What's normally a simple four-hour drive turned into a two-day journey after blinding snow caused the team’s driver to pull to the side of Interstate 57 and the bus got stuck in the snow during the wait. Southern Illinois remained stranded at that spot deep into the night with the highway closed and authorities too busy dealing with life-threatening situations to help.
Once a tow truck finally arrived to free the stranded Salukis 5 1/2 hours after they first got stuck, the adventure still was far from over. No hotels were available in the nearest towns and the roads were still too unsafe to drive back to Carbondale, so Southern Illinois slept on the floor of a church in Tuscola, Ill.
The interminable bus trip adds to the misery Southern Illinois has endured this season. Not only are the Salukis off to a 4-11 start and likely to finish in the bottom three of the Missouri Valley Conference for the fifth year in a row, they also became a national story in December because of coach Barry Hinson's infamous rant bemoaning his team's poor play.
About the only silver lining to Sunday's journey was that members of the team were safe and able to find humor in the situation. In chronological order, here's a look at the best tweets from the bus ride.
Head manager Mark Morrissey: "In Dale we trust to get us back to Carbondale through this snow storm."
Undergraduate assistant coach Josh Swan: " So the interstate is closed, yet we're still stuck 3 feet off the road with no help close to Champaign? Definitely stranded."
Guard Tyler SmithPeters: UPDATE: We are in the same exact spot. Have not seen one car pass by the past hour
Head manager Mark Morrissey: "It is beyond me how the state police will not allow someone to come help us.
Head manager Mark Morrissey: "S.O.S."
Undergraduate assistant coach Josh Swan: "If anybody REALLY cares about us, they would bring us some food... And a pillow for my head. The cold window is only so comforting."
Forward Bronson Verhines: UPDATE: a few whispers of cannibalism as the night grows darker
Guard Jalen Pendleton: "Tow truck just got here!!!! Turn tf up!!!!"
Guard Tyler SmithPeters: "TOW TRUCK JUST GOT HERE. NO MORE STRUGGLE BUS!!"
Guard Tyler SmithPeters: Definitely have to say this is a first.
Forward Davante Drinkard: I'm gonna find a way to help a couple of these kids in this church before we leave.
Guard Mike Balogun: "It's all fun and games until you sleeping between Sean and a crucifix."
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