LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles traffic has had its toll on the Gonzaga Bulldogs since they arrived on Tuesday for the NCAA Tournament West Regional.
The Zags landed in LA Tuesday at about 5:30 p.m. – prime commute hour that is not as friendly to the people in southern California as it is to those in Spokane.
A bus ride from the airport to the Weston Bonaventure, where the Zags are staying this week, is not more than 30 minutes when traffic is light. But in LA commute, they were expecting the trip to be at least twice as long.
So Gonzaga officials called in a favor and asked a few of the local men and women in blue for some assistance.
A handful of police officers came to the rescue and met the Zags at the airport just after 6 p.m. They gave the team a quick escort through the city to the hotel just 10 minutes down the road from Staples Center.
“Those guys were big-time,” athletic director Mike Roth said about the police officers. “I bet that would have taken us over an hour to get in and it probably took 20 minutes. They literally made everybody go over (to the side) and stop.
“And they (the police) had fun. You could tell they were having a blast.”
It was just as much fun for the players, who have had the pleasure of a police escort from airports a few other times throughout the years.
“It was going to take us like an hour, so looking up and seeing the red and blue lights was a good feeling,” guard Josh Perkins said on Wednesday.
Gonzaga’s travel issues in LA were stretched into Wednesday when the Zags were late to interviews at the Staples Center. The bus that was set to pick up the team at the hotel got a flat before the team left for the arena, putting the trip on hold until Gonzaga officials were able to get a new bus.
Officials even attempted to get a few of the starting five to the arena by taxi while the others waited for a replacement bus, but traffic surrounding the arena was holding up the taxis for just as long.
The Zags finally arrived about 20 minutes later than scheduled and barely got settled into the locker room before the doors opened for the media.
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