banner
Patrick Kinas

Wolfpack dispatch from Puerto Rico

Posted November 17, 2012

When you have the great fortune of traveling with college basketball teams, it's hard to convey to those who don't work in athletics, what a 5-and-a-half day trip outside the country is really like. I'll try to provide a little insight into the experience of what San Juan, Puerto Rico has been like for those of us traveling with the No. 6 NC State Wolfpack.

First off, the travel is not like anything that I experienced with my family as a kid - jamming the Volkswagen hatchback with luggage stacked to the roof, and four kids stacked on top of one another like a game of human Jenga. The Pack had a 100-seat charter plane awaiting the group of players, coaches, support staff, Wolfpack Club personnel and a contingent of NC State boosters who bought a package to accompany all of us in pursuit of a Puerto Rico title for the Pack.

We all arrived at the General Aviation parcel of RDU, passed through security and walked onto the plane. Boxes of sandwiches and drinks were awaiting us as we boarded. In all, about 75 people eventually boarded the JetBlue flight, and we were wheels-up for a three-hour, direct flight to San Juan. N.C. State Logo More NCSU Stories

To pass the time, each seat had a TV monitor embedded into the headrest of the seat in front of them, and in JetBlue style, you had 50 DirecTV channels, 100 Sirius channels and a couple of movie outlets from which to choose.

The time flies as your flying. I spent some time joking, talking and just getting to know many of the boosters who made the trip with the Pack, including Wendell Murphy, who as we all know, is one of the most beloved members of the NC State family. After we landed, the first noticeable change was the humid 82 degree temperatures once we exited the aircraft. The weather was turning bleak when we left Raleigh, so we escaped just in time.

Two buses waited on the tarmac to take us to a gorgeous hotel, which is inches away from the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. Some of you reading this blog may have those soothing CDs that play the relaxing sounds of the waterfalls, etc. Even from the 8th floor of the tournament hotel, the sounds of the nighttime waves rolling ashore are not done justice by any CD. I slept with my balcony door open that first night. Peaceful isn't a strong enough term to describe the sensation.

When you take a trip such as this, the biggest misconception by the general public is that there's a ton of free time to hit the beach, play some blackjack at the hotel casino, enjoy the nightlife, but it's really not the case at all. The stress of the coaching staff to the players is to block out the bevy of distractions, becuase in the end, this is a business trip for a Wolfpack basketball team that has a real chance to accomplish special things this season. This is an early-season opportunity for Mark Gottfried to present the Wolfpack to the nation on ESPN, pick up three wins, strengthen non-conference RPI and begin to walk this team forward toward the conference season. So their focus is on resting, staying hydrated, and preparing for practice on Wednesday.

With the tournament starting for the Pack on Thursday night, Wednesday was one that was similar for the Pack if they were back in Raleigh - outside of not attending classes.

Team breakfast, taping and heading to a full practice at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, PR, the tournament site this year. Interestingly enough, the previous five iterations of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off has been held at an arena in San Juan, but thanks to a mistake in scheduling, that arena was booked by Cirque de Soleil, which forced the relocation to a much sketchier area of the island.

At practice, a piece of the Durham Bulls appeared, with outfielder Jesus Feliciano stopping by during the Wolfpack's practice to catch up with me. Feliciano was just beginning his new winter baseball season in his homeland that night. After practice ended, the team headed back to the hotel for a couple of free hours before a tournament banquet for the eight competing teams. 

On Thursday, the Pack was in game-mode. Up early for breakfast and then leaving for shoot-around around noon. The Pack drew Penn State in the opening round, and had little trouble dispatching the Nittany Lions, and then completely overpowered UMass{{/a}} Friday.

The platinum freshmen class assembled by Gottfried - TJ Waren, Rodney Purvis and Tyler Lewis - have all had several moments of brilliance. Meanwhile, Scott Wood is as lethal on the island as he has been from behind the arc in the contiguous 48 states, Lorenzo Brown has distributed impeccably at the point while defending two very tough point guards in PSU's Tim Frazier and UMass's Chaz Williams. Richard Howell has shown how intimidating of a force he can be if he stays out of foul trouble, and CJ Leslie, well, he has been extremely efficient, totally unselfish and is playing like the NBA lottery pick he is likely to be in 2013. Observing this team, you can see the ACC  and Atlanta potential. That said, Gottfried is doing a fantastic job of channeling the focus of this team and insulating them from any of the hyperbole that the media and frenzied Wolfpack nation has been cultivating.

The championship game is Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. Eastern, with the one-hour radio pre-game show beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Oklahoma State (3-0) will be the opponent, the pre-season No. 3 pick in the Big 12 behind Kansas and Baylor, but they'll be playing very short-handed. They've lost several key players to injury, including one on Friday night in their semifinal win over Tennessee, but they do feature All-Big 12 swingman Le'Bryan Nash and Marcus Smart, who has been rated as the Pre-Season Freshman of the Year in college basketball. It should be NC State's toughest test of the season, but one the Pack will be expected to pass.

