Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ames, Iowa ... Hello!

The Panthers are on the ground in Ames and are just getting started with practice at State Gym. Actually, we’ve been here since about 12:15 after a flight of a little over an hour.

The first flight of the year is always interesting, as there are typically more than a few who are not thrilled by the thought of flying – especially on our puddle-jumper planes. No stories have yet circulated, but I am sure they will eventually. But, the flight is certainly much better than a seven-hour bus ride, at least from this vantage point. And it was a smooth one today, despite the heavy overcast and rain in Iowa.

Practice is at State Gym because the Iowa State wrestling team has a home meet with Utah Valley this evening. The Panthers will get a shootaround in at Hilton Coliseum Friday morning.

Speaking of State Gym (pictured above ... kind of dark for an amateur photographer), it was built in 1913 and actually became a dining hall for army recruits on campus in 1918 and 1919. A fire in 1962 caused some damage and a loss of equipment, but the gym was then renovated in 1967 and still stands today.

Fifteen players traveled to Ames, with Jerard Ajami (transfer), James Dean (freshman walk-on) and Patrick Souter (freshman walk-on) staying back home in Milwaukee.

In other news, Ja’Rob McCallum did officially return his signed national letter of intent today, so he is in the fold. As many know, we can’t comment on recruits until that letter is signed and returned. Usually we’ll stick to doing just one official release once all letters have been returned, so hopefully we’ll have that for you right after this busy weekend.

Also, Charles Gardner from the Journal Sentinel will be joining us for the weekend in Ames. He’ll have a preview of the weekend’s action in Friday’s paper and then game coverage the next three days.

Finally, in advance of our trip here, everyone who we have had contact with in Ames has talked up Hickory Park as a must-visit restaurant. We’ll find out tonight, as director of operations Chip MacKenzie has reservations for our large group. He is definitely banking on it being good, though, as he has the pregame meals for the weekend scheduled there, as well. You can read more about it online here, and perhaps I can try my hand at restaurant reviews afterward.

And now, a variety of links below to check out in preparation for this weekend’s World Vision Classic.

On the UWM front, our notes are here and the podcast with Rob Jeter is here.

For Iowa State, notes are here. There is also coverage of the Cyclones in the Des Moines Register here and the Ames Tribune here.

On the Loyola Marymount front, notes have been posted here and a local newspaper season preview is here. There is also a preview of the West Coast Conference from The Sports Network here.

And then for Cal Davis, notes are here and a Big West preview from TSN is here.

I do plan a live blog during each game this weekend. Hopefully we will have one for each regular season game, though there are a few spots we go where computer space at the scorers’ table is a little tight. In those cases, I’ll at least post pregame, halftime and postgame updates.