It had been several years since I had last traveled to Boston to visit my friend Jim. We had known each other since second grade and had always shared many of the same sports interests growing up. We have been long-suffering Detroit Lions fans for our entire lives and had to endure the likes of Wayne Fontes, Scott Mitchell, Joey Harrington, and Matt Millen. We also had the joy of watching the Pistons and going to several games together in their most recent championship years.
We have never really shared the same interest in mid-major basketball, as he remains a University of Michigan fan for which I boo him whenever I get the chance. However, I did know that that Jim would attend any games I would want to check out if I were to come up for a visit.
With him and his wife living just north of Boston, it provided ample opportunities to catch a few games since Harvard, Boston U, and Northeastern were all in Boston and various other schools close by in the New England area. I eventually saw January 28th as the best possible day, with a chance to catch three games. I called Jim and he was in, so I booked my trip.
My flight in came very late on Friday night (12:20 a.m.), as getting to and from Boston from Myrtle Beach never has convenient flight times. We caught up for a little bit, but headed to bed since we had a tripleheader of 800GP basketball in store for us the next day.
Our first game was a noon tilt between Hofstra and Northeastern. When looking on a map, I saw Northeastern was eight miles away and I was still in the mindset of "oh, that will be really quick to get to." Things like walking to the train station, waiting for the train, and waiting at all the stops didn't register for me when he told me that would take 30 minutes, but that's about what it took to get to Matthews Arena.
When you walk into Matthews you can tell the main goal for this venue is to host hockey games, as it is the most popular sport at Northeastern, with basketball as an afterthought. The seats aren't as bad as an NHL arena, but anything in the stands behind the basket are unusable seats with the nets and black curtain blocking the view. The student section is more like a student row as the ones that showed up for the games made up the first two or three rows of courtside seats.
Northeastern was an unknown for me going in. I knew about Matt Janning from a few years back, but they seemed to be a middle-of-the-pack CAA team since he left. The Huskies went through a six-game losing streak in the middle of non-conference play, but have bounced back nicely once conference play kicked in. I felt like I knew a lot more about Hofstra after reading the numerous great write-ups Gary Moore has done for them this season. While they only have one win in the Colonial, they have been in almost every game.
Despite the records, this seemed to be an even matchup, and that's how things played out in the beginning. Hofstra had a very early five-point lead, but that quickly evaporated. The teams were trading baskets and neither had an advantage of more than four.
It was nice getting a different perspective of the game with Jim being there. With him being an avid drummer, he was interested in how good the drummer would be from the pep band, and from his estimations he wasn't very good. In fact, while at some schools the band has some of the more spirited fans, the students in the band at Northeastern seemed bored to be there.
What Jim did take a liking to was Jonathan Lee on Northeastern. I had mentioned he was from our hometown of Michigan and he soon got the nickname Mohawk due to his hairstyle. This nickname was soon changed to Hawkman. I questioned the choice of nicknames, since Hawkman was one of the lamest of the Superfriends.
He mentioned that at least he didn't call him Aquaman and that Lee could bring some honor back to the name of Hawkman. I had to agree and it was hard not to like how Lee plays as is super quick and was outhustling the Hofstra guards.
It was "Hawkman's" backcourt mate however that took control of the game coming out of the half, as Quincy Ford helped Northeastern take a three-point lead and push it to as much as 11. Hofstra's Mike Moore would go on to score the next four to stop the momentum. Moore tried to help the Pride dig out of their hole with attempting a bunch of threes, but none were falling. In fact the rest of Hofstra team went ice cold in the second, shooting a paltry 22 percent. Despite that, Hofstra had their chances to get back into it with a bunch of offensive boards and turnovers from the Huskies.
The rally would not come to fruition though, as Hawkman all but sealed the game with four points late in the game to put the game back up to nine. The Pride ran out of time and eventually ended up being tied in the cellar of the Colonial after Towson picked up its first win later in the evening.
It was great to have a companion at the game as I noticed a bunch of things that Jim pointed out to me that I probably would have missed. Our day wasn't done though; we had two more games to catch and another state to travel to.
at NORTHEASTERN 58, HOFSTRA 51 01/28/2012
HOFSTRA 7-16 (1-10) -- B. Frazier 5-13 6-6 20; D. Imes 3-9 3-4 10; N. Lester 2-7 2-2 6; M. Moore 7-19 2-2 17; D. McMillan 0-3 0-0 0; S. Nwaukoni 1-3 4-6 6; S. Mejia 1-5 2-4 4; M. Kone 0-1 2-2 2; S. McLendon 1-5 0-0 3; M. Grogan 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 16-54 16-22 51. NORTHEASTERN 11-10 (7-4) -- J. Smith 2-8 2-2 7; Q. Ford 5-10 3-4 17; J. Lee 7-9 2-2 17; R. Spencer 4-9 5-6 13; A. Bigby 1-5 0-1 2; K. Black 1-1 0-2 2; K. Edwards 0-0 0-0 0; R. Pierson 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 20-44 12-17 58.
Three-point goals: HOFS 3-19 (N. Lester 0-2; S. Mejia 0-2; D. Imes 1-2; M. Moore 1-9; S. McLendon 1-4), NU 6-15 (J. Lee 1-3; J. Smith 1-4; R. Pierson 0-1; Q. Ford 4-7); Rebounds: HOFS 27 (D. Imes 8), NU 36 (R. Spencer 8); Assists: HOFS 8 (D. Imes 2), NU 12 (J. Lee 3); Total Fouls -- HOFS 16, NU 17; Fouled Out: HOFS-None; NU-None.