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Mid-Major Madness Road Trip Day 3: Fame and Danes

Sunday took us from Springfield to Albany

Photo: Peter Robert Casey

Sorry this dispatch is coming to you a little late. I hope it’s good enough to make up for that.

We’ll start with the beginning of the day because, well, where else would we start?

And when I say the beginning of the day, I mean quite literally “the beginning of the day.” Like shortly after midnight on Sunday morning, which is when I published the last update.

Once I hit publish, I didn’t have much trouble falling asleep at the renowned Red Roof Inn PLUS. But it only felt like a few minutes later when I was awoken by the voices of other guests, talking screaming amongst themselves with no regard for those of us trying to sleep.

A few minutes later, it was a blaring car alarm.

A few minutes after that was silenced, even louder guests.

I don’t know how much sleep I got, but I do know that I take back all the nice things I said about that hotel in my previous post. In addition to the outside environment, the bathroom was cramped, the temperature erratic, and I’m not sure if the shower ever actually drained. The bugs (not bed bugs, thankfully) that I spotted on the floor were just the gross icing on the cake.

Peter and I got out of there early and headed to Springfield for our first stop of the day, the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Because we are self-respecting human beings, we had both been there a handful of times, so this was nothing new. Still, it was a necessary pilgrimage.

A few select photos can do a better job summarizing than a quick paragraph-long recap:

Yes, I am really that short. Laugh all you want. I’m used to it.

From Springfield, it was maybe a 70-minute drive to Albany for the Great Danes’ game against Maine at SEFCU Arena. We were looking forward to seeing some American East action, but had one stop to make first.

Peter has a friend who owns a brewing company in Albany called Druthers. He insisted on stopping by so we could try the deep fried Bavarian-style pretzels and signature beer cheese dip. He left the car running, hustled inside, grabbed to orders and came out.

10 minutes later, they were gone and we were full of both satisfaction and personal shame. I don’t write food reviews for a reason — I suck at describing how something tastes without saying “delicious.” So I’ll just say they were delicious and you should totally try them next time you’re in Albany.

Anyway, off to SEFCU Arena.

From the outside, the place isn’t much. It looks like any single-story athletic facility, probably housing a ho-hum, outdated gym and athletic offices. Our expectations were not high.

First impressions, however, are often wrong, and we were thrilled to learn that this was such an instance.

As we approached the arena, a purple-clad season ticket holder was standing outside. As we neared her, she asked if we needed tickets, and without hesitation handed us two extras. We sat with her, about eight rows back, at center court. Perfect seats.

Once you pass through the turnstiles, you immediately see that SEFCU is designed more like a mid-to-high-major arena, rather than a typical America East gymnasium. There’s an actual concourse with real concessions. There are real seats in addition to bleachers. It’s not cramped to the point that you’re sitting both two feet from the action and two inches from the knees of the person behind you.

The game itself was a blowout. Albany and Maine traded huge runs in the first half, but with about 15 minutes to play, the Great Danes pulled away for an 81-63 win that was even easier than the score indicated.

The highlight of the game came in the final minute when walk-on Nick Fruscio entered. He’s listed at 5’10, wears glasses, and it looks like a good gust of wind can knock him over without much trouble. But he got the ball on his first possession of action, pulled off about 10 seconds of Globetrotter-like dribbling, shook his defender, and knocked down a three as the shot clock expired.

The place exploded.

It was his first collegiate three-point attempt and his first collegiate points.

Retire now, kid. Go out on top.

Day Three Summary:

Total distance traveled: 595 miles
Dunkin Donuts visited: 5
Tweet from America East commissioner Amy Huchthausen:

Me being short next to a cardboard cutout of Rebecca Lobo:

Up next: I’m headed up to New Rochelle solo tonight for Iona’s game against Quinnipiac. It’ll be my fourth new home gym in as many days.