Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dunn Deal: Postcards from the Battle on the Border

Hey guys I'm back to update y'all on why we've been up to for the past couple days. I missed a day so I thought I would do it all in one update. Friday was more of a relaxed laid back kind of day. We didn't have an all day excursion planned this time.  Some of the guys used this day to recover from the traveling so much the previous two days, and others used the day to get out and see what downtown Calgary had to offer during the day. 
I did a little of both. Gabe and Lu found a mall pretty close to the hotel while walking around. It was a pretty nice sized mall too! Everyone either woke up or returned to the hotel in time for our one hour film and then began getting ready for our game against Calgary. This would be the team we ultimately suffered our first lost to. They were a very tough team that night and played harder than us, but at the end of the night we left smiling because we knew that we would have another opportunity to show them the real us. 
Tonight that was exactly who they got. We came out with fire, intensity, and a chip on out shoulder which propelled us to a 17 point win over the University of Calgary. We were able to come away with the win to redeem ourselves for the performance we had the night prior. 
After the game we stopped at this drive thru place for burgers and shakes. The name of it seems to slip my memory but everything was delicious! There were so many shake flavors I couldn't count, and you were able to mix and match with up to 3! I think the sign said up to 4,500 possible combinations. I think I overheard Mitch saying he got a root beer float flavored shake. We'll have to let him tell y'all how that tasted! 
Tonight was our last night in Calgary so a few of the guys with the exception if myself, Danny, Gabe, and Gaellan went out to the downtown. We have one more game tomorrow at 10 a.m. then we are coming home back to the states! It's around 2:30 a.m. right now and I have a wake up call at 7 a.m. so I think I'm going to end right here. 
I wanted to give a special shootout to the guy who works at the pizza/wing joint around the corner. He always had interesting conversation and made us feel extremely welcome here in Calgary, and I'm speaking on behalf of the entire team! 
Well I gotta be up in a few hours and in the words of Cam Jones "that's tuff." So I'm gonna get some shut eye. Goodnight guys. Until the next update.. Stay tuned!
Michael Dunn joined the Northern Arizona men’s basketball program in 2009 after starring at Chandler High School. He was a three-year letter winner that helped his team beat top-seeded Highland in the 5A State Championships, the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 in  state history. He saw action in seven games for the Lumberjacks in his  first season. 

Mitch Strohman: The Voice in Canada

Day two of NAU Basketball's trip to Calgary for the Battle of the Border involved a two hour bus ride on Canada Route 1 (the Trans-Canada Highway) to Lake Louise and Banff in the very heart of the Canadian Rockies. OK, I know I'm prone to a bit of hyperbole when it comes to the Lumberjacks, but I can say without hesitation, we visited one of the most spectacular places I have ever seen in my entire life.

I could write 10,000 words about how beautiful it was and not come close to capturing it. It's like walking up to Mather Point at the Grand Canyon for the first time; it takes your breath away. And like the Canyon, you're robbed of precious oxygen every single second your eyes are open. My son Zach perhaps said it best: “Dad, I've never seen anything like this before.”

Bears are a deadly serious issue in the Canadian Rockies. Hiking around Lake Louise you find signs warning you about Grizzlies saying you need to hike in “tight” groups no smaller than four. Experienced hikers carry several bottles of Bear Spray, a powerful anti-bear weapon. We ran into a nice local couple wearing jingle bells on the packs. They explained how the bells let bears know you're approaching so you don't surprise them. I was left wondering if they looked at us nutty Arizonans hiking without bear spray or bear bells, like we Arizonans look at city-folk hiking into the Grand Canyon in the summer wearing flip flops or high heels or not wearing hats or carrying water.

I loved watching several Lumberjack players rent canoes (including non-swimmers Gabe Rogers and Julian Olubuyi) and go for a one hour paddle around Lake Louise. One little weight distribution problem could send the Jacks into a lake that is as cold a bucket of ice water.

On to Banff.

It reminds us of any number of beautiful American mountain villages; nestled in a valley surrounded by spectacular, towering mountains. But in Banff's case those mountains are the Canadian Rockies, slight edge to Banff.

Canadian McDonald's and other fast food restaurants here do not offer you “dollar menus” like they do in the States. Instead they offer you “Snack” menus. I also love the north of the border candy. The Nestle' Aero Bar is a favorite. It's like a Crunch Bar with air pockets instead of the Rice Krispies; in this case, less is more! There are some interesting restaurant combos here in Calgary; we were all interested in the pizza-steak and pizza-fried chicken joints we drove by and yes we ate at one downtown (the one with the pizza-chicken).

Calgary is a very culturally diverse city, while we were here, there was a 100-year celebration of Calgary's Chinatown district. There is a lot of French spoken here and when you canvass the city on foot, you hear many languages spoken beside English.

