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November 19, 2012Welcome to Day Four of the Ultimate Hawkeye Road Trip.
Can't say enough good things about the Moon Palace and the folks at Triple Crown Sports, who put on the Cancun Challenge. This is a work trip for those of us covering this event and they have been very helpful every step of the way.
The banners are up in the ballroom for the basketball games that get underway tomorrow afternoon. Austin Peay and Western Carolina kick things off at 1:30. Can't wait to hear the "Let's Go Peay" chant in person. DePaul and Wichita State will be playing at 6 pm, followed by the Hawkeyes facing Western Kentucky at 8:30. By the way, the Shockers have the largest fan contingent here in Cancun. Iowa has the 2nd most fans based on what I have seen walking around the resort.
After talking to Coach McCaffery and the Iowa assistants, they are very impressed with Western Kentucky. The two teams passed each other today after Iowa finished practice. The Hilltoppers were headed into the ballroom for their two hour practice. They pass the look test and it will be Iowa's toughest games of the season. Coach Dillard has the scout for Tuesday's game. For the game on Wednesday, Coach Speraw is scouting Western Kentucky and Coach Francis is taking care of DePaul.
The Iowa team seems pretty relaxed, I talked to several of the players about shooting backgrounds in a ballroom and they felt like it won't be a factor. The ceiling is a lot lower than they are used to, but it will be the same for all of the other teams. Obviously they don't have traditional locker rooms here at the Moon Palace, so each team has a "meeting room" that will serve as a locker room. These rooms are just outside the main ballroom that is serving as the basketball court.
Last night Fran had an 11 p.m. curfew set for the team so they could get some rest. After playing Saturday night, the team had to get on a plane early on Sunday morning, so he wanted to the team to get a good night's sleep. The players have been somewhat divided up so more veteran players are rooming with younger guys who might be new to this type of experience. One Hawkeye not in Cancun is Jarrod Uthoff. Apparently transfers cannot go on road trips, so you won't see him hitting the road with his teammates this season.
When teams play at these sort of the events, coaches usually dress down a bit and Fran and his staff plan on following that tradition. They will be wearing a tropical type shirt, almost like a bowling type shirt, and it will have Iowa Basketball on the front. It's supposed to be cream colored.
You might see my ugly mug on the TV Tuesday night, so you have been warned. Scott Dochertman and I will be in the second row on the floor. Hopefully that doesn't ruin your viewing experience.
Tonight all the teams (and fans) will be attending a banquet that I think will be held outdoors right near the beach. The Moon Palace staff has been working all day setting up a large number of tables, so I assume that is where they will hold the event. I'll be there taking a few pictures and maybe some video, so you can be part of the whole experience.