St. Francis Brooklyn (56) vs. University of Miami (FL) (79) 11/23/2022

Game #106 of 363 29% complete

As I start my seventh season of Operation 351, my hope is that normalcy returns from the COVID days allowing me to schedule games without the fear of cancelations. I had some good trips planned last year that fizzled while impending news of COVID ravaged teams. I had to guess when and where this would be happening in hopes of getting my money back on flights and hotels. I still hurt from the canceled 4 day- 4 game trip to Wisconsin which would have completed the state and done a good run of the University of Wisconsin schools and Marquette. Oh, the lost trips to the breweries also were painful.

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It is unusual to have only one game on a trip. However, this was one night out of a weeklong family trip to Key Colony Beach which is a 2-hour ride from the arena. It was a chance to spend time with my daughter Hope, son in law John and two grand kids, Jack, aged two years and Lily, 3 months. John, although not a huge basketball fan, was kind enough to accompany me on the trip considering that he had spent a few sleepless nights with the young ones. Hopefully, Jack will push my wheelchair to my seat as I complete my last game in the year 2050. 🙂 That is if the NCAA will stop adding teams each year to Division 1.

We were very impressed with the campus on the way to the arena. With palm trees and a modern architecture look to the buildings, John remarked that perhaps he should have come here instead of Wake Forest 10 years ago. Since this a was buy in game and with many of the students away for the Thanksgiving holiday, the atmosphere was very subdued with no band and a smattering of students.

St. Francis held their own for the first 10 minutes, but the athleticism and height of the Hurricanes was too much for the Terriers to handle. Miami was hurting from their thrashing from Maryland in the ACC/Big Ten matchup last game, so I guess playing the small Terriers squad was a welcome sight.

Seeing Miami coach Jim Larrangna on the sidelines brough back nightmares when George Mason beat my beloved UConn team in 2006 on the way to the final four. Miami player Nijel Pack, the transfer from Kansas State, led the way with 23 points. At only 6 feet tall, he was very proficient in finding room for his smooth jumper.

Ted Wilcox led the Terriers with 18 points. I think that they will make some noise in the Northeast Conference. Many of the kids are from the playgrounds of New York City and showed some impressive moves.

Throughout my travels, I see so many players coming from the private academies in Connecticut. Putnam Science Academy and St. Thomas More each had a player on the squads tonight. My guess is that these players need to bone up on the academics in order to qualify for D1 basketball.

I have two pet peeves here from tonight that I would like to point out.

  1. Having cheerleaders throwing t shirts into the crowd and your seat is not in within 10 rows of the court. Bring in the air gun!
  2. Not having real ice cream for sale. Dipping Dots are not real and don’t make sense.

I will conclude with some photos from our excursions in Key West.

Turtle Hospital:

A view from the back of our rental:

A sunset cruise with Minny the boat dog:

The Dolphin Research Center:

And of course, to the spot where it all began for us Parrot heads:

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Manhattan (61) vs. St. Francis Brooklyn (54) 12/20/2016

#40 of 351/ 11% complete

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This was indeed the smallest gym I have ever been to in my entire life. That includes countless middle school, high school, college and pro arenas. It does not get more intimate than this with a 1200 seat capacity. I attended the game with my daughter Hope who was visiting friends in New York City. She did ask on multiple occasions, “This is Division 1 basketball?”.

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Both rosters were filled with NYC players. Although the teams are in separate leagues, one could tell by the jawing back and forth between both teams that many of the players were on rival teams in the NYC high school scene. As you see the banners in the above picture, I noticed the absence of an NCAA tournament banner. Yes,  the St. Francis Terriers are also one of only five Division I programs to have never participated in the NCAA tournament.

 

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I don’t like to bad mouth any player but I can not resist when discussing Ahmed Ismail from Manhattan. I saw this 7′ 2″ Egyptian giant warming up  and was intrigued.  He would surely dominate this game with his height. On the contrary, I have never seen a worse big man on the college level ever. He hustled and was genuinely trying out there. However, he fumbled 95% of the balls that came to him whether they were passes or rebounds. I am convinced that Ismail was signed sight unseen strictly because of his height. I actually felt sorry for him as the game went on. He is in the center of the picture below.

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Player of the game goes to Manhattan guard Zavier Turner. This 5′ 9″ dynamo guard was quicker than anyone else on the floor plus was accurate with his 3 pointers. He is from Indiana so you have to wonder how he ended up in Manhattan. He led all scorers with 26 points.

For those looking for a great place to eat in Brooklyn, check out Harvey’s End. We had excellent salmon and gnocchi. As a key lime connoisseur, I had my first taste of Persian Key lime pie. I am still thinking about it this morning.

Since this will be my last game of the year, happy holidays to all my friends and family!

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St. Francis (Brooklyn) (60) vs. Manhattan (71) 12/14/2015

#21 0f 351

Here is a word of advice if you want to attend a game at the Draddy Gymnasium. Be prepared to climb a whole lot of stairs to get to the gym perched on a mountaintop. Well it seemed like a mountain. Also, do not be afraid to ask students where it is once you get on campus because it is difficult to find.

The gym is part of a large building that also holds track and other sporting venues. I wasn’t sure if I was walking into a basketball gym  because it looks like a huge field house. The basketball court is one area in the middle.

With attendance at 614 patrons, the building was not loud or enthusiastic except for the exception of the pep band playing some pretty good music. Both teams are mediocre this year so I don’t see any NCAA aspirations for either one.

The gym had a huge HDTV screen over the visitor’s bench detailing stats. That was a first for me.

Interesting to see that Manhattan had three players from Lagos, Nigeria with heights of 6’4″, 6’8″ and 6’10”. What do they feed those boys in Lagos? St Francis had two players from Iceland.

Before the game, I ate at the Bronx Alehouse on 238th St. It is a few steps from the subway stop. I had a New Holland Carhatt Woodsman (pale ale barrel aged) and a Victory Winter Cheers (winter white ale). The walk to the gym was no more than 10 minutes but I did ask the bartender if it was safe to walk. After looking  at the neighborhood, I was ready to kick in another $3 to go one subway stop up to 242nd St. He assured me  that it was okay and it was since I am alive this morning. Walking next to the Van Cordlandt park did make me a little uneasy walking in the dark with tall coop buildings all around me.

Stadium Journeys: http://www.stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/draddy-gymnasium-s554

St. Francis Brooklyn (51) vs. Bryant (61) 02/28/2015

#14 of 351

Can Bryant University spend a couple of bucks putting up signs on the campus to the Chace Arena? Even the arena building itself does not have the name on it. I was driving around for a few minutes before I luckily found the team bus parked in front.

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I did a double take looking at the program seeing that Bryant played St. Francis four times in the year. There are two St. Francis teams in the league –  one from Brooklyn and one from Pennsylvania. I can’t think of another league that has this situation.

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I was very impressed with the Bryant student section. They were loud the entire game. Given the fact that St. Francis was 15-2 in the NEC, the win by Bryant (11-6 in the NEC) was an upset.

St. Francis had a player Gunnar Olafsson from Iceland. I have never seen a collegiate basketball player from Iceland before. I would have gone far enough to say that Iceland did not have a basketball within its borders.

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A shout out to Stadium Journey for recommending Parente’s Restuaraunt down the road. I would have driven right by this place otherwise. I finished the evening off with salmon, fries and garlic bread.

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Review from Stadium Journey: http://www.stadiumjourney.com/stadiums/chace-athletic-center-s716