NCAA Travel Blog: Trying for the Sweet 16

| No TrackBacks
March 23 - 6:30 p.m.

GAME INFORMATION | Watch the Tournament Online

Quotes from Today's Media Activities: Minnesota | Florida

Blog: Previewing the Gators (by GopherSports.com's Jeff Fett)

Yesterday, the Gophers had one final practice before taking on UCLA. Other than that, the team had all day to relax before playing the very last game of the NCAA Second Round.

The band and spirit squads (including national champion mascot Goldy, of course) have done a phenomenal job this weekend. They were at the 'Sota Social at the Tavern before the game, along with a lot of family and fans who had an opportunity to chat and have snacks before taking a shuttle to the arena.

Go Gophers! Gopher pep band
Go Gophers!
Our game ended up starting even later than planned when the Florida-Northwestern State game ran longer than expected. After getting to Austin on Wednesday afternoon, late Friday was a long time to wait to play. It was great to finally tip off at 9:22 p.m.

Go Gophers! about to tip off against UCLA
Go Gophers!
It was also great to see the Gophers take an early lead. Things got a little tense (for me, anyway) when UCLA chipped away at that lead at the beginning of the second half. And then it was hard not to start cheering on the sidelines when the Gophers pulled away again. After the 83-63 score went final, Tubby Smith and Dre Hollins did some on-court interviews. Smiley Dre got a lot of cheers going back to the locker room.

Go Gophers! Dre Hollins
Go Gophers!
After media obligations, we finally got back to the hotel around 12:30. The spirit squads and band again were very supportive, forming a tunnel for the team to go through as they went inside for the postgame meal.

The team had press conferences this afternoon, and will be finishing up their closed practice soon. A false fire alarm during Miami's practice earlier today pushed back the schedule for the rest of the practices. I used practice time to explore the surrounding part of campus. At Texas Memorial Stadium, a gate was ajar, so I walked through without asking, just to snap a couple pictures.

Go Gophers! Texas Memorial Stadium
Go Gophers!
Wearing my Minnesota shirt for the walk appears to have paid off. A nice man at the stadium told me he only let me in because he liked Tubby. On my way back to the Frank Erwin Center, someone said, "Go, Gophs!" to me out of a car window.

March 21 -10:30 p.m.

COMPLETE GAME INFO

Blog: Previewing the Gophers-UCLA Match-Up

Minnesota Pre-Tournament Quotes Get Acrobat Reader

It's fitting that I mentioned the bat bridge earlier today, because we ended up having a close encounter with a bat tonight. A few different times during the Gophers' open practice, everyone stopped for a moment while a bat flew around in the court area at the Frank Erwin Center. (See the video above for some bat footage.) The bat even went at Julian Welch. I don't think Dre Hollins was a big fan--he kept running away. I guess Barnyard animals follow the Gophers around even when they're not playing in Williams Arena.

Go Gophers! Frank Erwin Center
Go Gophers!

Before practice, the media had access to the team. The locker room was open to media for half an hour. Coach Tubby Smith and the two captains, Austin Hollins and Rodney Williams, fielded questions in the press conference area during part of that time. As most of the media cleared out of the locker room, we started watching the Michigan-South Dakota State game before heading out to the court for practice.

Go Gophers! Minnesota locker room sign
Go Gophers!

A few tidbits from the locker room:

Rodney Williams, on the city of Austin:
"It's a pretty nice city, from what we've seen. I'm most happy about getting out of the cold weather, just being somewhere warm."

Williams, on being back in the Tournament as a senior:
"It's definitely nice. To come in my freshman year and get to the Tournament and then not go for a couple years, that was tough. To go out with an NCAA Tournament, I think that's the best way to go out."

Andre Hollins, on his first NCAA Tournament experience:
"It's very exciting. As a kid, you grow up watching college basketball with a sense of excitement. You're on the couch watching these games back to back with the players playing their hearts out. You just hope that one day that's you. Now that I have the opportunity to be here, it's crazy. It's exciting."

Go Gophers! team at the NCAA Tournament
Go Gophers!

