The Southern Illinois men's basketball team is feeling the effects of the massive snowstorm making its way through the country.
According to SIU athletic director Mario Moccia, via ESPN's Andy Katz, the team's bus got stranded for more than five hours on Interstate 57 on its way home following a 66-48 loss to Illinois State on Sunday.
About two hours from the university in Carbondale, the bus driver pulled over to the side of the road because of blinding snow. When the highway cleared, he attempted to resume the drive but the bus was stuck off the side of the road. To make matters worse, the highway was shut down, halting any immediate attempt of receiving help from a tow truck.
Team manager Mark Morrissey provided a picture of the scene:
Updates From Monday, Jan. 6
It appears as if the squad may be able to sleep in a bed tonight after all, according to Southern Illinois' newspaper, The Daily Egyptian:
SIU mens basketball team is being wenched out of the snow by Reynold's Towing of Champaign and intends to drive to the nearest hotel.— Daily Egyptian (@dailyegyptian) January 6, 2014
Just before 1 a.m. ET, Morrissey had some happy news to report:
Back on the road— Mark Morrissey (@markmorrissey26) January 6, 2014
The Associated Press had more on SIU's night, reporting that the team spent the night in a local church:
Southern Illinois' men's basketball team is heading back to campus after spending the night on the floor of a central Illinois church.
The Salukis were on their way home to Carbondale following Sunday's 66-48 loss at Illinois State when their bus got stuck in snowdrifts on Interstate 57.
A tow truck pulled the bus from the side the road around midnight — hours after they first ended up on the side of the road — and the roughly two dozen players and staff members spent the night sleeping in a Tuscola church.
---End of update---
Fortunately, it sounds as though the players are doing just fine aboard the bus.
"They're warm," Moccia said. "They've got enough gas and food on the bus. The worst-case scenario is they will be there until the highway opens. They'll have to wait for a tow truck to pull them out."
Junior guard Dawson Verhines echoed that statement, taking to Twitter to talk about his team's predicament:
@KellyBurkeSprts still stuck. They're saying tow truck could be few more hours but we're warm and safe!— Dawson Verhines (@dverhines24) January 6, 2014
@KellyBurkeSprts we're perfectly fine so no worries. Good team bonding!— Dawson Verhines (@dverhines24) January 6, 2014
This is a potentially scary situation with such icy-cold temperatures. According to Google, the weather in Champaign, Ill., is projected to drop below zero degrees overnight.
Still, it's good to hear that everyone is warm, and it's even better to see members aboard the bus are tweeting and seemingly in good spirits despite such unfortunate conditions.
When it's all said and done, hopefully this will be nothing more than a bonding experience for the team.
Per the ESPN report, head coach Barry Hinson and assistant coaches Terrance McGee and Tom Hankins are not on the bus, as they stayed behind to recruit.