WASHINGTON--Amid the abundant diversions?of the nation's capital, the UA basketball team spent Wednesday in a practice gym and an NBA arena, fine tuning the plans and preparation for Thursday's NCAA Men's Basketball Championships first-round showdown against West Virginia.
Like on any road trip with a game looming it was a day of focus, despite the occasional view of the White House or Washington Monument or photos of effervescent former Wildcat star Gilbert Arenas (now a Wizard)?adorning the hallways of the Verizon Center where the Wildcats meet the Mountaineers in the win-or-go-home challenge that is the NCAA tourney.
Even a dinner in the Capitol Hill area at local suppertime -- 8:45-ish -- only served to?delay the inevitable -- get some sleep, get up, get ready.
UA practiced Wednesday morning at Georgetown University's practice gym, and practiced after the evening's media activities at the arena. Neither was a heavy workout, mostly just pointers from interim coach Kevin O'Neill and staff, some familiarizing?and some shooting.
UA (19-14) tries to extend the streak of 20-victory seasons built by Lute Olson in the past 20 seasons. The Cats play as the 10th seed to WVU's No. 7, although much of the backstage talk by reporters from both sides?seemed in consensus that it's a pretty even match. West Virginia (24-10) lost to the local Hoyas in the Big East Tournament semifinals last Friday, while UA comes off its loss to Stanford in the Pac-10 tournament quarterfinals. Both have weapons.
The game tips around 9:45 p.m. Washington time, the final game of the day in the West Region playoff featuring all eight teams from one half of the West's bracket. The winner plays the winner of the Duke-Belmont game on Saturday. The loser's season is over.
Scenes from Wednesday
|The Cats arrive at Georgetown's practice facility|
|Walk-through at Georgetown|
Travel coordinator Dick Bartsch and publicist Rich Paige negotiated
the city streets with some success -- mostly. (Lots of 1-ways)
|At almost every turn or traffic circle, history beckons|
|The morning workout|
|Friends Kevin O'Neill and WVU coach Bob Huggins outside a meeting|
|Nic Wise awaiting the media action later at the arena|
|Bayless and national basketball writer Jeff Goodman|
|Bayless, Budinger and McClellan on the interview dais|
|McClellan talks to reporters in the locker room|
|Bret Brielmaier and Tucson?reporter Brandon Nash|
|David Bagga (left) is up for any situation|
|Budinger puts one home on the Verizon floor|
|Reporters talk to Jordan Hill in his corner of the locker room|
|O'Neill gets some hallway time after the interview room|
|Daniel Dillon in drills at the arena|