Four games in 48 hours, with a 15-hour round trip smack dab in the middle.
That was my weekend, and I loved it — except that pesky Saturday night fourth quarter, that is.
Honestly feel a bit hung over today (Monday), but figured I would provide a diary of my weekend from my foggy memory bank.
8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
It’s the start of the basketball season, and I feel the need to get the site (and you, the reader) prepared. I started the day with a preview of the men’s basketball game against Radford, added in a video interview with John Collins, and wrapped up with a women’s preview and feature on Milan Quinn.
I live a few miles off I-85, between Lexington and Salisbury, to it takes about 40-to-45 minutes to get to campus. My wife is currently a teacher in Concord, so this is actually a pretty good mid-way spot for both of us, and the drive don’t really bother me most days.
Got set up at Joel Coliseum and watched the women’s team defeat Navy. The Midshipmen (or is it just the ‘Mids’ for the women’s team. . . I never found out for sure) were unreal behind the arc as Wake played zone for first 25 minutes or so, but I really never thought the Deacs would lose this one.
The Winston Salem Journal’s Dan Collins came out to courtside to see me in the late stages of the game, and decided to join in during my interview with Wake coach Jen Hoover.
I finished my game story on the Wake women’s win over Navy, which I started during the game. I rarely start game stories with the game in progress, but with back-to-back games this night, I decided it would be a good idea. Plus, I had a good idea of where I was going with the story, and nothing late changed the narrative. Despite the loss Sunday night to LSU, I think Hoover’s Deacs will win a bunch of games this season. Let’s hope they get healthier as the season moves forward!
I grabbed a meal voucher and went to the concession stand for the meal provided by Wake athletics for members of the media. We get three choices at basketball games - Chicken Tender basket, Hamburger basket or Hot Dog basket. During the exhibition against Piedmont I got the burger basket and put BBQ sauce on both my burger and fried on accident.
Friday night I got the chicken tenders, but I’m not really sure there was chicken in that product. Though I’ve been taught by many to never complain about free media food, because they surely aren’t required to provide us anything, this was objectively horrible. I compare the chicken tenders to a rubber puppy chew toy. . . not that I’ve ever chewed on one of those. This was tasteless, chewy and just pretty nasty. I can’t imagine paying $8-10 for these. If you had these any time last year, be warned, it’s a different chicken tender this year.
As an additional note. . . this is NOT a knock on Wake media relations. They don’t buy or cook the food, and I thank them for everything they do for us here at Demon Deacon Digest.
I then returned to my courtside seat, watched the rest of warmups and saw on the stat tracking software where Wake coach Danny Manning was sticking with the same starting five he used against Piedmont. This must be who’s he’s most comfortable with thus far.
Fun opener for the Deacs, and a lot of be positive about. Wake fans should be cautiously optimistic about both this early games. The one thing that sticks out to me is the consistency. Last year in these early-season games, Wake would generally play 20 minutes of really good basketball and 20 minutes of terrible basketball — even in wins. Through two games and the exhibition, that hasn’t been the case.
Post game interviews and posting stories and videos to the site. This was much different than the women’s game. I wasn’t completely sure what I was going to write about, and I hadn’t even put together one sentence and then BLAM. . . Manning made the magical comment about Bryant Crawford. He also was fairly critical of John Collins, despite his notching a double-double. THEN he made the “locker room not celebratory” statement. Manning made writing the article pretty easy.
Do after the press conferences, I started loading the videos. While the videos loaded, I started writing the meat of my article. Once I got the basics in there, I began moving the uploaded videos to the site one-by-one, then sprinkled in quotes from Manning into the article I wrote. Once all three videos and my game story were loaded, I packed up and departed from The Joel. Wake basketball SID Steve Kirkland and Dan Collins were about the only two folks left in the media room by then, and they both wished me a safe journey to Kentucky. I told Steve J.P. Mundy was going to cover the Sunday basketball game, but that I was going to try to make it as well.
11:30 p.m. - 12:15 a.m.
Drive back home
Didn’t unpack my laptop. Just went straight to bed, though I did check Twitter and our message boards before going to sleep.
Woke up, showered, packed my suitcase and got ready for the trip to Louisville. Only thing I had to add to my backpack was my Wake Forest Football media guide. I made sure I had the credentials for the game Saturday, said goodbye to our puppy, my daughter and wife and headed off for the road trip.
Had one Coke can in the fridge ready for the trip (that’s my biggest vice in the world, btw. I don’t really drink, and I’ve never smoked, but Coca-Cola in the the can is the best/worst for me) and about 250 miles-to-empty on the gas tank, so I was able to get a quick start without stopping anywhere.
I stopped after a couple hours, looking for something for breakfast. Ended up with a package of doughnuts and another Coke. (let’s not count. . . it would be embarrassingly bad).
I’d asked my Facebook friends for some alternate music choices for the trip, so I spent some time on my XM radio on the B.B. King Blues Channel, Outlaw Country, and Classic Rewind.
Was getting close to Knoxville, so I thought I’d see if I could find UK vs. Tennessee football on the radio. The Cats kept it close for awhile, but then got down big. I think UT ended up winning by about 13 points or so. I should have kept listening to music. I tried calling my son late in the game, and he was too mad at the time to even talk.
