Pittsburgh to Santa Clara with a Few Stops in-between
Tom Felice, one of the voices of the Rams on WFUV is chronicling the men's basketball holiday trip to
Georgia and California.
Pittsburgh is a city that can boast a lot of firsts.The first banana split in 1904. The first commercial radio station, KDKA was established in 1920. The first Mr. Yuk sticker debuted in Pittsburgh in 1971. San Francisco has had its fair share of firsts as well. The first cable car in 1873. The first transpacific cable message was sent from The City by the Bay in 1903. Today, Fordham is laying claim to being the first basketball team to ever fly from Pittsburgh to San Francisco on four different flights.
The day started early for the Rams. A 4:30am (eastern) bus brought all but 4 members of the travel party to Pittsburgh International Airport. Before the flights the players and staff passed time in some usual ways, and some unusual ways. Some went back to sleep, others flipped through a paper or two while eating breakfast. Senior Jacob Green and assistant coach John Morton had more important things on their mind. Green has an extensive collection of music, and Morton was looking to add some new tunes to his iPod. As Green named artists, Morton agreed or vetoed the additions to his music library. Morton was very happy with his selections, and predicted that he wouldn’t need to update again for 15 years.
Yesterday featured many connections in which the two parties were brought together by basketball. Today the connections were between planes. Fordham groups changed planes in Denver, the Twin Cities, and even Washington D.C. One group didn’t have to transfer at all. Head Coach Tom Pecora, Video Coordinator Derrick Phelps and a group of about five players had a direct flight from Pittsburgh to San Francisco.
After our connection in Denver, my group, headed by Assistant Coach David Duke, landed at San Fransisco International. After a trip to the baggage carousel, it was off to find the bus. Now on the third day of travel, the name of the bus company was fitting, Divine Transportation. Our final destination was near. We headed down the 101 freeway, and the bus driver pointed out the sights as we passed. Sports Information Director Joe DiBari pointed out the blimp hangers along the highway. Around 1:00pm (pacific) the bus pulled in to the hotel lot, and 11 and a half hours after we left the hotel in Pittsburgh, we arrived at our hotel in Santa Clara.
Santa Clara sits some 40 miles south of San Francisco, and adjacent to San Jose. In the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara boomed and busted with the technology industry some ten years ago. The city still has many of the big technology companies within its borders. Intel employs over five thousand people in Santa Clara. In the neighborhood of the hotel there were office buildings boasting McAfee and Yahoo! as tenants.
At 7:30 pm (pacific) Coach Pecora got the team together to watch film and get the scouting report on American. Or I should say, most of the team. Director of Operations Mike DePaoli, Fahro Alihodzic, Brian Freeman and Manager John Olita were still not with the team. They were on the flight that connected in Washington D.C. and were not due for another hour. Coach Morton went through the tendencies of the Eagles, and then Pecora got in front of the group.
He told them he was going with his gut and canceling practice for the night. They had already been up for 19 hours, and coach felt they were focused on the task at hand. The Rams have won four straight, but coach had no issue breaking with routine. With two games in two days, Pecora favored rest for his players. The players did not object, and they now have the chance to sleep off the jet lag.
The unsung heroes of this trip are Mike DePaoli and mangers Sean Lawless and John Olita. They have been working nonstop, organizing travel plans, compiling and distributing scouting reports, loading and unloading buses. Even though DePaoli was on the late flight, he was still on the bus at 4:30, making sure everything went off without a hitch at the airport. Without these three, Fordham would be lucky to be in San Francisco, and they certainly would not be as prepared as they are for tomorrows game.