UConn (80) vs. Tulane (76) 03/08/2020

Game #97 of 353 27% complete

I was not in the mood to write this. I could say that the elimination of March Madness and other sports events is a necessary precaution in the best interests of the public. I could say that the health of our citizens takes precedence over basketball games and golf tournaments. That is all true. But for my fellow college basketball and golf fans, it is a dark hole in our lives. Prayers to those afflicted with the virus and to our healthcare workers who are on the front line.

A pre-game walk through the campus on a beautiful day set the mood for the game.

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The ride to Tulane took us to the outskirts of New Orleans away from the crazy folks down on Bourbon St. A lunch at the High Hat Café was too die for. The BBQ shrimp in a beer sauce was New Orleans food at its best.

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The arena was small but modern. We got there early and were able to get close to the court watching the UConn players warm up. I never get this opportunity at other UConn games to get that close to the court!  Little did I know that this would be the last time to see UConn play this season. I was hopeful at a minimum for an NIT berth and possible trip to Madison Square Garden.

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I was happy to see many other UConn fans sitting in our section. Since this was Tulane’s last home game, the seniors were celebrated before the game. The last senior introduced was Christion Thompson. As the pictures were taken with Christion and his family, Dan Hurley the UConn coach joins the group and congratulates everyone. He even had his picture taken with the group. I thought this was a little strange and filed it under the “to be researched later” category. As it turns out, Hurley had recruited Thompson at Rhode Island and coached him for two years before Thompson transferred to Tulane. A nice gesture on Coach Hurley’s part!

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Tulane dominated the first half with Thompson’s unstoppable drives to the basket. UConn was down by 8 at the half but fought back to a 4-point victory led by Christian Vital. I argue that Vital was the best player in the AAC this year but he was beat out by Precious Anchiuwa of Memphis. Little did I know at the time how meaningless the game would end up being in light of the canceled NCAA tournaments.

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If you are a dog lover and plan on visiting New Orleans, please stop by the Villalobos Rescue Center featured on the Pit Bull and Parolees TV show to volunteer to walk dogs. Just show up and have some fun. There are set times noted on the web site but you can go on any day of the week. https://vrcpitbull.com/how-you-can-help/in-person/

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I would also suggest a ride on the Natchez Steamboat for a leisurely cruise up the Mississippi River. A self-guided tour of the engine room was interesting because the engine was taken off another steamboat in the early 1900’s. You can see the pistons going back and forth powered by hydraulics and diesel fuel. The paddle wheel turning on the back of the boat actually powers the boat.

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That completes season 6 of Operation 351. Hope to see you all next season!

 

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Uconn (60) vs. South Florida (75) 01/04/2020

Game #85 out of 353  24% complete

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My wife and I made the 2-hour track between Ft. Myers and Tampa. I am amazed at the amount of shopping malls, housing developments and country clubs along the way. The area along Route 40 was fully developed for miles and miles. Aware of the number of Connecticut folks moving to Florida, I can see how this commerce can be supported.  All the highways are designed to handle the amount of traffic unlike the choke infested interstates of New England.

We had an off day between games so we took advantage of the sunshine and 80-degree weather. First was an early morning trip to Sanibel Island to enjoy the Gulfside City Park public beach. Arriving by 9:30AM, we beat the traffic and found a great parking spot. The beach was a welcome respite from the cold Connecticut weather we left a couple of days ago.

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I recommend visiting the Edison and Ford Winter Estates if you are in the Ft. Myers area. This was our afternoon destination.  The mansions were interesting to look at although small compared to the Newport mansions. I was truly amazed at the number of inventions that Edison had invented. He was considered almost a God in his times. Many of his original inventions are there with lots of reading material.

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You may wonder at this point why isn’t he talking about the game. I have made it a habit to do a UCONN away game as part of Operation 351. It is cool sitting there in my blue UConn shirt with some others cheering on the Huskys while the home crowd stares us down with dagger eyes. The tables were turned this time as the home crowd relished the thorough beating given by South Florida to my boys. All you can do is sit there and take it. The fans especially loved giving it to coach Hurley as he earned a technical foul for complaining about the calls. As I say to my fellow UConn fans, better days are coming.

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Once again, we were treated to palm trees as we entered the Yuengling Center. It may or not have been a coincidence but many UConn fans were hanging around the Yuengling Beer Center at half time trying to down their sorrows. It was long game to endure for a Husky fan but nevertheless at a minimum, it represented one more notch in Operation 351.

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South Florida was trounced by SMU the last game and was looking to come out with a vengeance. UConn was trounced by Cincy last game and was looking to do the same. One team was successful. One team was not. Considering the fact that UConn was 3.5-point favorites and that the Bulls were missing the best player Alexis Yenta with a season ending injury, the loss was unexpected and disheartening. The Bulls guards Laquincy Rideau and David Collins were overpowering for our defense leading the way with 17 points and 15 points respectively.

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I will be back in Florida next year somewhere for Operation 351. Beaches and sunshine are hard to resist.

Next Game: Siena at Canisius 01/17/2020

UCONN (67) vs. University of Central Florida (73) 01-31-19

Game #79 of 353  22%

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I escaped the brutally cold temperatures in Connecticut to take in a road game for my beloved UConn Huskies. I have developed some strategies for planning my journey in the future years. The first is to hit the cold weather states early in November or in early March before the league tournaments start. Navigating blizzards and polar vortexes is not on my fun list of things to do. Next year, I plan to visit the last four schools in upper state New York to complete the entire state. Beyond that in later years, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan and other north border states will be done early or late to minimize weather problems.  Secondly as my old bones age, I will save the southern warm states for my later years.  If I continue my current pace and continue to breathe, I will be hitting the last school in my late seventies. Florida, California and Texas shall wait for me! Thirdly, I hope to do one UCONN road game a year to add to my quest and get to see UCONN play.

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I probably need to do a better job of checking distances to the arenas before heading out. My wife Linda accompanied me on this trip for her one obligatory game a year. As always, her attendance is predicated on extra curricular tourists trips as in Disneyworld this year. Before the game, we met up with an ex coworker who was retired and enjoying the Florida weather and cross country trips in a RV. I set dinner time at 6:30PM in a  Disney Springs restaurant  thinking I had plenty of time to see a 9PM game in Orlando. How big could Orlando be? As we sat down for dinner, one of us checked Google maps and saw that the arena was a freaking 45 minutes away much to my surprise. We made it with 10 minutes to spare but lesson learned!

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To be greeted by palm trees entering the arena was a treat. The CFE arena is new and pretty spiffy inside. The overall effect is gold and black. There were many empty seats around me in the end section. Although the crowd was enthusiastic, I was surprised by the many open seats. I wonder if the tourist setting of Orlando contributes to a lack of fan interest from a transitory population. Pyscho babble at its best!

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I have seen quite of few AAC games this year. I nominate B.J. Taylor of UCF as the player of the year. He has done the most to improve his club this year. Best known as a slasher, he has developed a sweet outside shot. He continually made the big shot tonight when needed. Conversely, I have seen little improvement of Tacko Fall over his career. A man of that size should dominate every night. The man is 7’6″ and weighs 310 pounds. It will be interesting to see if an NBA club will take a chance on him in the draft.

Now it is three days of fun in Disneyworld! Yeah I can still have fun there at my age.

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Next game: Grambling State at Jackson State 2/23/19