Loyola MD (80) vs. Bucknell (82) 01/30/2022

Game #103 of 358 29% complete

This was my first game back after a long layoff from my last game on December 12th. I had trips to Michigan and Wisconsin planned for the month of January. The news of canceled games was happening so frequently, it caused me to put a temporary hiatus to my journey. As it turned out, the majority of the planned games in January did get canceled. I cannot imagine flying somewhere, getting a hotel room and waking up to find the game is canceled. Because the two PA schools were within driving distance, I was able to do a 4-hour drive to Pennsylvania from Connecticut after waiting ’til the last minute to ensure that the games would be held.

The Loyola players (men and woman) stayed at my hotel, but they were checking out just as I was checking in. The trip was extra special because my cousin Brian who lives near Philadelphia joined me for this game after a 2-hour ride from his home. It was great to catch up with him after two years when we went to a game together at Delaware State. Brian is my official backup to Operation 351 should I meet the great basketball god in the sky before the mission is accomplished.

The arena was mostly empty which is a shame because it turned out to be a thriller right to the end. A girl’s dance school performed at half time. Once that was over, half the arena emptied out because the parents who only cared about the dance went home.

I have seen many contests during time outs over the years. Here was a first for me. The woman is sling shotting a rubber chicken across the court to her partner who is trying to catch the chicken in a bucket. They did get 3 out of four so kudos to them. The other stupid contest was a trivia contest between two teen age girls. They were asked very difficult trivia questions about Bucknell basketball that only a sports information director may know. They looked at each other after every question with ” How the hell would I know that” look. Fortunately, it was a multiple choice (A, B, or C) answer so they did get some correct with a little luck.

My only recollection of Bucknell basketball is their stunning upset of Kansas on March 18th, 2005. The 14th seeded Bisons won with Chris Mc Naughton’s jump-hook in the lane with 10.5 seconds over Kansas’s Wayne Simien winning 64-63. The arena was filled with many memorabilia and hopefully this attractive place gets more fans in the future.

Kudos to Bucknell player Andrew Funk who was unstoppable most of the evening as he scored 34 points from all areas of the floor. For a final note of trivia, my cousin Brian noted that a successful foul shot by a Bison player elicited a note resembling Mario popping a coin out of a box. I will have to take his word on this one.

If you are looking for a good burger, visit Matty’s Sporthouse in Lewisburg.

On to Penn State tomorrow!

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Bucknell (88) vs. St. Bonaventure (85) OT 11/07/18

#67 of 353  19% complete

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This was my first time to this part of the country. The ride south from Buffalo to Allegany was picturesque to say the least with rolling hillsides and farms populated with small houses and hundreds of acres behind them. I was stuck behind a school bus part of the way down.  Usually the frequent starts and stops can make one a little anxious but I was surprised how calming it was because it gave me a chance to check out the scenic views with each stop.

With a few recommendations from REDDIT, I had to stop and try the burger at Burton’s along with a couple of brews. The place slowly filled up with Bona fans adorned with their official  t-shirts. I asked an older gentlemen next to me on how did he think the team would do this year. He was very unsure because they lost superstar Jaylen Adams and other key personnel. The incoming freshman were heralded but untested, But there was universal consensus among the patrons that the Buffalo Bills are the worst team in football. Yes the burger was excellent!

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I classify the Reilly Center as an arena with lots of “SOL”. By “SOL”, I mean small,  old and loud. These are my favorite type of venues. As you can see, the student body showed up in force on opening night. The Bonnies are riding off a high from last year when they defeated lower seed UCLA in a First Four contest in Dayton. A banner was unfurled in a ceremony before the game. There was a moment of confusion on my part when the banner read “First Round”. They won so how could it read “First Round” but then I realized that the First Four games were not considered a round.

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I sometimes highlight young and upcoming talent here. I would like to do that now from both clubs.

For St. Bonaventure, I was impressed with freshman Dominic Welch and Osun Osunniyi. Welch is a local Buffalo product who averaged 30 points a game in his senior year. He has a nice stroke and should improve his all around game with more experience. Osunniyi is a thin 6’10” center from New Jersey who dominated the boards at times offensively and defensively.  Both of these kids made key freshman mistakes down the end but coach Mark Schmidt has a couple of keepers on his hand.

For Bucknell, I was impressed with Paul Newman a 6′ 9″ sophomore from Philly, He had a street game that resulted in several great plays keeping the Bisons in the game when the Bonnies tried to pull away in the second half.

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St. Bonaventure was at a distinct disadvantage this game because they were missing their best player injured  Courtney Stockard. He erupted for 26 points last year against UCLA. Nevertheless, this was an exciting game as most overtime games are. The game was interrupted several times by the referees reviewing plays. I understand the concept of getting it right but sometimes the excessive reviews slows down the game and momentum for whoever has it at the time.

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A shout out to Bucknell senior guard Kimbal Mackenzie from Ontario. His 28 points and clutch foul shooting was the difference down the stretch. Both teams will be a handful for any opponent in March.

A lesson in life was learned tonight. Always remember what entrance you come into the arena. Should there be a similar entrance on the other side of the building like the Reilly Center which you exit from and walk a mile looking for your car in the opposite direction, you wish that you were more careful!

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Next game : Colgate Vs. Cornell  11/11/18