Dec. 18, 2009
6:52 PM: A few things before we tip-off. Make sure to check out video from Tia Jackson's pregame chat with Steve Sandmeyer, which unfortunately took place near the concession stands because of logistics, so any apologies if the house music comes through on the video.
Dec 22, 6:37 PM: We're a little over 20 minutes from game time at University Arena as the Washington Huskies prepare to face Western Michigan. Both teams are inside their respective locker rooms after a short warm up on the court.
Tune in now to 1150 AM KKNW to hear Steve Sandmeyer's call of the game.
Also, in the video below, you can enjoy a brief mini-tour of the Western Michigan campus gym.
5:51 PM: We're close to wrapping up practice here at University Arena, a place that could be best described as, well, unique. There's a track that goes around the court and the gym is housed in a barn-looking environment. Nevertheless, it should be a great environment for basketball tomorrow night.
Everyone traveling had a good time at the movies earlier. Most saw "Invictus." Some splintered off and saw "The Blind Side." A few took in the new Twilight movie. After a stop for lunch, the team returned to the hotel for a little R&R before practice.
As is the custom on the road, a few of the staff worked out in the Broncos weight room while the team practiced. One thing that's a little odd here is that Western Michigan and Washington share the exact same logo - the W. Here it's black and gold and plastered everywhere around the campus/weight facilities.
And we would be careless of us not to post video of McCall Hall attempting to ride the mechanical bull last night. Enjoy.
Dec. 21, 10:20 AM: It's a veritable winter wonderland here in Kalamazoo. Another (sigh) late snowfall added a few more inches onto an already impressive amount of snow.
The Huskies are fueled up from breakfast and on their way ... to the movies! The majority of the group will go see the Morgan Freeman biopic on Nelson Mandela, "Invictus." Once the curtains go back down, the team will bus over to Western Michigan University for another practice at University Arena.
Team dinner last night provided a few laughs for everyone in attendance. The group made a trip to the Wild Bull, Kalamazoo's saloon and steak pit. The attraction is not the steaks (which were tasty), but the mechanical bull in the center of the restaurant. For obvious reasons, the student-athletes were banned from riding the bull, but that did not stop manager McCall Hall and assistant coach Judy Spoelstra from embarrassing...err...eliciting a ton of laughs.
4:43 PM: Rebounding is the focus of the Huskies practice right now at University Arena on the campus of Western Michigan University. Assistant coach Fred Applin has a football pad and is whacking the athletes as they go up for rebounds. There is a ton of energy this afternoon as the coaches have turned this drill into a competition.
The team is bunking at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo, arriving around 4 p.m. after a 90-minute ride from East Lansing. After practice at WMU the plan is for everyone to dine at a local steakhouse.
1:53 PM: We're mobile. The Washington women's basketball team is currently en route to Kalamazoo, on the luxurious confines of a WiFi equipped charter bus. Unfortunately, the snow-covered landscape of Michigan doesn't offer much in terms of scenery. Currently, Coach Tia Jackson is breaking down film and going over stats, while players are chatting quietly with their position coaches on the back of the bus.
Everyone scattered for lunch before boarding the bus. There are a ton of options around the Michigan State campus, including a sushi joint with excellent Dragon Rolls.
Dec. 20, 11:58 AM Good morning! The Huskies are still bunkered in their hotel here in East Lansing, resting after a tough game last night. On the agenda this morning for the coaches was to review game film from Michigan State, and to go over the scout for Western Michigan.
As for the student-athletes, the coaches want them off their legs with the team practicing later today in Kalamazoo. The injured players who are traveling on this trip (Amanda Johnson, Liz Lay & Lydia Young) had workouts in the hotel gym to keep themselves conditioned. A few of the coaches and staff members also got in some fitness this morning as well.
The bus for Kalamazoo (or the 'Zoo, in local parlance) will depart at 1:45 p.m. After checking into their hotel, the team will hold a light practice at Western Michigan's on-campus gym.
We'll continue to provide updates and other tidbits from the road trip across the Great Lake State.
6:28 PM: Greetings from the Breslin Center, where the Huskies are just a half hour away from their toughest test of the season so far -- No. 16 Michigan State University. Coach Tia Jackson just finished her pregame show with radio play-by-play voice Steve Sandmeyer, and you can watch their conversation in the video posted below.
Remember, you can listen to the game on 1150 AM KKNW. Or, for a $2.99 fee, you can watch the game on The Big Ten Network. Another option is to follow along on our Twitter feed (@uw_wbb).
4:42 PM: The theme for this afternoon has been rest. Most of the players took naps back at the hotel, careful to relax and stay off their legs in prep for tonight's game against No. 16 Michigan State.
