New York Institute of Technology (75) vs. Fordham (101) 11/14/16

#36 of 351

IMG_0422.JPGThe Rose Hill Gym is the oldest on-campus venue currently in use by a Division 1 club. Opened in 1925, the gym is surrounded by stone walls as if someone dropped a basketball court in the middle of a mid-evil courtyard. These are the kind of gyms that ooze character and history much like Yale’s Payne Whitney gym. I inserted a picture  above of some cathedral windows overlooking the court. The arena is very small and unimposing but it makes for great viewing of a basketball game.

So for the scary part! I did not do a thorough job of researching the Bronx neighborhood and the route from the train station to the gym. I read that it was a short walk. As I exited the train station, I saw the campus behind me. So I used WAZE to map the streets to the gym. The smart thing would have been to use Google Maps to map out a walk to the gym. So as I meandered down the first street, my heat beat quickened as I saw that I was not in friendly territory.  As I passed shuttered store fronts and loud music emanating from wherever, I quickened my pace to a very fast walk. I discretely kept looking at the phone without advertising myself as a tourist. I was picturing a gang of youths hanging out on the street corner ahead licking their chops at this target walking towards them. Nonetheless, I made the 10 minute walk in record time. Once inside the campus walls,  I felt safer. After the game, I opened up Google maps and found a walking path from the gym to the station within the campus. Lesson learned!

Inside the campus, I asked an older gentleman where the gym was. He gladly showed me and as we walked, we conversed about his old days at Fordham when he graduated in 1961. He showed me the green area where he played intramural sports. He was a pharmacy major who later became a lawyer. The workload forced him to drop out of the four major sports he was playing except for baseball. As we walked by buildings, he would describe each one. These are the moments that make it all fun – interacting with the older alumni who love their school.

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The crowd was very small which I am guessing was due to their Division 2 opponent. NYIT kept it close during the first half but the Fordham completely overran them in the second half.

I have noticed a roster pattern when you have a small Division 1 school fighting for recruits among the bigger schools in the area. This is the case with Fordham and the other borough schools. If you examine the Rams roster,  half of the players are from other countries. Fordham has players from Germany, Canada, Czech Republic and Turkey. I suppose it is important for coaches in these situations to have contacts overseas that may bring in a good but unknown player.

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My player of the game  was Ram Joseph Chartouny from Canada. He had 17 points and 14 assists. One could tell that Chartouny knew exactly what he wanted to do with the ball making the right decisions on whether to shoot or pass. He was selected on the preseason  first team for the A-10. Given UCONN’s troubles lately,  he would add immense value to their offense.

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The pep band was loud and raucous. The noise must be outrageous for a game with a rival given the small size of the gym.

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So I have two NYC teams down this year  and three to go. On to Chicago for a 5 day/ 3 game trip!

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Columbia (73) vs. Stony Brook (66) 11/11/2016

#35 of 351

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Welcome to the start of season 3 for Operation 351. My goals this year are to complete the New England states and the New York City teams. I will also be taking trips to Chicago, Mississippi, Maryland and D.C.

I toyed with the idea of taking the ferry from Bridgeport. But the $52 fare plus the possibility of missing the last boat  dissuaded me. So I drove the 2 1/2 hours from Connecticut instead. I had my usual pre game supper and beer at the  The Bench & Bar & Grill in Stony Brook. The bar was populated with a few fans excited for the new season. They will be disappointed tonight.

Stony Brook is coming off a big season winning the America East championship last year. Tonight they unfurled the championship banner in a pre-game ceremony. Unfortunately, their excellent coach from last year Steve Pikiell took the head coaching job at Rutgers as as result of his success. Jell Boals the long time assistant at Ohio State has taken the position of head coach at Stony Brook.

Columbia also has a first year coach in Jim Engles. He  returns to Columbia after spending the past eight years as head coach for the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

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I was very impressed with the Island Federal Credit Union arena as the home of the Seawolves. The school’s recent successes fuel a strong spirit in this sleepy little Long Island town. It is reflected in this new arena and student support during the games especially the loud and raucous pep band. Although I have to mention that there were many empty seats on this opening night which surprised me.

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Columbia surprisingly dominated most of the game until Stony Brook battled back in the second half to make the game close. The big basket at the end to give Columbia a safe margin was a double pump three point shot by Columbia guard Mike Smith leaving the crowd speechless.

I have to give shout outs to two Columbia players.

Mike Smith is a 5’10” freshman from Illinois that was quicker than anyone else on the court last night. Despite his small size, he penetrated with ease and hit some mid jumpers. He had 14 points for the night. Not the typical Ivy league player, he appears ready to make a name for himself in the years to come.

Luke Petrasek is a 6’10” junior who is as comfortable shooting a 3 pointer as he is posting inside. He scored 20 points despite playing only 22 minutes. I expect that Columbia will make some noise this year in the Ivy League.

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I believe that Stony Brook will have problems this year duplicating the success of last year. While that have some good fundamental players, their lack of size and quickness will come into play during the season. Perhaps they will need time adjusting to Beal’s coaching philosophy.

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I am thankful that the college basketball season has started after the horrendous UCONN football season. Till next time….

 

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