#CUatND: Final Edition of the "The Billy Blog"

#CUatND: Final Edition of the "The Billy Blog"

WASHINGTON: The Catholic University of America men's basketball team is taking the weekend to travel out to South Bend, Ind., prior to its season-opening exhibition game at Notre Dame on Monday night. Read below on what the Cardinals were up to each day and get in on the conversation via social media using the hashtag #CUatND.


Monday, November 7

by Billy Barnes, junior guard

Game day started off with a tour of Notre Dame's football facilities, where the Cardinals stopped for a team photo in front of the legendary Touchdown Jesus mural outside of the stadium. Once inside the stadium, a few members of the team ran a couple routes and showed off their football skills, or lack thereof, with a ball someone had brought along.

In an effort to one-up themselves, the Cards completed take-two of the Mannequin Challenge right there on the field. This time the scene had Andre Mitchell catching the imaginary TD pass from Louis Khouri over two defenders, and Will Turner with both hands up signaling the touchdown from the sideline. (editor's note: sorry to the Notre Dame student-athletes who upset that Catholic was the first team to do a challenge video on the field)

After the tour of the football stadium, it was all basketball. The team had a 1:30 shootaround where they took time to get a feel for Purcell Pavillion, shoot free throws and go over plays one last time.

For many Cardinals, the exciting reality was beginning to sink in that it was just hours away from tipping off against an opponent who had reached the Division I Elite 8 in back-to-back seasons prior to this year.

After a pregame meal and an hour to put their feet up, we loaded onto the bus and arrived at the arena for game time.

The game brought every member of the team something they will never forget. In spite of a disappointing result, the team gained unforgettable memories and crucial experience that will undoubtedly manifest itself later in the season as the Cardinals pursue the goal of winning postseason championships. 

With that, a truly great trip has come to an end. The Cards have gotten better and grown closer over the duration of the trip, and are all ready to continue the exciting journey that the 2016-17 season will be.

A huge thank you to our classmates who made the trip out to see us play!

- "The Billy Blog" Barnes

Sunday, November 6

by Billy Barnes, junior guard

Day two of the trip got off to an exciting start as the headed to check out downtown Cleveland.

3-1 playoff deficits were a frequent topic of conversation as the Cardinals stood with Quicken Loans Arena to the right, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers who came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the 2016 NBA championship, and Progressive Field to the left, where the Cleveland Indians blew a 3-1 world series lead to the Chicago Cubs just days before our arrival.

Walking past the Q, the squad stopped to take a look and snap a few photos of the giant mural of LeBron James that is hung across from the arena. Sophomore Jimmy Golaszewski, a Cleveland Cavaliers fan, donned his 2016 Cavaliers NBA Championship t-shirt and was literally trembling with excitement at the prospect of breathing the same air as LeBron James.

On the way back to the bus, the team was stopped by a group of up-and-coming Cleveland rappers, or street philosophers, and asked to feature in their new music video, which of course the team was glad to be a part of.

Day one saw the team complete the Mannequin Challenge, an internet sensation that is going viral across the nation, and on day two, the Cards were in the background of a music video. What day three will bring is anybody's guess.

After a quick trip to Cleveland, sights were set on South Bend, where Catholic arrived for an evening practice at the Purcell Pavilion around 6 o'clock. It felt good to get up and down the court after spending a lot of time sitting on the bus. Practice was really competitive, and guys were soaking in the experience of getting to practice on Notre Dame's home floor. But nothing will compare to tipping off against the Fighting Irish tomorrow night at 7pm.

After a great dinner at a local sports grill, it was back to the hotel for a few more games of Uno (there was no clear winner but sophomore Andrew Wade was the undisputed loser) and lights out.

Tomorrow's game is what Catholic came all this way for, and the team is all focused as we get some rest and head into day three of the trip.


by Chris McManes, former Sports Information Director

When the Cardinals went to view the huge LeBron James banner on Sherwin-Williams headquarters in Cleveland this morning, they didn't know they were going to be extras in a rap video.

Two amateur rappers and a cameraman recruited the Cards to dance and sing background vocals in front of Quicken Loans Arena. ("Sing" and "dance' are used very loosely.) Nearly all 21 players participated.

Perhaps the video will one day be seen on BET, MTV or TMZ. Let's hope it's not on "America's Funniest Home Videos."

