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NCAA provides plane too small for IU, causes lengthy delay to Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (WISH) — Just over nine hours following its win over Wyoming in the NCAA Tournament’s First Four Round in Dayton, Ohio, the Indiana University men’s basketball team touched down in Portland, Oregon with another NCAA Tournament game now less than 36 hours away.

The Hoosiers 66-58 victory was complete in Dayton at 11:45 p.m. EST Tuesday, with the plan of an immediate four-and-a-half hour flight to Portland scheduled for takeoff 1:30 a.m.

News 8 Sports has learned that the plane provided to Indiana University by the NCAA was too small to fit its team and traveling party. In addition to this issue, a member of the assigned flight crew was an hour late to arrive.

After having to board a second plane, the team eventually departed Dayton at 4 a.m. EST, landing in Portland at 5:55 a.m. PST.

Once onboard the second plane, Indiana was still unable to fit all of its luggage for its traveling party. It remains unclear if all of the school band’s instruments made it on the plane.

“We got on that plane, we were there, and then they’re like ‘hour delay,’” Indiana junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said. “So, we’re like, all right. We were enjoying the win, and then we had to switch planes, and two hours later, we are taking off.”

Jackson-Davis added: “Slept a little bit on the plane, but it was bumpy. And getting here, and then the bus ride was 30 minutes to the hotel. So, by that time, I was like, ‘Can we please just get here?’ We finally got to the hotel room, and I probably fell asleep in three minutes.”

Indiana head coach Mike Woodson says it was like an experience from his past.

“All I can do is relate to the NBA when we made the championship run in Detroit,” Woodson said. “It’s a grind, man. I’ve always said, only the strong will survive. That Detroit team, man, we were so battle tested throughout the playoffs; they just refused to be tired because they was chasing that title.”

Woodson says there’s no room for his players to be tired.

“I think the teams — when you look at all the good teams in March Madness, everybody wants to win a title. So, really, there is no room to be tired,” Woodson said. “I mean, you know, yeah, we had a long flight. I get it. Took us a while to get here. But we got here safely. And, you know, this is what we signed up for. We’re here to try to win a game, see if we can advance. I don’t want to go home, and I hope these guys feel the same way.” 

Upon their arrival at the team hotel, Indiana Athletic Director Scott Dolson was unable to comment on the matter at that time.

On Wednesday morning, Indiana fans were outraged on social media that the team drew the farthest possible tournament location following its late-night win in Dayton.

On Thursday at 7:20 p.m., (12) Indiana will meet (5) Saint Mary’s in what will be its fifth game over an eight-day span dating back to the start of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, Saint Mary’s took a one-and-a-half hour flight north from San Francisco Tuesday, in the midst of an eight day rest period from game action.

The NCAA sent the following statement Wednesday night:

“Unfortunately, a crew member was late arriving for Indiana’s men’s basketball team flight from Dayton to Portland, and weight limitations would have required a fuel stop, which could not be arranged at that late hour. We were able to get the travel party and their equipment assigned to a larger aircraft to minimize the delay, and the team arrived safely to Portland early Wednesday morning. We apologize to IU for the inconvenience and give special thanks to Athletics Director Scott Dolson and Coach Mike Woodson for their understanding and patience throughout the evening.