Pack In Spain: Madrid to The Canary Islands
Aug. 9, 2012
The beauty of Madrid is incredible. The group was treated to a bus tour of the city on Tuesday morning. The Pack took such sites as the royal palace, Spanish Parliament buildings and the stock exchange.
One of the stops the travel party made at the royal palace for an "up-close" look, but it's hard to get a closer look at a building with 2,800 rooms. That makes it the largest royal residence built in Europe. The current royal family of Spain doesn't reside there, but live approximately five miles outside the city.
Another stop on our bus tour was to the Plaza de Toro or the bullfighting ring. Bullfighting, which this blog doesn't condone, is a popular past time in Spain. The popularity is evident by the number of people Plaza de Toro can hold. The capacity is 24,000 and comfort was not considered when it came to the seating. All the seats in the main spectator area are made of stone. There was only one luxury box in the entire place and it's for the King of Spain. During the summer the bullfights are held every Sunday and during May, they are held everyday.
After taking in the sites of Madrid, it was back to the hotel for a couple of hours of downtime for the players and staff before the pre-game meal. The meal was reminiscent of the ones that our players enjoy back home with grilled chicken, pasta, salad and potatoes.
Then it was game time versus CB Torrejon. This road game was unlike any we have experienced in America. Normally, when you play road games in the ACC, the host institution provides ice, water, cups and towels. That's not the norm here, but all it took was a request for those items and it was provided to us.
Led by 25 points from junior guard Lorenzo Brown and a contribution of 20 from freshman forward T.J. Warren, the Pack was able to post an 83-76 victory. Great seeing Lorenzo out there play not like someone that had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in July.
Wednesday, the NC State men's basketball team had some free time prior to the game, a few moments for the players to rest and relax after a grueling travel schedule. The down time seemed to pay off Wednesday night, as the Wolfpack won its second game in as many nights, 80-57, to improve to 2-0 on the trip.
It's hard to believe that Lorenzo Brown had knee surgery in July. Prior to the trip Coach Gottfried said he would be cautious with Lorenzo, but he's played well so far during his time on the court.
Thomas de Thaey provided a nice surprise for NC State in Wednesday's win. He played well on both ends of the court, rebounding and showing nice touch with his shots.
As a team, the Wolfpack was able to make the quick adjustment to the physical European style of play and the different style of how games are officiated from the first to the second game. Under the board, the officials here allow for more physical contact, which means play until you hear the whistle. It also means if you're a player you're going to need your teammates to call out screens, so you don't get leveled.
For example you can touch the ball while it's on the rim, but you can't smack the backboard while the ball is on its way up because it could result in a goaltending call. The officials are also liberal in how the call traveling as they may allow one or two or three more steps after picking up the dribble.
After Wednesday's game, both teams were treated to a fantastic meal outside at a local steak house that featured traditional American fare with a Spanish twist. The difference was the volume of food presented.
The constant flow of food began with salads transitioning of appetizers of jalapeno poppers, onion rings, chili dip and chips. If you weren't already filled, then you'd better make room for more as the main courses of chicken, ribs and steak were presented.
Normally, the players can consume a lot based on the amount of calories they burn working out, practicing or playing an actual game, but this time even they were overwhelmed by the amount of food that came from the kitchen to the point most declined dessert.
Then it was back to the hotel to pack and get ready for an early morning flight to the Canary Islands for the Pack's next round games.
The entire travel party had to be at the airport to by 5 a.m. to check in for a 7 a.m. flight. Again, its never easy navigating an airport with a large group, but thankfully one of the group's tour guide was able to make sure all the bags got checked and boarding passes issued.
The security screening was relatively quick, despite a high volume of people be processed early in the morning. After the screening, team video coordinator and Pack In Spain radio announcer, Nima Omidvar, interviewed C.J. Leslie and Brown about what they learned in Madrid. Both responded that it was beautiful city with beautiful women. Their levity gave those around a good laugh in the early morning.
Once the boarding began, the group walked down the jet way to board the ... waiting transport bus. Yes, we had to take bus to plane out on the tarmac. Once at the plane, you could board the plane through either the front or rear of the plane, which made for a quick loading and unloading of passengers.
The flight was a short two hours to the Canary Islands. Even thought the islands are a part of Spain, they are actually closer to the Northwest coast of Africa than the Spanish mainland.
Our hotel, the Lopesan Costa Meloneras, is right on the ocean. Because the nearest nice sandy beach is about a half a mile away, our players made good use of the hotel pool to relax and refresh from the travel early in the day.
Tonight it was a quiet team dinner and more time to relax.
Friday, it's back to the court as the Pack faces CB Gran Canaria U20 at 7 p.m. local time, which is a 2 p.m. tip-time back in Raleigh.