In Portland: Will UNI’s Ship Come In Here?

Somewhere in there is a basketball arena

Somewhere in there is a basketball arena

PORTLAND, Ore. — This is how one NCAA men’s basketball tournament team spends a day, two days before it tries to win its first NCAA game in 19 years:
It has an 8 a.m. practice in Cedar Falls. It cleans up, and it heads to the Waterloo airport where other passengers have already been waiting for 90 minutes to get screened and luggage to get processed for a 4-hour Allegiant Air charter flight to Portland.

The flights leaves a little more than an hour after the scheduled time of departure.

As the 126 passengers – coaches, players, team managers, UNI athletic staff, pep band members, media, and a handful of fans board the jet, they grab a Subway sub sandwich, a bag of chips, and an apple or an orange. Once airborne, the flight attendants offer a choice of blue Gatorade, red Gatorade, orange Gatorade or water.

High times.

The players eat better than the rest of us. They get a box lunch, with some other kind of cold sandwich instead of the Subway turkey. They also get a cookie. By the third hour of the flight, I’m jealous about the cookie.

It takes about 40 minutes from the time the flight has landed to the time all the luggage is loaded from the plane to the buses going to the team’s hotel. A 20-minute bus ride, and the destination has been reached at last.

The media mopes like myself, meanwhile, persuaded one off the bus drivers to take us to the media hotel downtown, 15 minutes from the Panthers’ hotel. And here, at 6 p.m., Iowa time, is where I am.

If anyone assumes this travel stuff is the glamourous life, know it’s about 20 degrees cooler and a lot gloomier in Portland than it was in Eastern Iowa today.

Exciting stuff, no? No. Well, it was the for the UNI band member who sat across from me on the plane and said it was the first time he had a) flown and b) seen mountains.

Now, we’ll see if that musician and everyone else stays here beyond Thursday. That’s when the Panthers play Purdue in the first round of the NCAAs.

Press conferences and practices are Wednesday. I’ll be Hlogging from those.

And now, it’s time to go out into Oregon and see if anyone wants to fight.


One response to “In Portland: Will UNI’s Ship Come In Here?

  1. Good luck, Mike. I know you’ll be fine.

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