It’s 656 miles, or about 10 hours driving, from UE’s campus to Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y.
That’s where the Aces headed by bus already for Tuesday’s 6 p.m. tip against the Golden Griffins in a CollegeInsider.com Tournament quarterfinal game.
“Due to weather conditions we aren’t flying and we have to drive ALL the way to New York for our game Tuesday!!” tweeted Aces senior Troy Taylor at about 3 p.m. Sunday, or 24 hours after UE finished off a second-round CIT win over Eastern Kentucky.
“If Buffalo, NY is just past the Jasper exit we are almost there,” added UE’s radio play-by-play man, Lance Wilkerson, at 4 p.m.
Said UE coach Marty Simmons on Monday, after the Aces completed their trip: “I guess it was sometime Saturday night is when we found out (who we were playing next), and then we were just kind of watching that storm – the winter storm. We thought we’d be able to practice and possibly take off and get ahead of it.
“As we continued watching it, it seemed to be coming a little bit quicker. We just decided to jump on the bus and get as far down the road as we could. We were actually in it for a while but still made some good time.”
Following an overnight stay along the way, the Aces arrived in Buffalo on Monday morning. It was the only sure way to guarantee arrival on time given the regional forecast for snow.
“We didn’t exactly know when we’d be playing – Tuesday or Wednesday – or where,” said senior Colt Ryan. “If we were playing Tuesday, we knew we’d have to practice Sunday. We were set to practice at 2 o’clock, and at 2 all the coaches came out – everybody was ready to practice – and they told us to get changed and we’re going to bus up there because we’ve got a bad storm coming.
“It was the best way for us to do it. So we bused all the way up here basically last night. It’s been crazy and hectic, but we’re here now and settled in.”
CIT matchups aren’t determined by a bracket but rather geography and cost. The for-profit tournament charges schools to host games, and UE’s already taken a hit by drawing sub-3,000 crowds in the first two games.
Canisius beat Youngstown State in overtime on Saturday. Should that result have gone the other way, the Aces would most likely be making the slightly shorter trip — about 430 miles — to northeast Ohio.
But a trip to Buffalo, N.Y. — and the early arrival — allowed for sight seeing.
“We’ve never had to bus 10-plus hours on such short notice, so it’s kind of exciting just to get that feel for having your team, the coaches and the program,” Ryan said. “You just pick up and go. You don’t know where you’re going next. You just win, and there’s some excitement about who you’re playing next and just stuff like today.
“We were at the hotel and had some times, so we went out and saw Niagara Falls. That was a pretty cool experience for the team.”