Editor's Note: Day seven's blog includes more sightseeing in Sydney and the team's game against Wollongong at A.J.'s home gym.
Cheers. Today brought another day of incredible weather on our last day in Sydney. Having only been here during winter months, I can't relate to you what the summers are like. But, this is the way to live during the winter. With nothing planned until our departure for the game, everyone had another free day to enjoy themselves. Most of the players relaxed near the hotel, with being ready for tonight's game in mind. There is also an unreported part of this trip that goes on after dark that might be contributing to today's relaxation. You will have to check with the players for those details.
I am happy to report that Joe Duffy, who became sick on our bus ride from Canberra, is alive and feeling well. He spent about 24 hours sleeping and watching ESPN yesterday and was ready to hit the town this morning. He had the lines of the day when he walked outside and said, "Oh, the Opera House is right here? Sweet location." No kidding. "Talk about your all-time worst days to get sick," he added. Speaking of ESPN, the Ogilvy's and our other international families are going to love our new television deal. They will be able to watch us play a whole lot more this year. I knew the tv deal would considerably increase our visibility nationally, but I hadn't thought about how many people get ESPN outside the US. Yet another reason to be excited about our upcoming season.
As for the sightseeing today, here is a quick rundown:
-Coach Tom Richardson and his son, Matt, along with trainer Shannon Gordon tackled the Harbour Bridge Climb. This 3.5 hour event allows you to literally climb to the top of bridge arch while you are connected with a cable-harness system. I strongly recommend it if you ever have the chance.
- Vice Chancellor David Williams and his daughter, Samantha, along with Brock Williams and his son, Christian, went to beautiful Bondi Beach.
-Lance Goulbourne and Jeff Taylor did a jet boat tour of the Harbour. They described it as a tour like yesterday's with a really fast boat and a crazy driver.
-And then there was Coach Dan Muller and the whale tour. Dan took his wife, Melissa, and step-son, Sib, on a four hour whale tour that claimed a 98 percent chance of seeing whales. It's always that two percent that get's you, isn't it? Though they did see dolphins and enjoyed a harbour ride, they struck out on the whales. Anybody that knows Dan can guess that he went to great lengths to get a refund. Instead he has a voucher to go again. I am sure he will negotiate a good deal for you if you're interested.
Onto tonight's game... The Wollongong Hawks defeated Vanderbilt 84-83 at "The Hills" recreation center in the Hills District of Sydney. The Hawks jumped out to a 20-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. After trimming the lead to five at half (39-34), the 'Dores responded with a great effort in the third quarter to take a 56-55 lead going into the final quarter. Vanderbilt took a 76-69 lead with five minutes to play but could not hold on down the stretch. Andre Walker missed a potential game-tying three pointer after stealing an inbounds pass with 3 seconds left that was tipped in by Darshawn McClellan, leading to the 84-83 score. AJ Ogilvy led the 'Dores with 21 points and 6 rebounds. Jeff Taylor added 17 points on 7-11 shooting. Brad Tinsley continued his hot shooting with 16 points, including 4-6 from behind the 3 point line. Tinsley also led the team in assists with 7. Jermaine Beal added 12 points and Festus Ezeli chipped in 7 points.
Coach Kevin Stallings' Quotes:
"It was really a gritty effort by our guys tonight. They played with great intensity and physicality throughout the game. Although I am disappointed we lost, I was much more pleased with our effort against the best competition we have seen on the trip. We look forward to playing another strong team on Sunday in Townsville."
Some final thoughts from tonight's game: It was an incredible atmosphere in the gym tonight as AJ's friends and family packed the gym. His parents, Paul and Aileen, were proud and great hosts. AJ played club basketball for the Hills Hornets from age 10 to 18. He did not disappoint, as he played another solid game with several big-time baskets down the stretch. AJ also honored his Hills club coach before the game with the presentation of a Vanderbilt basketball hat ... Jeff Taylor and Charles Hinkle both had impressive defensive performances... Steve Tchiengang had his best game of the trip and brought solid energy off the bench... Tonight's game featured 10 minute quarters and five fouls, instead of the six that we had played with during the first three games. That proved to make a big difference as Jermaine Beal and AJ Ogilvy both got their fourth fouls early in the fourth...We have purposely played this entire trip without using any plays to help the team learn to play together. It would have been nice to have some plays to call down the stretch tonight...Our group of parents are incredibly supportive during the year and I know they all wish they could be here. Carl and Kathy Tinsley, the ultimate road warriors, are here representing for them... Our players really wanted to win for AJ tonight and played like it. Unfortunately, we couldn't hang on for the win. We will learn from it and get better. Tomorrow morning we fly to Townsville and have the day off.
Until then, goodnight from Sydney.