Quinnipiac (76) vs. Monmouth (95) 01/28/17

#44 of 351    12% complete

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After a 2 hour and 50 minute ride, I have decided that is my limit for driving to a game without staying overnight. I was there early and got a chance to peruse the college store. It brought back memories of when my children attended college and looking for cool stuff to wear. On display was a T-shirt displaying the various theatrical displays from the Monmouth bench. Some examples are the “Heart Attack”, “The Trophy Fish” and the “Human Scissors”. They occurred when a teammate made a three point shot or a spectacular play. I did not see any of those displays during tonight’s game which I may have missed but I was actually watching the game.

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Monmouth’s offensive capabilities were on full display tonight. They are a tremendous three point shooting team that scores frequently at least 80 points a night. They were led by senior guard 5’8″ Justin Robinson who is super quick driving the paint or pulling up for a jumper. Micah Seaborn also contributed heavily with his three point shooting. I could see them doing some damage in March but their lack of a post game will limit their chances.

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I was impressed by the size of the crown and their enthusiasm. They have a 17-5 record and are currently in first place in the MAAC. There is so much disparity in facilities between the mid major schools. Some remind you of your old high school gym and others make you wonder how could they afford the modern arena and trappings. Monmouth is in the latter category. For a small school, everything was top notch.

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Did you every sit next to a guy that jumps up and complains about every call against his beloved home team? I had one next to me last night. It got to the point where everyone in the area was laughing when he did his complaining. As I said before, there is a bit of Americana at each game I see.

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My player of the game is freshman Peter Kiss from Quinnipiac. He scored 22 points and was surprisingly poised for a freshman. He made some athletic moves and was a great ball handler for his 6′ 5″ size. Coach Moore has a gem in this kid and should be fun to watch over the next four years. Quinnipiac did not have enough fire power to keep up with the run and gun of Monmouth’s offense.

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Binghamton (65) vs. Albany (84) 01/19/17

#43 of 351    12% complete

 

 

This is my second 2 1/2 hour trip to Albany in 2 weeks. There is a marked contrast between the Siena arena and the University of Albany arena. The Times Union Center used by Siena was located downtown in a not too friendly looking part of town. Let’s just say it was a quick walk from the parking garage to the arena. The SEFCU arena used by Albany is on their campus and located in a suburban area marked by shopping centers and malls. I was surprised since Albany is part of the SUNY system (public) and expected that its campus would be less distinctive but I was wrong. The Albany campus was green and wide open. I had wished the  Albany game was during the day so I could take a look around.

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I have a complaint about the SEFCU scoreboards. Nowhere to be found was a point total by an individual player. There was some hot shooting for Albany and it would have been interesting to see the running total for certain players. The corners of the arena were filled with a huge TV broadcasting the game. Nice but useless in my opinion. This arena wins the prize for the most boring scoreboard.

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It seems that every mid major has a small point guard from the Chicago area. Tonight was Albany guard David Nichols who lit up the floor for 25 points. So another pet peeve –  can you list the player’s height in the program? I am guessing that Nichols was 6 foot. He was quick and had the mid jumper on fire. I was also impressed with sophomore Joe Cremo who was the freshman of the year last year in the America East. I appreciate guys who have an high basketball IQ. Cremo was also very hot but always distributed the ball at the right time.

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Binghamtom wins the prizes for the most appearances to date in Operation 351 – 3 so far. They were all away games for Binghamton. Their home game will require an overnighter along with Buffalo, Syracuse, St. Bonaventure and Cansisus. I am hoping to do Cornell and Colgate in separate one day  trips thus completing New York State.

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A special shout out to the Albany uniform. It was a combination of purple and gold. A very cool combination! Plus as a dog lover, the statue of the Great Dane in the arena was neat to see.

Albany completely outplayed Binghamton from the opening bell. I am surprised that they are only 11-9 for the year. They had some good shooters and played great defense. I expect them to make noise in the America East tournament.  Perhaps we will see them in March.

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BORING!

 

Binghamton (66) vs. New Hampshire (73) 1/14/17

#42 of 351    12% complete

 

The University of New Hampshire campus reminded me of UCONN in the seventies. As one drives by the dairy farms, veterinary clinics and horse stalls, I was reminded of the epic Yankee Conference battles between New Hampshire and UCONN in the late 60’s. UCONN and UNH have gone opposite ways in terms of athletics but nevertheless I could feel the ghosts of Wes Bialosuknia  and Toby Kimball in the gym.

