As I sit here in the lap of luxury, I write to update you on the second day of the Mid-Major Madness Road Trip. Frankly, I almost couldn’t be bothered to write. But while I enjoy the comfort — nay, the opulence — of my current dwelling, I felt it only fair to share with you, the common people, the tales of my day.
And so, I take a break from the amenities of this beautiful Red Roof Inn PLUS, and I write this blog post.
The day began in Warwick, Rhode Island, where I awoke at a Holiday Inn Express and met my friend Peter downstairs for a quick breakfast. If you recall, Peter is the czar of Sports Passport and is chauffeuring me because we both love basketball and I suck at driving. Our first stop of the day was in Quincy, Mass., where we paid homage to the Mecca of Road Tripping, the original Dunkin Donuts.
Founded in 1950 by William Rosenberg, this humble coffee shoppe gave birth to the global phenomenon of slightly above average coffee that tastes like a candy bar if you add a flavor swirl in there.
This original location was unlike any Dunkin I’d ever seen. It came complete with a counter bar with chair cushions in the shape of donuts, and walls filled with old photographs of Rosenberg enjoying his glorious creation.
10/10. Would return.
From there, the plan was to drive to Harvard, where we’d catch the Crimson’s game against Dartmouth. We did that. Eventually.
But first we called an audible.
If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know I’m a UConn fan (I appreciate your condolences). You should also know that Peter is very much into basketball tourism, as his site would indicate. We happened to be about five minutes away from legendary former UConn coach Jim Calhoun’s high school, so we went there just to snap a picture of his plaque in the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.
Hey look whose high school we're at pic.twitter.com/l8wL7FOXMo— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) January 21, 2017
Totally worth it.
Then it was off to Harvard. When we pulled into the school’s athletic complex, we were greeted by the behemoth that is Harvard Stadium — the coliseum where the Crimson play football. It happened to be open as students ran the stadium steps, getting a workout in while the weather held. We walked in as well and saw an enormous arrangement of concrete slabs, presumably meant to be stadium seats. It appeared like a horseshoe-shaped street curb big enough to fit the butts of 30,000 spectators. Throw in how steep each row is and how football is often played in 3.5-hour stretches during the late fall and winter, and nothing seemed less comfortable. We loved it.
Check out the national championship banners overlooking this massive prison holding cell.
Fight fiercely Haaaaaavard #MMMTrip pic.twitter.com/ElYBH0Unwv— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) January 21, 2017
By the way, identify why I wrote these tweets the way I did and I will Venmo you $2*.
Fight, fight, fight! Demonstrate to them our skill! pic.twitter.com/DDItryLKiX— Mid-Major Madness (@mid_madness) January 21, 2017
For what it’s worth, we were disappointed by the bubble over the field as well.
Anyhoo, soon enough it was time for the game. You know, the whole reason we’re on this trip.
Tickets outside Lavietes Pavilion are a robust $25, but the Crimson pretty much filled their gym, so I guess the price works for them. We took our seats three rows behind the Dartmouth bench and sat back as Harvard’s Siyani Chambers nailed half-court shots during warmups like they were free throws.
When the game got going, Harvard quickly went up 12, but the Big Green fought back and took a one-point lead into halftime thanks to a buzzer-beating three. Still, there wasn’t much drama in this one as Harvard responded quickly out of the locker room, led for most of the second half, and won 82-68.
But that wasn’t the fun part. The fun part was watching Harvard big man Zena Edosomwan. The 6’9 senior had been having a quiet year offensively, but he exploded on Saturday with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three jaw-dropping blocks. The big fella can get up there and can swing momentum in a game in a single swatting motion. For a day, at least, the double-double machine we got to know last year had returned.
After the game, we decided to grab a bite to eat then drive about three hours west to Albany for tomorrow’s game. We got a little less than halfway before realizing our route took us directly through Springfield, home of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
We called another audible, pulled over, and grabbed a hotel in West Springfield. And that’s where I come to you tonight: from the hotel too good to be called the Red Roof Inn. The Red Roof Inn Plus has it all. I have curtains on my windows. Four (count ‘em) pillows on my bed. A toilet AND sink. And we are in walking distance to Hooters, which is where we scarfed down some wings and watched highlights of Marcus Keene’s big day.
(side note: the West Springfield Hooters is gigantic. It’s weird.)
Now, as the clock nears midnight, I must be heading to bed. We have a big day tomorrow: Hall of Fame in the morning, drive west to Albany for a 2 p.m. game, then back to the city, where I will sleep in my own bed prior to our Monday-night finale at Iona.
Day Two Summary:
Total distance traveled: 343 miles
Dunkin Donuts visited: 3, including the original
Sandwich I had: We went to this place called Grendel’s Den on Harvard’s campus and I ordered the Grendel. It’s a delightful creation served on rye with roast beef and other assorted crap on top.
Historical artifact: A plaque commemorating the first Dunkin
Up Next: See above. Hall of Fame in the morning and Albany vs. Maine in the afternoon.
*no I won’t