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Welcome Aboard Our Bus
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 12/08/2011

Dec. 8, 2011

STANFORD, Calif.- Consistency and organization are key components for any successful athletics program, reflected in everything from detailed practice plans to minute-by-minute itineraries.

Establishing a routine is extremely important for coaches and student-athletes, who quickly become creatures of habit.

Team travel is a perfect example. It may seem insignificant, but something as simple as seat assignments on a bus, can be considered both standard and superstitious at the same time.

Like most athletic teams at Stanford, and thousands around the country, for that matter, the men's basketball team sticks to a consistent seating arrangement inside its bus. The travel party is essentially made up of four key "groups". Here's a quick glance.


Jeff LaMere, the program's Assistant A.D./Director of Operations is stationed in the first seat behind the bus driver. Responsible for all operational aspects of the program, LaMere remains in constant communication with the driver while ensuring the Cardinal successfully arrives at its destination. LaMere's distribution of per diem makes him the most popular figure on the bus, as players eagerly await his walk down the main aisle. To his right is assistant coach Charles Payne, whose front-row seat allows him to assist LaMere or converse with a key decision-maker sitting directly behind: head coach Johnny Dawkins. Stationed next to Dawkins is associate head coach Dick Davey, with the duo discussing all things basketball at nearly every opportunity. One row behind on the right side is assistant coach Mike Schrage, whose ties with Dawkins span almost 15 years when the two coached together at Duke. The seat behind Davey is occupied by video/recruiting assistant Brian Eskildsen, deftly swapping hard drives from multiple laptops while ready to cue up game film at a moment's notice.

Assistant A.D./Director of Operations Jeff LaMere says:
"After the game while on the bus, the coaches will usually be watching film and making notes. We'll also be clipping video that we can show to the players the next day prior to practice. Because the staff is grouped together, it often brings up discussion, where we can cover everything from game strategy to what the schedule should look like the next day. Having all the coaches close together helps us be more efficient and is critical when making decisions. It's especially helpful in watching film, with portable technology and considering all of our video is digital."

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The second group of the travel party is made up of support staff, with athletic trainer Tomoo Yamada on the left side of the first row. The longest-tenured staff member of the program with eight years under his belt, Yamada is able to easily relay injury reports to the coaches and skilled enough to tape 16 athletes in the smallest of spaces. To his right is sports performance coach Juan Pablo Reggiardo, armed with a never-ending supply of Gatorade, bottled water, fruit and protein bars. As the bus arrives at the hotel, Reggiardo is likely on the line with the front desk coordinating the menu for pregame meal. Directly behind Reggiardo is assistant communications/media relations director Brian Risso, whose central positioning allows him the flexibility to interact with coaches or players in a pinch to facilitate an interview. Frederick Alexander, the team's Director of External Relations/Student-Services is across the way, providing additional support to the staff. Radio announcers John Platz (play-by-play) and Drew Shiller (analyst)- both of whom once rode the same bus as former players- occasionally can be spotted on road trips. Student managers Anthony Clarke, Dominic Delfino, Brandon Jackson and Qihan Li split the trips, and serve as the hardest-working members onboard aside from the bus driver.

Manager Anthony Clarke says:
"We are an intermediary between the coaches, support staff and the players. A lot of it is mostly relationship-based, and I think through those relationships, you can anticipate what needs to be done. Whether it be accounting for any players who may have trouble being punctual, or if a coach needs something in particular while on the bus. Something as simple as passing out the postgame meal quickly helps us get to the hotel and rest. We've also set up film on the bus. It's the ability to stay on your toes and be prepared for anything."

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Underclassmen account for 10 of Stanford's 16 roster spots, so this next group comprises several of the next few rows. Individual seating spots may change slightly from one trip to the next, but freshmen and sophomores are definitely next in line. There's great chemistry among the team overall, and perhaps even more so among the seven sophomores, who bring a certain energy level to general bus discussion. Walk-ons Jack Ryan and Wade Morgan hold down spots up toward the front, along with true freshman Chasson Randle. After that, you're looking at any combination of second-year players Aaron Bright, Anthony Brown, John Gage, Josh Huestis, Robbie Lemons, Stefan Nastic and Dwight Powell.

Freshman Chasson Randle says:
"Well, I'm usually the last one on the bus. So I do stay up front. Although, I'm not afraid of moving to the back either (laughs). Guys like Jack (Ryan) and Wade (Morgan) usually sit up at front. I don't think they want to go back there and mingle with the big guys."

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Entitled to their space and preferred seating status, the juniors and seniors traditionally hold court at the back of the bus. Now making the transition to upperclassmen, Andy Brown and Gabriel Harris find themselves further away from the front in 2011-12. Stanford's four seniors of Jarrett Mann, Josh Owens, Jack Trotter and Andrew Zimmermann also serve as the team captains, and the quartet occupies the last few rows of the bus. Owens and Mann regularly take advantage of their back-seat status, which can come in handy when studying, sleeping or listening to a pregame music mix. All of which are easier to do when you nobody is sitting behind you.

Senior Josh Owens says:
"Yes, it's something that is kind of earned. I just sort of migrated back there over the years, first sitting around guys like Landry (Fields) or Jarrett (Mann) in some of the earlier years. Eventually that became my spot. Every time I get on the bus, it's the same seat. Some of the younger guys will sometimes switch seats among themselves. But everybody knows that's my seat."

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- Brian Risso, Athletics Communications/Media Relations



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