Tourist alert for those suffering from the fear of heights, do not enter!: The Calgary Tower is amazing part of the city's skyline. At 626 feet, it's not the tallest building in the city, but when you pay the $14 and ride the elevator to the top and step out onto the glass-floor observation deck, it sure feels like it's the tallest thing in the city, if not in all of Alberta.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dunn Deal: Postcards from the Battle on the Border

Lumberjack student-athletes in Canada.
Our second day in Canada was a very busy day. It included an early morning with a late night, and a 9 hour excursion throughout the middle of the day. Yesterday everyone was up around 7:45 a.m. to be able to eat the breakfast served in the hotel. Breakfast consisted of a very nice layout of fruit, bacon, sausage, pancakes, breakfast potatoes, and even had a station to make omlets and toast. Needless to say, the breakfast was very good.

After breakfast, we all went back to our room to get ready to travel to Lake Louise in Banff. We loaded the bus and left the hotel at 8:45 a.m. There were many cool things to see during the bus ride. I snapped a picture of the ski jumps used in the 1988 Calgary Olympics. We also stopped at a smaller body of water surrounded by a huge mountain range to take pictures of a preview of Lake Louise.

As we got closer to the lake we were able to see a deer as well as a wolf off to the side of us amongst the trees. We arrived at the lake, and I expected it to be nice, but nice would have been an understatement. This lake was beautiful! The water was a nice blue color and you could see through in some areas. We all stood around and were blown away by how amazing this lake really was.

Then Coach Will (Hensley) decided he wanted to ride a canoe and started a trend. Riding with him was Platt, and Stallon. The guys also filled up two other canoes. In the second one was Austin, Shane, and Julian. With Austin being the outdoorsman that he is it made for a great experience, as well as easier for the other two because he had done something like that before.

The other canoe had Lu, Gabe, and Danny. Now these were the guys that had a tough time! They actually bumped into another canoe before fully taking off from the dock, but they ultimately got the hang of it. The rest of us began walking the trail that wrapped around the lake.  The trail was filled with bugs which made it very clear that it was their trail we were traveling on. Other than that, the trail was nice and gave us a better look at the lake and the snow capped mountains! We thought that we could make it to the end if the trail, that is until it started raining. This made us turn around and quickly return to the hotel there on the lake.

We walked around a little more and took some more pictures while waiting for the other guys. It was very interesting and funny to see a lot of the people pointing and whispering about us trying to figure out who we were! After leaving here we made one more stop in Banff before going to Mickey D's to grab something to eat. Despite the rain at the lake and the hail at the second stop, it was still a fun experience and worthwhile. At this point, it is now around 4 o'clock when we are finally headed back to the hotel. We arrived back at the hotel at 5:30, scheduled to leave for the arena at 6:15 p.m.. Our game against Concordia was to begin at 8 p.m.

Ironically, the head coach of Concordia was the father of former NAU basketball player Steve Sir. Game time finally arrived and we came out with a lot of intensity despite traveling all day for the second day in a row. We played hard all the way through and with pretty good execution of offense and defense. We were able to come away with the win 117-66. So if there's a myth of not being able travel the day of the game and perform well, I think we erased that these past two nights. We arrived back at our hotel around 10:15pm. After a quick shower, Gabe, Lu, Julian, Josh, Gaellan, D. Jones, and I all decided to take a walk around downtown and see what was going on. We quickly found out that there wasn't too much to do late on a Thursday night downtown, so we split up and Gaellan, Gabe, Lu, and I ended at the same pizza parlor that I ate at the night before. Once again there were interesting people just hanging out there again. Maybe that's a normal thing? This time I tried the teryaki wings which were really good. The man who works there, whose names seems to slip my memory right now, showed us great hospitality. Well tomorrow I think all of us are going to get some well needed rest before we do anything! We have a big game against the hometown team Calgary and I think everyone wants to be rested and ready for them! I'll check back in with y'all soon! Until my next update.. Stay tuned!