Grabbed a quick burger at Wendy’s in Lexington, KY., though I should have stopped for something sooner.
Picked up my friend Jeremy Laurence, who has helped me out at both the IU and UL games this season. We met at a Wal-Mart about five miles away from Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium and rode in the rest of the way together.
The parking pass at Cardinal Stadium is extremely specific. We were in Lot A, Row T, parking space 757. It’s all marked, and that’s exactly where you park. Interesting. The tailgate area was hoping, as it was a gorgeous afternoon. By the way, it was much warmer when I’d left North Carolina, and I wasn’t smart enough to bring a jacket. I regretted that walking back later in the night.
There were a ton of commercial booths and lots of food cooking in the tailgate area we walked through on our way to the press entry area. Say what you want about the coach and some of their players, but it’s a big-time college football environment at UL right now.
This time was one of the highlights of the weekend for me. I ran into more than a dozen friends and acquaintances in the UL press box. Jody Demling, who runs the UL Scout site was there, along with Howie Lindsey from Rivals. I got to chat with Jeff Greer and Tim Sullivan from the Courier Journal, Gary Graves from the Associated Press and Rick Bozich from WDRB.com. On our way into the press box, we chatted with Stan Cotten and Dave Goren who were there to do the Wake radio broadcast. Scott Hamilton from the Winston-Salem Journal was seated to my right.
Jeremy and I grabbed the our press guides, flip cards and a drink and headed to our seats, pretty much right at the 50-yard line. We got to our seats and saw that pretty much everything we’d picked up was already there waiting on us, along with a small ‘flip book’ showcasing Lamar Jackson’s hurdle over a player from earlier this season.
Once we got set up (Jeremy forgot a part he needed for the keyboard to his tablet, but worked around it), we grabbed some food. WOW! What an amazing spread. Nobody in the ACC quite does it like UL. Seriously. The spread was pretty nuts, including a carving section and a desert area.
We had just finished with dinner when Steve Shutt, Wake football sports information director got to his seat behind us. Steve refused to shake my hand, which took me aback, until he revealed he’s been dealing with pinkeye, and it clearly showed.
Not sure what to say about the actual football game. I thought from the start that not converting those early UL turnovers into at least a couple touchdowns would be a fatal issue for the Deacs.
Scott Hamilton convinced me to do a Periscope with him during the half, so we legit ducked into a broom closet and chatted while Jeremy held the camera phone. Hamilton mentioned during the evening about having me on as a regular/featured weekly guest on his radio show, so that could be fun.
Can’t believe Alexander didn’t get a taunting penalty on the pass break up on Scotty Washington. Thank goodness the targeting call against Essang Bassey was overturned. The Deacs are already way too thin in the secondary. The waving off of the flag for intentional grounding still seems insanely bad.
The fourth quarter was obviously just brutal. Told someone earlier today it seemed like taking a barrage of hits and getting knocked out by UFC’s Conor McGregor. You may remember the first hit, but then they keep coming. You wind up knocked out flat on the mat not really knowing everything that happened along the way. When it got bad for Wake, it got realllll bad. They were gassed, depleted and mentally fatigued. Petrino took advantage of it.
10:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.
It was a long trip downstairs to the locker room area to talk to Clawson and the Wake players, and Clawson didn’t have much to say. He was clearly perturbed, most likely with the outcome, the fourth quarter, his team’s performance, the referees, and Petrino. I didn’t ask him about if he was miffed about UL ‘running up the score,’ but probably should have.
We got back up to the press box, where suddenly the internet sucked. It took forever to load videos, and I was unable to do anything else while they were loading. Not sure what went awry. Jeremy transcribed what little Clawson said, so we loaded the videos, Clawson’s comments and headed out
Dropped Jeremy off at Wal-Mart and wished him a safe trip back to Evansville, Indiana.
Drove to another friend’s house, Ben Rich, who lives in Louisville. He gave me his alarm code and I slipped in through the garage. Five minutes later, I was asleep on his couch, after I texted the Mrs. to let her know I’d safely arrived.
The alarm goes off. I set it for 15 minutes later
The alarm goes off again. I set if for five minutes later, with the goal being to stay awake and ponder if I want to actually get up or go back to sleep
I figured the seven-hour drive back was going to be a chore regardless of when I started, so I went ahead and showered and packed. I never saw my buddy Ben, who at one time asked if I wanted to grab breakfast.
Got in the car and headed toward Winston-Salem. It was a smooth trip with great fall colors and fun music. I encountered no traffic jams, and stopped just a couple of time. Another couple of can cokes were purchased, as well as a very unhealthy meal at McDonalds.
Arrived at Joel Coliseum. Walked in the media entrance, grabbed a small drink and my paperwork and took my seat as player introductions began. Dan Collins clapped his hands at my arrival and told me how impressed he was that I’d made it in time for tipoff.
Deacs win, and look pretty good in the process, though making shots certainly helped. J.P. Mundy knocked out the game story, so I did a quick “Good, Bad and Ugly” post in addition to the postgame press conference videos.
Drove home and crashed. Watched some TV with the Mrs and did pretty much nothing the rest of the night.