Alabama A&M (55) vs. Alcorn State (61) 02/25/19

Game #81 of 353   22% complete

Alcorn State is a fine institution having the distinction of being the first black land grant college established in the United States. Located in Lorman, Mississippi, there is not a plethora of activities to embark on in this beautiful part of the country. Therefore, to fill the void, we stayed in nearby Natchez along the mighty Mississippi River.

Natchez has the highest concentration of antebellum houses in the south. We embarked on a tour via a golf cart visiting different historic sights in Natchez.

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One may have heard of the Natchez Trace. Natchez Trace is a national trail spanning from Nashville,TN, terminating in Natchez, MS. The 50 mph speed limit is strictly enforced as we saw numerous cars pulled over by the police. We spent a few miles on it from our trip from Madison to Natchez. The scenic road is maintained by the National Park Service.

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The Alcorn State game lacked a band, cheerleaders and a dance team providing quite a contrast to the game earlier with Jackson State. After partaking on a 45 minute ride from Natchez, Tony and I were situated in excellent seats for a mere $10 ticket.

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The David Whitney Complex has a classic style with the old style wooden bleachers in the upper levels and chairbacks on the lower level. The 7000 seat capacity is deceiving given the small exterior of the building.

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It is interesting to note that Alabama A&M is currently under probation for low APR scores and ineligible for NCAA tournament play.  Despite no chance to qualify for any post season play, I give them credit for the intrinsic motivation to play a hard game given those circumstances.

This game completes my journey through Mississippi seeing all  six Division 1 schools in this state.

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So I will close by stating that I had the best fried chicken at the Old Country Store. This place was featured on the Food Network Channel and Southern Living Magazine. It is well worth a visit should one come to Lorman, Mississippi, the home of Alcorn State.

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So I bid good bye to all till the next college basketball season. Best wishes and thanks for reading!

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Grambling State (60) vs. Jackson State (71) 02/24/19

Game #80 of 351     22% complete

A trip to Jackson, Mississippi should always start with a trip to Brent’s Soda Fountain. This iconic 50’s retro diner was host to a scene from the movie “The Help”.

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The standard dish of a burger, fries and a chocolate milk shake immediately wiped out the gains from a brisk 5 mile walk earlier in the day.

As is tradition, I always point out the “firsts” on my journey. This game was the first where the two teams shared the same team name – “Tigers”.

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The impressive tiger portal was on display as we entered the arena. The closest competitor to this magnificent tiger portal was Maine’s illustrious black bear portal which is pictured on my Maine blog page. It was a nice touch to see the kids dressed up in tiger outfits and doing cheers throughout the game.

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There have been times in my journey where the side events during the game out shadow the game itself. This was the case tonight. I was accompanied by my wife Linda and friends Tony and Chelsea. They were entertained during the game by the students and band. During each time out, a song would come on bringing the students out from the stands into a dance frenzy in the aisles and around the court. The band was loud with dancing drummers and swaying horn players.

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At half time, the entire student body took to the court dancing. We were entranced by the dance moves and the in sync coordination between the students in each line.

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Both teams were very athletic, making for a quick paced game. The poor foul shooting from both sides told me that these schools recruit fast athletes who can jump but may not be schooled on the fundamentals. I have seen this a few times with smaller schools who opt for exciting play to draw in the fans.

In the course of my journey,  I always try to discern why players with a height advantage are not more well rounded players. My theory is that their impressive physical attributes get them through high school with little effort on the fundamentals of basketball but ill prepares for the next level.

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How cool was it it to be stopped on the road to make way for the marching band on the street. Another first!

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Next game : Alabama A&M at Alcorn State 02/25/19

 

 

 

 

 

 

UCONN (67) vs. University of Central Florida (73) 01-31-19

Game #79 of 353  22%

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I escaped the brutally cold temperatures in Connecticut to take in a road game for my beloved UConn Huskies. I have developed some strategies for planning my journey in the future years. The first is to hit the cold weather states early in November or in early March before the league tournaments start. Navigating blizzards and polar vortexes is not on my fun list of things to do. Next year, I plan to visit the last four schools in upper state New York to complete the entire state. Beyond that in later years, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan and other north border states will be done early or late to minimize weather problems.  Secondly as my old bones age, I will save the southern warm states for my later years.  If I continue my current pace and continue to breathe, I will be hitting the last school in my late seventies. Florida, California and Texas shall wait for me! Thirdly, I hope to do one UCONN road game a year to add to my quest and get to see UCONN play.

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I probably need to do a better job of checking distances to the arenas before heading out. My wife Linda accompanied me on this trip for her one obligatory game a year. As always, her attendance is predicated on extra curricular tourists trips as in Disneyworld this year. Before the game, we met up with an ex coworker who was retired and enjoying the Florida weather and cross country trips in a RV. I set dinner time at 6:30PM in a  Disney Springs restaurant  thinking I had plenty of time to see a 9PM game in Orlando. How big could Orlando be? As we sat down for dinner, one of us checked Google maps and saw that the arena was a freaking 45 minutes away much to my surprise. We made it with 10 minutes to spare but lesson learned!

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To be greeted by palm trees entering the arena was a treat. The CFE arena is new and pretty spiffy inside. The overall effect is gold and black. There were many empty seats around me in the end section. Although the crowd was enthusiastic, I was surprised by the many open seats. I wonder if the tourist setting of Orlando contributes to a lack of fan interest from a transitory population. Pyscho babble at its best!

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I have seen quite of few AAC games this year. I nominate B.J. Taylor of UCF as the player of the year. He has done the most to improve his club this year. Best known as a slasher, he has developed a sweet outside shot. He continually made the big shot tonight when needed. Conversely, I have seen little improvement of Tacko Fall over his career. A man of that size should dominate every night. The man is 7’6″ and weighs 310 pounds. It will be interesting to see if an NBA club will take a chance on him in the draft.

Now it is three days of fun in Disneyworld! Yeah I can still have fun there at my age.

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Next game: Grambling State at Jackson State 2/23/19