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Surf's Up for Neal, Sooners in Maui
November 19, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. - Following 12 hours of travel, the Oklahoma men's basketball team arrived in Lahaina, Hawaii, Friday afternoon for the eight-team EA SPORTS Maui Invitational. 

A one-hour practice at Lahaina Civic Center, site of the tournament, was the first order of business on Friday.  A second practice was held on Saturday before members of the team hit the hotel pool and the beach for some fun in the sun. 

The Sooners attended a tournament dinner Saturday evening that featured a video game contest.  David Godbold and Longar Longar represented OU but were eliminated in the first round.  Godbold and several Sooners maintain his defeat was the largely the result of a faulty gaming unit.

 Saturday Photos |  Practice Photos | Game Preview  

The Sooners play 13th-ranked Memphis on Monday at 1:30 p.m. CST (9:30 a.m. Hawaii time) and will also play games on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Keep reading below for senior Michael Neal's day-by-day recap and trip insights.

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VIDEO CLIPS
 OU Arrives in Maui
 Friday Night Practice
 Fun at the Pool
 Austin Johnson Boogie Boards
 Saturday morning practice

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MICHAEL NEAL'S DAY-BY-DAY TRIP LOG

Friday, Nov. 17
We left Lloyd Noble Center at 6:30 in the morning.  First things first - we had to let the freshmen know where they sit on the bus.  All the returning players picked their seats and then the freshmen had to kind of fill in after that.

This is our first road trip of the year and it was kind of weird not seeing Coach Sampson up there in the front of the bus.  We were in the back of the bus talking about how everything is going to be different this year and we were talking about how nobody had ever been to Hawaii.  And of course we were making fun of each other.

We got on the plane and flew from Oklahoma City to Phoenix.  The flight was more than two hours and we got kind of bored.  Some of us started pulling pranks to kill some time.  A.J. (Austin Johnson) started it off.  Beau Gerber was sleeping with his mouth wide open so A.J. got some ice chips and put them in his mouth.  Beau kind of woke up but not all the way, and he ate the chips and fell back asleep.  Everybody was cracking up laughing.  Then A.J. did it again and Beau woke up and was mad at everybody.  He turned around and spit the ice right on Taylor.  Then Longar got in on the action and was doing stuff to people.

Finally Longar fell asleep so Beau rolled up a tissue and stuck it straight up Longar's nose pretty hard.  He woke up real quick and was like, "Man, you could have broken my nose!"  I was dying laughing. 

From Phoenix, we flew six hours to Maui.  Man, six hours.  On the bus from the airport to the hotel we were in the back goofin' around.  Nate Carter was making a beat with his mouth and everybody started rhyming and rapping, or free-stylin' as we call it.  We always make fun of Taylor (Griffin) because he can't do it.

I'd have to say I'm the best free-styler.  Moose (Keith Clark) and I are the best.  G-Bo (David Godbold) is good and Chris Walker can free-style.  Bobby Maze is up there too.  He's nice.  After that, everybody just kind of gets in there a little bit.

A lot of times we'll make fun of the coaches just a little.  For instance, we might talk about Coach (Rod) Barnes.  Someone will do an impression and talk about how he's an old school coach.  And then Godbold left a message on Longar's phone pretending to be Coach (Ben) Betts.  He said, "Longar...we know you had a good game...but you need to come up here and watch some film...we noticed you were acting cocky," and stuff like that.  That's not something Coach Betts would say but Longar was believing it and so finally Godbold had to come clean.  So that was pretty funny.


Saturday, Nov. 18
We woke up this morning and our football team's game against Baylor came on TV at 7 o'clock.  I watched it with Bobby Maze, my roommate this trip.  He was talking about how his boy Chris Brown was finally getting some playing time.  He was jumping on the bandwagon whenever they were doing something good and then jumping off whenever they would fumble or something.  He was non-stop talking the whole game.

After practice we went swimming and got a little crazy by the pool.  We were jumping off the side of the pool and catching the mini football and playing 500 and stuff.  It was good to just go have fun and get our minds off things for a while.

At night, we had a tournament dinner for all eight teams in this big grassy area by the beach.  At the end of the dinner, we had a basketball video game competition against Memphis.  Longar and Godbold played two separate games for us.  The Memphis players were talking so much junk.  I don't think they realized how much it made us mad.  It made us look forward to Monday's game even more.

The Oklahoma team on the video game was rated a C-plus and Memphis was rated an A-minus.  So obviously the A-minus team is going to do better than a C-plus team.  In Godbold's game, he was up 13-6 at halftime but then the game froze and they had to restart it.  They played the first half of the new game as the second half and it messed G-Bo up.  If the game wouldn't have frozen, G-Bo already had his momentum and pretty much would have just had to stall in order to get the W.  But he had to try to regain his momentum after the delay and he eventually got beat in overtime.

Longar disappointed us.  He was talking all that mess about how good he is and then he got smacked.  He embarrassed us.  That's all right, though.  It was still fun.


Sunday, Nov. 19
The players were talking today at the table about the game against Memphis.  Nobody expects us to win so we've got a chip on our shoulders.  Our mindset is to go out and prove something.

We're a lot closer as players this year than we were last year.  Everybody will say what's on their mind, what we need to do to win and stuff like that.  We feel confident.

With me missing those first two games, I'm anxious to get out there and play.  It's kind of like last year all over again.  I remember how excited I was to play my first Division I game.

I was thinking about how it may have been a blessing in disguise with me missing those first two games.  Tony Crocker got a chance to play more than he probably would have and he played really well.  Now he has more confidence and I think he's going to do well on Monday too.

That gym we're going to play in - the Lahaina Civic Center - man, we were stretching at the beginning of practice and I was sweating.  I mean like soaking wet.  It was hot in there and that was in the morning.

But I like those rims.  Everybody was talking about how soft they are.  I think we're going to have a good shooting day.

This place is so nice.  The weather is like perfect in Maui.  It's beautiful.  And then you get to play basketball here on top of that?  I grew up watching this tournament on TV all the time and now I'm here playing in it.  I feel fortunate.  I think we all do.  We're anxious to get out there and start playing.   

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