While college coaches have to bolt from gym to gym, analysts can be more selective and patient. In short, there isn't the same urgency to gym hop. Typically, in Vegas, I'll pick a gym that offers a variety of options and multiple games in a row to see. What that means I prefer sticking to two venues a day.
On Thursday, instead of picking just one or two gyms to watch games in, the decision was made to give this college coaching thing a try. The day began at 6:30 a.m. The first order of business was the write a story on yesterday's action. When I was 23 years old, the story was written immediately following games that night. At 34, I'd rather jump in bed and wake up early the next morning to hammer out the assignment. Actually, it's not even my decision. When the body tells you to get to sleep, you listen. Black jack tables are not an option during the actual event.
OK, so my story is done and now we're into the planning phase of the morning. The only way to figure this monster out is to get on line and make a schedule. After checking three sites and realizing you can't see everyone, it's time to make some decisions.
I catch a break and get three games in a row at Rancho High, a gym that holds the adidas Super 64. I see a high-major player have a big day. Kentucky assistant Jeremy Cox is in the gym and Jon Hood delivers the goods. Cox, Billy Gillispie's first hire, began his day at 9 am as well.
My second game of the day yields a potential mid-major big man with grades. The decision to watch this game was made because I needed to stay at Rancho for the third contest of the day. Game 3 winds up yielding two Australian sleepers that will be of great interest in the coming months.
The third game ends around 12:45 and I've got a 1:25 date across town. A decade ago, going across town in Vegas wasn't so bad. A boost to the population has made traffic difficult. I catch a small break and the game at Spring Valley (Main Event) tips a few minutes late and I'm there on time. Ditto for UK's Cox who, without noticing, zipped through the same traffic as I did to get there on time. He was driving and working his cell phone.
I grab a slice of bad pizza and settle in for the game. Roger Franklin turns in one of my favorite performances of the week and we chat briefly afterwards before I'm off to another destination.
I point my car in the direction of Green Valley, a Reebok gym. It's an East-West battle between Petersburg Elite (Cadarian Raines) and I-Can, an L.A.-based unit with a dearth of youngsters. It tips at 3 p.m. but I can't ride it out all the way.
Across town at 4:40 is Bawa Manuri and its time to take his recruiting temperature. Traffic is a factor and I get there 10 minutes. A slow finishing game delays the start and I make it for the tip, a minor miracle.
After watching Manuri for a half, I bounce to the main gym at Bonanaza High (they're connected) and catch a half of the CP3 All-Stars game. CP isn't there but he did wake up for the team's 8 a.m. game. This time around he's sent his brother and parents to make sure there's representation.
Remember, at this point, I've consumed yogurt and granola for breakfast and a bad slice of pizza for lunch. The body is telling me its time to each BUT there's a 6:45 game I have to see. A compromise is made. I pull up to Schlotzky's Deli and get a turkey wrap only because the drive-thru line is short. It's not a good choice and I eat it while tapping in directions back to Green Valley on the GPS.
Again, another small break. I figured my dinner on the run would mean a late arrival to the game. However, another 5-minute late start meant yet another break. Avery Bradley and Abdul Gaddy run roughshod over a club from Texas and win easily.
It's now 8 p.m. and the last game of the day awaits. I purposely scheduled myself at Green Valley so I wouldn't have to relocate again. The contest is the New Jersey Road Runners against the Illinois Bobcats. The main attraction is junior Kyrie Irving. Last week I watched Irving at Triple S in Morgantown. This time around, the game is ragged and I make it until 9:05 before calling it a day. I can watch ball all day long but bad ball to end the day is a killer and fatigue has taken over.
I jump back into the car. At this point I've seen 9 games at 4 different locations. My gas tank is on empty literally and figuratively. Before I get to the hotel, I've got to pump some fuel in the car or it's not going to make it.
Remember, this was the third of five days in Vegas. The ultimate grind of traveling team events is taking its toll.
I finish this column at 7:02 a.m. Vegas time on Thursday. I've got an hour to crank out a report on yesterday's action and post it on line. The first game tips in less than two hours and the madness continues!