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Mixing into the Madness

Visiting teams take in the sites and locals enjoy the unique tourney in Portland
by: Kristopher Anderson The Wichita State mascot fires up the crowd, as the Shockers faced Virginia Commonwealth University on Thursday.

PORTLAND - 

The Rose Garden was finally home to some competitive basketball when the second round of the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament tipped off on Thursday. Eight colleges from around the country made the trip to Portland to begin their quest for a National Championship. And it was not easy travels for most - only one, Long Beach State, hailed from the West Coast.

But don't think that was an advantage for the 49ers.

'Well, first of all, it's raining here, and for these southern Cal softy boys, it might as well be 40 below,' 49ers' head coach Dan Monson said. 'Just to get them here out of the hotel was tough. They're not used to anything but 75 and sunny.'

While Long Beach State might have been the closest participant in the tournament, it still had to travel over 900 miles. Other schools, like the Indiana Hoosiers, trekked more than 2,000 miles only to shutter at the sights of the Oregon rain, as well.

'As a coach, I don't mind the rain,' Hoosiers' head coach Tom Crean said. 'They might mind the rain. I like the rain.'

But the Hoosiers still had a chance to site-see since arriving on Monday.

'They've had a great opportunity to see Portland some, to do a couple different things' Crean said. 'We're staying downtown. We have a great location, so they can move around down there. They've gone out to eat at different places. We've let them have an opportunity to explore.'

For other teams, this was strictly a business trip, with the distance providing an opportunity to avoid hometown distractions.

'Like I said, Portland is a great city,' said Louisville's head coach Rick Pitino, who's team traveled more than 2,000 miles to be here. 'I think it's great, actually, because you're just focused on basketball.'

But that didn't mean 'slick' Rick wasn't going to enjoy himself.

'Yeah, we're planning on water skiing around 4 o'clock,' Pitino jokingly said.

Look for the complete story in the Mar. 17 edition of the Gresham Outlook




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