Published Mar. 24, 2013 on www.gannonsports.com
Gannon Director of Athletics Media Relations Dan Teliski hopes to take everyone who couldn’t make the trip to the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball Elite Eight in San Antonio, Texas through a first-hand look at the Lady Knights’ quest for a national championship with a daily blog to be posted at the conclusion of every day. Here is his report from day two.
8:00 a.m. – Day number two begins bright and early for the Lady Knights who awake for breakfast in the team hotel. Sunday could be described as the calm before the storm. The initial itinerary features a slow day — if that’s what you can call it with still a lot to do — before wall-to-wall action on Monday. Sunday also represents the day that the majority of NCAA Division II Elite Eight teams will arrive in San Antonio, Texas. For Gannon, the day begins with the Lady Knights heading downstairs for small breakfast at a bagel place on the first floor of the hotel.
10:00 a.m. – Always a task on long road trips is making sure to accommodate the faith of all the travel party members. Gannon’s week-long bus driver Rusty and the coaching staff are able to get the Lady Knights to several different churches in San Antonio to fit each players’ faith on this Sunday morning.
12:30 p.m. – After attending church services and getting back to the hotel, the team decides to get a road favorite for lunch – Jimmy John’s. The process runs smoothly as the coaching staff had the Lady Knights fill out orders the night before, made the order in advance and simply picks up the lunch order. Between arriving back from church services and afternoon practice, some of the Lady Knights try to take advantage of the beautiful roof-top pool above the 11th floor of the Hyatt Regency. But unlike the 80-degree temperatures in San Antonio on Saturday, the squad is greeted with morning temperatures in the 50’s and plenty of wind. Few stay in the pool with the colder temps and decide to simply chill inside. The San Antonio temperatures eventually reached the 60’s later in the day, but the sun did remain out the entire day. The local forecast is calling for tonight’s low to reach 35 degrees with more sun and a high of 65 on Monday.
2:00 p.m. – It’s time to get ready for the work part of the trip. It’s amazing to see how the Lady Knights have the ability to stay relaxed and enjoy the trip, but yet become extremely focused when it comes to practice and games. Today is no different as the squad loads the bus for its Sunday practice. Once on the bus, Rusty pulled the bus out en route to the University of Incarnate Word.
2:15 p.m. – Without the heavy traffic the team faced during a warm Saturday night from a busy River Walk, the trip to the University of Incarnate Word takes much less time and ends up being about a 15-minute drive.
2:30 p.m. – Saturday’s practice was good. Today’s practice appears to be even better. I know I’ve said the same thing before, but the Lady Knights seem to be very focused and determined. The squad churned out a great practice that runs about 90 minutes.
4:00 p.m. – After another good practice, the Lady Knights say good-bye to its temporary practice facility at the University of Incarnate Word. Practices the rest of the week will take place at Bill Greehey Arena with times and durations set by the NCAA. Monday’s practice will also be open to media, fans and everyone else. So, it will be a different practice atmosphere for the Lady Knights.
4:15 p.m. – The Lady Knights arrive back at the team hotel and are forced to scramble to get ready in time for dinner departure in 45 minutes. So, everyone heads straight to their rooms for showers.
5:00 p.m. – To no surprise, this team continues to remain on schedule as everyone is in the lobby and ready to go by 5 p.m. The entire team is decked out in maroon pants along with white jackets and white Lady Knight basketball t-shirts. We start to notice more and more teams around the hotel, passing several other Elite Eight teams such as undefeated Clayton State and Tuesday’s opponent Ashland. The dinner destination – the Little Red Barn based on a suggestion from Gannon volleyball assistant coach Bouaketh Chanthavisouk.
5:15 p.m. – Rusty delivers yet again and pulls the Lady Knights into the Little Red Barn within 15 minutes. First, the group gathers in front of a big sign on the side of the building that looks like a barn – exactly as the name indicates. Following a team picture, the group heads into the restaurant. It was a unanimous two thumbs up and a big thank you to Coach Chanthavisouk. Specializing in steaks and chicken, the dinner plates come with huge servings and the entire group leaves with more than enough in their stomachs.
6:15 p.m. – Not only was the food great, but the service was quick. Dinner for 20 was completed within an hour and the Lady Knights head back to hotel.
7:30 p.m. – One thing the common person might not realize is that classwork never ends for student-athletes, especially for a team that produced the 14th-highest team grade point average in Division II last year. And that’s no different even days before the team’s Elite Eight quarterfinal game. The Lady Knights gather for a study table supervised by assistant coaches Rachel Folcik and Ashley Saia. With the team studying hard and getting school work done, head coach Cleve Wright joins Gannon Director of Athletics Mark Richard and Director of Athletics Media Relations Dan Teliski for an NCAA Division II Elite Eight administration meeting. The meeting covers all the details of the week. Topics include practices, community service, TV timeout protocol, the banquet, post-game press conferences and much more. Upon entering the meeting, several familiar faces greet the Gannon contingent. Former Mercyhurst Sports Information Director and current Mercyhurst Assistant Director of Athletics Lauren Packer Webster serves as the NCAA Division II Elite Eight Media Director. Also, Ashland head coach Sue Ramsey and Wright embrace in a hug as the two close friends will clash again after years as GLIAC rivals. NCAA Division II Atlantic Region chair Greg Bamberger is also there to help Gannon after spending last weekend at the Hammermill Center. For Richard and Teliski, these meetings and the entire week are even more important than usual from an administration standpoint. Both take notes about everything and everything throughout the week as they will help host the 2014 NCAA Division II Elite Eight at Erie Insurance Arena in Erie, Pa.
9:00 p.m. – With the Lady Knights having a good second day that involved a solid practice and good study table, Wright decides after his administration meeting to reward the Lady Knights with an impromptu trip to Ben & Jerry’s for some ice cream. Meanwhile, Teliski heads to a second meeting to work on media details for the week. The group of Elite Eight sports information directors continues its work with the national media, CBS Sports Network, radio and others to get everyone as prepared as possible.
9:30 p.m. – The quick trip for ice cream concludes with a walk back to the team hotel. As he does at the end of most events, Wright gathers the squad to discuss the next day’s itinerary. Monday is arguably the busiest day of the week for Gannon. It includes an early rise for a community engagement activity at a local middle school, practice, press conferences, team photos at the Alamo, a championship banquet and post-banquet group activities. Reminding the Lady Knights to stay focused on the task at hand, the squad heads to their individual rooms for the night.
11:00 p.m. – Lights out for the Lady Knights and day two comes to an end. The night’s sleep will be an important one with Monday’s full schedule ahead of them. An 8 a.m. breakfast awaits the team with the full schedule to follow.