia Center. As we were going through our shoot-around, I was wondering how disappointed the fans in attendance must have been that we were not putting on a high-flying dunk show like I'm
sure many of the other teams before us were. After about 40 minutes on the court we got accomplished what we needed to which was simply get acclimated to the gym. We walked off the court with thoughts of great memories ahead of us on this court Thursday night.

AU's open shoot-around. (By Matt Rourke - AP)

After our light practice, we showered and headed straight for dinner at Joe Hill's fathers work. Players, coaches, managers, and some parents all gathered at his downtown office for a nice evening of food and some quality time. Just another example of the chemistry that this team possesses. It was just another typical dinner for us, as the topics
discusses ranged from whether Steve Luptak can really "rep" Chicago to which player comes from the city with the best basketball talent. Coming from little Syracuse, Kansas, I usually keep pretty quiet when the ladder begins being discussed.

As I told you in yesterday's blog, I ate a unknown food with my rib-eye steak at Tuesday night's supper. I still have yet to to figure out what that food was, and for my own public humiliation it is probably better if it stays unknown. Wednesday night, I was able to get my first experience with another food and that was a REAL Philly Cheesesteak. Brian Gilmore, Steve and Nick Hendra all got their first taste of this cheesesteak from Philly as well, and I think we would all agree that it was as good as advertised.

After supper was finished, Nick decided to bless us with his more cultured side and play the piano for us. It may be hard to believe but yes, Nick Hendra, can in fact play the piano (and very well I might add), and is also fluent in French. Unfortunately, Jordan Nichols's video camera had died by this point (not surprising since it hadn't turned off
since he woke up Wednesday morning), and we were not able to get any of this on film. After a couple songs done from memory, coach said it was time to go, and we loaded up the bus and headed back to the hotel for the night.

Last year we had the first game of the day and had to wake up very early on game-day. This year it will be nice to sleep in a little bit, have a light shoot-around, and relax for part of the day before heading to the game. We will get a chance to watch a few of the other games at the hotel before going out on the court under the bright lights of Prime Time for our own game. I think we are ready for it!!!

This is a big day for us, and we're excited for the opportunity that we have in front of us. I'll talk to you again tomorrow -- hopefully in a great mood because of an upset win for AU!

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 19, 2009; 9:57 AM ET
Categories:  Atlantic 11 , College Basketball  
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