HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Greetings from a soggy Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Needless to say, both Denver and Southern Miss athletic departments are buzzing right now with big announcements, but the DU basketball team is focused on shootaround and getting ready for tonight's game.
Yesterday was a fairly extensive travel day, as the team left campus just after practice, around 10 a.m. MT, and arrived at the hotel at 7 p.m. CT. Fortunately, despite a very short delay in Dallas, the travel was fairly smooth, as we flew into Gulfport, Miss., and bused an hour north to Hattiesburg.
Of course, it was a little strange arriving at our gate to see our tiny regional jet surrounded by enormous planes bound for Europe on either side of it.
The team walked across the street for a nice dinner, and then returned to the hotel for a good night's rest.
About Southern Miss: Hattiesburg is roughly two hours from both Jackson, Miss., to the north and New Orleans to the south. The campus is about 300 acres with 17,000 students enrolled in classes.
USM has quite a few notable alumni, according to the ever-reliable Wikipedia.
Future Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre had a distinguished career at M.M. Roberts Stadium before winning three-consecutive NFL Most Valuable Player Awards and leading the Packers to a victory in Super Bowl XXXI.
On the hardwood, Clarence Weatherspoon starred for the Golden Eagles in the early-1990s, and Greg Lackey hoisted a few jump shots before his days as assistant coach and television analyst for the Denver Pioneers.
Those who run or hike the trails around Colorado might recognize USM alum and ultrarunner Matt Carpenter, who has won the brutal Pikes Peak Marathon 12 times and holds the course record of 3:16:39. In 2004, Carptenter also broke the record for the Leadville Trail 100 (that's 100 miles on one of the most difficult courses in the world) by 1.5 hours.
Most people who grew up in American (and some abroad) can thank USM alum Mike Magusiak, the President and CEO of ECE Entertainment, Inc., the operators of Chuck E. Cheese.
Reality television fans might recognize Whitney Miller, winner of the first MasterChef title, and Trishelle Cannatella from Real World Las Vegas.
Finally, music fans can thank this school for paving the way to Margaritaville. In the early 1970s, a young man named Jimmy Buffett enrolled at Southern Miss, partly due to its proximity to New Orleans and the potential gigs he could get there. In 1973, Buffett was playing Hattiesburg when he invited harmonica player Greg "Fingers" Taylor to join him on stage. That was the start of the Coral Reefer Band, which has been turning stadiums into beach resorts ever since.
Yearly travel totals:
Total Flights - 4
Total Mileage by Air - 4,310
Total Mileage by Bus - 209
Total Number of Hotels - 2
Total Number of Different Airports - 4
Total Number of Airline Delays - 2
Total Number of Cancelled Flights - 0
Total Number of Bags Lost - 0
Total Number of Waiters This Season who Have Said They Go to the School DU is Playing but Don't Like It (a commonly heard statement on the road from people looking for better tips) - 1
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