Now for the Puerto Rican lightning round (In no particuar order):

My father made the trip from Chicago, and his jokes are just as lame here as they are back home.

Love seeing how Puerto Ricans try to help their homeless. Help vans stop at intersections to provide OJ, Honey Buns and while a nurse provides some quick medical attention to those less fortunate citizens.

People talk REALLY fast here. My six semesters of Spanish in high school and college are basically useless.

Lots of the Puerto Rican policia on the streets, and a high percentage of them are wearing iPods.

The dividing lines on the narrow roads of San Juan appear to simply be suggestions. I'm no longer surprised to see a flurry of bikers or even skateboarders weaving through traffic like Bart Simpson does in the opening credits of the FOX series.

Every day on the drive to the arena, we pass the stone foundation of the home that was being built for Ponce De Leon in the 1500s. It was unearthed evidently hundreds of years later as San Juan began to build roads throughout the city.

Rush hour here in San Juan starts at about 10 a.m. and again about 3:30 p.m.

At the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez, where the tournament is being played, there are hawkers selling Pina Coladas to the fans. Even more startling is the bar in the corner behind one of the benches selling Puerto Rico's finest rum & vodka.

At halftime of the Akron-UNC Asheville game yesterday, three fans were selected to shoot half-court shots for a bag of prizes. The first, a long-haired, mid-20s guy, who looked more natural atop a surfboard than holding a basketball was up first. With a Jetovi-esque on-court guy on the mic, surfer-dude fired away. Swish. Four thousand stunned fans erupted. Surfer-dude had one more shot. Swish. Incredible.

Finally, seriously hoping that the T-Mobile guy I talked with on Tuesday before the flight was right when I called to confirm that my text/phone plan was covered by T-Mobile towers.

8 Comments

This blogpost is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • PacknoPride Nov 19, 12:56 p.m.

    Hope they didn't bring all hotel towels back with them.

  • sportznut628 Nov 19, 8:02 a.m.

    can you change the title to Wolfpack dispatchED from Puerto Rico Mr Glennon?

  • Rapid Deployment Nov 18, 8:53 p.m.

    C. J. got mad, took his ball and went home.

  • Pops49 Nov 18, 1:10 p.m.

    "The reality is Puerto Rico is a small island south of Cuba that's closer to Venezuela than it is the United States. And if its unincorporated status is anything like the U.S. Virgin Islands, you'll need a passport to gain reentry back into the United States. So, yeah. Go suck a lemon. "

    No passport is required to return to the US mainland from Pr. I've done it many times.
    Re-enry would not be an accurate term for returning. Dummy.

  • buckets112 Nov 17, 8:01 p.m.

    *to going

    edit button not working

  • buckets112 Nov 17, 7:59 p.m.

    sounds like a good time for the folks that are attending. i'm looking forward to the going to the maui classic in a few yrs. pack bball, maui, and visiting family on oahu...winning trifecta.

  • shepherdofwolves Nov 17, 6:58 p.m.

    What was your major in college? Let me guess. Geography.

    Or am I wrong to think that PR is NOT... View More

    — Posted by Pops49

    Well, it's kind of like The Dude says,

    "No Walter, you're not wrong. You're just an a##hole."

    The reality is Puerto Rico is a small island south of Cuba that's closer to Venezuela than it is the United States. And if its unincorporated status is anything like the U.S. Virgin Islands, you'll need a passport to gain reentry back into the United States. So, yeah. Go suck a lemon.

  • Pops49 Nov 17, 6:40 p.m.

    What was your major in college? Let me guess. Geography.

    Or am I wrong to think that PR is NOT out of the country?

  • NFL: Chicago at Detroit

    Thursday at 12:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Philadelphia at Dallas

    Thursday at 4:00 pm on FOX50

  • SEC: Arkansas at Missouri

    Friday at 2:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • HSFB: Football Friday with Tom Suiter

    Friday at 11:35 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Baltimore at New Orleans

    Tonight at 9:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • CBB: Duke vs. Furman

    Wednesday at 5:00 pm on 620am

  • CBB: NC State vs. Richmond

    Wednesday at 7:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NHL: Hurricanes at Florida

    Wednesday at 7:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
12:00pm Today
UWGB
ECU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
 
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
Final
MEM 107
LAC 91
Final
BOS 88
POR 94
Final
OKC 86
GSW 91
Final
LAL 94
DEN 101
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
LAC
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
ORL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
PHO
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
NYK
 
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
IND
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
CHI
 
Final
GMAS 60
COC 61
Final
FSU 69
UMASS 75
Final
SHSU 53
WOFF 64
Final
UNCG 67
YOUNG 76
Final
CMICH 75
ARKPB 43
 
Final
ILLCH 60
SILL 67
Final
MORE 46
AMER 51
Final
CORN 59
DREX 61
Final
CCST 60
COOK 65
Final
ARKLR 94
CSNO 88
Final
LEH 44
CLMB 54
 
