DAY ONE WITH NIU BASEBALL
Day one of Northern Illinois' first baseball road trip was a simple one - travel. The Huskies travel party of 27 players, four coaches, one special assistant to the coach (Mickey Mathey), one trainer and myself, made the 10.5 hour, 613 mile trek to the Hilton at the Knoxville Airport.
As we boarded the bus, we were handed a sandwich, a bag of potato chips and a bottle of water. The players started the trip with two hours of study hall and the student-athletes took advantage of that. It was quiet and plenty of the players had their required readings in hand. Following the study hall, coach popped Moneyball into the DVD player - naturally, the bus was silent during the flick.
Our first stop of the trip was in Shelbyville, Ind., where we switched bus drivers. And no there wasn't a monorail or a lemon tree (wanted to give a shout for all you Simpsons fans out there). From there we kept on driving and watched Contagion following the first movie. In perfect timing, the movie ended and we stopped in Lexington, Ky. for dinner at Fazzolis, who may or may not have run out of breadsticks and pasta following our arrival. The final movie of the trip was Ides of March. While some watched the movie, a good portion of the team in the back of the bus played multiple games of Mafia until we reached our destination at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.
The good news is, it's beautiful in Tennessee today. The low temperature here is 10 degrees warmer than the high in DeKalb right now. We're looking at a partly sunny day with 59 degrees - looks like a good day for baseball to me.
THE NEW PLAN
With the high probability of inclement weather on Sunday, the series finale between Northern Illinois and Tennessee has been moved up and the two squads will now play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon.
Both games will be nine-inning contests with approximately 45 minutes in between.
The Huskies and the Vols will kick off the 2012 campaign this afternoon at 3 p.m. Central at Tennessee's Lindsey Nelson Stadium. NIU senior southpaw Tom Barry will take the mound against UT's right-hander Drew Steckenrider.
To watch the Huskies-Volunteers series, visit www.UTSports.com/allaccess and for in game updates follow @NIUAthletics on Twitter.
A NEW ADDITION
For all you Tweeps of @NIUHuskies, you might have seen a new edition to the NIU Twitter family in @NIU_Baseball, run by myself and Assistant Coach Ray Napientek. Be sure to follow us for road trip updates, news, notes, and of course, your occasional laughs. This was a favorite of mine during the trip, with Mike Grindstaff and Ben Neumann playing Bejeweled on an iPad.