Paradise Jam: Day 1 from the Virgin Islands

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands -- This is Rachel Klein's first blog from the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the Terps hoops team is playing in the Paradise Jam this weekend.

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ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands -- Bad things are supposed to come in threes. Well my first three came the first three times my alarm went off on Thursday morning, 3:30 am, 3:33 am, and finally at 3:45 I managed to get myself out of bed, only motivated by the thoughts of warm sunny beaches, and basketball.

My 15 minute drive to BWI gave my mind time to wander and by the time I got to the airport, I was in a pretty chipper mood (considering I didn't have caffeine). I arrived at BWI, the double doors blew open and a crowd of people decked out in red and black, some sporting their old school Terp gear, some opting for a much more modern version such as Maryland pride. When I reached the terminal I was not only overwhelmed by the number of Terp fans at the gate, I was even more amazed at how awake they were. The first leg of the trip went off without a hitch, and I remained unconscious and most likely snoring, for the majority of the flight.

We switched planes quickly in Miami, which by the way has fresh stone crab claws IN THE TERMINAL of the airport. I unfortunately did not purchase them, but I was very tempted (and had it been after 10 a.m. I may have caved). The good part about waking up at 3:45 is that I once again slept soundly en route to St. Thomas. I did, however, wake up just in time to see the breathtaking views of the water and the spectacular houses that are visible when flying to the island.

When we got to the hotel I decided to shake off my plane legs with a run, and I bumped into Maryland players Dez Wells, Charles Mitchell and Shaq Cleare in the fitness center. Mitchell and Wells were all smiles, but Cleare seemed much more serious. Turgeon has talked about how hard Cleare is on himself and you could see it all over his face. He had a game face on; there was no messing around. While Wells and Mitchell headed out for some relaxation (I later found out they had already gotten in workouts at 6 a.m.), Cleare spent his afternoon in the weight room getting in an extra workout.

On my way back to my room I happened to pass freshman Damonte Dodd. Dodd started going down the stairs and all of a sudden made an about face and hustled back up the stairs in the opposite direction. He looked troubled, and I couldn't help but ask what had happened. The answer?

Dodd was petrified of a group of large iguanas standing to the side of the walking path (to be fair they were FREAKING HUGE). I had stumbled across the iguanas prior to my workout and decided to play the tough guy, especially because I was armed with knowledge. According to a well-informed bystander, iguanas are not in fact dangerous and are pretty harmless. Finally, he inched closer to the path and the iguana moved. Dodd let out a high-pitched yelp and scampered away from the scene of the crime. Eventually he gave in and hopped over to the grass to detour the reptile's roadblock.

The team got some time to hang out and swim in the water before heading to a big dinner for all the teams out by the pool. My second favorite moment of the day was near the end of the ceremonies. Mark Turgeon got in a conga line and conga-ed (sp?) in-between the legs of a woman wearing massive stilts. I can't image a whole lot of other head coaches doing that and it was freaking awesome.


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