UConn (80) vs. Tulane (76) 03/08/2020

Game #97 of 353 27% complete

I was not in the mood to write this. I could say that the elimination of March Madness and other sports events is a necessary precaution in the best interests of the public. I could say that the health of our citizens takes precedence over basketball games and golf tournaments. That is all true. But for my fellow college basketball and golf fans, it is a dark hole in our lives. Prayers to those afflicted with the virus and to our healthcare workers who are on the front line.

A pre-game walk through the campus on a beautiful day set the mood for the game.

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The ride to Tulane took us to the outskirts of New Orleans away from the crazy folks down on Bourbon St. A lunch at the High Hat Café was too die for. The BBQ shrimp in a beer sauce was New Orleans food at its best.

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The arena was small but modern. We got there early and were able to get close to the court watching the UConn players warm up. I never get this opportunity at other UConn games to get that close to the court!  Little did I know that this would be the last time to see UConn play this season. I was hopeful at a minimum for an NIT berth and possible trip to Madison Square Garden.

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I was happy to see many other UConn fans sitting in our section. Since this was Tulane’s last home game, the seniors were celebrated before the game. The last senior introduced was Christion Thompson. As the pictures were taken with Christion and his family, Dan Hurley the UConn coach joins the group and congratulates everyone. He even had his picture taken with the group. I thought this was a little strange and filed it under the “to be researched later” category. As it turns out, Hurley had recruited Thompson at Rhode Island and coached him for two years before Thompson transferred to Tulane. A nice gesture on Coach Hurley’s part!

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Tulane dominated the first half with Thompson’s unstoppable drives to the basket. UConn was down by 8 at the half but fought back to a 4-point victory led by Christian Vital. I argue that Vital was the best player in the AAC this year but he was beat out by Precious Anchiuwa of Memphis. Little did I know at the time how meaningless the game would end up being in light of the canceled NCAA tournaments.

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If you are a dog lover and plan on visiting New Orleans, please stop by the Villalobos Rescue Center featured on the Pit Bull and Parolees TV show to volunteer to walk dogs. Just show up and have some fun. There are set times noted on the web site but you can go on any day of the week. https://vrcpitbull.com/how-you-can-help/in-person/

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I would also suggest a ride on the Natchez Steamboat for a leisurely cruise up the Mississippi River. A self-guided tour of the engine room was interesting because the engine was taken off another steamboat in the early 1900’s. You can see the pistons going back and forth powered by hydraulics and diesel fuel. The paddle wheel turning on the back of the boat actually powers the boat.

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That completes season 6 of Operation 351. Hope to see you all next season!

 

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Georgia (64) vs. LSU (94) 03/07/2020

Game #96 of 353 27% complete

This five-day trip to the Big Easy included my friends Chelsea and Tony along with my wife Linda. The trip to LSU was about an hour out from New Orleans to the PMAC Arena. Pete Maravich was my idol growing up with his magic playmaking and floppy socks. It was a thrill to see memories of him interspersed throughout the arena. I have never been to a big-time college football game but I was in awe of the LSU football stadium across the street from the basketball arena. The climb to the last row would surely challenge the best conditioned fan.

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Near the arena, there was a zoo exhibit holding the LSU mascot tiger named “Mike the Tiger”. They had information about tigers in general on the outside of the cage. The $3 million habitat was created in 2005 and looks like a luxury suite for a tiger. The habitat ranks among the largest and finest Tiger preserves in the country. Mike was sitting there being very photogenic. This tiger is the seventh tiger in succession since the Mike 1 first appeared in 1936.

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As a big country music fan, I loved the standard pre game highlight video with Garth Brooks singing “Calling Baton Rouge”.  Scenes from the city with player highlights made for an entertaining show. It was a welcome alternative to the loud rap music playing to the background of dunks by the home team. However, I was impressed with the two towers of flames during the player introductions.

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Looking at the Georgia sideline, I saw an old familiar face stalking in front of the Georgia bench. Tom Crean is the coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. Love him or hate him, he does make an entertaining scene prowling the sidelines and projecting an over exuberance of distress against the referees. He has had success at Marquette and Indiana but he will have his hands full at Georgia playing second fiddle to the football team.

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LSU basketball is doing very well this year and is currently ranked a ninth seed in Lunardi’s projections. They easily handled Georgia today and will do a great job representing the SEC in March Madness.

No trip to New Orleans is complete without taking a swamp ride through the bayou. The alligators were out in full force munching on marshmallows thrown by our homegrown boat operator. It was a blast when the air propelled boat was going full speed through the swamp riding corners at a tilt.

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Next Game : UConn at Tulane 03/08/2020