Nov. 28, 2008
DAY 3 PHOTO GALLERY
The past two days in Anchorage have been busy, and equally exciting. On Wednesday, the Huskies played their first game of the Great Alaska Shootout, falling 79-58 to defending Big Sky Conference regular-season and tournament champion Portland State. Much of the local media has tabbed the Vikings as the favorite to win the Shootout this season.
The day started with an early breakfast at Gwennie's Old Alaska Restaurant. It had a true "Alaskan" feel, with wall hangings of all different kinds of game, including bears and moose. The food portions were large, and the hit side dish was definitely reindeer sausage. Bacon and eggs didn't suffice at Gwennie's!
After a short practice at Alaska Anchorage, the Huskies returned back to the hotel to rest and study, before eating their traditional pre-game meal. The bus departed for Sullivan Arena at 8 p.m. local time (11 p.m. CST), and the team was able to catch the final 10 minutes of the Alaska Anchorage-Hampton game. The Pirates pulled away late for a 69-61 win, but the Seawolves were resilient, nearly erasing a double-digit deficit.
The Huskies and Portland State finally tipped off at 9:45 p.m. It was a back-and-forth first-half affair, with a combined nine ties and lead changes. Darion "Jake" Anderson got the Huskie going offensively by scoring 10 of the team's first 12 points. At halftime, the Huskies were within two possessions, 37-32.
But the opening three minutes saw the Vikings go on a 13-2 run that proved too much to overcome. NIU was out-scored 42-26 in the second-half, and Portland State's 2008 NCAA Tournament experience was significant down the stretch of the game.
The team returned to the hotel after midnight, and was given a much-needed opportunity to sleep in Thursday morning. After a late breakfast, the team watched film from the Portland State game, and began game planning for Alaska Anchorage, Friday's consolation semifinal opponent. The team also utilized its extra time for a study-table session.
In the late afternoon, the Huskies departed for the Lone Star Steakhouse for a team Thanksgiving dinner. A traditional turkey, dressing and potatoes menu item was offered, along with any other dish the restaurant offered. Most of the traveling party went with the annual tradition of overstuffing on turkey and such.
After giving thanks, the team departed for Sullivan Arena to watch the end of the Louisiana Tech-Seattle game, and the first-half of the Western Carolina-San Diego State contest. Seattle and San Diego State prevailed to advance to the winner's bracket. Depending on their fate Friday, the Huskies will play either WCU or Louisiana Tech Saturday in the 4th/6th place of 7th/8th place game.
With the 6-10 inches of snow in the forecast over night (as if there wasn't enough snow already!), a team snowball fight ensued on the way to the bus. I think it would be safe to say that assistant coach Will Smith was attacked! It was all in fun, however, as snowball encounters usually are!
Friday's tip-off is set for 12 p.m. Alaska time, so an early wake-up call is scheduled. Be sure to get your "Splash Zone" package, so you can follow the Huskies on the internet! As always, Bill Baker, the voice of the Huskies, will also have the call on the Huskie Sports Radio Network.
Stay tuned for more blogging, as Scott Stevens will provide a local perspective Friday. Stevens, NIU's director of basketball operations, was a two-year letterwinner with the Seawolves (2002-04), and as always, has been the Huskies' travel guru this week.
Enjoy the photos and Go Huskies!