After sightseeing in Cleveland, the Cardinals took off for the four-hour drive to Notre Dame. They arrived at the Hyatt Place South Bend / Mishawaka at 4:43 p.m. Soon thereafter, the team went for an intense, two-hour practice at Purcell Pavilion inside the Joyce Center.

Catholic University meets the Fighting Irish in an exhibition game on Monday night. Tipoff is 7 p.m.  

City of Champions – The Cleveland Cavaliers' homecourt, Quicken Loans Arena (the "Q") and Progressive Field are right next to each other. The Cardinals posed for photos in front of each venue.

The Cavaliers captured the city's first world championship in 52 years last season. The Cleveland Indians won the William Harridge Trophy as American League champions. The Cubs rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series at Progressive Field on Wednesday.

More Double Vision – CUA Coach Steve Howes had such good success with one set of twins, he recruited another. Bryan and Brandon Easton are freshmen guards from Huntingtown (Md.) High School. As seniors, they were named first-team All-Southern Maryland Athletic Conference.

Brandon is likely to start at point guard against Notre Dame. He averaged 15 points per game last season and was an honorable mention All-Met. Bryan, a shooting guard, is recovering from right foot surgery and is expected back in a few weeks. As a sophomore in 2013-14, he averaged 20.1 points.

Kyle and Kevin Phanord finished their CUA basketball careers last season. Kyle scored 9.4 points per contest as a senior. Kevin, despite not being a starter, was named 2014-15 Landmark Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

The Phanords are now at the University of Florida studying to become dentists. 

Twins are nothing new to Coach Howes. He grew up with twin sisters, Stephanie and Jennifer.

Saturday, November 5

by Billy Barnes, junior guard

The bus departed early from the DuFour Center Saturday morning carrying the Catholic University Men's Basketball team on their weekend trip that will culminate in a game in South Bend, Ind., against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

The buzz surrounding the trip had been gradually building over the course of the preseason and the excitement was tangible as the bus neared its first destination, Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa, a fellow private Catholic school, where the Cardinals would stretch their legs and hold a practice.

After about four and a half hours and a couple movies on the bus, the Cards arrived just in time to see the end of Division I Duquesne's own exhibition game, where they were defeated by Division II Mansfield State. The result was a timely reminder that upsets happen every year between teams from different divisions and a nice boost of confidence as the Cards will be major underdogs heading into Monday night's game against the Division I Fighting Irish.

After a productive practice at Duquesne, the bus made its next stop on the itinerary around nine o'clock in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Cardinals would have a team dinner, play a few intense games of Uno at the hotel, and call it a night.  

Tomorrow's plan is to do a little sightseeing around Cleveland before heading to South Bend for the last full practice before taking on Notre Dame.


by Chris McManes

Catholic Head Coach Steve Howes didn't get Duquesne Coach Jim Ferry's son to play basketball for him at Catholic University this year. The relationship, however, didn't end with the failed courtship.

The Cardinals practiced at Duquesne University on Saturday afternoon en route to their Monday night exhibition game at Notre Dame.

Catholic, which finished 22-6 last season and won the Landmark Conference regular-season and tournament championships, returns to northwest Indiana for the first time since opening its 100th anniversary season against the Fighting Irish on Nov. 6, 2010.

Prior to the start of practice, the Cardinals got a first-hand look at an underdog winning on a Division I opponent's homecourt. Division II Mansfield (Pa.) State downed Duquesne, 79-74. On Friday night, Queens won at VCU.

Howes used the upsets to impart confidence to his team as it prepares to play Notre Dame. The Irish advanced to the Elite Eight a year ago.

"We know we're a huge underdog and deservedly so," Howes said. "We just want to take advantage of this special opportunity and be as competitive each possession as we can. In doing so, it will hopefully prepare both teams for success this season."

Jim Ferry's son James is a freshman at Division II Tampa University.

Cleveland Rocks – The Cards will spend the night in Cleveland tonight and do some sightseeing. Quicken Loans Arena, home of the NBA World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, is high on the list. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is nearby, as is Progressive Field, home of the American League Champion Cleveland Indians.

Cleveland is about two hours from Pittsburgh.

Michael "Skywalker" Howes – Steve Howes' 12-year-old son, Michael, had fun posing for photos while slam dunking in Dukes Arena. Whether it is was the one-handed or two-handed variety, the future Cardinal scored some big-time baskets.

Michael and his sisters, Sarah and Allyson, have grown up watching CUA play basketball.


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