#34 of 315
This is the last game in Operation351 for this year. As I am running out of sites that are doable in one day, next year will bring more overnighters. I was hoping to get to 35 games this year maintaining an average of 35 games every 2 years. This will lead to a completion of Operation351 in 18 years with 2 years under my belt. I fell one short but am pretty satisfied with my progress. I have visited new cities and made new friends along they way. Next year, I have 5 arenas in NYC, University of New Hampshire and Northeastern to complete all the New England states and NYC.
I did not pick a very good game today with Rutgers having a very off year plus Minnesota being wracked with suspensions. Minnesota did not have one starter on the court from the beginning of the year. I can honestly say that the Gophers were the worst team that I saw this year. The Rutgers crowd were very happy to have a win irregardless of the circumstances.
I remember the RAC from the days when UCONN would have epic Big East battles here. It was a place to be feared. It was like I could almost hear the ghost voices of the raucous crowd that would create a very tough arena to win. Those days are gone with Rutgers occupying the bottom of the Big Ten. The crowd was relatively quiet and resigned to another losing season.
Well a first did happen here today. In my 34 games, I have never caught anything tossed into the crowd. Today, I caught a beer holder with the big “R” on it. Not sure if I would ever use it but it gave me hope for the future. Later that night at the UCONN hockey game, a T-shirt bounced off my crotch into the row in front and out of my reach. Life is full of ups and downs!
The RAC looked like a Big 10 arena but had the atmosphere of the Ohio Valley Conference. I think most fans are in a state of a shock on how poorly Rutgers has played this year. I was impressed by the play of sophomore guard Mike Williams who scored 29 points off an array of outside shooting and whirling layups. It is hard to tell how good he actually is against the Gophers porous defense but he looked impressive.
I was joined for this final game by my friend Andy who shares my craziness about sports. We followed this game by a ride to Hartford to see UCONN’s last hockey game this year. Our spouses just shake their head in amazement at our travels.
So my friends, I hope that you all have a great summer. God willing, I will back in November for season 3 of Operation351. Thanks for sharing this journey with me!