A Canuck’s views on a season of hoops travel, southern experiences

By Nick Craddock

For the better part of the last four months I’ve been traveling with my colleagues in the Southeast, a part of the country a Canadian has no business roaming around, living what many people at this school would consider a dream — covering UK basketball.

Not only am I responsible to my employer to offer UK basketball coverage; consider that a Canadian, James Naismith, invented this game that has evolved from Canadians in tight shorts, who were generally more accustomed to playing with sticks and wooden wheels before deciding to throw a ball in a hole-less apple basket.

Therefore, I felt compelled to my country to make sure people were hoopin’ it up appropriately in this nation sporting my jaunty multicolored socks, which people accept that I wear because I hail from Canada.

Turns out many U.S. college basketball programs have this “basketball” thing figured out, and two Florida Gators determined that I look like I’m in high school while I was in the Gators’ locker room during the Southeastern Conference Tournament. I look young, yes, but I am not deaf.

The point is we have all learned things on the road as the hoops season winds down.

As any good Canadian hockey player would, I haven’t cut my hair out of superstition, so bad luck wouldn’t accompany us on our trips during our journalistic crunch time, since our first road trip to Chapel Hill N.C.— nor have I shaved, but recall that I’m a child, so I have no use for a Mach Five.

I might as well have shaved my head bald before N.C. trip, which included a nameless staff member getting pulled over only to discover his/her driver’s license was actually not in his bag, but at home in Lexington.Apparently, nice Winston-Salem police officers take student I.D.s, fidgetiness and charm in lieu of state-issued identification.

A snowstorm also battered Carolina as we began to drive home forcing us to seek refuge at a Hampton Inn and to sustain ourselves on the fried chicken we were served at the Dean Dome.

It would’ve been easy for us to become discouraged with our bellies full of Bojangles and our spirits broken after our maiden voyage, but we pressed on.

Several trips and several Disney-inspired duets later —we’ve nailed “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” and beat the “Glee” cast to it — and suddenly you don’t want to shank your colleagues.

Instead, these are the same people you start helping peel oranges while they drive, you discover the best decisions are made when you cross bridges when you come to them and “janky” enters your lexicon when you want to describe your displeasure with someone or something.

Recently, we’ve no longer had settle for the “jankiness” of Hampton Inns, but upgraded to the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta and Marriott Waterside in Tampa, which naturally bordered water and featured a sign that indicated manatees lived there. I left Tampa empty-handed of manatees and thus, disappointed.

Next stop is sunny and criminally-inclined Newark, N.J.. Geographically, I’m headed in the right direction on this upcoming trip in relation to my home and native land.

However, despite many a ­­­clustermuck this season, my colleagues and I have always found directions to a wonderful time.