Colgate (74) vs. North Carolina State (77) 11/13/2021

Game #99 of 358 28% complete

I visited the Quail Ridge bookstore in Durham on Saturday morning. I always try to visit an independent bookstore on my trips and buy a book to support them. This store however did not need my help as I waited in line behind customers holding baskets of books. I recommend this bookstore with its well organized shelves and friendly help ready to serve. At the risk of inflicting guffaws from my readers, I admit to purchasing an autographed copy of Nicholas Sparks book The Wish. Yeah I like his books so think what you want. :).

I recommend lunch at the Italian restaurant Amedeo’s before any NC State game. Right down the road from the PNC Center, the walls are adorned with NC State memorabilia from all sports. The pasta deluxe dish filled me to the brim along with a bottle of Peroni.

As had happened in the past, my perceived time of the game taken in the past from the NC Sate web site was an hour earlier than the actual game time (1PM vs. 2PM). Not sure if the time was changed or I messed up. So when I drive up to the PNC at about 12:30, the parking lots are almost empty. I did see some ushers gathering on the outside so I figured I was in the right place. The usher kindly informed me that the game time was 2PM so the gates will not open till 1PM. So what does one do after eating a heavy pasta lunch? You walk several times around the arena to kill time getting your steps in till the gates opened.

I will give the PNC two Operation 351 awards.

Award 1 – Best Bar in an Arena

This bar was way too high class for a basketball/ hockey arena but definitely a pretty slick site at a college basketball game.

Award 2 – Most Humungous TV Screen

The TV screen on the scoreboard was like watching a 100 ft TV in your living room. The image was sharp and enticing to watch vs. the live game itself.

I do want to say that the PNC did lose some points by not providing a program. No excuses for a D1 school to not provide a program, free or otherwise.

So now for some basketball. After almost witnessing an upset yesterday by Brown at North Carolina, my hopes for another upset today almost came to fruition. Colgate, like Brown yesterday, gave the ACC powerhouses fits. It was not prudent of me to cheer out loud for the underdogs at these two games but I gave under the seat fist pumps when Colgate continued to hang on right to the end..

The crowd was somewhat muted throughout the game perhaps in shock at the thought of losing. It came down to the last play when a NC State player Manny Seaborn was fouled on a very questionable call. The two foul shots put them up by two. After Colgate threw a long pass down the other end of the court, a Colgate player fouled, sending the Wolfpack back to the line. A replay review confirmed that the foul occurred before time had ended. The NC State player missed the foul shot. Colgate then attempted a three quarter court shot to win the game but was not even close. I was hoping to see a replay of UC Riverside’s upset over Arizona State.

Since this was an afternoon game, I had Saturday night free. My name on the Duke waiting list proved fruitless as tickets to Coach K’s last go around make tickets tough to find. I also considered going to the Carolina Hurricanes hockey game but tickets were over a $100. Not too much of a hockey fan to justify the cost. So perusing the web for Saturday night events in the Raleigh/Durham area, I came across the perfect scenario for a Jimmy Buffet parrothead like myself. The play Escape to Margaritaville was playing at the DPAC. Having seeing it once before made no difference. I ended siting in the upper balcony next to the president of the local parrot head club so I unabashedly sang all the lyrics out load with the rest of her crew. Till next time!

FINS UP!

Advertisement

Brown (87) vs North Carolina (94) 11/12/2021

Game #98 of 358 27% complete

Operation 351 is back on the road. Absence does make the heart grow fonder as the sound of sneakers squeaking in the gym, the sound of the pep band warming up and the sight of those bright lights when I enter an arena for the first time bring forth a deeper appreciation and gratitude for the chance to reconnect with my journey.

My life like many of yours was filled with changes and curves this past year, I am now a proud grandfather of a cute kid named Jack. Our family was fortunately unscathed by the ravages of COVID. My travel plans are made more difficult with canceled airlines, COVID restrictions and an apprehension of catching COVID even though I am triple vaccinated. There is a new normal out there undefined and ever changing. What will college basketball look like in 10 years? How will the United States with its increasing polarity and angst survive as we march forward with an uncertain future facing climate change and dangers to our democratic society? I vow never to bring politics into this blog but I am very nervous for my children and grandson.

I have vented enough.

During the last summer, I developed an application on the my desktop using Microsoft EXCEL and ACCESS to facilitate finding games near each other on consecutive days or the same day. I built a database of my remaining arenas to visit along with their longitude and latitude. I built a spreadsheet matching each arena with all the other arenas to calculate the distance. I input the home schedule of each team and run an SQL query to find games to visit find teams within 120 miles of each games playing within 3 days. It is probably not the most technological way to do it but it works for me. I relied on my IT skills from the nineties to accomplish this. Here is an example of one page of the report:

The home team and away team are the two teams playing the games. HOME and AWAY are not the best names. Just consider them team 1 and team 2. Game Date is the date team 1 is playing. Game date 2 is the date team 2 is playing. Both dates will be the same if they are playing on the same day. The distance is in miles between the two arenas for the two teams. By sorting the report by date, I match my open dates to dates where I can take advantage of multiple games on one trip. I have a more detailed write up on the construction and implementation of this application if anyone is interested.

As many of you who have started traveling again, air traveling now is a hit or miss affair where you are at the mercy of the airlines. I was due to arrive in Raleigh around 9:30AM on Friday 11/12. Given that the UNC game was not until 9PM, I had the whole day planed to visit the UNC and Duke basketball museums and partake of some local breweries. However, my connecting flight from DC to Raleigh was rescheduled to 9:45 PM which would not work. I saw a bunch of us trying to get standby for the next flight a few hours later. I wanted to be certain of making the game. I canceled the rescheduled flight from United and booked an early afternoon flight from Delta. (I need to speak about this to United!) All was well as I arrived in Raleigh around 4PM. My day was short circuited but my main goal for seeing the UNC game was accomplished.

I decided to head over to the Franklin Street area on campus and visit the TOPO or the Top of the Hill restaurant. About 12 years ago, my daughter and I ate here after a campus visit. She decided to go to Wake Forest but it was a fun trip. Many fans in the place were adorned in the UNC blue colors. I will say this about the UNC fans. You take first place in most fans who wear the team colors to a game.

I purchased pre paid parking after look at all the options. I have two rules of the road concerning parking:

  1. Never park in a campus parking garage. You will take forever single streaming out of the exit.
  2. Never use the campus shuttle system to get back to your parking spot. There were hordes of folks that night after the game waiting for the buses.

I prefer an open parking lot that may be not too convenient to the arena but close enough so I do not get a coronary waking to the game. I chose the 700 Hibbard Drive lot. I had no trouble getting in or getting out.

Ahh the Dean Dome! A classic on anyone’s list who is into college basketball. The first step inside gave me the impressions of a arena much bigger than I thought and a wave of Carolina blue on all the seats. Sitting up in section 213, I had plenty of room with open seats around me to spread out and take it all in.

Brown gave the Tar Heels all it could handle this game. Their disciplined offense gave UNC fits but talent and size usually wins the day with the Tar Heels coming out with a seven point victory. Kudos to Tar Heel point guard RJ Davis whose three pointer kept the Brownies at bay. He has a deadly pure jump shot which is a joy to watch.

That’s a wrap for now. I close by presenting a cool beer bottle consumed at the Atlanta airport. I wonder if every NFL city has the equivalent.