Final
USB 89
MERMAR 54
 
Final
NMU 51
TEXAM 64
Final
STLU 56
TAMCC 62
 
Final
FAIR 80
SD 72
Final
EMICH 79
LONG 48
Final
ND 74
PROV 75
Final
RAD 88
CATAWBA 52
 
Final
DEN 80
COPST 54
 
Final
UAB 58
JST 50
 
Final
WICHS 105
NWM 57
Final
OKLA 90
NWST 68
Final
KSU 59
YALE 66
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
UCR 102
STKAT 49
 
Final
PSU 63
USC 61
Final
HC 101
NICHOLSCOL 70
 
Final
BC 53
DAY 65
Final
MON 75
TOWS 79
Final
HOF 93
WAGN 71
 
Final
CIN 54
EILL 49
Final
UGA 74
FATL 61
Final
BRAD 58
NCAT 50
 
Final
LATU 76
PBY 48
Final
RUTG 76
Terriers 73
 
Final
SAMF 64
UMKC 55
Final
NAVY 70
BING 68
Final
SHU 85
GWEBB 67
Final
UNT 58
IONA 78
Final
KENT 86
MNTST 28
Final
FORD 57
MLOWELL 64
 
Final
UCF 76
USCU 69
 
Final
SCAR 63
AKR 68
Final
WVU 78
UCONN 68
Final
CALST 70
DEL 52
 
Final
HOW 78
HOOD 51
 
Final
OSU 106
SHU 48
Final
VANDY 78
TENST 46
Final
NE 65
MAN 51
Final
COLST 75
MERC 62
Final
MISS 80
NARZ 74
Final
WASH 76
PAC 69
Final
LMU 82
SDCHR 60
 
Final
CHAR 58
MIAMI 77
Final
GAELS 72
UCI 69
Final
ILLST 64
ODU 45
Final
UCLA 77
LBSU 63
Final
SEAT 62
MONT 66
 
12:00pm Today
UWGB
ECU
 
1:30pm Today
WEBER
NEV
 
2:30pm Today
FRES
EVAN
 
2:30pm Today
KYST
PURD
 
4:00pm Today
LSU
CLEM
 
4:00pm Today
ALCOR
DILL
 
4:30pm Today
CHIST
UGST
 
4:30pm Today
DET
MDES
 
5:00pm Tonight
ARZ
MIZZ
 
5:30pm Tonight
INDST
PEAY
 
6:00pm Tonight
FLGC
MAR
 
6:00pm Tonight
LALAF
UWMIL
 
6:30pm Tonight
ODU
GWEBB
 
7:00pm Tonight
MD
ARST
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOL
BUCK
 
7:00pm Tonight
JMU
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
WINT
ETST
 
7:00pm Tonight
GSOUT
FIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
BST
GRAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
APP
HAMP
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAST
JVU
 
7:00pm Tonight
XAV
MURST
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAKE
NICST
 
7:00pm Tonight
MSU
SCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
LOU
SAV
 
7:00pm Tonight
TENT
SELA
 
7:00pm Tonight
VCU
VILL
 
7:00pm Tonight
OU
WCU
 
7:30pm Tonight
IND
EWASH
 
8:00pm Tonight
ILL
BRO
 
8:00pm Tonight
MSST
CLAYST
 
8:00pm Tonight
BEL
LIP
 
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
MVSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
IOWA
PEPP
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
PVU
 
8:00pm Tonight
KU
RIDE
 
8:00pm Tonight
BAY
STEPH
 
8:00pm Tonight
INCWORD
A
 
8:30pm Tonight
USF
HAW
 
8:30pm Tonight
OKST
ORST
 
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
FAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
YALE
 
9:00pm Tonight
CHAM
PITT
 
9:00pm Tonight
ILLST
SHU
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
STET
 
9:30pm Tonight
ISU
ALA
 
9:30pm Tonight
SDKST
CHADRON
 
9:30pm Tonight
NCOL
CCHR
 
9:30pm Tonight
OREG
MICH
 
10:00pm Tonight
SDU
WMICH
 
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
SIUE
 
11:00pm Tonight
AUB
TULSA
 
11:30pm Tonight
SDST
BYU
 
Final
WIN 2
STL 4
Final
NYR 5
MON 0
Final
ANA 2
ARI 1
Final
VAN 4
CHI 1
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
PHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
PIT
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
MIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
OTT
 
Final
HOU 13
CIN 22
Final
ATL 24
CLE 26
Final
NEP 34
DET 9
Final
MIN 21
GBP 24
Final
IND 23
JAC 3
Final
CHI 21
TAM 13
Final
PHI 43
TEN 24
Final
SEA 19
ARI 3
Final
SDC 27
STL 24
Final
DEN 39
MIA 36
Final
SFX 17
WAS 13
Final
NYG 28
DAL 31
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
NYJ
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
BAL