Sacred Heart (64) vs Lafayette (62) 12/02/18

Game #71 of 353   20% complete

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The rain continued to fall in the Lehigh Valley as we headed over Sunday to Easton to see the Lafayette Leopards. As we drove up to the Kirby Sports Center, the building looked historically old as we drove around looking for parking. Going around to the other side, we encountered a morphed building with a modern look. A little WIKI research found the following explaining the dual look : “Dedicated on June 2, 2000, the $35 million Allan P. Kirby Sports Center includes a new, 110,000-square-foot  intramural and recreational sports facility attached to the previously existing Kirby Field House. The field house itself received a $2.5 million face lift and interior renovations.”

The campus reminded me so much of the Holy Cross campus. The school buildings are situated on a hill side mixed in with older style residential houses.

Here are a couple of pictures of the cool looking football arena adjacent to the field house.

I had to call the ticket office last week to inquire about courtside seats. I always tell my Operation 351 story to anyone who might be interested. As I was picking up the tickets, I met the women manning the ticket office who immediately started asking questions about the mission. They thought it was pretty cool which always gives me that added dose of adrenaline to keep this this quest going.

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The halls were filled with displays of Lafayette sports history. The red uniform above was an 1890 football uniform. Another case had a basketball from the early 1900’s.  I  believe that every campus arena should have these displays with the Palestra being the model.

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Being from Connecticut, it is always a treat to see a local club (Sacred Heart) come in as a visitor far away from Connecticut. However, my rule is to always root for the home school with the sole exception when I see UCONN as the visitor.

So I have been asked, “If you are such a die hard UCONN fan, how can you miss games like the Arizona/UCONN game Sunday to see a game in Pennsylvania?” My answer is that it getting increasingly difficult to schedule back to back games that minimize the cost and time traveling from Connecticut. I also have to insure that the games fit into my personal schedule given that I do have a life outside of Operation 351 and also with other Operation 351 games previously scheduled. When the opportunity presents itself, I grab it knowing that I can always watch UCONN delayed afterwards. I did die a slow death watching the end of the Airzona/ UCONN game live on the TV in the arena hall at halftime.

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This was a very entertaining back and forth game to watch. I am always concerned about an overtime game when it is the last game to see before heading home. With the score tied at 62, a missed three pointer by Sacred Heart was tipped in with three seconds to go by Jare’l Spelman to give the Pioneers the win. The 6’10” Spelman had a long reach and frequently out rebounded the smaller Lafayette team. Hard to imaging that Spelman was a transfer from Division 2 school Florida Southern. He must have truly dominated down there.

                                                  Happy Holidays to everyone!

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Next game : Depaul at Villanova 1/2/19



Wagner (75) vs. Sacred Heart (86) 02/05/2015

#11 of 351

I was asked by the ticket person “Would you like to upgrade to court side seating for an extra $2”. Oh yeah was my response. Court side seats mean you are basically sitting on the court itself just off beyond the sideline. I will always try to get court side seats which is entirely possible when visiting a smaller arena like the William Pitt Center.



Another advantage of sitting this close is the appreciation of how athletic some of these kids were. Seeing a flying dunk at close ground level looks impressive to say the least. You also get an appreciation of the intensity of the athletes in action.

I was going to go with my cousin Mike but unfortunately his wife Tammy came down with the flu. He had to stay home and take care of her. A friend Andy and Mike are two that love sports as much as I do. They have both accompanied to some games.


At the beginning of the game, I hand counted (not including the band and cheerleaders) 78 folks in the stands on this very cold Thursday night. I probably drew from stares from people thinking why would that person pay extra for a game like this. Yes both clubs were having mediocre seasons. But to really experience a game, you need to get as close as possible to hear the players shout instructions, hear the trash talking going on and occasionally hear the referees question calls among themselves.


I saw that one player Noel Long on the Wagner roster who hailed from Waterford CT. I texted my buddy Rick from Waterford to see if he knew him. Yes he replied that they were friends of the entire family. Small world!

Kudos to the Sacred Heart band! Not only did they play loud but they were the only ones in the stands cheering their team on. I was impressed with their numbers.


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