ESPN's Franschilla puts emphasis on CSUB's tenacity during press conference
Any notion that Cal State University Bakersfield would be taken lightly in the National Invitational Tournament was quickly squashed by the master of ceremonies of a press event on Monday afternoon at the Marriott Marquis Hotel
“The one thing I will tell you about (Rod Barnes) teams, and I see a lot of basketball and I’m a connoisseur of good basketball, and Rod’s team is one of the hardest working teams in the country,” said ESPN analyst and former New Mexico head coach Fran Franschilla, who hosted the NIT’s press event on the eighth floor of the Times Square-based hotel.
As the first eight seed to advance to the tournament’s semifinals it may be easy to overlook CSUB in a conversation that includes Texas Christian, Georgia Tech and emergent Central Florida, which is coached by former Duke star guard Johnny Dawkins.
However, Franschilla reminded that it was CSUB that put a scare into Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
“We’ve got three teams up here in the top 16 in defensive efficiency,” Franschilla said. “Rod’s team is a great defensive ream. He plays nine or 10 guys. They are junk-yard dogs. A lot of these guys are excited about coach being here and making a name for themselves in New York because they don’t get on TV as much as Georgia Tech or Central Florida and TCU do.”
Franschilla attended CSUB’s game at University of Texas, Arlington last week, but will be a member of the broadcast team for ESPN on Tuesday night.
Before the formal press conference, CSUB guard Dedrick Basile discussed the Roadrunners’ defensive prowess during an interview with NEWSTALK 1180/96.1 KERN
NOT IMPRESSED WITH TIMES SQUARE
The Marriott Marquis Hotel is basically at the heart of Times Square and the theater district, but player Jaylin Airington isn’t impressed with the easy access to one of New York’s iconic landmarks.
“It’s kind of too busy for me,” said Airington, who will start his 94th game for the Roadrunners on Tuesday night. “I’m a pretty low-key guy. I don’t like to be around a lot of people, but so far it’s been a nice place.”
What would change his impression of Times Square?
“Well I haven’t been in the shopping centers yet, and I love shoes,” he said. “That may change my impression.”
TUESDAY’S TEAM SCHEDULE
The Roadrunners take the court at Madison Square Garden for the first time at 11 a.m. shoot around on Wednesday morning. Initially, the media was not invited to the attend, but coach Rod Barnes made a last-minute decision to allow the media.
The team will spend the rest of the afternoon reviewing film of Georgia Tech, eating and relaxing before the 7 p.m. EDT tip off at Madison Square Garden. The Roadrunners are expected to arrive at the arena at 5:30 p.m.
SPIRITED SUBTERRANEAN PRACTICE
CSUB’s first practice was held at Baruch College in lower Manhattan and the journey to the gym involved going below ground for the Roadrunners. The gym was about three stories below ground, but just above the university’s swimming pool. The Roadrunners practiced for more than an hour before returning to the hotel.
VIDEO OF MONDAY'S PRACTICE
CSUB SPIRIT WILL BE ON DISPLAY
While the CSUB basketball program is visible in its own right, CSUB’s students, including the band and cheerleaders, will be making their mark to promote the university nearly all day on Tuesday.
The band and spirit squad will rise at 6:15 a.m. to make the short walk to Rockefeller Center in attempt to make an appearance on the Today Show. The show has regular segments outside of its studio with fans of the long-running program, and that’s where you can expect to see CSUB students and the mascot, Rowdy.
Probably the most ambitious effort of the day will be when the band and spirit squad march from 41st Street and 7th Avenue for eight blocks to Madison Square Garden. That might be an interesting event considering they will be making the trek at 5:15 p.m. — the height of New York’s pedestrian rush hour. CSUB officials note that the band will play during the march down 7th Avenue. Expect full coverage here on kernradio.com.
Of the four coaches in the field, Central Florida’s Johnny Dawkins has won two NIT titles, and those came when he was head coach at Stanford. During Monday’s press event, Franschilla joked that another victory might put Dawkins into the NIT Hall of Fame.