Misericordia (64) vs. Binghamton (107) 11/12/18

#69 of 353  19% complete

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I always report on “firsts” in this blog. Tonight was the first time that I heard a school’s fight song blaring from loud speakers outside the entrance.

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I really try to avoid seeing D2/3 teams playing D1 teams in my travels. The truth is that it becomes difficult trying to find back to back games fitting into my schedule that make a long trip worthwhile. Given that the mission is to attend a game at every D1 campus, I will put up with a groaner game every now and then. BTW Misericordia is from Dallas, PA.

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It was an interesting contrast seeing the skill and athletic ability of the D3 team Misericordia players vs. the D1 players. A D3 player was typically a star on his high school team but lacks one or more athletic or basketball skills to compete at the D1 level. They may be a great outside shooter but slow as molasses. They may be tall but have hands of stone underneath the rim. The D3 players makes up for these weaknesses with hustle and effort but as the score indicates, that will only take you so far. The first half of the first half did make for a competitive game much to the chagrin of the old Binghamton fans sitting around me. As the game wore on, the Misericordia players worn down as the score margin became wider and wider.

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This is the fourth time that I have seen Binghamton play. The freshmen that I saw in the first game against Maine on 01/30/16 are now seniors. I actually remember Tim Rose as a confident ball handling freshman who is now one of the leading assist makers in the America East Conference.

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With all due respect to Binghamton, the city is a tough place to hang out in November. Most attractions close down for the week and are only open on weekends.  I do recommend two Italian restaurants that served great food: Michelangelo’s and Le Venice. Without an exercise room in the hotel, my net poundage did increase this trip. A five mile walk in Ostiningo park did help a little.

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A nice little perk that Binghamton does is to throw out a t shirt to the crowd for every Binghamton three point shot made. Also, each fan was given a coupon for a free donut at Dunkin Donuts because there were three Binghamton dunks.

Next game:  Arkansas State Vs. Lehigh 12/1/18

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Binghamton (65) vs. Albany (84) 01/19/17

#43 of 351    12% complete

 

 

This is my second 2 1/2 hour trip to Albany in 2 weeks. There is a marked contrast between the Siena arena and the University of Albany arena. The Times Union Center used by Siena was located downtown in a not too friendly looking part of town. Let’s just say it was a quick walk from the parking garage to the arena. The SEFCU arena used by Albany is on their campus and located in a suburban area marked by shopping centers and malls. I was surprised since Albany is part of the SUNY system (public) and expected that its campus would be less distinctive but I was wrong. The Albany campus was green and wide open. I had wished the  Albany game was during the day so I could take a look around.

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I have a complaint about the SEFCU scoreboards. Nowhere to be found was a point total by an individual player. There was some hot shooting for Albany and it would have been interesting to see the running total for certain players. The corners of the arena were filled with a huge TV broadcasting the game. Nice but useless in my opinion. This arena wins the prize for the most boring scoreboard.

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It seems that every mid major has a small point guard from the Chicago area. Tonight was Albany guard David Nichols who lit up the floor for 25 points. So another pet peeve –  can you list the player’s height in the program? I am guessing that Nichols was 6 foot. He was quick and had the mid jumper on fire. I was also impressed with sophomore Joe Cremo who was the freshman of the year last year in the America East. I appreciate guys who have an high basketball IQ. Cremo was also very hot but always distributed the ball at the right time.

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Binghamtom wins the prizes for the most appearances to date in Operation 351 – 3 so far. They were all away games for Binghamton. Their home game will require an overnighter along with Buffalo, Syracuse, St. Bonaventure and Cansisus. I am hoping to do Cornell and Colgate in separate one day  trips thus completing New York State.

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A special shout out to the Albany uniform. It was a combination of purple and gold. A very cool combination! Plus as a dog lover, the statue of the Great Dane in the arena was neat to see.

Albany completely outplayed Binghamton from the opening bell. I am surprised that they are only 11-9 for the year. They had some good shooters and played great defense. I expect them to make noise in the America East tournament.  Perhaps we will see them in March.

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BORING!

 

Binghamton (66) vs. New Hampshire (73) 1/14/17

#42 of 351    12% complete

 

The University of New Hampshire campus reminded me of UCONN in the seventies. As one drives by the dairy farms, veterinary clinics and horse stalls, I was reminded of the epic Yankee Conference battles between New Hampshire and UCONN in the late 60’s. UCONN and UNH have gone opposite ways in terms of athletics but nevertheless I could feel the ghosts of Wes Bialosuknia  and Toby Kimball in the gym.

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Today was youth day with many families in the crowds. It is a piece of Americana when a father brings his daughter dressed in a cheerleader uniform to these games. Although hockey is king at UNH, I was surprised by the size of the crowd. However, there was no band or any student section. This was the one trip a year where I bring my wife Linda. In exchange for her hardship, I agree to go shopping or something else that she likes. She did make the comment that she likes live basketball instead of seeing it on television. Perhaps there is hope that she will fully commit to Operation 351 in the future.

This was the first time that I have seen cheerleaders do no other move other than flying back flips across the court. It was fun to watch but their chants were hard to hear standing at the back of the gym. They never did come out once to lead the crowd in a cheer. No big deal for me but you tend to notice little things like this when you are on your forty second game.

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As with many of my games, I am not familiar with the personnel or how the team is doing for the year. However, I can pick up indicators from the roster that tends to make one team favorite over the other. When I see two senior guards that probably have played together for four years, I always see solid play from these individuals. They seem to know where the other guard is at all times and rarely make stupid decisions. This was the case of UNH senior guards  Jaleen Smith and Daniel Dion. Their team play made the difference in the game for UNH.

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Speaking of Operation 351, I heard that that there may be 2 more teams entering the Division 1 arena making 353 Division 1 teams. So let me state here that this journey, this mission will always be named Operation 351. I will add or drop teams as they migrate to or from Division 1 to complete my goal but the name stays the same.

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This was a hard fought America East battle with Binghamton coming back in the second half from a large deficit to make it interesting in the end. UNH’s superior ball handling was valuable in wasting time off the clock to thwart Binghamton’s comeback.

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Binghamton (63) vs Maine (74) 01/30/2016

#29 of 351

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My wife Linda accompanied me on this trip. She is not a college basketball fan but to balance the ying and yang, her attendance at the game was followed by a trip to L.L. Bean and many outlets in Freeport, Maine. She did admit that it was not bad to watch considering that her last attended sports game was a football game in the cold. I have marked out the University of New Hampshire for a weekend trip with her next year.

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This is the first time that I have seen a head of the mascot serve as a portal to the men’s locker area. That is a black bear in case you are wondering. But what was even cooler was this very tall statue of a lumberjack man in front of the arena.

The arena was surprisingly large from what I expected for Maine basketball but it serves also as the hockey rink for the beloved hockey team. Yes Maine is one of the D-1 schools where hockey takes precedence over basketball. It was not a bad crowd for a mild winter day in Bangor.

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I have seen Maine previously this year against UMASS-Lowell. Again, I will sing the praises of Connecticut native Issac Vann. This guy’s athletic ability far surpassed anyone of the floor. I would love to see how he would do in a major conference. He took over in the second half and led his team to victory.

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The public announcer for the game was a woman. This was a first for me. Not that it is  bad thing but it was a surprise.

I do remember watching UCONN play Maine in the old Yankee conference league back in the 60’s. I would not have guessed back then as a kid that I would be here 40 years later watching Maine on their home floor.

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