Pre-game meal on the road is generally held at the hotel. The coaches, staff and student-athletes dined on pasta, chicken, asparagus and salad; a carb and protein-heavy meal to power them through the game. During the break, some of the staff members wandered through the Michigan State campus over to the university's creamery, a student-run dairy shop on campus. Student manager Lars Phillips and SID Jeremy Cothran endured a triple-scoop ice cream in a waffle cone, an endeavor that left both sick for most of the afternoon.
9:50 AM: The Huskies woke up to a blanket of snow across East Lansing, providing a nice backdrop on the team's trip to shootaround at the Breslin Center. There were no hitches heading to campus, as the city was up early this morning salting the roads and unleashing the plows.
Below is some video of the Breslin Center from the outside, along with the snow-covered statue of Magic Johnson and nearby Spartan Stadium, which houses the Michigan State football team.
Before leaving the gym, Laura McLellan made sure to pelt a few of her teammates with snowballs. She also tried to sneak one on the bus, but was flatly rebuffed.
The team will now head to breakfast at the hotel and rest their legs for tonight's game. Some of the staff is planning to go check out the Michigan State men's game against IPFW.
8:58 p.m: As is the custom on road trips with women's hoops, a flip cam accompanies us everywhere we go. With our No. 1 director Sara Mosiman recuperating back in Seattle following surgery on her shin splints, we lent the camera to Sami Whitcomb. Below is some footage of the team playing laser tag. And yes, they are really playing Dead or Alive in the background.
Update: Now up is footage of when the team arrived at the Breslin Center this morning. Video is near the bottom of the posts.
7:42 p.m: The student-athletes are back at the hotel after an action-packed afternoon. Following their lunch, the team bussed across the river to Lansing and played Laser Tag. The group broke off into two teams - the staff members (Asst. coaches Loree Payne and Judy Spoelstra, managers, SID, etc) and the athletes. Then everyone was herded into a dark maze and let loose for 15 minutes, running around and shooting each other. The student-athletes won, mostly on the strength of their numbers, and the weakness of manager McCall Hall, who probably should have found another activity for the day. Forward Mackenzie Argens was the top gunner for both teams, finishing No. 1 out of 18 participants. Later, both groups teamed up to take on some kids from the Lansing Boys & Girls Club, who ran roughshod over the Huskies in a dominant victory. All the kids knew Washington well, and peppered the group with questions about whether any of them knew Isaiah Thomas.
Dinner was at Clare's in downtown Lansing, near the state capitol building. Clare's is an institution in these parts, and the restaurant was packed with people celebrating the holidays. Good quality food as well (highly recommend the prime rib with horseradish). The team will have the next few hours to themselves before curfew at 11:00 p.m.
2:10 p.m: After practice, the student-athletes and coaches scattered around the East Lansing/MSU campus area for lunch. On the main street there's several chain places (Potbelly subs, Noodles & Company, etc.), so director of basketball operations Wingate Smith thought it would be easier for everyone to go on their own instead of trying to corral a place to hold more than a dozen people at once. Problem is the weather is hovering around 25 degrees, so it doesn't particularly lend itself for the afternoon stroll about town.
Practice finished at noon, with the team working on a variety of different things both offensively and defensively. Lydia Young, Liz Lay and Amanda Johnson are all on the trip and received treatment on the sideline. Young seemed especially down about not being able to play, considering Michigan is her home (she hails from Detroit). The senior forward played for Cooley High School and said in the district playoffs she scored 16 points at the Breslin Center on the same court the Huskies were practicing on. She did say that she plans on having plenty of family in attendance tomorrow night.
A few members of the coaching staff also got in some workouts in the hotel gym. Video coordinator Sarah Pfeifer was the most industrious, running stairs at the Breslin Center during practice.
10:50 AM: Good morning from East Lansing, Mich. The Huskies are currently undergoing a spirited workout on the floor at the Breslin Center, Michigan State's on-campus gym.
Interestingly enough, the Spartans still use the same hardwood from their last NCAA Title in men's basketball - 2000 in Indianapolis. Older floors tend to produce deadspots, which assistant coach Loree Payne discovered while dribbling a ball on the floor, and then watched the ball kick away on its own.
Lots of history here at the Breslin. Two National Championship banners hang from the ceiling (1979 & 2000) for men's basketball, along with five additional Final Four banners. The women's program made the Final Four in 2005 and has a banner included in the group. There are numerous Big Ten Championship banners along the north side of the building as well.
At the entrance to the basketball offices, there are rosters from both championship squads on the door.
The Huskies game against No. 16 Michigan State will come as part of a doubleheader with the men's program on Saturday. The Michigan State SID told us that they're expecting a larger-than-usual crowd at Breslin, which has averaged almost 4,500 for women's games this season.
Prior to practice, the team woke up and had breakfast at the hotel bistro inside the East Lansing Marriott. Surprisingly, it doesn't look like anyone is suffering from jet lag, despite the all-day flight and the hour bus ride it took to arrive here.
Continue checking back for more updates.