Monday morning, a few hours before the top-ranked UConn women's basketball team practiced for tonight's Elite Eight game against Florida State, Maya Moore, the team's top scholar, was planning to write an obituary. The obit wasn't about Florida State, mind you. That would be too presumptuous, even for the best player on a team that has won 75 consecutive games by double-digits.
"My journalism class is a lot of work," Moore said. "I have to write a news story for it and they have supplied us with pages and pages of information about a real person's life, so we can write [the obituary]."
The NCAA Tournament is not all basketball. It is also about discovering ways to maintain normalcy, especially when it comes to their real-life existence as a student-athlete.
"I love the travel, don't get me wrong," sophomore Tiffany Hayes said. "I love to see different places, be around my teammates. But we're missing a lot of class and having to make up exams is tough. It can wear on you. You need to be on top of your game.
"And the Internet at our hotel isn't the best; it's been tough to get some things done."
Each day, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon, study halls of between 90 minutes and two hours are scheduled for the players, managers, band members and cheerleaders.
"Just dealing with the increased amount of communication you need to have with professors at this time of year can be difficult," said Moore, a scholastic All-American with a GPA of over 3.7. "Not being at school, and knowing you don't have all the resources at your disposal that you usually do, is tough."
The players sometimes must conduct delicate negotiations with their professors, some of whom might not be as understanding about this basketball stuff.
"It's different than high school; professors aren't coming after you to remind you want needs to be done," Hayes said. "You have to be the aggressive one, tell [the professors] you need more time; remind them you may be missing some things.
"Sometimes we need the help of our athletic adviser to help convince the professors who may not believe you or be willing to cut you any slack. Most of mine understand."
Hayes said that one professor agreed to allow her to e-mail a paper back to Storrs and arrange to make up an exam.
"People don't see that part of our lives or really know what it takes to be student-athlete," Hayes said.
What's certain is the experience of living on the road, out of a suitcase potentially for three weeks, can teach a valuable lesson.
"It's a different kind of life for us in that there are fewer distractions than there would be on campus," sophomore Caroline Doty said.
"It's a different world, one that not a lot of people get to experience, one that I don't mind living in. I mean, there is always an itinerary of things that we need to do. But I'm sure this will help us later on get adjusted to life after basketball.
"And it's nice to be around your teammates in a different kind of setting."
Now in her fifth season of traveling the NCAA globe with UConn, senior Kalana Greene admits that as hard as it can be, there is no other life she'd rather be living.
"There's not even enough time between the rounds do laundry," Greene said. "Sometimes you want to be home and sleep in your own bed. But who can't fight through three weeks for something you really want?
"I bet every player in America who is home is saying, 'I wish I was where UConn is?'"Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times