Outside of an NBA arena, I challenge you to find talent of this magnitude that has graced the hardwood of the same facility. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Stephon Marbury, Sebastian Telfair. I know there are a number of individuals left out. Point is, for about a decade and a half, the ABCD camp was the place high school players wanted to be in early July. Right here at Rothman Center on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University, FDU.
The Phyllis and George Rothman Center was named for the couple that donated a substantial sum of money to see the project become a 6,000-seat capacity reality. More than write a check, the Rothmans were committed to education, and did as much as they could to provide for future generations of students. George, who passed away in 2004, was on the FDU Board of Trustees and even had an honorary law degree named in his honor.
The Rothman also hit home on a personal note. As a basketball official for 23 years (and counting) I have attended numerous officiating camps and officiated many tournaments, even a game in the ABCD for a Basketball Times article.
On a coverage note, FDU and St. Peter's are the closest to home. St. Peter's is about nine miles east while FDU is the same in a northern direction. I love going to both places, though FDU does have a Hooters Restaurant about half a mile away. The center, now aged two decades, is a very well-lit facility with a good floor and your basic bleacher seating.
On this evening, FDU of the Northeast Conference will be challenged by Vermont from the America East. Both teams are on losing streaks. Something has to give. Vermont, at 4-7, is on a five-game tailspin. The latest setback a one-point loss to Iona at home this past Saturday. Just another heartbreaker for the Catamounts.
FDU has not had a win since they defeated St. Peter's on November 18th. It was the only win for the 1-8 Knights, who have played, and lost, six straight road games.
Entering the media room, Burt Shoobs of FDU greets me reminding this is 'milestone' night. Simply, it is the 750th consecutive game, dating back to November of 1982, without a miss, Burt the PA announcer has worked at FDU. The 750 encompasses men's and women's games, and is more impressive considering Burt lives approximately 10 miles away and only uses public transportation.
Early on, you get a good indication of how this will go. Both teams open up in a zone defense, but Vermont simply has more energy. They move the ball with a purpose and get good looks. FDU's attack too often has them rushing things and not getting the best attempt on their offensive end. About the only time the Knights get a run was late first half when Duquesne transfer Melquan Bolding scores seven points in a two-minute stretch. Still, the Knights trailed by a dozen at the half.
My Netbook is acting strange. Sending messages about restarts, corrupt files, you name it. I just keep hitting the 'next' button and in time the computer reboots and none of what I wrote has been lost. Technology!
During timeouts, the PA system plays holiday songs, such as "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" or 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town." During one media timeout, Adam Sandler's "Chanukah Song" is played. You can tell the person at the controls really loved this one, as the song was not turned off until the ball was put inbounds following the timeout. FDU has a cheer squad. During only two timeouts they take the floor for a routine. The other timeouts are spent dancing on the baseline to the Christmas tunes.
Second half, Vermont gets the lead up into the high teens. Not a good prospect for an FDU club in dire need of a victory. As this plays out, it is evident Vermont is better than their record indicates. FDU? Where do we start? They have struggled shooting from the field, rebounding and turning the ball over. There is individual talent, but this melting pot of transfers and other newcomers leaves coach Greg Vetrone in dire search of a team chemistry. The 71-53 Vermont victory sees four Catamounts in double figures, and gives proof this is a team better than their 5-7 record to date.
Vermont is the visiting team but it is amazing to see postgame how many alums and relatives there are hanging around and chatting with players and members of the coaching staff.
The stats arrive dutifully and promptly. The generously listed crowd of 1,050 means there is no traffic to battle exiting the parking lot. By 9:15, Hooters server Amy is pouring me a cold one for my postgame respite.
Burt Shoobs hard at work
VERMONT 71, at FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON 53 12/21/2011
VERMONT 5-7 (0-0) -- M. Glass 5-11 0-0 11; F. McGlynn 5-10 0-1 13; S. Carissimo 3-7 0-0 8; B. Voelkel 0-1 0-0 0; B. Bald 4-11 4-4 13; L. Apfeld 3-8 8-8 14; C. Rugg 2-3 0-1 4; B. Crenca 2-4 0-2 4; J. Elbaum 0-0 2-2 2; P. Bergmann 0-0 0-0 0; R. McKeaney 0-0 0-0 0; C. Santo 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 25-56 14-18 71. FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON 1-9 (0-2) -- M. Bolding 5-15 0-0 12; L. Hayes 2-7 2-4 6; G. Goode 3-7 5-6 11; B. Smith 0-4 0-0 0; M. Lo 3-6 5-5 11; K. Rochford 6-7 1-3 13; L. Robinson 0-1 0-0 0; M. Seilund 0-0 0-0 0; D. Moody 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-47 13-18 53.
Three-point goals: UVM 7-22 (M. Glass 1-4; B. Bald 1-7; S. Carissimo 2-5; F. McGlynn 3-6), FDU 2-11 (M. Bolding 2-7; B. Smith 0-1; L. Hayes 0-2; L. Robinson 0-1); Rebounds: UVM 30 (B. Voelkel 7), FDU 24 (M. Lo 6); Assists: UVM 15 (B. Voelkel 6), FDU 10 (L. Hayes 5); Total Fouls -- UVM 17, FDU 18; Fouled Out: UVM-None; FDU-None.