COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) – Holy Cross found out Sunday it will face second-seeded Maryland in the women’s NCAA tournament.
Then began the more immediate challenge of figuring out how to travel there.
The Crusaders eventually arrived after a lengthy bus ride on Wednesday, one of the few teams that will face logistical challenges during this week’s March Madness. Charleston’s men’s team arranged for a charter flight to its game because the trip was too short for one funded by the NCAA. Grand Canyon arrived for their men’s match in Denver, but the luggage was delayed.
The San Diego State men’s charter was shelved for a more prestigious reason.
“Limited airspace around Air Force One,” coach Brian Dutcher said.
Charleston played San Diego State in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday. The South Carolina school is about 380 miles from Orlando, just under the 400-mile threshold at which the NCAA would pay for a charter flight. So Charleston paid for its own flight — and the Cougars had a little more incentive to win.
The plan was to return by bus if they lost in the first round. If they make it to Saturday, there will be time to arrange a charter flight home. Charleston lost to San Diego State 63-57.
Holy Cross is located in Worcester, Massachusetts, about 390 miles from College Park. The threshold for a charter flight was 350 miles, but the NCAA changed its policy for both men’s and women’s basketball this year to match other Division I sports. Schools have the option to charter flights if they wish, at the school’s expense. The threshold remains 350 miles for regionals and the final four.
For Holy Cross, there was also the question of the northern Easter that affected New England this week.
“The trip was a huge question mark, obviously finding out we couldn’t charter by a few miles,” Crusaders coach Maureen Magharity said. “We understand the buses, the coming snowstorm, there are a lot of moving parts. I am so grateful to our staff and our administration for helping us figure this all out for us.”
For Holy Cross, a Patriot League school, taking the bus isn’t all that unusual.
“It was a lot of fun on the bus,” guard Addisyn Cross said. “We played a few games, so we made it a fun experience.”
The Lopes of Grand Canyon hit a snag Wednesday when they arrived in Denver, but their gear failed. So they borrowed gear from Regis University in Denver and used scout jerseys provided by Baylor.
Baylor coach Scott Drew was only too willing to help his little brother Bryce, the Grand Canyon coach. The brothers’ teams happen to play at the same venue, but in different regional tournaments.
“We charge them by the hour,” Scott Drew cracked. “Whatever we can do to help.”
Just a little hiccup, Bryce Drew explained, as Lopez will play third-seeded Gonzaga on Friday.
“We are all set and all the shoes, jerseys and training equipment have been delivered,” he said.
For San Diego State, the delay was brief, and Dutcher didn’t appear to be about to file a major complaint with the White House.
“Charters, as much as they sound like they’re going to get you here early, they usually get you here when they get you,” he said. “We left San Diego at 5:00, landed at 12:00 or 12:30. Like I said, I wasn’t kidding, I was eating chicken wings at 2:00 in the morning. They were good. They tasted really good and we were happy to have them and happy to be here.”
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