#49 of 351 14% complete
I am pleased to begin my fourth year of journeying through college basketball arenas heading towards that elusive goals of visiting all 351 Division 1 teams on their home court. I will be making trips to Mississippi, D.C., Philly, Delaware and Buffalo with some oddballs thrown in, God willing barring any life-changing events and weather, I hope to attend 17 games this year.
For all the newbies (if any are reading), I do not count big off campus arenas unless that is their primary home. For example, I would include UCONN’s Gampel Arena as a visit but not the XL Center. Conversely, Georgetown only plays their home games in the Verizon Center. If I have visited a college and they build a new arena, I do not plan to go back and do it again, This mission is school-based not arena-based.
I attended my first game of this year traveling to Newark, New Jersey to see the NJIT Highlanders. As I have answered many times, they are a Division 1 basketball team. I am glad I waited till this year because the game was held in the new Health and Wellness Center. I was happy to park for FREE in an adjacent parking garage owned by the school. I think all schools should provide free parking as an incentive to come out in the cold especially in cities like Newark.
The new arena is a multi purpose building that supports many sports at the school. It is huge. I am sure that it saves the school money combining facilities like this but give me the old small smelly gym any day. So here is one complaint which is true for many schools. If you reside in an area that has not good cell reception, please provide WiFi for the crowd. I like to tweet and Facebook during the game but it was difficult with no WiFi and a ‘1X’ signal strength for Verizon.
This was another case where the size of the arena is waiting for the crowd to catch up. The place was mostly empty but I give the fans credit for providing some spirited noise. I paid $15 for a near court-side seat with a back rest.
The NJIT Highlanders was a fun team to watch. You can tell that many of the players were schooled on the playgrounds. The suburban kids from Lafayette did not stand a chance. They were out quicked, out run and and out played. NJIT put on a show with impressive whiry dirly moves driving the basket and long threes raining from the arc. Many shots drew a gasp from the crowd.
Wagner beat NJIT 60-49 in the first game of the season for NJIT. Either Wagner is very good or Lafayette is really bad. I find it hard to believe that NJIT was held to 49 points based on their talent and style of play. I will be following NJIT the rest of the year hoping that they find success this year. It would not surprise me to see them pull a few upsets along the way.
I usually name players of interest from the game but the NJIT players all played the same style. They were interchangeable pieces in a fast paced game that Lafayette tried to slow down but to no avail.
Goodbye Newark. Unless I am taking off in a plane, I am done with this part of New Jersey. It has been the longest ride for me without staying overnight.
Next up: UMASS Lowell at Wagner 12/05/17