From the Mic - Bill Culhane
Bobcat's Blizzard Blitz Beats Bears Blog
All together now, "The weather outside was frightful...but a SLC road win was so delightful..." Here is an inside look at the Bobcats trek to Conway, Arkansas to take on the University of Central Arkansas Bears. Amid the snow, wind, and freezing rain, the Bobcats returned to San Marcos with a win and some bbrrr...eautiful memories.
Note: For your viewing enjoyment, I have included some pics.
Tuesday, February 8th, 11:20 AM. The Bobcats report to Strahan Coliseum to load up the backpacks, equipment, luggage, and hopes for a key road win in Conway, Arkansas.
Noon - The Bobcats arrive at Austin Bergstrom International Airport.
2PM - Southwest Airlines flight 445 from Austin>Dallas DFW>Little Rock, Arkansas. The guys over 6'4" hoping for precious and elusive aisle seats. Bad luck as our team got the Southwest "B", as in "b"ad seats, boarding passes.
4:30PM - On the ground in Little Rock. Anyone notice the sky is threatening? For sure the weather reports calling for an impending "snow event" are exaggerated. Our bus driver is Anthony Hopkins' (Silence of the Lambs) long lost twin brother.
5:10PM - The golden arches beckon on the horizon. The bus pulls in for a quick "snack". 22 Value Meals later, we are back on the bus. No, nobody ordered a Happy Meal.
6:15PM - 45 minute drive (note the time) north on I40 and we arrive at the Hilton Garden Inn in Conway (about a 10 minute drive (note the time) to the UCA campus). Flawless check in process.
6:45PM - Check in, drop off the bags, quick text, splash of water to the face, and back on the bus for our shootaround at UCA. Anyone notice the sky is threatening?
7:00PM - At the Ferris Center, home of UCA basketball, to get acclimated with the venue, rims, and all of the Scottie Pippen (former Bear great) banners and murals adorning the facility (see below). Although I am having trouble with my mid-range shots, the guys seem to like the Conway rims...hope that holds true 24 hours from now.
Pippen was a Central Arkansas Bear back in the mid-80's. You can see his jersey, which was retired last season. Notice in the background just a couple of the many Pippen recognitions throughout the Ferris Center.
Ryan White, Reid Koenen and Matt Staff getting a feel for the Ferris Center:
8:30PM - Get your eat on! The bus dropped us off at Chili's, a three minute walk from our hotel. The players sat together, coaching brain trust at another table, and Jason Karlik (basketball head trainer), Rick Poulter (SID), Brant Freeman (voice of Texas State athletics), and myself at another table. Interestingly, the player's table is voted unanimously by the Chili's staff as the best behaved table. Our table was voted second and the coaches table a far distant third place.
10:00PM - Back to the hotel to watch the local newscasts and the Weather Channel predicting a major snow storm for tomorrow, Wednesday, gameday. UCA and local schools already cancelled for tomorrow and Thursday! Conversations regarding moving tipoff from 7PM to earlier in the day on Wednesday, but Texas State and UCA agree to stick with 7PM. Afterall, it won't snow much, right?
11:00PM - Watching the weather channel. 7AM the blizzard will arrive! Gulp!
11:07PM - Watching the weather channel. Still reporting that the blizzard will arrive at 7AM! Gulp!
11:12PM - Watching the weather channel. Uh oh. Still reporting that the blizzard will arrive at 7AM! Gulp! Wait. I think they're serious.
Midnight-2AM - Monitoring the weather reports, watching the UCA Hoops basketball show, and happy we brought the cold weather gear. Clarification: My black and purple stocking cap is in homage to my Baltimore Ravens, not the UCA Bears...seriously?!
Game Day! Wednesday, 9AM - Always an exciting day. Looking out the window. Are we in Conway, Arkansas or International Falls, Minnesota? The snow is flying, not many cars on the road. 2" on the ground. Experts saying snow will stop at 5PM in Conway. Breakfast at the team hotel. Good gosh, every breakfast morsel you can think of! Interesting: Bear Coach, and former U of Arkansas and NBA player, Corliss Williamson, comes by to shake hands. He also tells us, since the UCA campus is shutdown, his team will also be eating at our hotel.
9:45AM - Team has pregame meeting to go over the scouting report and film on Bears v Bobcats. Coach Flaska is the assistant coach in charge of this scouting report (the assistants kind of take turns in prepping the scouting reports and Coach Davalos contributes to and gives the thumbs up to every report).
10:30AM - Load up the bus to head back to the Farris Center for pregame shootaround. 3" on the ground, but it will stop at 5PM, right? The drive that was about 10 minutes last evening is today a 25-30 minute drive. I40 is empty, very few on the road in Conway. One unlucky driver couldn't see the road and drove up onto and got wedged on a median. Oops. Two good samaritans and a police officer have stopped to render aid.
Senior Tony Bishop and some other Bobcats heading in to the Ferris Center. Do you think Tony sees through the lens that later tonight he will score a career high 22 points, Tony is #22, and the 'Cats will hold UCA to 22 points in the first half? Eerie, huh?
