Game 028:at Boston University 69, Binghamton 54 Sunday, January 9, 2005 Case Gymnasium - Boston, Massachusetts
This wasn't going to come to light until the 100 Games Project director's cut or the DVD extras, but there's a missing game on the list. On Wednesday, November 24, I took the Green Line out to the campus of Boston University for what I thought was going to be Game 8. They were hosting a holiday getaway day 2 o'clock game versus Fordham, and I happened to be in town. So I printed out some information and directions from the BU website, and headed out into a frigid, drizzly afternoon.
Beware the Goblin King, Matt Wolff!
When I got out at Boston University West, there it was - the splendid new home of Terrier sports and entertainment, Agganis Arena. I took a moment to marvel in the gently arcing brick face, the shining rectangular latticework of glass and steel. But nobody was there except for some hard-hat guys who were milling around - and it didn't look like the arena was finished, much less full of joyous basketball fans. I quickly realized there had been some mistake.
"Excuse me," I inquired of a worker, who was cleaning away debris from the sidewalk. "Could you tell me where the basketball game is?"
He pointed down the street and mumbled. With his thick local accent, I couldn't tell if he was barking like a dog or just saying "go f*** yourself." I quickly tired of walking around deflecting sleet and got back on the train, and it wasn't until much later when I realized that he was saying "Roof."
In retrospect, I had no excuse for not knowing the nickname for BU's Case Gymnasium, nor its precise location. After all, The Official Dad Of The Mid-Majority™ got his bachelor's degree there, and I requested an admissions brochure back when I was taking my SAT's. But I finally made it out to a Terrier game last Thursday night - their historic 73-22 throttling of Hartford, a game in which the home team allowed the second-lowest point total since the NCAA instituted the shot clock. The Official Wife™ drove me there; we slunk down Commonwealth Avenue with our eyes peeled, dutifully followed the MapQuest directions down a dimly lit dead-end street called Babcock.
The only hint was a red telephone-pole banner with the growling cartoon Terrier mascot. But wait, there was a bus. And there were hulky athletic-type dudes getting off it, unloading equipment and entering a nondescript square building.
"Hold on a second," said The Official Wife™. "They're all carrying hockey sticks. Are you sure this is the right place?"
"I'm goin' in."
I gained access through a side entrance, ambled down a thin corridor, past twin doors on the left that led to a hockey rink. I saw a man in a red polo shirt embriodered with the same Terrier logo from the street banner. "Basketball?" He pointed me to a side door that read Hall Of Fame Stairwell. Up two flights, and then I was accosted by a young woman. "Got a ticket? No? Back down, across the corridor, there are two windows."
Back down the standpipe, down into the corridor, to two unmarked box-office windows behind which were two men encased in shadow. Nine bucks. Back up the stairwell, flashing my ticket. "No, no, this doorway. Turn left, then another left, through the doors, up the stairs to the turnstiles. No, that's the wrong door. This door."
I was reeling and panting by the time I finally reached my seat, and that's when I finally "got it" - we were on top of the hockey rink, or on "The Roof," hence the name. And when I looked around me, I stopped feeling so stupid: only 146 fellow intrepid souls had found their way into the arena. Where were all the other fans? Were they trapped in the Hall Of Fame Stairwell, or lost in some other quadrant of BU's athletic catacombs?
As with most things, repetition breeds success - so getting back out to The Roof to see BU play Binghamton yesterday was a snap. I just mimicked the previous pattern. Once again, the official attendance figure was way off (I counted 274, not 496), and the 588,867 residents of Boston Proper who had other things to do with their Sunday afternoons missed a nice little defensive display. BU took about 12 minutes to figure out their green-clad guests, then dazed them with periodic bursts of full-court pressure and took an 11-point lead into the break. The Bearcats hung around at the beginning of the second half, but the Terriers tired of their antics and clamped down. Boston University's freshman guard and Mid-Majority icon model Matt Wolff led all scorers with 15, and BU put up 69 points - or roughly a quarter-point for each fan in attendance.
Now, it's not likely that BU simply doesn't want people to go to their basketball games. But why on earth would they hide them behind vague website directions, shadowy sidestreets and endless staircases? Shouldn't someone be able to see a basketball game without having to invoke the Freedom Of Information Act?
And it's not as if Boston University basketball is embarrassing, classified stuff. After making the Tournament in 2002 as a 16-seed, they've run up impressive regular season records during the last two seasons, only to fall in the America East conference tourney both times. The closest point of reference that I have for this program is Lehigh, another school with a dominant winter sport (BU: hockey, LU: wrestling) that can't manage a four-figure crowd to a basketball game despite recent on-court success and Tournament glory. But Stabler Arena is right there on top of a hill, so Lehigh students can't make the excuse that they can't find the place on Friday nights.
So what about that glistening recently-opened building there on Commonwealth Avenue, which hosted its first BU hockey game last week? That 6,300-seat multipurpose palace which will welcome Sesame Street Live, Stars On Ice, and the Duran Duran reunion tour in the coming months? Nope, hockey will get priority sports-wise at the Agganis - only two basketball games this season will be held there, on February 12 against rock stars Vermont and February 20 versus local rivals Northeastern. For the most part, the Terrier hoopsters are stuck out on "The Roof," out in the cold.
So stunned was I by the "22-point thing" on Thursday that I left behind the black camera bag I carry to all the 100 Games Project games - with my keys and electronic accessories inside. I called the athletic office the next day, and thanked them profusely when they told me they had lost-and-founded my bag. I explained that I'd be sending The Official Wife Of The Mid-Majority™ down to pick it up, since she was closer. "Okay," the guy said. "It'll be at the ticket windows next to the hockey rink. Ask for Tony."
An hour later, I received a call from a flustered Official Wife™. "OK, I'm standing here at the ticket windows near the hockey arena," she said. "There's nobody here named Tony. I can't find anyone at all."