The Gophers will have one last practice tomorrow before playing in the very last game of the 2013 Second Round (formerly known as the First Round) at about 9:00 p.m. For information about the viewing party in Roseville, the 'Sota Social in Austin and home viewing options, scroll down to the bottom of this article.

March 21 - 3:00 p.m.

Thursday has a day of practice and meetings so far. Some of the staff attended morning meetings to go over tournament procedures so that everything would run smoothly later in the day and on game day. The coaches' meeting starts pretty soon, as well.

Go Gophers! Frank Erwin Center
Go Gophers!

Pictured above: Frank Erwin Center

At noon, the Gophers practiced at St. Edward's University in Austin. Several of us watched basketball on our phones on the way there. (Check out the NCAA March Madness Live app if you have a smart phone or tablet--but be prepared to charge your device soon if you do. The app is free and allows you to track scores and watch games live.) At practice, we could see passers-by stopping at the windows to take a peek at the Division I team using the Division II Hilltoppers' gym.

Go Gophers! practice at St. Edward's
Go Gophers!

Our bus driver gave us a nice tour of the University of Texas campus and other parts of Austin before bringing us back to the hotel. The Longhorns have some incredible facilities, and their campus is spread out like the University of Minnesota. Places we saw included the state capitol building, the Longhorns' football and baseball stadiums, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and a bridge under which a lot of bats live (kind of creepy). There would be pictures of some of this if we had gotten off the bus--maybe I will add some tomorrow if I have a chance to walk around in the morning.

It has been kind of fun just walking or driving around Austin and seeing some of the quirky things in this city. It seems like there are food trucks just about everywhere. There are a handful of them right outside our hotel, and there are some streets with a whole bunch them lined up in a row. On one street not far from our hotel, people have converted most of the houses into bars/restaurants.

The Gophers will be going back to the Frank Erwin Center for media availability and open practice tonight. Practice is open to the public and runs from 6:40 to 7:20.

March 20 - 7:30 p.m.

Go Gophers!
Mack Brown
Go Gophers!

March Madness has officially begun for the Golden Gopher basketball team. The team, band, cheerleaders, staff and others involved with the program flew to Austin, Texas, this afternoon to get ready for Minnesota's game against UCLA on Friday night.

We left Williams Arena and well-below-average "spring" temperatures late in the morning and arrived in balmy Texas this afternoon. The Minnesota Rouser played in the airport as we were boarding. When we got off the plane at the airport, it was nice not to need a winter coat. A local news crew was at the hotel when we arrived to greet our buses and interview Tubby Smith.

The Gophers had lunch at the hotel, and went to practice later in the evening, where they had a chance to meet Texas Longhorns football coach Mack Brown and listen to a little talk from him. The Gophers will have their first look at the Frank Erwin Center court tomorrow during open practice. Anyone in Austin who wishes may come to watch on Thursday. Minnesota's open practice runs from 6:40 to 7:20 p.m.

Info for Friday
The No. 11 Gophers will play No. 6 UCLA in the second game of the Friday night session. The first game will start at 6:27 p.m. CT, and the Gophers will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of that game between Florida and Northwestern State. Find both teams' game notes and all the other information you need on our preview page.

For Gopher Fans in Minnesota
There will be a viewing party at Joe Senser's in Roseville. If you would like, come early for the Gopher men's hockey game at 7 p.m. and stay for the basketball game at 9 p.m. There will be food and beverage specials and chances to win prizes.

If you're watching on TV at home, try these channels: Comcast 51, DirecTV 246, Dish 204. Or look for your provider with the TruTV channel finder. Games are also available online at ncaa.com.

For Gopher Fans in Austin
The NCAA Tournament edition of the 'Sota Social runs from 5-7 p.m. at the Tavern (922 West 12th Street, Austin, Texas, 78703). The event will feature snacks, a cash bar, prizes and entertainment. Starting at 6:30, fans can take a shuttle from the social to the arena for the game.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://cstv.collegesports.com/mt5.2/mt-tb.cgi/44785