The Siena team bus arrived at the Tampa Airport Sheraton Suites at 12:25 p.m., and the players were greeted by a loud round of cheers and applause and green and yellow balloons from the hotel staff in the lobby, treated like conquering heros.
They haven’t conquered anything yet, though, so they enjoyed the moment, then got down to business with a practice at the Tampa Preparatory School to continue their preparations for Friday’s game against Vanderbilt.
After leaving rainy, gray, chilly conditions in Albany, senior guard Tay Fisher walked over to one of the dozens of towering palm trees in the hotel square and touched it.
“I feel like I’m a celebrity, man, an overnight celebrity,” Fisher said. “I’m happy to see all these nice and healthy trees, everybody’s healthy on our team, it’s just really a great feeling. It’s something that I’m happy to experience my senior year.”
“I couldn’t picture all this,” sophomore power forward Alex Franklin said. “I wasn’t expecting any of this. It’s just making the whole day all the better.”
The team arrived at Albany International Airport at 7 a.m., and fans were already there to send them off.
“It wasn’t like this,” said forward Josh Duell of Scotia, referring to the reception he got as a member of the Vermont team that played in the 2005 tournament. “That was pretty special. People in the airport were saying good luck. We were on the plane with a bunch of people, and they kept giving us rounds of applause.”
For more on the Saints’ appearance Friday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, check out Mike MacAdam’s blog, “Saints on the Road” by clicking here.