Nov. 15, 2000
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The Santa Clara men's basketball team arrived at the Fairbanks International Airport today to a warm welcome despite the frigid conditions outside. The Broncos made the 11 ½-hour trek to Alaska for the Top of the World Classic, an eight-team college basketball tournament that begins Thursday night at the Carlson Center.
The team left the Santa Clara campus at 8 a.m. and made stops in Seattle and Anchorage before arriving in Fairbanks at 6:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. Pacific). Upon arrival at the airport, the team was met by a crowd of approximately 100 students, cheerleaders, coaches, teachers and others associated with Lathrop High School, the alma mater of Bronco freshman point guard Kyle Bailey. The students held banners and signs welcoming the team and cheered as each team member walked into the terminal.
"That was such a warm welcome and it is definitely much appreciated," said Bailey, who is expected to see significant playing time this season at the point guard position for the Broncos. "I knew they were going to do something, but I wasn't sure exactly what. Coming back to play at home is exciting, but I am very nervous. I will probably be overexcited the first few minutes of the game, but I am going to try to stay relaxed."
The Top of the World Classic is hosted by the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and is run primarily by a local organizing committee. Members of that committee are Santa Clara's team hosts, Greg and Tracy Toombs 36-year Anchorage residents.
"Over the years we have attended the tournament on a regular basis," said Gary Toombs. "This is such a small community where everyone knows each other, it gave us a chance to really get involved with it. We all love basketball and really enjoy hosting the teams. Getting Santa Clara was the luck of the draw for us.
"The connection of Kyle Bailey and Lathrop High School is special. Everybody is looking forward to having him back. Having Lathrop as the host high school with the cheerleaders and students welcoming the team helped make this an even bigger community event."
Upon arrival at the airport, the players enjoyed the numerous stuffed animals that are encased in glass both at the airport and the team's headquarters hotel, the Captain Bartlett Inn. A large polar bear captured in 1968 was a favorite attraction in the airport, while an Alaska Brown Bear and a huge Musk Ox are displayed in the hotel lobby.
After checking into the hotel, the team practiced at the Carlson Center for an hour-and-a-half before returning to the hotel for a short meal and film session.
"Obviously when you make that long of a trip you need to stretch out a little bit," said Head Coach Dick Davey. "Truthfully, I thought our practice today was one of our better ones in terms of energy level and efficiency. We are pleased with that, but you have to be able to convert that to a game and play with a high level of intensity.
"I was so impressed with what they do with the tournament here in Fairbanks, having the Lathrop High School cheerleaders at the airport as well as a lot of students from the school. We were certainly very appreciative of all the tournament committee members that met us at the airport. This is really a classy operation. We have had a chance to go a lot of places over the years and we have not had a reception quite like that. That was really well done."
Thursday, the Broncos will have a morning weight training session and a practice during the day and will attend a tournament luncheon at noon. The first two games of the event are Thursday night with Austin Peay taking on Jackson State and host Alaska-Fairbanks playing the University of Colorado.
Santa Clara opens its regular season Friday evening its first round contest against Utah State, a team that returns 78 percent of its scoring from its 28-6 squad that won 19-straight during last season. The Aggies won the third-most games of any team in the country and participated in the NCAA Tournament. The Broncos will the face either Davidson or South Florida on Saturday, depending on the outcome.
Weather Update: The high in Fairbanks on Wednesday was 26 degrees Fahrenheit, while the temperature displayed on a local bank sign indicated nine degrees at 9:30 p.m. The forecast for Friday through Sunday calls for snow flurries each day with highs in the mid-20s and lows in the teens each day.
Fairbanks, Alaska: High 25, Low 17 Partly Cloudy
Fairbanks, Indiana: High 49, Low 30. Showers
Fairbanks, Louisiana: High 57, Low 40. Thunderstorms
Santa Clara, Calif.: High 63, Low 40. Partly Cloudy
Injury Update: Centers David Emslie (Seattle, Wash.) and Stephen Dely (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa) practiced at full speed on Wednesday. Sophomore forward Andre Bobbitt (Riverbank, Calif.) is most likely not going to be able to participate in the Top of the World Classic due to an injury to his calf muscle.