Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Get On The Bus

Back when TigerBlog played high school tennis, his team once had to play at a neutral site against another team from the same school district.

For reasons that TB never bothered to find out about, the two teams took the same bus to and from the site, stopping first at TB's school and then at the other on the way over and then reversing it on the way back.

It was a bit awkward, two teams that were about to play each other and then ultimately two teams that just had.

Of course, the time that the two teams were together on the bus was about 10 minutes each way, so it wasn't quite the end of the world.

Imagine, then, what it must have been like on the Albany men's basketball bus yesterday.

Did you see this story?

Albany is playing at Xavier tonight, and the Great Danes couldn't get their flight out to Cincinnati because of the blizzard. Instead, Albany decided to take a 10-hour or so bus ride.

That story wouldn't have made national news had it not been for one other piece of the situation. Mark Lyons, Xavier's second-leading scorer, lives in Schenectady, which is 10 minutes from Albany, and he too couldn't get back for the game.

So what happened? Xavier's coach called Albany's coach and asked if Lyons could ride on the Albany bus, a request that was granted.

Xavier's two leading scorers, Lyons and Tu Holloway, were supposed to go with Albany, but Holloway couldn't get from Long Island to Albany for the ride and had to find another way.

And that left Lyons to travel by himself with the team that his team is playing tonight. For 10 hours.

In the often cut-throat world of college athletics, where coaches agonize over every little detail as if changing shootaround times or something will give one team an advantage, it was a really nice story to see how Albany took Lyons with them.

“He was no different than any one of our guys," Albany coach Will Brown said. "The minute he got on the bus, he put his head phones on and whipped out his phone and within an hour he was out cold."

Holloway, by the way, took a bus to Pittsburgh, where a friend drove him the rest of the way.

It'll be interesting to keep an eye on the game, which is tonight at 7.

Another team on a long bus ride is the Princeton women's basketball team, whose early-morning flight to North Carolina this morning was canceled, also because of the storm.

The result for the Princeton women was a 10-hour ride of their own, from Central Jersey to Davidson, N.C., a ride of a mere 600 miles.

Princeton plays Davidson tomorrow night and then at Wake Forest on New Year's Eve. The 8-3 Tigers lost their last game in two overtimes to St. Joe's, but they have had 10 days to get over it. Davidson is 4-4 on the season; Wake is 7-5 before playing Appalachian State tomorrow.

The Princeton men were lucky in two respects.

First, their flight to Orlando for the Central Florida Holiday Classic wasn't canceled. Second, the weather has improved in Florida from where it was over the weekend (in the 30s) to the 60s or low 70s while Princeton is there.

Princeton, at 9-3, plays a 4-6 Northeastern team in the first round, and if the Tigers can get past that one, then the final would probably mean a matchup with the host team.

And, without looking, how good to do you think UCF is right about now?

How many guessed that UCF is currently 11-0 and ranked 19th in one poll and 21st in the other? In other words, a Princeton win tomorrow would set up a very nice game on Thursday.

There are three other Princeton teams who play this week, before the end of 2010.

The men's hockey team is at the UConn tournament, where it plays Bowling Green tomorrow and then either UConn or Holy Cross Thursday. The Tigers will be ending an 18-day layoff with this tournament, which is one of three breaks in the schedule of at least 10 days for the team.

The wrestling team is also in North Carolina (TB isn't sure how the Tigers got there) for the Southern Scuffle in Greensboro tomorrow and Thursday.

The women's hockey team plays the last home event of the calendar year when it faces Boston College on New Year's Eve at noon.

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