When I first heard about the 800 Games Project I knew I wanted to do my part. I figured I could add a good amount of games being a CCU season ticket holder. Once the season started I found myself looking around to see what colleges were within a reasonable distance and started making my way to those games. I even looked up a few games for when I made my trip back up to Michigan over the holidays. Even with this, I never thought at this point in the season I would have been to 28 games, with 27 below the red line.
It looks like I'll probably be going to around 50 games this year, so I knew I had to try out some of the traditions Kyle had. I know I'm probably going to always watch the Super Bowl, so that one was out, and the idea of eating a taco made of only condiments didn't really appeal to me either. The one thing that did intrigue me was horchata. I mean "how bad could it be?" I thought, from pictures it looks like skim milk with ice in it and while that may not be the best flavor in the world I should at least try it.
My search for horchata was almost not to be on Saturday before the Presbyterian and Coastal Carolina game. When I went to the Gardner Webb vs. CCU game on Thursday there were fliers posted that there would be a free cookout if you came to the women's game beforehand. There were no limitations on the flier, all it mentioned was free food and since I was already planning on attending the game, I looked at this as an added incentive.
When Saturday came, I jumped on Twitter right before I was going to head up to Conway and I'm glad I did. There were several tweets amongst several of the CCU related followers posting about the free food. There was one that said the first 100 fans got free food, then a few minutes later another post of the first 100 students with the food line starting an hour before the game. My plan for the day went down the tubes, so the horchata idea came to mind. After a quick Google search I was in luck because El Patio had a menu posted with horchata and the restaurant was only a mile from the university.
I made the 25-minute drive on the unusually quiet Saturday afternoon and walked into El Patio. I went into the bar area and instinctively ordered a beer. I wanted to check out the menu first and there it was on the back page.
I'm not sure what Pina y Jamaica means, but I figured it would be good enough, I asked the waiter about it and he said I would like it and that it was homemade. He went to the back and returned with my free chips and salsa and a tall glass of cloudy liquid.
I had my questions about what I was going to drink, but what's it going to hurt? I took a sip... then another, this was some good stuff! It was very hard to explain what I was tasting, but Kyle and the rest of the midmajority were right about this concoction. The closest thing I could compare it to at the time was an airy Breyers vanilla milkshake. That description doesn't do it justice, so it is well worth the try if you haven't had it yet. The whole experience at El Patio was great. My total bill was $6.91 and I got a beer, horchata, a chicken quesadilla and a hard shell taco so I found a great spot to pregame for future CCU games.
I made the short trip up to campus and went into Kimbel Arena to watch the Liberty vs CCU women's game. Liberty has been the class of women's basketball in the Big South for quite some time and they showed that rather easily in dispatching Coastal 82-45. The highlight of the game was the halftime mascot game which saw the likes of a tiger, pizza slices, a shark, the sun, bacon, and even the Statue of Liberty which lost its head shortly after tipoff.
I was looking forward to the upcoming men's game with Presbyterian and CCU. In particular I wanted to see PC's Al'Lonzo Coleman who I hadn't seen play in more than 3 years. Coleman has been a beast in his years in the Big South, but the past two years he had been redshirted and injured when Presbyterian had made the trip to Conway.
Coastal has been in some very tight games as of late, but they came out with a sense of urgency. The Chants stormed out to at 12-2 lead forcing a PC timeout, but CCU kept up the pace and extended the game opening run to 23-6 before another TO was called. PC was finally able to get into the game mainly behind Coleman who was getting what he wanted down low. The Blue Hose were still being careless with the ball and Coastal was taking advantage with 16-2 points off turnover advantage and a 40-26 halftime lead.
At the half we were greeted with some more mascot basketball action. The Conway High School Tiger was quite the force down low, while the pizza slices just decided to hang out around halfcourt.
I could tell that Presbyterian was going to make a bit of surge going into the 2nd. CCU made a bunch of long jumpers and tough fadeaways that were all falling. They certainly couldn't keep up these crazy shots the whole game and PC didn't disappoint by creeping back in and closing the lead to 7 after Khalid Mutakabbir's 3 point play.
Seven points would be the closest the game would get the rest of the way as CCU shifted their game to feeding the post and crashing the board which built their lead back up. Chris Gradnigo put the game out of reach in a short stretch that saw him get an offensive board after a missed FT and throw it down. A PC turnover on the other end led to a quick 3 by Gradnigo. He then got a steal on the other end and raced down for a pull up jumper for a 21-point lead.
The Chanticleers closed out the game with a 81-63 victory in a game I thought would be much closer. Presbyterian is a senior laden team, but CCU was too much for them on this occasion.
I had seen my 29th game and saw something new with a heated mascot game and had my first horchata. Who knows what will be in store for me the rest of the year? And at this point the thought of a guaco doesn't seem too bad right now.
at COASTAL CAROLINA 81, PRESBYTERIAN 63 01/14/2012
PRESBYTERIAN 8-10 (2-6) -- A. Bolin 2-5 9-13 13; K. Mutakabbir 6-14 3-3 16; A. Coleman 6-14 4-5 16; P. Miller 1-2 0-0 3; E. Washington 8-12 2-2 21; J. Clyburn 0-2 2-2 2; J. Reynolds 0-1 2-2 2; T. Deihl 1-1 0-0 3; R. McTavish 0-0 0-0 0; R. Hargrave 0-0 0-0 0; R. McCray 0-1 0-2 0; W. Truss 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 22-49 13-16 63. COASTAL CAROLINA 13-4 (6-1) -- K. Greenwood 2-10 5-5 9; D. Nieman 6-6 0-0 16; S. McLaurin 4-6 0-0 8; C. Gradnigo 8-14 0-0 18; J. Pack 5-8 0-2 10; A. Raffa 5-9 1-4 12; W. Gillis 1-4 2-4 4; D. Moore 2-5 0-0 4; J. Griffin 0-0 0-0 0; B. Addey 0-0 0-0 0; C. Ashford 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 33-62 8-17 81.
Three-point goals: PRES 6-13 (P. Miller 1-2; K. Mutakabbir 1-6; T. Deihl 1-1; E. Washington 3-4), CCU 7-16 (C. Gradnigo 2-6; A. Raffa 1-4; D. Moore 0-1; D. Nieman 4-4; K. Greenwood 0-1); Rebounds: PRES 30 (A. Coleman 15), CCU 29 (J. Pack 9); Assists: PRES 5 (E. Washington 2), CCU 11 (K. Greenwood 7); Total Fouls -- PRES 18, CCU 15; Fouled Out: PRES-None; CCU-None.