Michael Dunn joined the Northern Arizona men’s basketball program in 2009 after starring at Chandler High School. He was a three-year letter winner that helped his team beat top-seeded Highland in the 5A State Championships, the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 in state history. He saw action in seven games for the Lumberjacks in his first season.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dunn Deal: Postcards from the Battle on the Border

The ski jumps used during the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
Day 1 in Canada is just about in the books. It was a long day but was fun all the way around. Calgary did not disappoint. We landed in Calgary around 4 o'clock after our flight was delayed from Phoenix. Going through customs in international airports is a whole different experience than I'm sure all of us are used to.
Once we retrieved all of our bags, we loaded the charter bus and got on the road. Our first stop was Harvey's, a fast food restaurant. I can't speak for anyone else, but I ordered the crispy chicken which turned out to be a good choice. This place had a mix of burgers and chicken on their menu with the majority of the guys getting burgers. 
The verdict is still out on them and I'll have to let y'all know how they tasted. But I heard from De Angelo (Jones) that they had an interesting taste, different from that of a burger in the states. After leaving there we headed to the University of Calgary to play our first game. 
We we're matched up against the University of Lethbridge. We didn't actually get to the arena until about one hour prior to tip off, so once again we were stretched for time. Drew (our trainer) did a really good job of taping everyone's ankles in a timely manner. Once 7 o'clock rolled around it was game time. 
Everyone looked really good out on the court. It took us a while to get going, but once we got going there was no looking back. All the guys played hard and we ended up winning the contest 106-72. 
After a quick post game talk with coach we were back on the bus with Subway sandwiches and Gatorades that were in the locker room after our game. This time we were headed to our hotel in downtown Calgary. We arrived here, and saw that our hotel was right across from the Calgary Tower which sort of resembles the Seattle Space Needle. 
We checked in and got settled before we all decided we wanted to experience downtown Calgary first hand. A few of the guys walked off in one direction and others in the opposite just to make sure we covered a lot of ground. I took to the streets with Danny Redmon and Cam Jones. We walked around with no purpose initially until we became hungry. We bumped into a few interesting people and had some funny encounters along the way. I think Danny ended up making one new friend in particular who decided he wanted to tag along for a little while! 
We finally found a small pizza place that was still open and selling pizza by the slice. Cam and I grabbed a slice and we started our return to the hotel. We have a trip planned for tomorrow that we were told is going to be extremely fun. We'll be gone from the hotel from 9 a.m. to about 4 p.m. then play our game at 8 p.m. The first day in Canada was a success and it's only the beginning... Until the next update.. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trip Off to Late Start

As I was lying here on the sky harbor airport floor, I thought that I would update everyone on our status.. Right now as I speak we are all sitting/laying here due to a delayed flight. Our original flight time was 10:17 a.m. and now it was pushed back to 11:55 a.m. This all after a early morning with all of us arriving at the airport around 8 o'clock this morning.

The majority of the team spent the night spread out around the Phoenix area in Scottsdale, Tempe and Chandler. Luis, Shane, and I had people stay over at our homes for the night so we didn't have to travel the day of. We were scheduled to arrive in Calgary around 3 o'clock local time to then proceed to the hotel and begin taping for our game later tonight. By the looks if things now, it seems that we will be heading straight to the arena from the airport with no stop at the hotel because of the lack of time.

We play one game tonight at 7 p.m. Calgary time which is one hour difference from Flagstaff time. Everybody is excited and ready to get to Canada and get the games started. At this point we are all just Relaxing and waiting for our plane to arrive. Right now, Gaellan, Lu (Flores) and Gabe are watching a movie, and just about everyone else is taking a pre-flight nap! I may have to join the guys who are napping!

We just received word that our plane will be pulling into the gate in about ten minutes so we may not be stuck here too long after all. For up to the minute updates between blogs on what we are doing check mine and some of the other guys twitter pages with the hashtag #borderbattle. I'm also going to try to get some pics up for y'all of places we go and just of some of the guys hanging out. Until the next update... Stay tuned. 

Follow Mike on Twitter.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dunn Deal: Postcards from the Battle on the Border


My name is Mike Dunn and I am apart of the men's basketball team here at NAU. This upcoming year will be my second year as a member of the team, and I am really excited and looking forward to the upcoming season. As some of you may know we, the men's basketball team, are traveling to Calgary, Canada to participate in the "Battle at the Border."

This trip consists of a 5-day trip with games each day against Canadian universities. I was presented with the opportunity to keep everyone updated on our preparation and the trip itself.

As of right now we are still in Flag preparing with 2-a-day practices which began July 31st over at Coconino HS. There are a couple new faces, so at this point we are just trying to gel as a team making sure everything runs smoothly for when we arrive in Canada.

Practices have been going really well and the entire team has been working extremely hard. We have a few more practices to squeeze in some things that we will need to know to compete up north. We board the plane to Calgary Wednesday morning at 8 am. I'll be sure to keep y'all updated with daily blogs once we arrive as well as on my Twitter page. It's gonna be a fun and interesting experience for all of us. Until my next update, stay tuned..


Michael Dunn joined the Northern Arizona men’s basketball program in 2009 after starring at Chandler High School. He was a three-year letter winner that helped his team beat top-seeded Highland in the 5A State Championships, the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 in state history. He saw action in seven games for the Lumberjacks in his first season.