Justin Hite - Scout

Sooners Illustrated's Justin Hite looks back on his week in Anaheim, California

It was a lot of basketball this week in Anaheim, but there was a little bit more to experience during the week in Orange County.

March 22 – The alarm clock buzzed around 7:30 a.m. for a long day of travel and what would become a long week of work. I drove to Dallas, a trip I’d made many times before, but this was the first time I’d made it alone – not fun. The long flight was meant to be a time to work, but I forgot to download my interviews. I couldn’t work. So instead, I watched Minority Report for the first time a decade before landing in Los Angeles just before rush hour. I found out that there is no rush hour in L.A. It’s always rush hour.

I settled into the hotel and went out to dinner with some colleagues – Ryan Aber, Berry Tramel, John Shinn, Guerin Emig and a few more. We hit up Rosco’s Chicken and Waffles – an Orange County staple. Solid food.

 

March 23 – Still set on Central Standard Time, I woke up really early – well, relatively early – at 6:30 a.m. My hotel room was right across from the main Disneyland parking lot. I could see it from by balcony and there were the California mountains as the back drop. A few hours later, it was off to the Honda Center for practice, press conferences and chats with the players. I was set to take a ton of video interviews, only to have my iPhone crash. I was stuck with nothing – incredibly frustrating. The one conversation I wanted to have Wednesday was with Jordan Woodard and if he was ready for the size mismatch with Danuel House. He said he was and would prove it the following day.

Dinner that night was at “The Catch,” because when you’re in California, you have to have one thing. This East Coast boy needed some fresh seafood.

 

March 24 – It’s finally game day, and I got to sleep in for the first time, knowing that it would be a late night. I got to the Honda Center around 1:30 p.m. and grabbed a quick bite to eat. It was still three hours before tip-off, so I had some time to settle in. Oklahoma made the game story easy to write against Texas A&M. The later game was a bit more troubling. After Oregon-Duke went final, I managed to jump from locker room to locker room, shooting video for other Scout sites and editing footage. Of course, I had a few more preview stories to write. I didn’t wind up getting back to the hotel until around 1 a.m.

 

March 25 – The metronome of cars provided a little comfort as I sat on the balcony waiting for a phone call from Bruce Glover, who coached Sooners’ freshman Christian James in high school. It’s always good to talk with him and provided me with a little morning pick me up. After I got off the phone, I had a little bit of time to kill before practice and the off-day media availability. Where is a big kid to go but Disneyland?

I didn’t go into the park, although if I had a complete day off, I definitely would have checked out the Disneyland California Adventure Park. I grabbed lunch alone – seafood gumbo – and a couple beignets for dessert before heading over to the arena, where the goal was to write a story on Dana Altman and Lon Kruger, two longtime friends who were facing each other for the first time.

http://www.scout.com/college/oklahoma/story/1655254-kruger-altman-set-fo...

Mission accomplished.

This was a special day for me because I got to meet up with my uncle and cousin, who just happened to be in town. They live in Charlotte, N.C., but my cousin was born in Orange County and lived there for two years. It was hardly enough time for him to remember, but he and his dad came back for his 18th birthday. We went to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Laguna Beach, where my uncle had gone almost 20 years earlier. Same chef/owner and the best blackened swordfish I’ve had in my life. If you’re ever in Orange County, check out Café Zoolu. You won’t be disappointed but make reservations.

 

March 26 – Just a few blocks from the Honda Center in Anaheim, there’s a hockey shop. I needed new elbow pads, and Aber needed a new bag, so we hit up the store. There’s nothing like it in Oklahoma City. I was like a kid in, well, Disneyland, where we went back to after spending more money than we should have. And well, #beignets.

Another late night was in order, so I lounged a bit before getting to the arena around two hours before game-time. Oklahoma made the story easy again, although Buddy Hield had a lot to do with that.

I got the real treat of getting some time to talk with WNBA legend Monica Lamb, who is Khadeem Lattin’s mother. Wonderful lady and it was truly a pleasure.

A trip to California isn’t complete without a midnight run to In-and-Out. Animal Style all the way. My bed was comforting around 1 a.m.

 

March 27 – Only to have alarm go off at 3:30 a.m. to start the trudge home. Boarded the plane in a fog. Drove home from Dallas in a haze. Outside of flying home on the same plane with Hield’s mom and brother, my return trip was otherwise uneventful. I didn’t even make it through The Walking Dead on Sunday night. #DeadTired.


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