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!

Colgate (80) vs. Loyola MD (84) 02/16/2020

Game #95 of 353 26% complete

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The campus of Loyola features many Gothic buildings located in a residential neighborhood of northern Baltimore. The basketball arena is situated in a huge athletic center. You need to walk through an inviting food court before proceeding upstairs to the arena. I was very impressed by the four digital scoreboards situated around the four corners of the court. I was confused by the senior graduating ceremony for the players and cheerleaders because there are two remaining home games left. Nevertheless, it is always a heartwarming sight to see the parents and family escort the seniors through the lined up players and cheerleaders to receive an award.

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A banner above listed years that Loyola MD were the champions of the Mason Dixon Conference. My curiosity was peeked to say the least. From WIKI, the league is a defunct NCAA Division 2 athletics conference, formed in 1936 and disbanded in 1974. Its members were predominantly from states bordering the Mason Dixon line. Other notable schools over the years included American University, University of Delaware, John Hopkins University, Mount St. Mary’s and UMBC. I guess that being a champion of any conference is worth celebrating but I could go 50/50 on the merits of raising this banner.

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The favored first place Colgate Raiders were upset by the home team Greyhounds despite the Raiders winning earlier in the year by 22 points. I was very impressed with the Greyhound freshman center Santi Aldama who hit three jumpers from the three point line and played strong in the paint. Aldama’s father played for Spain’s 1992 Olympic team. Santi was named the MVP of U-18 European championship in 2019 leading Spain to the gold medal. Aldama was a four-star prospect and rated the No. 61 overall recruit in the 2019 class, according to the 247 Sports Composite rankings. A knee injury at the beginning of the season sidelined him but he is back at full strength. I tried to find the answer to the obvious question: why did he choose Loyola MD?

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I finished the night eating at the Birroteca restaurant bar and watching my Uconn Huskies pull out an exciting win over Memphis with a sad note pulling for Akok Akok to recover from his torn Achilles. I will be back in Baltimore next year to see Morgan State and Towson to complete all the schools in Maryland.

It was long weekend that included a 2 hour stop today at the Baltimore Zoo. The lion sleeps tonight and so will I!

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Next game: LSU at Georgia 03/07/2020

Navy (60) vs. Colgate (67) 02/08/2020

Game #92 of 353 26% complete

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The drive from Connecticut to the sleepy little hamlet of Hamilton, New York took about 4 hours which is my upper limit for driving. I was fortunate to miss a big snowstorm the night before that dumped a foot of snow in the area. Over the years, I have developed a few rules of the road which I will share off and on in future posts. My first rule states that if at all possible, find a local restaurant to eat. Do not go to a franchise chain! Although the food is sometimes hit and miss, overhearing conversation through parts of this country gives you different perspectives on people’s lives. I often use Trip Advisors to find the good places. If the restaurant has a name in it like Tony’s or is family owned, all the better!

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I saw something very moving during the national anthem at the game. Three cheerleaders stood out in front of the line and signed the anthem for the hard of hearing folks in the crowd. This was a first for me which I think more schools should do.

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The winterly scenes was very picturesque but some of the unplowed roads made for some nervous driving. There was not much room for parking but I found a spot across the street. When I left the game, I was blocked in by somebody visiting their daughter. The mother held a cute Yorkie in her arms and apologized profusely. What could I say?

Colgate is in first place of the Patriot League. With an NCAA appearance last year in March Madness, they seem posed to make another run. The Raiders lost a heart-breaking game to Tennessee last year. They have very talented and experienced team with height and quickness. Navy put a valiant fight but was just did not have the chops to keep up. Rapolas Ivanauskas a 6’ 10” junior forward put on a show for Colgate at the end dominating the glass on both ends of the floor.

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Cotterell Court is an old-style arena built in a barracks fashion. The ceiling is curved supported by steel arches. Built in 1959, it shares a building with the hockey rink just like Merrimack does as noted in my last blog. Unfortunately, I sat near a fan who complained loudly about each call against the Raiders. For about 99% of the time, he was wrong in his assessment but I loved his enthusiasm.

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I have a big shout out to Brigid St. Leger who is the Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing and Fan Engagement. She put me in touch with Robert Cornell after the game. Robert was the Colgate Sports Information Director for 33 years and shared some stories about Colgate basketball. Adonal Foyle put Colgate on the basketball map back in the nineties. Foyle was born in Canouan, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. At the age of 15, Foyle was adopted by Joan and Jay Mandle, professors at Colgate. His illustrious career at Colgate resulted in Foyle being the 8th pick of the 1997 first round NBA draft. Robert told the story how reporters and photographers would make him stand in the New York snow to contrast his birth in a hot Caribbean country. Foyle absolutely hated doing this. Robert also credits the Colgate coach Matt Langel with rejuvenating the basketball program which was primarily a hockey school. Thanks, Brigid, for your hospitality!

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Next game: Wake Forest at Syracuse 02/08/2020  (later that night)

Colgate (73) vs. Cornell (57) 11/11/18

#68 of 353  19% complete

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After a 4 hour ride from Connecticut, this venue met all the requirements for an relaxing afternoon. The parking lot was free and a short distance from the entrance. The ticket was cheap and close to the court. No traffic or lines were encountered.  It was a beautiful day to admire the rolling hillsides of the Catskills. All the check boxes were checked.

This game will almost complete for me all the schools in the Ivy League. For all you old Sports Passport fans, I would earn a “Ivy League” stamp. I am often asked “How did you get started doing this insane journey?”. I came across the Sports Passport site about 5 years ago.  As you attend each event, you can check in and record your visit. Stats are accumulated totaling up the number of games, venues, players, etc. There are supplemental functions like friends and earning badges. My 68 games are out there under the name “Operation351”.

The original Sports Passport site had college basketball badges for each state and each league completed. The current site pared down the badges to more general achievements much to my chagrin. There were also some specialty badges but one badge caught my eye. It was titled “351” which was earned when someone visited all 351 D1 venues. No one had earned the badge.  The light bulb went off in my head thinking about my love of travel and college basketball. So here am I 68 games later!

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I saw that fellow college basketball junkie John Witkowski tweeted that he was at the Cornell game. He titles his quest “Mission351” and is currently at 115 games. That is quite an achievement considering he is much younger than me and working full time. After exchanging tweets, it turns out that we were in the same row a few seats apart. We chatted at half time about upcoming plans and experiences with our travels. It is comforting to know that there are other crazies out there like myself. Safe travels the rest of the way John!

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Syracuse Jim Boeheim’s son Jim plays for Cornell.  Coach Jim and his wife were sitting one section over from me. I noticed that not one person came over to him during the game so I decided against playing the obnoxious fan part asking for a picture. See below for a picture of little Jim on the court and Big Jim and Mrs. Jim walking out to the parking lot.

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Cornell was hoping to go 3-0 for the first time in two decades but Colgate was the better team today, Colgate sophomore guard Jordan Burns was very impressive today slashing the lanes multiple times for layups. He also made some pull up jump shots to hold the Big Red at bay. BTW – Jimmy Boeheim did not have a good day so I suspect Dad was not in a good mood.

Did you ever go looking for one Waldo but found many?

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Next Game : Misericordia at Binghamton 11/12/18

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