Sports

Wednesday, Mar 26 2014 06:00 AM

The Roadrunner Connection: Season 11 is in the books

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Corey Costelloe

I had the privilege of extending basketball season by one game last week, traveling with our women's team to Saint Mary's for the first round of the WNIT.

Despite our team playing one of their best games of the season, Saint Mary's was just too talented and experienced as they sent the 'Runners to the 75-68 loss.

That being said, even though it wasn't the NCAA Tournament, anytime you're still playing basketball in March, it's a good thing. Head coach Greg McCall, his staff and student-athletes should be proud; they won 19 games this season while also finishing second in their first year in the WAC -- despite the preseason polls that predicted they would finish no better than sixth.

The loss at Saint Mary's and subsequent end of the CSUB basketball season brought my 11th season behind the mic to a close. Since most of the season for me is spent with our men's basketball team, it was a change of pace to end the season with the women's team, but an honor since they play so hard and went out in such an exciting game.

This was probably the toughest of all of the 11 seasons I've been doing this. Maybe I'm getting older, maybe the amount of travel in the geographically-diverse Western Athletic Conference takes some getting used to. We're one of the few conference in America in which you fly to every single opponent. There are no bus trips in the WAC, unless you count the bus rides to and from the airports.

Speaking of which, I collected enough boarding passes to fill a large Ziploc bag; I also waited until the end of the season to request my 10,000-plus frequent flyer miles, which I'm sure made the airlines people working the customer service desk very happy.

I did have plenty of airline adventures and celebrity run-ins this season. There was our flight from Seattle to Los Angeles where actor David Koechner; better known as Champ Kind from the Anchorman movies, sat coach with our team. He managed to be just as funny in person, antagonizing passengers who were trying to put large-suitcases in the overhead bins, and taking selfies with student-athletes seated around him. It was a fun flight to say the least.

We also managed to come across some entertainers, including rappers Rick Ross and Common, who I knew more for his role on the AMC TV series "Hell on Wheels" than his rap career -- not really my style of music but you can imagine it resonates with 20-somethings playing college basketball.

I did get a chance to speak with actor William H. Macy who I saw at the LAX baggage claim. I didn't ask him for a photo or autograph, just told him I loved him in the Showtime series "Shameless." He replied "Thanks, it's great isn't it?" And gave me one of those William H. Macy smiles. Short and sweet, but at least he didn't brush me off as a crazy autograph-hound.

I visited nine different states, saw Kansas City and the state of Missouri for the first time. Ate some fantastic local fare, from Chicago-style pizza in the Windy City, BBQ in Kansas City and unbelievably-good Mexican food in southern Texas when the manager of the restaurant agreed to shoot a TV show segment with yours truly.

Ever eat a complete deep-fried red snapper? Neither had I until that day. Eats better than it sounds for sure.

The radio season isn't completely finished, there are still plenty of baseball games to call and a few miles remaining in my journey before that season is over. But finishing up season 11 of basketball seemed like an accomplishment worth noting; especially since it was our first as a member of the WAC.

Maybe next basketball season the WAC travel will become second-nature; better yet, maybe they'll be a trip to the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season as well to make it all worthwhile.

Until then I'll keep my tray table and seat back in its upright-locked position, and get ready to takeoff to my next adventure.

COREY COSTELLOE, a Tehachapi High graduate, is Director of New Media and Broadcasting for California State University, Bakersfield.

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