Central Michigan (79) vs. Robert Morris (83) 12/17/2019

Game #83 of 353   23% complete

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Robert Morris opened up the UPMC Events Center this year with Pitt on November 12th.  The arena was entirely funded with corporate naming rights. The brand new 4000 seat arena has great lighting, LED displays and attractive sight lines. Off the court, the arena includes new coaches and athletics relations offices. The basketball and volleyball players have brand new locker rooms complete with separate video rooms. There is also a full-size practice court and the UPMC Wellness Center, which houses the teams’ doctors and trainers and includes a hydrotherapy room. RMU did a great job on this considering all the struggles that a smaller school has with this kind of project.

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I have to make a mental note in the future to check on a school’s arena before planning a trip. I was all set to do Duquesne this year but a follower of this blog let me know that Duquesne is at a temporary home this year. Next year, their new arena will open up. My rule (that I make up for myself) is to not count temporary sites in my journey. That being said, if I do visit an arena that is considered permanent and a new one gets built later on, I do not feel a return trip is in order. Again—my rules!

I also need to a better job of picking hotels. My hotel was fine but about an 1/2 hour north of Pittsburgh. The airport which I figured would be next to Pittsburgh is actually very close to Robert Morris. Had I planned it out properly, I could have stayed near the airport and enjoy a short ride from the RMU game and a short ride to the airport the following day.

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I like to offer a big shout out to the RMU Assistant AD Marty Galosi whose hospitably made this a fun trip. I was seated next to his neighbors who were college basketball fans. They asked many questions about my journey and I was happy to answer them. The best parts of my trips are interacting with the fans.

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Central Michigan came into this game ranked second in the nation averaging 88.7 points per game, making it the No. 2 scoring team in the nation behind only Eastern Washington, which averages 90. The Chippewas were very hot from the 3-point line in the first half but RMU came back for a hard-fought win. Once again, the students were on break plus with the sleeting weather the atmosphere was a little subdued. However, the RMU fans were loud and happy pulling off the upset. I was very impressed with RMU guard Josh Williams who finished with 24 points. His game combines quickness with an accurate 3 point shot. He kept the Central Michigan defenders on their toes all evening.

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The national championship trophy for NCAA men’s basketball was on display tonight at RMU. Quite a few selfies were taken with the trophy.

As always, I do like it when the free bling is given out.

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Happy Holidays everyone! See you next year!

Next game: Liberty at Florida Gulf Coast 01/02/20

 

Robert Morris vs. Long Island University (Brooklyn) 02/02/2017

#45 of Operation 351    12% complete

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I will be giving out two awards on this trip.

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Award # 1- This school has the coolest pep band. Led by an enthusiastic band leader who gyrated and urged the students into some soulful and explosive music during the game, the pep band was worth the price of admission which was free (details later).

 

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Award # 2- This was absolutely the worst gym on my travels so far. There were no signs anywhere leading up to the building. Perhaps I entered on the wrong side but I had to ask numerous times where the gym was. When I get there, I walk into a non-descript entrance where there is a buffet going on in a crowded hallway. I asked again and followed some stranger to an obscure elevator off to the side riding up a couple of floors. I attempt to follow him and buy a ticket. This particular entrance did not take cash. When the girl attempted to explain to me how to go the right way, she became very confused. She said “Hey don’t worry about” and let me in for free.

I usually like to walk around at half time but got very lost bumping into stairwells and classrooms as I did so. There was no place to walk around as in most arenas. Again, I will apologize if I was not looking hard enough but it should not be difficult to enjoy the ambiance of a college basketball arena. Somewhere there was a concession stand but I never did find it.

If you look above, I was staring at a white wall with one banner hung in the middle. This space is crying for a mural or something to spice it up.

Sorry LIU I am sure you are a great school but this arena needs some TLC.

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LIU came in with a much better record (14-9) than Robert Morris (7-16) but the game was back and forth. Robert Morris had the better guards but could not match the size of LIU underneath. Both teams fought hard as you will see in a typical NEC game with 15 lead changes. The game went down to the last minute with Robert Morris pulling off the road upset.

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I was very impressed with RMU sophomore guard Isiah Still. He led all scorers with 21 points. His penetration skills and scoring in the paint kept LIU off balance all night long. I will be watching him over the next 2 years.

So if you are every in this area which a couple of blocks down Flatbush Ave. near the Barclays Center, stop into Juniors for the best cheesecake ever. I can still taste it!

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On to the Palestra Tuesday night!