54 of 351 15% complete
The state of Mississippi was hit with snow and ice the day before the game. As a result, the campus was closed down but the game was still on. By Connecticut standards, the storm was nothing to be worried about but the rare occurrence of snow and ice in Mississippi causes havoc to residents not used to this type of weather. Tony and I had planned to golf on the Mississippi State campus before the game but that was not to happen. We had a whole day to go kill. So after a beer and wings at the STAGgerIN Sports Grill adorned with much Bulldog memorabilia, we drove around the MSU campus. It was a beautiful campus with new buildings and a baseball stadium under construction.
So as I said in an earlier post, I have learned that it pays to mention the Operation 351 journey to whoever would listen. As we waited for the doors to open, I struck up a conversation with a couple who were season tickets holders. I told them my story and about my love for UCONN. Their women’s team upset UCONN last year but they were very complimentary of Geno and how he handled the loss. The doors opened and we went our separate ways to our seats. As you can see above, free t shirts were to be given out to all the lower level seat holders. Because the campus was closed, it was decided to offer free general admission to everyone. Naturally, I had already bought and paid for the tickets. I am also learning that it may not be a good idea ahead of time to buy tickets in advance unless absolutely necessary.
After five minutes, a gentleman comes over and introduces himself as the assistant athletic director. He was told about Operation 351 and wanted to give us a tour of the arena. I looked up across the arena and there is the couple waving to me. This was Mississippi hospitality at its best. After a 15 minute tour of the facilities including a discussion about the new baseball field, we were back at our seats. After the game, a beat writer stopped by and asked a few questions about Operation 351.
We had our picture taken on the court before the game. Tony on the left and me on the right were very appreciative of the efforts to make us feel at home. Suffice it to say that I am now a Bulldog fan for life. Hail State!
The crowd was sparse due to the weather but the students with with no classes and free admission took full advantage and did fill the student section. Vanderbilt was missing a key player Matthew Fisher-Davis and was outplayed by the Bulldogs most of the game. Bryce Drew the Vanderbilt coach looked younger than some of this players.
It was good to see Ben Howland as the MSU coach. I have memories of him in the old Big East as the Pittsburgh coach. He has won everywhere he went.
Although many UCONN fans were stung by the women’ loss to MSU last year, I also remember the painful loss to MSU by the men in 1996. UCONN was the number one seed lead by Ray Allen. We were heavily favored and projected to go to our first final four. The above banner triggers the memory of that painful loss.
Aric Holman from MSU was the player of the game. He is an agile 6′ 10″ forward who is the team’s best three point shooter. This Kentucky native somehow slipped under Calipari’s grasp but is doing well for the Bulldogs.
The mascot wins the award for the biggest head during the Operation 351 tour. That is all for now.
Next game : Rice at Southern Mississippi 01/18/18