Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Tigers learn of bid while on 12-hour bus ride

By Rusty Miller
The Associated Press

DAYTON - Texas Southern has taken the long, long way to the NCAA tournament. The Tigers beat Alcorn State 77-68 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday night. Sleep has been in short supply ever since.

"I've had about four hours. I'm extremely tired," coach Ronnie Courtney said.

Ra'Kim Hollis, the MVP of the tournament, said he'd only had two hours of sleep out of the previous 48.

"I have a problem sleeping on game days anyway," he said with a grin.

After a short night spent celebrating the school's first NCAA berth since 1995, the team boarded a bus at 6 a.m. Sunday for the 12-hour trip back to campus in Houston.

Courtney elected to charter a bus rather than fly because the Tigers had lost two games after a flight to Alabama two weeks earlier.

While still crammed into the bus, circling a couple of TVs, the Tigers discovered they were playing North Carolina-Asheville in the play-in game Tuesday night in Dayton.

Weary from the road, upon arrival on campus they were able to get a few hours sleep in their own beds before meeting at 5 a.m. Monday, then taking a bus 45 minutes across town to Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport. After a 45-minute flight to Dallas, they had a two-hour layover before flying on to Cincinnati.

The players again boarded a bus at 2 p.m. for the one-hour ride to Dayton, where they had 15 minutes at the team hotel before getting on the bus again for an hour-long practice and interviews.

Courtney said even though he is tired, he still has enjoyed being part of the NCAA tournament.

"You're not guaranteed to be here again," Courtney said. "So you find a way to enjoy it. Regardless of how tired you are, you have to find a way to enjoy it."

Some members of the team's traveling party had not slept since Friday night.

"We're just going off the excitement of being in the tournament," assistant sports information director Kashan Bradford said.

Special NCAA hoops section; Bracket contest

It's more than a Bearcats game
No. 24 Arkansas thinking big
UC out to prove naysayers wrong
Varsity Village gets $10M from Fifth Third

Xavier now the hunted

No. 1 ranking increases ante for UK to win it all
Norse win on putback

March Madness could be delayed by war
Pressure and expectations smother winning coaches
Ohio State suspends Williams
BYU's no-Sunday stance could cause NCAA shuffle
Little Mo leads underdog Bulldogs vs. Sooners
Blue Devils to stick with perimeter lineup
Gators need answers quickly
Bobby Knight's son applies for Wright State job
Spirit of Valvano lifts Whittenburg
Tigers learn of bid while on 12-hour bus ride
Asheville gets a whiff of the bigtime

NIT: Iowa 62, Valparaiso 60
UCLA fires Lavin