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!

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