LOS ANGELES — Theyre surrounded by sand, surf, palm trees and Hollywood tourist attractions.
But the 15 guys who make up the Wichita State University basketball team havent really seen any of that during their stay in California.
The trip especially this trip, during which they have played their way into the NCAA Tournaments Elite Eight is pretty businesslike, they say.
Its a blur of practice, play, hotel rooms, eating, studying and lots and lots of time spent staring at footage of La Salle and now Ohio State playing basketball.
Its kind of all business, freshman guard Fred VanVleet said. After we win, then we get to celebrate a little.
So far, the guys said during locker room interviews on Friday afternoon, their trip to California has been pretty un-Hollywood-like if you dont count the parts where theyre all over television and being hounded by media for interviews and fans for autographs.
Except for games and practices, theyve been out of their hotel, the luxurious Omni in downtown Los Angeles, only twice: once to have dinner at The Palms steakhouse and once to have dinner at Lawrys.
They havent even seen the beach yet, though some hinted they might get the chance later Friday night.
Ive never been to California before, and now were in Los Angeles, said sophomore guard Evan Wessel of Wichita. Itd be nice to see the city, but theres a bigger thing were here for.
The superstructured scheduling is part of Coach Gregg Marshalls approach, said Chris Jans, the Shockers associate head coach. The method has worked for years, he said, so why change it?
It involves making days on the road as routine as possible, he said. The players arent distracted by much that would take their minds off what theyre there to do, and they know what to expect when they wake up on practice days and what to expect when they wake up on game days.
Sightseeing is not really on the agenda, Jans said, in part because the coaches dont want the players on their feet much when theyre not on the court.
Theres a lot of film watching, he said. And theres a lot of eating. It sometimes seems like all we do is eat and watch film.
But that doesnt mean that the Shockers never have fun.
They watch SportsCenter in each others hotel rooms. They play video games mostly Call of Duty. They bond over music, their shared religious beliefs and on-the-road study halls in hotel conference rooms with Miss Gretchen, their traveling academic adviser.
Most important, the guys said, is that during the hours and minutes stuffed in between basketball, they spend a lot of time laughing.
The main supplier of the goofiness, they all said, is senior forward Carl Hall, the Shocker who stole headlines in Salt Lake City for suddenly shearing his signature dreadlocks.
Hall is known for hilarity and for never giving his friend and roommate on the road freshman Derail Green a break. Hes the one who will stuff a banana into a sleeping teammates mouth on the bus.
Carl is the funniest dude Ive ever met in my life, said Chadrack Lufile, who cant keep from laughing just talking about Hall.
Hall also can take what he dishes out, Lufile said. He gets it right back from his teammates, who have been giving him unending grief about the sudden appearance of his ears now that his hair is short.
Despite their success, especially recently, the players are down-to-earth guys who know theyre not in Los Angeles to see the Hollywood sign or hunt for celebrity mansions, said Blake Peniston, one of the student team managers. He spends as much time with the players as they do with each other.
Everyone thinks theyre big time or too good for people, he said. But theyre just normal guys. Theyre normal kids.