Sacred Heart (64) vs Lafayette (62) 12/02/18

Game #71 of 353   20% complete

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The rain continued to fall in the Lehigh Valley as we headed over Sunday to Easton to see the Lafayette Leopards. As we drove up to the Kirby Sports Center, the building looked historically old as we drove around looking for parking. Going around to the other side, we encountered a morphed building with a modern look. A little WIKI research found the following explaining the dual look : “Dedicated on June 2, 2000, the $35 million Allan P. Kirby Sports Center includes a new, 110,000-square-foot  intramural and recreational sports facility attached to the previously existing Kirby Field House. The field house itself received a $2.5 million face lift and interior renovations.”

The campus reminded me so much of the Holy Cross campus. The school buildings are situated on a hill side mixed in with older style residential houses.

Here are a couple of pictures of the cool looking football arena adjacent to the field house.

I had to call the ticket office last week to inquire about courtside seats. I always tell my Operation 351 story to anyone who might be interested. As I was picking up the tickets, I met the women manning the ticket office who immediately started asking questions about the mission. They thought it was pretty cool which always gives me that added dose of adrenaline to keep this this quest going.

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The halls were filled with displays of Lafayette sports history. The red uniform above was an 1890 football uniform. Another case had a basketball from the early 1900’s.  I  believe that every campus arena should have these displays with the Palestra being the model.

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Being from Connecticut, it is always a treat to see a local club (Sacred Heart) come in as a visitor far away from Connecticut. However, my rule is to always root for the home school with the sole exception when I see UCONN as the visitor.

So I have been asked, “If you are such a die hard UCONN fan, how can you miss games like the Arizona/UCONN game Sunday to see a game in Pennsylvania?” My answer is that it getting increasingly difficult to schedule back to back games that minimize the cost and time traveling from Connecticut. I also have to insure that the games fit into my personal schedule given that I do have a life outside of Operation 351 and also with other Operation 351 games previously scheduled. When the opportunity presents itself, I grab it knowing that I can always watch UCONN delayed afterwards. I did die a slow death watching the end of the Airzona/ UCONN game live on the TV in the arena hall at halftime.

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This was a very entertaining back and forth game to watch. I am always concerned about an overtime game when it is the last game to see before heading home. With the score tied at 62, a missed three pointer by Sacred Heart was tipped in with three seconds to go by Jare’l Spelman to give the Pioneers the win. The 6’10” Spelman had a long reach and frequently out rebounded the smaller Lafayette team. Hard to imaging that Spelman was a transfer from Division 2 school Florida Southern. He must have truly dominated down there.

                                                  Happy Holidays to everyone!

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Next game : Depaul at Villanova 1/2/19

 

 

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Arkansas State (70) vs. Lehigh (82) 12/01/18

Game #70 of 353  19% complete

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The 3 1/2 hour ride from Connecticut was made easier with the company of my friend Andy who has completed 12 Operation 351 games with me over the years. I am anticipating one more car ride to Philly this year and a couple more to Pennsylvania and New York next year before turning to plains and trains.  It is a sign of progress for me that I have run out of driveable games to go to. Although technically any game can be driven to but I cut it off at the 4 hour mark.

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The Stabler Athletic and Convention Center was opened up in 1979 and showing her age. The old lady could use a fresh coat of paint on the walls and floors. It is rare that I can take my half time walk around the perimeter halls and encounter nothing but a couple of concession stands. I always look for school memorabilia and achievements but there was absolutely nothing. The stands were void of students except for the cheerleaders and pep band. I assumed it was class break but the last day of classes are December 8th unless I am misunderstanding the academic schedule. Given that Lehigh is one of the stronger teams in the Patriot League, I expected more excitement.

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One of the joys of visiting small arenas is the opportunity to sit in court side seats for a reasonable price. This was the case for this game and the Lafayette game. One does not appreciate the speed and quickness of the games till you are sitting eye level and up close. You also get a better sense of the offensive scheme and patterns a team runs from this perspective.

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This game was a classic case of size (Lehigh) vs. quickness (Arkansas State). The height advantage underneath was too much for the Redwolves (love this name) to overcome. I was very impressed with Arkansas State guard Ty Cockfeld who scored 30 points with an all around solid game. Lehigh answered with Kyle Leufroy who scored 20 points with clutch shooting down the stretch.

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I used some well honed begging techniques to acquire this t shirt from a cheer leader. Although I am like many of  who have too many t shirts, this is one more piece of memory from my Operation 351 journey.

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Perhaps this is the game I should have gone to!

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Next game: Sacred Heart vs. Lafayette 12/02/2018