8:15 a.m.: Dressed in a black suit with a dark blue shirt and tie, Myles Powell waits to catch a train. It’s an early Thursday morning at the South Orange train station. A cold wind blows a paper bag over the tracks.
Powell, along with his Seton Hall teammates Myles Cale and Mike Nzei, are heading into Madison Square Garden. However, the Pirates will not be taking the court in shorts and sneakers, but belts and dress shoes. The trio is set to attend Big East Basketball Media Day.
8:33 a.m.: Powell stands on the train, his back leaned up against the vertical pole like a subway veteran. Surrounding him on the packed New Jersey Transit train are other commuters heading into their jobs for a long day’s work. Unbeknownst to them, Powell has just been named to the Preseason All-Big East Second Team, the first such nomination for his career.
Outside the window passes by scenery of tall grasses and weeds. Painted in the background are warehouses and parking lots that fill in the space in the distance.
9:04 a.m.: Powell, Cale, and Nzei make the trek from the subway in Penn Station to the Mecca of basketball that lay above. The morning rush of people flood the halls while the sights and sounds of the busy station overwhelm the senses.
Once through security, the guys make their way to the court where it looks a little different than last time when the Pirates played in Big East Tournament. Powell struts his way through the red carpet that leads into the world’s most famous arena.
“I got the chills looking around, I’m like, ‘Wow’. I looked at Myles [Cale] and was like we really have this place packed. There’s nothing like Madison Square Garden. This is the best stage of basketball. It’s beautiful,” Powell said.
The large scoreboard that hangs from the rafters next to the accomplishments of legends past has been lowered near court-level for the day’s activities. Tables on platforms are set up where seats would usually be placed. Cameras line the far end of the court for the photo shoots that will take place later in the day. A makeshift TV studio for anchors John Fanta and Andy Katz replaces the home team’s bench.
“It’s definitely a different setup. Usually we’re on the floor but, seeing it from this side is definitely different,” Cale said. “The screen is a lot bigger than I thought, it’s crazy how big it is.”
10:15 a.m.: With the three players settled in their seats, the media rush begins. Reporters from both local and national publications gather in front of the designated tables for each Big East Team and begin to fire questions at each player.
Some reporters hold a voice recorder while others film video on their phone. Still others take scribbled notes on tattered paper while camera flashes pop off in the distance.
“It’s great. All the lights and cameras everywhere, it’s a great experience,” Powell said. “It makes you feel like you’re wanted and you’re loved. It’s a good vibe.”
Powell, who is expected to step up as a leader with the other four starters departing from last year’s squad, fields questions about his new role. Nzei, the lone senior on the team, talks about what he expects from his last go around. Cale, a sophomore who showed promise during his freshman campaign, explains how his game has expanded over the offseason.
“It’s very busy, but I like it. I like answering questions and listening to what people think about us and seeing what the polls say. I like it a lot, being here with these guys is real fun,” Cale said.
11:47 a.m.: Once the media wave runs dry, the players head over to the photo shoot. Powell and Cale show off their suits while Nzei gets his close up taken on the side. The friends joke together as each pose request from the photographers gets more and more outrageous than the next.
12:27 p.m.: The men’s portion of Big East Media Day has concluded and the trio heads back underground to return to South Orange. The train is less crowded and the guys can rest after the media frenzy that occurred in a little over two hours.
6:12 p.m.: People begin to file in Walsh Gymnasium for the Pirate Blue Beefsteak Tip-Off Dinner. Powell is joined by the rest of his teammates as the Pirates welcome Pirate Blue members for a nightcap to a busy day.
“Our fans, they always give to us and always support us. It doesn’t take much just to show other people love and show them we’re thankful for them,” Powell said.
Nick Santoriello can be reached at nicholas.santoriello@student..shu.edu or on Twitter @NicholasSantoriello.