We chased the sun yesterday until we realized it was a futile effort, so we gently touched the plane down just after dark in cold Bloomington, IL and boarded a bus that took us to the nearest college venue. It has a long name, Doug Collins Court at Redbird Arena, but it suits. The dimensions all fit the spec, and really, getting back onto any basketball floor after Saturday’s decidedly unfun encounter in Norfolk is welcomed. It was like chewing wallpaper paste. The [email protected] is the home floor of Illinois State, a program that began playing basketball in 1898. Perhaps starting the clock in a place where basketball has been played for more than 100 years is just the tonic to wash that paste from our mouths. Old school basketball. Basics.
(Side note: coincidentally Illinois State is also the next game on the schedule. Go figure.)
You last remember Illinois State being run out of Richmond to open last season. Havoc was swift and unforgiving. A 26-4 blammo gave VCU a 35-8 lead that was 52-22 at the half and 61-25 early in the second half. However file that one away. The Redbirds were the second-youngest team in the nation last season, and a trip into That Animal for your first collegiate game is hardly fair.
This is a different Redbirds outfit.
You know what else you can forget? My preview for this game. Assistant coach Mike Morrell is way more in-tune, so I tackled him in the hotel lobby and starting recording him. Here’s what Morrell had to say about rebounding from Saturday, and about tonight’s opponent. It’s a much better preview:
I like our chances. Last year we took a similar-feeling trip to Northern Iowa and laid an egg. The team has that lesson fresh in its mind. And there’s the residual paste from Saturday. You can put losses behind you but it’s far more difficult to put feelings behind you. It’s feelings that stoke motivation, not cold statistics, and VCU has plenty of motivation.
Check that. I love our chances.
Tonight we will re-board that bus, and that plane, and do our best to beat the sun to dawn, back home. It will be our second victory.