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Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Basketball: Travel issues

By Pedro Moura

DAYTON, Ohio -- Sure, the Trojans had to depart Los Angeles fewer than 24 hours after they found out their seeding – NCAA Selection Committee chair Gene Smith joked on the selection show there was already a plane waiting for USC – which made for a rough celebrate, practice and pack schedule in the between-time. But they also got to fly by charter direct from L.A. to Dayton, a rare luxury that only occurs for NCAA tournament play.

Thursday’s travel plans will be a bit more hectic, assuming the Trojans do in fact pull out the victory. Because Dayton and Chicago, USC’s would-be next destination for a Friday night game against Georgetown, are fewer than 350 miles apart, the NCAA does not pay for the team’s travel.

“You have to pay your own way,” Trojans coach Kevin O'Neill said Tuesday. “We haven’t even talked about it yet, because I’m not letting anybody talk about this stuff until we play the game.

“If we were to get to Chicago, my assumption would be this: we’ll fly the players, and the rest of us will bus or take cars. I want to make sure the players are the priority with everything, including travel.”

The bus ride from Dayton to Chicago measures in at about six hours, which would actually be more travel time than Monday’s L.A.-to-Ohio trek. A direct flight takes less than hour.

That’s if USC wins. If it loses, the team will head back to L.A. Thursday morning and the players will have an abbreviated four-day Spring Break before classes resume Monday.

To top it all off, the team’s Monday night stay in Dayton was also problematic. The hotel lost power early on in the night for a number of hours and alarms and cell phone chargers weren’t able to function regularly.