You think George Clooney racks up the miles in Up in the Air? He's a shut-in compared to the Arkansas--Pine Bluff men's basketball team. The Golden Lions' first 11 games were road dates—all defeats. They also were to play their first three SWAC matchups away from Pine Bluff. Before starting conference play, the team (2--11 at week's end) visited 10 states and traveled approximately 16,260 miles (map), battling the likes of Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech and Missouri. One dividend: The Golden Lions' strength-of-schedule rating was the toughest in the nation, according to the website kenpom.com.
The low point for players like guard-forward Stephan Collins (left) was a bus ride. The team departed Pine Bluff on Dec. 3 at 11 a.m. and did not pull into Ann Arbor, Mich., until 5 p.m. the following day. Less than 24 hours later the Golden Lions fell to the Wolverines 67--53, then got back on the bus for the 30-hour return trip. Coach George Ivory predicted that "when we get into conference play, there is nothing that we aren't going to be prepared for." They'll certainly know how to pack a suitcase.