Although my heart would be in Boston with the Penn Quakers on Saturday night for their critical game against Harvard, the rest of me was obligated to be in Washington, D.C. But I couldn't leave this weekend empty-handed, 800GP-speaking -- time is too short for that. After realizing I wouldn't have time to make any of the games in D.C. proper, I decided to start my day with a quick trip to Newark, Del., which is only about an hour and a half from my house, where the noon tip would leave me plenty of time to get into the city later that evening. I was excited to check out the Bob Carpenter Center, about which I had learned two salient facts from Gary Moore's recap earlier this season: it's a really nice venue, and they sell barbecue. As a transplanted Kentuckian forced to take matters of barbecue into my ownhands now that I live perilously close to the Mason-Dixon line, the latter made the trip especially appealing.
I left my house right at 10 a.m., with visions of a leisurely lunch before tip-off dancing in my head. I made my way across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Route 301, which runs up the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It was a beautifully sunny morning, though I couldn't imagine that the deer hunters, tractor drivers and long-haul truckers that make up the usual scenery on this stretch of road were having an easy time of any of these things in the extremely windy conditions. I cruised past my usual turn off at Boyd's Corner in Delaware, where I normally jog east towards Philadelphia, and glanced down at my pre-mapped directions. Okay, right on Pulaski Highway, then left on, wait, what? Left on Purgatory Swamp Road? That seems unwise. Wait, what's that, it's also called Sunset Lake Road? Well, that sounds downright pleasant! Having navigated the Purgatory Swamp and/or the Sunset Lake, I ended up in downtown Newark, where I found a parking garage and wandered down the main drag, past your usual college town's worth of restaurants, coffee shops, etc. I cut through some parking lots, passed lacrosse games and joined a small crowd going into a building bearing the name of Bob Carpenter.
One salient fact I did not learn before my trip: there are two sports facilities on the Delaware campus named for Bob Carpenter, and they're almost exactly two miles away from each other.
After a few wrong turns and one questionably legal u-turn, I finally made it to The Bob. I walked upstairs, saw only a few minutes left in the first half, and decided to hit up the barbecue station before the halftime rush. While I ate, I mostly pondered what I nearly always ponder when eating barbecue on the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon line: why aren't there any hush puppies? Honestly, would it kill you people to fry up some corn batter and skip the dessert that passes for cornbread up here? Nonetheless, it was a welcome meal, even if it didn't happen quite when I was hoping it would.
I made my way down to my seat and pretended the halftime warmups were the pregame warmups. The Bob is indeed a really nice facility, especially on a beautiful sunny afternoon with light streaming in the windows and a decent crowd on hand. The Blue Hens already had a comfortable lead when I arrived, and they took a 42-33 lead into halftime. I caught a bit of the halftime goings-on, including the Delaware mascot trying to give the halfcourt shot contestants some help with their form.
Northeastern never was able to put a run together in the second half, and since I didn't see the first half I'm not sure I can really say why. By the third media timeout, they looked exhausted.
Once the clock started ticking down under five minutes, the crowd started chanting for little-used senior Samer Madarani; Delaware coach Monte Ross eventually obliged, and although Madarani was 0-for-3 from the field, he did knock down a free throw to lodge one in the points column.
After the game, Delaware coach Monte Ross briefly took the PA microphone to thank the fans for supporting the team, who were all sticking around to sign autographs after the game. It struck me as a really nice gesture that other coaches ought to think about adopting.
As I made my way back across the Mason-Dixon line, I came away persuaded that UD deserves a spot in the regular rotation of any mid-Atlantic hoops fan. You might want to BYO cornbread, though.
at DELAWARE 82, NORTHEASTERN 72 02/25/2012
NORTHEASTERN 13-16 (9-9) -- J. Smith 10-19 2-2 24; J. Lee 4-13 7-10 16; Q. Ford 5-11 1-1 11; R. Spencer 3-9 0-0 6; A. Bigby 1-3 1-1 3; K. Black 0-4 0-0 0; D. Pollard 1-3 2-2 5; K. Edwards 0-3 1-2 1; R. Pierson 1-1 0-0 3; A. Bates 0-0 1-2 1; M. Banegas-Flores 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 26-67 15-20 72. DELAWARE 17-12 (12-6) -- J. Hagins 5-7 3-4 13; K. Lewis 1-1 6-7 8; J. Threatt 5-7 5-6 17; D. Saddler 6-12 6-8 21; K. Anderson 2-9 0-0 5; J. Brinkley 6-6 0-0 12; H. McCullar 1-3 3-4 5; S. Madarani 0-3 1-2 1; K. McNeil 0-0 0-0 0; L. Savage 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-48 24-31 82.
Three-point goals: NU 5-20 (J. Lee 1-5; J. Smith 2-8; A. Bigby 0-1; R. Pierson 1-1; D. Pollard 1-3; Q. Ford 0-2), DEL 6-19 (S. Madarani 0-3; D. Saddler 3-6; J. Threatt 2-3; K. Anderson 1-7); Rebounds: NU 31 (J. Smith 7), DEL 35 (J. Hagins 13); Assists: NU 8 (J. Lee 3), DEL 14 (D. Saddler 3); Total Fouls -- NU 22, DEL 17; Fouled Out: NU-Q. Ford; DEL-None.