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UCLA Basketball In China Roundup: 13 Hour Flight, Checking Out the Great Wall

UCLA hoops group photo at the Great Wall (<a href="" target="new">via @UCLAMBB</a>).
UCLA hoops group photo at the Great Wall (via @UCLAMBB).

Thanks to Ganplosive for taking the lead in putting together a Bruins in China organizing thread for the few lucky Bruins (BNers) who made the trip to China despite the poor job by Dan Guerrero's athletic department to keep us informed early on. The basketball team is already there after finishing a 13 hour flight earlier this am.

The Bruins left LAX at at 1:40 a.m. on Wednesday and arrived in Beijing at 5:40 a.m. local time on Thursday. From the LA Times:

A lucky few, such as Smith and guard Tyler Lamb, were able to sleep for much of the way. Others could not. Forward David Wear said, "I just want to get to the hotel and go to bed."

Coach Ben Howland hoped to have his players in their rooms by 7 a.m., but after their wait for bags and fight with rush-hour traffic, that time was pushed back by more than two hours.

On the long, slow bus ride to the hotel, the Bruins were reminded that this wasn't like home.

A Chinese representative, speaking over the intercom, asked them to stay out of trouble and keep track of their passports. He reminded them to drink only bottled water.

It was a bleary group that finally lumbered into its hotel at midmorning.

Thankfully it wasn't Chris Foster who made the trip. It's David Wharton (the same guy who wrote a puff piece on Chianti back in March and also wrote an infamous profile piece on Karl Dorrell dubbing him "the Thinker" of Westwood) who is covering the trip for The Trojan Times. So, we are not going to get much coverage on actual games but shallow trip reports, which may not give us a whole lot of info. on what is happening on the court. I guess something is better than nothing.

Yahoo! Sports is there is too. They sent Jeff Eisenberg, the college hoops blogger for their excellent blog "the Dagger." Jeff also happens to a UCLA alum and a former reporter of the Daily Bruin. I think Jeff is probably your best bet in terms of tracking the Bruins' progress as a basketball team through next few days. Jeff posted the following note from freshman center Tony Parker:

The 13-hour flight really wasn't that tough for me. I've flown overseas before, so I just listened to music and went to sleep. I woke up a couple times but then fell right back to sleep. I had no problems with that. Once we got to the hotel in the morning, I was able to fall asleep again. That's the best way to go through everything. It helps make the travel go faster. I tried to sleep as much as possible. We're going to be really busy, so I want to be ready to sightsee."

The sightseeing is going to be great. You see these places on TV and in movies. But we are finally going to be there. It's going to be a great time. We'll be able to go home and tell people about these experiences and that we saw those historic landmarks. I'm really looking forward to being able to sightsee on this trip.

Parker is out with a hamstring injury but unlike Shabazz he is actually getting to travel with the team. Cool experience for him.

The standard official round from Day 1 is here and you can check out the itinerary (with a photo gallery) from the official site here. For those of you who can't get enough of Twitter, you can get updates from the hoops team @UCLAMBB. Apparently the team was mobbed when they arrived at the Great Wall:

Not a surprise to read about folks going crazy over UCLA. Imagine the brand appeal of those four letter if we actually had competent leaders in charge of our school and the athletic department.