College Basketball Nation: Tales From The Road

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Nike has gone Carrie Bradshaw.

As the Sex and the City fashionista knows and apparently the sneaker giant has learned, a pop of color in one’s shoes is a way to enliven an otherwise dreary outfit.

Here at Peach Jam, sneakers have gone Technicolor, from neon Kelly green to bright blue and all the way to hot pink (or is it fuchsia, Oregon State coach Craig Robinson opined?).

Funky-colored kicks are nothing new but here’s the new Nike twist -- the shoes don’t match the uniforms.

Gasp! How daring!

The Howard Pulley Panthers, the hometown team from North Augusta, sported the pink sneakers with blue uniforms; the St. Louis Eagles intentionally unmatched their dark blue unis with the bright green shoes (somewhere, Mike Brey ought to be taking mental notes for his Irish) and the Oakland Soldiers paired the bright blue footwear with dark gray uniforms that included some camoflauge design.

It sounds silly … and it is …

But for coaches deep into their second week of recruiting, the sneakers are an eye opener for otherwise glazed-over eyes and something to talk about.

“If a college team does it,’’ Robinson said, “then we’ll know they’re on to something.’’
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- After landing at the Atlanta airport and maneuvering through the endless tram rides required to get to the rental car center, Mo Cassara walked out to fetch his car.

The Hofstra coach chose his vehicle, got behind the wheel, went to the kiosk and presented his papers, ready for the two-hour trip to the Georgia/South Carolina border for Peach Jeam.

The woman behind the counter put the brakes on Cassara’s plans.

The rental car company, she explained, couldn’t accept his license.

And no amount of persuasion was going to change her mind.

Somewhere in the crazy transition from assistant to head coach at Hofstra following Tim Welsh’s dismissal, Cassara’s license expired. He went to the New York State motor vehicles offices to get a new one.

“They said I was a glitch in the system,’’ Cassara said.

He hadn’t done anything wrong, didn’t have an unpaid parking ticket, it was just some sort of technical mistake. It would take weeks to get it sorted out, so the motor vehicle office suggested he go online and simply renew his Massachusetts license (he had been at Boston College prior to Hofstra) for the time being.

Which he did. And he had the temporary documents to prove it.

Except those weren’t good enough for the car rental company.

With no choice, Cassara lugged his bags back to the car rental tram, checked into a hotel on Sunday night and started working the phones, looking for a ride the next morning.

It came in the form of FoxSports' Jeff Goodman, who met Cassara at the airport and drove him to the tournament.

The good news: Cassara was able to rent a car in Augusta to drive back to the airport.

The bad news: He had to get it from a body shop.

“It’s the smallest car I’ve ever seen,’’ he said. “I won’t drive it over to the gym today. I’m too embarrassed.’’

And now for the hard part -- the rest of July. Cassara is leaving Georgia for Miami, with the remainder of the recruiting road still ahead of him and no guarantees of a rental car.

“I can borrow one from a friend in Miami,’’ he said. “After that, who knows? It’s a glamorous life, let me tell you.’’