May 19, 2001
(Note: Arizona State men's basketball player Brad Nahra has been with theSun Devils for the past three years. He has played a big role with the teamthe past three seasons, especially last year when Tanner Shell and JustinAllen were out for the season. Brad came to ASU to follow Rob Evans and hisstaff, as Nahra's brother was a manager for Evans' Ole Miss teams in themid-1990s. A high school star, Nahra is a solid player who will be one ofthree seniors on next year's team, along with Chad Prewitt and AwveeStorey. Brad will share some things from the Australian trip every coupleof days. Brad also has had the benefit of some great travel since coming toASU. In addition to the usual Pac-10 jaunts, he has been to Maui, PuertoRico, Texas, Utah and North Carolina three times in his three yearsprevious to the Australia trip.)
With our carry on bags stowed in the overhead bins and our legsneatly folded underneath our seats, the plane lifted off short after 1 p.m.Tuesday afternoon from Los Angeles Airport. We had already been up aboutsix hours, as we had to be at the airport by 7:15 a.m. After gettingthrough customs, we were ready to board our flight to Australia which wouldlast 14 hours and 40 minutes. What exactly you do for that long of a periodof time was a question. You can only read and watch so many movies. Inoticed when we got on the flight they were going to show five movies. Fivemovies and we would still not be there. We listened to Coach Pennell'sstories about what life was like when he was playing overseas. Only 14hours to go.
At the beginning of the flight they give you socks, a blindfoldand headsets. Headset for the movies, blindfold so you can nap and socks ifyour feet get cold but you don't want to put on your shoes.
After a viewing of The Wedding Planner and an interesting meal ofmeat and vegetables I decided to take a nap. As I was about to slip intounconsciousness a group of rowdy travellers from Michigan migrated to oursection in the back and it woke me up. The group of women and some of ourplayers were having a good time talking. Sleep would have to wait. Tenhours left.
After reading a little and watching another bad movie, I decidedto walk around a bit. The book I read was Ricky Reilly's book with has hisbest stuff. It is awesome. I read the whole thing and then gave it oursports information director Doug Tammaro who read the whole thing. It isthat good and besides, what else are you going to do for 14 hours. The napwould have been a good idea, but after bumping into someone and spilling acup of water on a passenger I decided it was time to return to my seat. BigRed (Chad Prewitt), J-Bird (Justin Allen) and Kyle (Dodd) and a couple ofother guys played a heated game of UNO. Five hours to Sydney.
I finally fell asleep simply because my eyes would not workanymore. We had a good travel schedule in that we flew in sunlight and whenwe got to Australia it would be night, so really our pattern was the same.Most of the players did not speak much the last couple of hours. The moodhad changed as being up for nearly 20 hours was beginning to take its toll.All of a sudden a jolt woke me up. We were in Sydney at 8:30 p.m., whichwas 3:30 a.m. Phoenix time. But then Donnell Knight reminded us we stillhad to fly to Melbourne. Another place, another two hours. Oh well, what isthe difference. After nearly 24 hours we were almost there. The next flightwas uneventful and quick. And we arrived at our hotel at 1 a.m.
Our first day began with a huge breakfast at the hotel. Aftereating the previous four meals on an airplane, we feasted and then had abus tour of Melbourne and the Queen Victorian Market. The Market hadeverything from fruit to authentic kangaroo skin hats. May of the playerspicked up gifts and souvenirs for friends and family while others picked updiscounted hockey jerseys. Kyle got his hometown Los Angeles Kings. I got aBoston one (the ï¿½Bï¿½ stands for Brad) while Coach Pennell got a Philadelphiaone. Other guys picked up cheap jewelry. After nearly an hour and a half weboarded the bus back to the hotel to get some rest for the first game.
We played our first game on Thursday night in a small gym justoutside of Melbourne. The 30-point victory helped get the tour started on apositive note and also marked the return of Justin Allen. Justinand hisjump shotare back in uniform after nine months. It means a lot to us.
On Friday morning the team visited the Old Melbourne Gaol (jail).The building, which was the site of 135 hangings, gave us an interestinglook at 19th century prison life. The rest of the afternoon was spendwalking around Melbourne shopping and taking pictures. Our game was anearly game, a 6:30 p.m. tip, and we had to leave by 4:30. The team weplayed was good and it was a solid win for us. Tanner and Justin are suregoing to make a difference next year. And since we didn't play on Saturday,Coach had a later curfew for us, so we checked out Melbourne.
Saturday morning the team went to the Melbourne Observation towerwhich overlooked the whole city. It was a great thing to see. Then came theAustralian Rules Football Game.it was great. We got general admissiontickets and pretty much the whole team went. We stayed for the whole gameand after they allow everyone on the field to play around. There must be a1,000 people and 1,000 footballs flying around after the game. We thenwalked back to the hotel after, which took about a half-hour but it wascool out. It was like a fall day in the midwest.
We will be up early on Sunday, as we take a flight to Sydney andmust leave early for our game as it is more than an hour and half away.