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Today was youth day with many families in the crowds. It is a piece of Americana when a father brings his daughter dressed in a cheerleader uniform to these games. Although hockey is king at UNH, I was surprised by the size of the crowd. However, there was no band or any student section. This was the one trip a year where I bring my wife Linda. In exchange for her hardship, I agree to go shopping or something else that she likes. She did make the comment that she likes live basketball instead of seeing it on television. Perhaps there is hope that she will fully commit to Operation 351 in the future.

This was the first time that I have seen cheerleaders do no other move other than flying back flips across the court. It was fun to watch but their chants were hard to hear standing at the back of the gym. They never did come out once to lead the crowd in a cheer. No big deal for me but you tend to notice little things like this when you are on your forty second game.

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As with many of my games, I am not familiar with the personnel or how the team is doing for the year. However, I can pick up indicators from the roster that tends to make one team favorite over the other. When I see two senior guards that probably have played together for four years, I always see solid play from these individuals. They seem to know where the other guard is at all times and rarely make stupid decisions. This was the case of UNH senior guards  Jaleen Smith and Daniel Dion. Their team play made the difference in the game for UNH.

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Speaking of Operation 351, I heard that that there may be 2 more teams entering the Division 1 arena making 353 Division 1 teams. So let me state here that this journey, this mission will always be named Operation 351. I will add or drop teams as they migrate to or from Division 1 to complete my goal but the name stays the same.

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This was a hard fought America East battle with Binghamton coming back in the second half from a large deficit to make it interesting in the end. UNH’s superior ball handling was valuable in wasting time off the clock to thwart Binghamton’s comeback.

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St. Peters NJ (54) vs. Siena (56) 01/08/2017

#41 of 351     12% complete

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The plan today was to drive to Boston to see Northeastern play James Madison. The snow storm in Boston led to an adjustment in plans resulting in this game in Albany.  WAZE took me on some state roads through the northwest corner of the state saving a few minutes instead of the interstate route of I-84/I-91 and I-90. Sometimes common sense must prevail instead of trusting an app. The roads were dark and slippery as we meandered north.

This was the second year in a row that I had to reschedule Northeastern and then found that there were no more available dates for the rest of the year. My goal of completing the New England states must wait another year. I will be hitting New Hampshire next week leaving Northeastern as the last remaining school in New England.

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This was my first trip ever to Albany. The lit up skyline was a sight to see as we proceeded on I-787 entering the city. The Trans Union Center was a short ride off of the exit. It was under some construction but it is your typical “way-too-big” arena for the teams it hosts like  Siena and the hockey Albany Ducks. As you enter the arena, you are greeted by large black curtains around the higher elevations.

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Kudos to the arena for holding the “Taste of NY Craft Beer Festival” during the game. For $15, you got samples of local craft beers and a place to stand on the floor during the game. Also many types of beer were sold at the concession stands. I have never seen so much promotion of beer at a college game.

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The was the first game in my Operation 351 journey where were no band, no cheerleaders, no dance team and no student section. It is not a school break when this might be expected. It was very quiet except for the cheering local fans. However, the attendance was more than expected with many families. Siena has not had much success lately so it was nice to see the local support.

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The game was close throughout in this MAAC affair. The old gentleman next me said that Siena lost some close heart breakers over the past couple of weeks so this was a great win for them. I love watching the old guys in the crowd complain about every call and cheer like there is no tomorrow. I see this more with smaller teams and venues vs. the P5 powers.

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The player of the game was Marquis Wright of Siena. This craft 6’1″ guard had some nifty moves and made some key shots at the end. One can tell who the team leader is by how they step up to the plate when needed.

Did you ever see a play where you know the coach is going to talk to the player after the game? With Siena leading by two points, Siena grabs the rebound. The player takes off down the court to what looks like an easy layup. Well he gets blocked. The St. Peters’ player grabs the rebound, dribbles up to half court and launches a game tying shot. The ball bounded off the rim. I can hear the Siena coach screaming now about running out the clock!

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