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Merch Madness
JMU at practice at Oklahoma State on SaturdayCourtesy: Cathy Kushner/JMU Athletics Communications
On the Road to the WNIT Final with Women's Basketball
Courtesy:JMUSports.com Release:03/30/2012
The Dukes were on the move Friday, flying from Harrisonburg to Stillwater, Okla., for Saturday's WNIT championship game against Oklahoma State.  After five straight wins in the JMU Convocation Center, the Dukes are playing the WNIT final on the road.

Fans and the JMU pep band gathered for an early morning sendoff for the team at the JMU Convocation Center.  The "best band in the land" helped set the tone for an energetic goodbye, playing some their greatest hits (including "Start Wearing Purple" not once, but twice) as the Dukes prepared to board the team bus for the short trip to Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport.

JMU's flight arrived in Stillwater in mid-afternoon.  The city of some 46,000 is 60 miles from Oklahoma City and located in "Tornado Alley."  Like Harrisonburg, it's unseasonably warm, with temperatures were in the 80s, but fortunately -- no sign of tornadoes!

The Dukes are traveling a bit like rock starts.  JMU's team bus is outfitted with couches and tables and has several TVs, a bathroom and several beds.  It was formerly used by the rapper Eminem!

You know you're not in Harrisonburg any more when you pass the Oklahoma State rodeo arena.  Not a sport you'll see in the East!

Legend has it that local Native American Indian tribes called the local creek "Stillwater" because the water didn't appear to move.

Oklahoma State is a land grant college, formerly known as Oklahoma A&M.  Although the school's current nickname is Cowboys and Cowgirls, they used to be called the Aggies.

The OSU basketball facility, Gallagher-Iba Arena, is a sea of orange seats.  Expect a bevy of orange-clad Cowgirl fans to support Oklahoma State in its game against the Dukes on Saturday.  The Dukes' purple road uniforms should be easy to spot in the orange glow of the arena, which seats 13,611.

Stillwater is home to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, located next to Gallagher-Iba Arena.  The arena, which opened in 1938, is named in honor of Ed Gallagher, who coached wrestling from 1916-40, and longtime basketball coach Henry Iba, known as "the Iron Duke of Defense."  Iba coached OSU to NCAA titles in 1945 and 1946.

The WNIT championship game will be carried on CBS Sports Network at 3 p.m. ET Saturday.  Viewers should look for a televised interview with the Dukes' Nikki Newman at the first official timeout of the game. 

The play-by-play announcer for Saturday's game is Thad Anderson, and the color commentator is Colorado Associate Athletics Director Ceal Barry, former longtime Buffs basketball coach.  Barry was a member of the Kentucky team that played in the AIAW Region II Tournament in JMU's Godwin Hall in 1974.

JMU President Linwood Rose and his wife, Judith, are accompanying the team on its trip to the WNIT.  Others traveling with the Dukes include JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne and former JMU Director of Athletics Dean Ehlers and his wife, Joanne, along with the JMU cheerleaders.

John Salem of Telemedia Productions is sending video of the Dukes' trip to WHSV Channel 3 in Harrisonburg, so watch for footage of the team's trip there.  Look for photos of the Dukes in a photo album attached to this article, courtesy of JMU Athletics photographer Cathy Kushner.

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