Christian Braun’s first taste of the NCAA Kansas tournament was unlike what most Jayhawks have been through before him.
Braun, who missed the opportunity to play in big dance in his first season due to the pandemic, is one of nine players on KU’s roster to enter the NCAA tournament routine for the first time.
While experience will have to change if they can get back to the event later in their career, Braun said Wednesday that things had been going well in Indianapolis up to that point.
“It’s definitely different,” said Braun. “You know, it’s just a different lifestyle for us to adapt to. I think the Big 12 tournament was a good warm-up for that. “
Not only does each Jayhawk eat prepackaged meals and follow strict rules about when to leave their room and when to meet and practice, but they have their own room throughout the team’s stay in Indianapolis.
For Braun, this meant spending a lot of time playing video games on his PlayStation and relaxing between exercises and meetings.
On Wednesday, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt shared a conference call to reporters about what other options the hundreds of athletes in Indianapolis have this week to reduce downtime.
These include trips to nearby Victory Park, home of the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, where badminton, cornhole and other court games are held.
Teams also have access to libraries and academic resource centers at each hotel and were greeted by a copy of the late John Thompson’s book in their rooms.
Gavitt also said trips to the Indianapolis Zoo and Top Golf are on the horizon for the teams that stay in Indianapolis the longest.
In addition to those who need to adjust in Indianapolis, some people who normally accompany their teams to the NCAA tournament – band members, cheerleaders, mascots, etc. – are nowhere to be found this week.
The NCAA has set the number of people allowed in each team’s travel company at 34, which means there is room for players, coaches, managers, coaches, some administrators, and little else.
While the management of the experience can be a great deal, both Braun and KU trainer Bill Self said on Wednesday that following the NCAA’s tournament guidelines is a small price to pay for the chance to compete for a championship.
“I hope we will experience what it is like to be here for a long time,” said Braun. “It will be different. For this reason, pack extra clothing. They are hoping for a run in March. That is everyone’s goal here. And we’re just focused on making a profit and staying here in the bubble for as long as possible. “
Despite the rules and restrictions, Braun said the KU’s first training sessions in Indianapolis were the same as they were for the entire season.
As the week progresses, the intensity and focus will increase. And Braun said the excitement accompanying his upcoming NCAA tournament debut exceeded all other emotions.
“The team we have are very excited to play,” he said. “We are all properly juiced. These are a lot of our first tournaments, so we’re looking forward to this first game. “
Self added when asked how concerned he was about the sanity of his players while living in the bubble:
“It’s not going to be easy, but I also think it’s not the hardest part. And if you are lucky enough to move forward, the sacrifices you will have to make to be here will be minimal compared to the reward. “