Noon - Head back to team hotel to kick the feet up. 4" on the ground, but it will stop at 5PM, right? Bus driver says he isn't sure if it will be safe enough for him to take us to the game tonight. Huh? We make alternate plans just in case.
12:30PM - You ever hear the story about the two smart radio broadcasters? No, me neither. Brant and I bundle up and head out into the blizzard. Are sneakers recommended footwear for 5+ inches of snow? An inch or two of ice underneath the snow, but luckily Brant and I have watched the NHL on television.
We go to a Starbucks for anti-freeze, uh, hot tea. An Exxon, Verizon store, and a Subway are about all else that are open. A Conway policeman on patrol spots us and thinks to himself, "Man, do I have one to tell everyone back at the station." People smile and tell us hello. We tell them we are on foot and they frown and slowly back away. Sigh. Our footprints from 45 minutes earlier are gone, but we make out our hotel in the distance and return safely. Free hot tea and coffee in the hotel lobby? Yes, maybe if you are an amateur.
2:45PM - Pregame meal at hotel. Grilled chicken, mashed taters, rice, and salad. Lots of it. Room is quiet as our Bobcats focus on the mission later tonight. 5" on the ground.
4:45PM - We were scheduled to depart for the game at 5:15, but Coach Davalos wisely decides to move the departure up. Bus driver reports for duty and we are off to Beat UCA!
5:30PM - Conway and the UCA campus are blanketed in snow, vehicles entombed, and we begin the predictions on tonight's attendance. We slide, err...arrive at the Ferris Center. 6" on the ground. Still coming down with no letup in sight...what happened to 5PM?
Outside of the Farris Center with the snow blasting. Note: The Ferris Center is literally across the street from UCA's Football Stadium. George to Bolden, TD Bobcats, 2009. Remember?
5:30-6:45PM - We get setup for the game, the guys are warming up, and our UCA friends tell us their stories about dealing with the storm. Brant and I choose to not tell anyone about our "walkabout". 15 minutes until tip and 20-25 fans on hand.
7PM - Tipoff.
7:42PM - Cats lead 31-22 at halftime. 150-200 hearty souls in attendance.
8:52PM - Light the Star on Jackson Hall! 'Cats win 85-61. Excellent early birthday present for Coach Davalos. Texas State will go to bed tonight in first place in the Southland. Winning at home is awesome. Winning on the road is a different awesome and there are many smiles in the postgame. Wrap up broadcast equipment, give our thanks and goodbyes, and sprint to the bus. 7" on the ground, letting up, but snow continues.
Click below for game details:
9:40PM - Back at hotel, but postgame pizza is cancelled. How bad was the snow? True story: All of the pizza joints in Conway, a college town, are shutdown. Coach Packer, our ops director, and Coach Davalos work their magic and we end up with ham, mashed taters, salad, fruit, cookies/brownies. Rest assured that the league leading Bobcats do not go to bed hungry.
9:58PM - Snow stops.
10:00PM-Midnight - Brant and I are assigned the job of monitoring the status of our flight scheduled to leave Little Rock at 8:50 tomorrow morning. You thought we just did radio, Inside Bobcat Football, BobCasts, the blog, and led expeditions in Alaska? Southwest Airlines and the Little Rock airport reporting that we are scheduled for an on time departure. Color me skeptical. I notify Coach Davalos and Coach Packer. We will do another confirmation in the morning so we don't have to sit around an airport for "x" hours.
Thursday, 4:46AM - Southwest Airlines and Little Rock airport saying we are a go for 8:50AM. I notify Coach Davalos and we spread the word to the Bobcats that, fellas we are headed home!
5:40AM - On the bus. Roads and highways are a mess. Our bus, with chains on tires, heads south on I40. A little old man on a tricycle speeds past us. Safety first and our bus driver does an exceptional job the entire trip.
Coach Chris Packer, our Ops Director, is responsible for all of the logistics for Bobcat basketball travel. He does a great job. You can see the Bobcats bundled up behind him as we make the slow, safe journey to the Little Rock airport. San Marvelous beckons! The fabric on the bus seats matches a sofa I had back in the early '80's.
7:00AM - At Little Rock airport. After 10 minutes, you've seen me, I convince the Customer Service Agent that I am not one of the players. I get the correct boarding pass and the Bobcats head to breakfast and boarding area. Everyone is in a "morning after a big win, looking good, feeling good, going home" kind of mood.
Team discussing the upcoming game with UTA, who is the video game champ, and getting ready to depart from the Little Rock airport. Notice man in foreground seeing on his computer that Texas State is in first place.
9AM - I lose another bet. We do indeed depart as scheduled. Flight Attendant was funny. She thanked "both people" for listening to the safety briefing.
11:30AM - After a quick stop at Love Field in Dallas, we arrive back in Austin. Bobcats get their luggage, load the bus, head south. Cold, but zero snow on the ground.
12:45PM - Pull into the Strahan Coliseum parking lot. Today, hit the books and lift weights.
Beat the UTA Mavericks!
Eat em up 'Cats!
Any questions or comments, let me know at email@example.com