Nov. 12, 2012
With a 7 a.m. CT, tip on Tuesday morning at Valparaiso for the ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, much of the game preparation for the Huskies is different than for a normal game. For the next 24 hours Huskie fans can follow us as we show you how the Huskies prepare for the early morning start.
Monday 7 a.m. (24 hours to game time): For the second-straight day, practice began at 6 a.m., as the players, and coaches, try to get ready for the early morning start. But practice at 6 a.m., doesn’t mean the day started at six. Basketball athletic trainer Phil Voorhis, for example, opened the training room at 4:45 a.m., this morning to begin taping and treatments.
7:23 am: Practice concludes a little early so that players with 8 a.m., class have extra time get to class. Those that aren’t headed to class stay and get in a few extra free throws.
8 a.m. (23 hours to game time): Coach Montgomery meets with members of the local media. Most of the talk centers around the unusual nature of the early start and how that changes the preparation for the team. Montgomery is also quick to point out the quality of tomorrow’s opponent, Valparaiso, a 22-win team last season that returns all five starters.
10:45 am: With the players in class, the NIU staff catches up on work in the office. Some members of the staff have to run home and pack while final logistics of the trip are wrapped up. Although the scouting report for Valparaiso is complete, there is still plenty of work to be done to prep for future opponents.
12:40 pm: The bus arrives at the Convocation Center. Managers and staff begin loading, one-by-one the players make their way to the bus.
1 pm (18 hours to game time): Right on time the bus departs for Valparaiso. As the bus departs, most members of the travel party are busy eating lunch (Giordano’s). Others on the bus read or sleep. After a 409-mile trip to Omaha to begin the season, today’s 112-mile journey feels like a ride across town.
3:05 pm: After a much quieter bus ride than normal (most of the players took the chance to catch up on some sleep after the early morning practice). The bus arrives at the team hotel. The Huskies have a couple hours to rest and study before film and tonight’s shootaround.
5 pm (14 hours to game time): Before heading to shootaround, the Huskies continue their final prep for Valparaiso with a film session. As is the case with every opponent, film focuses on both the sets and the personnel the Huskies will see tomorrow from the Crusaders.
6 pm (13 hours to game time): NIU arrives at the Athletics-Recreation Center at Valparaiso for shootaround. The one-hour session gives the Huskies a chance to get familiar with the court, the rims and the surroundings. Coach Montgomery also takes some time during the hour to speak with Beth Mowins and LaPhonso Ellis, who will call the game tomorrow morning.
8:13 pm: The Huskies return to the hotel after dinner, where they were joined by Associate V.P./Director of Athletics Jeff Compher. Upon their return, Montgomery meets briefly with his team to explain the schedule for the night and tomorrow morning. Lights out in less than an hour.
3:45 am: Wakeup call for the players is still 30 minutes away, but members of the staff are beginning to their day. A quick check of the Marathon sees Hawaii leading Houston Baptist at halftime. Gonzaga posted a big win over West Virginia and New Mexico defeated Davidson while we were sleeping.
5 am (two hours to game time): The last set of ankles has just been taped. The players are slowly finished a light meal. In the lobby of the hotel, members of the staff watch the Houston Baptist vs. Hawaii game currently on ESPN. Hawaii leads 71-56 with 1:55 to play. Bus leaves in 15 minutes.
5:22 am: The bus arrives at Valparaiso. The voice of the Huskies, Bill Baker, informs us that he has been on-site since 4:58 a.m.
6 am (one hour to game time): As unusual as this sounds, in many ways it’s just another game now. ESPN is here, so that is certainly different, but the warm-ups are normal, the other game preparations are normal. The doors have just opened and some fans are beginning to file in.
6:30 am (30 minutes to game time): The students have come out in strong numbers here at Valparaiso, clad in bright neon shirts. Bill Baker and Casey Kahler will be on the air shortly on radio and the Huskies have just reemerged from the locker room.
6:50 am (10 minutes to game time): The crowd continues to file in; the students are definitely in full voice and ready to go. A big challenge in front of us with a very good Valparaiso team but the Huskies are ready.
7 am (Game time!): The national anthem is done, starting lineups are being introduced. Here we go!