Boston University (77) vs. Navy (54) 02/16/2020

Game #94 out of 353   26% complete

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The 6 hour train ride from Connecticut went fast as I caught up on reading and surveying the urban blight of America from my window. With help from my wife dropping me off at a nearby train station,  I saved myself from the usual airport hassles. Yes it takes many more hours to get there but a late day afternoon game (4PM) and an early train makes it possible to take Operation 351 on a more leisurely pace. Adding in a shuttle from the train station to the airport and another shuttle from the airport to the car rental facility takes the idea of leisure to a new level.

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My fellow basketball traveler Greg provided me with a guide to visiting the Navy campus. The guide stated that you need to park in the football stadium for a $5 fee and present your driver’s license as proof of identity. As I approached the stadium parking lot, there was not attendant in the booth so I went ahead and parked. I boarded a school bus for a 5 minute trip to Alumni Hall. I looked around again for some authoritarian person to present my license to but none were in sight. I entered Alumni Hall wondering if I breached security at the hallowed training grounds for the Navy. After the game, I thought of walking the grounds to take pictures of the impressive buildings but I feared that I had already pushed my luck.

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The ride to Alumni hall was entertaining seeing various fighter jets placed throughout the grounds. Many of the buildings were off limits guarded with metal gates and concrete barriers. As I walked into the arena, I witnessed a presentation by two naval cadets addressing about 30 young kids sitting on stairs answering questions. One kid asked if you can have another job besides being in the Navy. The cadet earnestly answered that the dedication required to be in the Navy is all consuming and that a naval cadet would just not have time for two jobs. I almost hung around to hear the other questions. I am sure there were some funny ones.

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Knowing that football is king at Navy and basketball is the ugly step sister, I was very impressed with Alumni Hall. The modern facility was half full but had padded seats and great sight lines to the court. I was surprised with the lack of cheerleaders and naval cadets.  I pictured a large contingent of cadets cheering like they do in the Army/ Navy football game. My interest peaked when I heard that T shirts would be tossed to the crowd after every three pointer. My hopes were dashed because I saw a three year old in the aisle next to me playing with his toy truck. How can I grab a t shirt headed for this kid and not give it to him? Fortunately, no T shirt ever came close to me.

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Boston University completely dominated Navy throughout the entire game. I was amazed to see that Navy had defeated the Terriers in OT back in January. Currently in second place behind Colgate, the Terriers were impressive with Connecticut natives Walter Whyte and Jonas Harper along with Max Maloney keeping the Midshipmen a comfortable distance apart in the score.

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I had another first at the game. After the game, the crowd was asked to stand for the “Blue and Gold” song. I thought it was just another alma mater song for which I never stand but the entire crowd stood. There were many Navy veterans around me singing the words. The Navy team shouted “Beat Army” at the end of the song . This alma mater has a much deeper meaning for the Navy cadets and veterans.

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Next Game: Colgate at Loyola MD 02/16/2020

 

Holy Cross (68) vs. Boston University (83) 02/27/2016

#33 of 351

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I was accompanied on this doubleheader day by my cousin Mike who loves all sports. We headed over to the Heat/Celtics game after this one. Before the game, we met up with Greg and Ryan who are fellow Basketball Passporters and rabid Boston U. fans. The brothers graduated from Boston University in 2013 and attend every home BU game. Greg reached out to me via the Passport web site so we decided to head to the Sunset Cantina before the game to talk about what else college basketball and specifically his beloved Terriers.

Boston U was missing four starters today through injuries but needed this game to host the first Patriot league tourney game. I was given the lowdown of the Terriers by Greg and Ryan. They have a strong passion for their team which hits home for me. They have also done a little traveling trying to bring up their Passport numbers. I found out that the BU head coach Joe Jones is the brother of the Yale head coach. I learned that center Blaise Mbargorba from Cameroon like many African transplants played almost no basketball growing up but was good at soccer. Amidah Brimah of UConn has the same story.  Greg and Ryan left early to catch the senior ceremony but it was great to talk college BB with fellow fanatics. Thanks to Greg and Ryan for their hospitality! I never root for a team on my travels but in this case I was a Terrier fan for the day.

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Case Arena was your typical small arena that I have come across in my journey. However, this was the first small arena where every seat was a chair back. We also had to climb a few flights of stairs because the arena is on top of the building.

The pep band was loud. The crowd was very enthusiastic. John Papale was one of the seniors who put on a great shooting display. I came to learn later on that he was named on of the top 25 3-point shooters in the country by ESPN.

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I was impressed with the play of previously mentioned 6′ 11″ B.U. center Blaise Mbargorba. He look very polished and comfortable with outstanding footwork and a soft touch. He is a junior so I will keep an eye on him next year.

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So here is my meaningless rant for the day. When the cheerleaders throw T-shirts in the crowd, can they sometimes climb the stairs and reach some of the folks who are sitting up higher up? Now I don’t really want a T-shirt but I witnessed a little boy in the arms of his father who was crying because the shirts were never thrown close to him. You could make the case that the father should teach the boy that life is very hard and to get a grip. Had I caught one, I would have given it to him.

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Despite being short handed, the Terriers went on for a victory over the Crusaders. Boston U. fans await the Patriot tourney because winning it all is their only hope of making the NCAA dance. Hey Greg and Ryan — I will  be rooting for you!

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