When the schedules were finally released for the season, I scanned the games I wanted to attend. I knew long weekends off work during the holidays would be a perfect time for possible road trips that weren't too far away. I saw that Coastal Carolina was facing High Point on New Year's Eve, so I knew that I definitely wanted to catch that game being a CCU fan. The game was an evening tilt though, so this left me an opportunity to try to pull a doubleheader. Asheville was visiting Winthrop and this was my first choice, but with a 4 p.m. start, I wouldn't be able to make the HP game in time because of the distance. South Carolina was hosting USC-Upstate at noon, so that was an option. While the Gamecocks were no SEC powerhouse I figured they would handle Upstate easily since they weren't too highly regarded coming into the season, plus it would have been a long trip to do both and come home. I then came across North Carolina State hosting Western Carolina. The game was at 2 p.m., and it was only an hour and a half away from High Point. NC State has been a mediocre-to-bad ACC team recently, so I figured WCU may have a chance at taking out the Wolfpack.
I had been to Raleigh only once before and it was to go to the RBC Center for a Carolina Hurricanes game, so I was intrigued to see how a college basketball game would translate. I made great time making the trip in just under three hours and was glad to arrive at the arena as early as I did, since I still needed to buy a ticket.
That is when I ran into the convoluted mess that is parking for an NC State game at RBC Center. I was 55 minutes early when I turned into the arena, but it took 30 minutes to park my car. There are designated zones that you can buy a parking pass ahead of time to park in, while general parking has to circle the arena in a traffic jam to park as far away as possible and still pay $10. I've been to tons of NBA games in my lifetime, and several football games, and had never ran into such a cluster. Even when I had been to the Hurricanes game, all you did was enter, pay, and park as close as you wanted. Instead I was stuck with a spot way out near the NC State football stadium.
The arena is somewhere out there in the distance on the right...I think.
The thing is, I probably should have just stayed in the car. The college basketball experience doesn't translate too well in the cavernous RBC Center. It was pretty good for a hockey game, but everything is lost within the vast space, especially in the upper bowl where I was located. I'm sure it gets nice and loud when Duke and UNC come in and the place is packed, but on this day you could barely hear the student section or the band.
It is not as if the home team didn't a ton of opportunities to get loud, as the Catamounts didn't put up much of a fight. I figured Western Carolina to be a decent Southern Conference team, but they were severely overmatched this afternoon. I spent a good part of the game walking around the concourse, looking for signs of the Hurricanes trophies and awards and checking out the various dining options on three levels. Many of the workers looked bored, as there was no need for every food station or cart to be open for this half-empty arena.
I'll give credit to many of the Catamount fans, as even as there team quickly went down by scores of 20, 30, and 40, they still stayed and cheered on their team for every made bucket or good play, while the Wolfpack fans filed out early when the game was no longer in doubt. Their patience was rewarded with a 24-9 garbage time victory for WCU.
It's no secret as to why NC State plays games at the RBC -- it's to make as much money as possible -- but I'll probably never make the trip again. Hopefully next year they will have more games at the old Reynolds Arena during nonconference season.
at NORTH CAROLINA STATE 82, WESTERN CAROLINA 55 12/31/2011
WESTERN CAROLINA 7-7 (2-0) -- T. Sumler 2-9 2-2 8; H. Mutombo 2-9 3-4 7; K. Cole 4-11 2-2 12; P. Ross 1-7 0-0 2; B. Boggs 3-10 1-2 8; T. King 2-7 0-0 4; T. Tankelewicz 1-3 0-0 2; K. Hall 1-1 0-0 2; J. Sinclair 2-3 0-0 4; I. Hollis 1-3 0-0 3; S. Smithson 0-0 0-0 0; D. Dunford 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 20-65 8-10 55. NORTH CAROLINA STATE 10-4 (0-0) -- S. Wood 3-5 2-2 11; C. Williams 8-10 3-3 21; L. Brown 7-8 0-0 14; C. Leslie 4-9 6-7 14; R. Howell 6-9 0-0 12; D. Painter 0-0 2-2 2; A. Johnson 1-2 2-3 5; T. de Thaey 1-5 0-0 2; T. Harris 0-1 0-0 0; J. Raymond 0-1 0-0 0; B. Amos 0-1 0-0 0; S. Battle 0-1 0-2 0; K. Smith 0-0 1-2 1; J. Lewis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-52 16-21 82.
Three-point goals: WCU 7-23 (K. Cole 2-7; H. Mutombo 0-2; T. Tankelewicz 0-1; T. Sumler 2-6; B. Boggs 1-2; D. Dunford 1-1; P. Ross 0-2; I. Hollis 1-2), NCST 6-15 (C. Williams 2-3; S. Wood 3-5; C. Leslie 0-1; A. Johnson 1-2; J. Raymond 0-1; T. de Thaey 0-2; S. Battle 0-1); Rebounds: WCU 31 (P. Ross 6), NCST 35 (R. Howell 14); Assists: WCU 4 (H. Mutombo 2), NCST 25 (L. Brown 8); Total Fouls -- WCU 20, NCST 9; Fouled Out: WCU-None; NCST-None.