It's been four days and thousands of miles of travel since the Orange beat Gonzaga in Buffalo, but the Syracuse University men's basketball team still had that same determined look in their eyes when we spoke to them before practice Wednesday at EnergySolutions Arena. Even though it was made official that Arinze Onuaku will not play in Thursday's Sweet 16 game against Butler because of his quadriceps injury, everyone still seemed confident they were going to be moving on to the Elite Eight, and that A.O. would eventually be back playing.
In the meantime Onuaku was where he's been ever since our initial interview opportunity in Buffalo, in the equipment room section of the locker room, away from the cameras and questions, obviously sick of giving guesses of when he'll be back and telling us all how awful it feels not to play. Let's hope he's good to go in Indianapolis!It's been a really busy day for Alex Dunbar and me in Salt Lake City, and to be honest the majority of it has been spent in EnergySolutions Arena, which is primarily the home of the NBA's Utah Jazz. We are gathering an exceptional amount of material, not only for our newscasts and CNYcentral.com, but for our one hour special that airs Thursday on CBS-5 at 6:00 pm. The special will be jam-packed with behind the scenes interviews and features from both here in Salt Lake City and from the Carrier Dome where there are a couple of slightly big games going on there as well (can you say Syracuse and Cornell in the National Championship game?).
As far as the Salt Lake City aspect of the show is concerned, I'll have interviews with play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson, the man who will call the SU-Butler game on CBS, and Alex spoke with 33-year-old Bulldogs head coach Brad Stevens.
We'll also show you SU's pre-game ritual starring reserve forward James Southerland, and you will dig his dance moves!As far as the high altitude of Salt Lake City is concerned, don't think it's not going to affect the players in some capacity Thursday night. I've been told that the SU athletic trainers are on top of the situation and that they expect both teams to get fatigued a lot more easily in the thin mountain air that playing ball 4,300 feet above sea level brings.
I can personally tell you that I had to run up several flights of stairs at the arena many times Wednesday with a videotape in hand, followed by a sprint down the road to our TV truck, and I was gasping for air when I got to my destination. If you're STILL not surprised by that, I actually do jog on a regular basis and can usually handle that type of cardio experience. I'm told because my body is still getting used to the climate, but there is just a feeling of running out of energy a little bit quicker, and not being able to get a full breath of fresh oxygen. Therefore, if there are a few more unexplained timeouts during tomorrow's game, that may very well be why.Speaking of all that, I now have to sprint up to our truck again to send some video back to the station in Syracuse. I'll check back in Thursday with more from the SLC.