Monday, August 15, 2011

Bits and Bytes: What I’ve been doing on my summer vacation

It's Richmond! It counts!

While it may seem like I wasn’t kidding about going nowhere fast, what with this being my first post in 33 days (hey at that pace I only need to post one more time before hoops practice starts!), I would like to let you know I’ve stayed very busy, when not mired eyeball-deep in copy writing, taking in the sights of America with my lovely wife.

Except while most people go to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame, or to Boston to walk the Freedom Trail, I go to these iconic destinations in search of a connection to Hofstra basketball. Because I’m not normal. And so it was, as we were driving back from Howe Caverns three weeks ago today, I saw the above-pictured sign and declared we absolutely had to pull over and take a photo of it so that I could have another excuse to resurrect a familiar (and accurate—just ask our friends in Drexel) meme.

But the CAA Tournament in Richmond…VILLE would be the best of both worlds: A Northern Bias town with a Southern Bias-friendly name! Now my task is disorienting the powers that be enough to get them north of Virginia to see Richmond…VILLE, population 918 with, presumably, a gym somewhere within the town, err, village limits. See you there the first weekend of March! We can all take a field trip to Howe Caverns the morning after Hofstra wins the title. In the meantime, here are some other bits and bytes that have been collecting dust during my cross country, err, cross regional treks:

—Richmond…VILLE isn’t the only place I snapped a photo for blog purposes, but you’re going to have to wait until the men’s basketball schedule is released to see the Binghamton and Boston photos. Which, at this rate, should happen sometime before the 2015-16 season tips off. That’s not a criticism of Hofstra, but of Division I schools in general. It just seems as if most fans are tapping their feet impatiently waiting to officially find out about their favorite team’s schedule this season.

I’m sure it’s more due to the complications of scheduling than a desire to needlessly drag out the suspense and try to turn what was once routine into a made-for-TV spectacle—I’m looking at you, the National Football League—but damnit I’m going to complain anyway, even if a year ago at this time we were still more than two weeks away from learning the 2010-11 schedule.

We already know Hofstra will host a school-record 17 games at the Arena, none of them as part of the Thanksgiving time tournament run by the godforsaken Gazelle Group. Does this mean we don’t have to play in the CBI? Ever again? Pretty please? Of course, in typical Gazelle Group fashion, nobody can seem to even narrow down where the Flying Dutchmen will head—Oregon State or Rhode Island? Or both? Who the hell knows? Maybe we’ll play Oregon State at IUPUI, or Rhode Island in Evansville. (See what I did there?)

Anyway. The Hofstra press release I linked above revealed at least four of the non-conference opponents: Local foes Long Island University, Manhattan and St. Francis as well as suddenly familiar Florida Atlantic, which visited the Arena last year. We can also safely assume Binghamton and Iona will be making return visits to Hempstead after hosting the Dutchmen last year and that the Dutchmen will be home for the BracketBuster in February. That leaves one more non-conference home game to be determined.

As for the non-conference road slate, simple logistics suggests there won’t be many away games after the Gazelle Group tournament, which will have the Dutchmen playing three or four games SOMEWHERE. A trip over the Verrazano Bridge to Wagner seems likely after the Seahawks played at Hofstra last year, but other than that it should be a home-heavy December.

—Most of the scheduling suspense is over for the Flying Dutchwomen basketball team, whose non-conference schedule was released Friday. It’s an impressive one for a team that harbors legitimate hopes of contending for the first NCAA Tournament bid in program history.

Hofstra will face six schools that reached the NCAA Tournament last year and eight of the non-conference opponents finished 2010-11 ranked in the RPI top 150, including at least two in the top 50. The Dutchwomen may face a third top 50 opponent if they square off against Marist in the championship or consolation round of the Hofstra Holiday Classic—the first tournament hosted by the Flying Dutchwomen since 1987-88.

The Dutchwomen will open the season by heading to Gonzaga Nov. 11 and will spend Thanksgiving in Mexico at the Cancun Challenge. I would just like to let everyone know I am available to cover that tournament as a freelancer and that I haven’t been to Mexico since my senior year of high school, back when the big souvenir was a T-shirt sporting the Mexican version of Bart Simpson. In related news, I am ancient.

—Ironically, in that it’s not ironic at all, I just spent 800-something words casting an eye towards the winter when preparations and practices for the fall sports season have already gotten underway. Doesn’t it seem just like yesterday the Flying Dutchmen baseball team completed the 2010-11 season an hour and change before the rapture that wasn’t?

The 2011-12 season officially gets underway when both soccer teams, the field hockey team and volleyball team all open their regular seasons on Aug. 26, but the soccer teams play in exhibitions at Burns Park in Massapequa Saturday. And every team on campus will have taken to the field of play before school starts Sept. 6. Sept. 6? Are you kidding me? Back in my day we opened the last week of August and were already missing classes by Labor Day weekend. And we liked it. Not so sure about my parents, though.

—Speaking of my parents, my Dad and I have begun the titanic task of cleaning out the basement at his house in Connecticut. Not surprisingly, it’s been a bit of a sentimental journey sifting through four decades worth of stuff, with the discoveries of some of my late Mom’s mementoes eliciting a more melancholy reaction than finding all sorts of Hofstra-related swag from my days there from 1993-96.

Many of those findings that put a smile on my face also managed to find their way to my basement (that’s what cleaning is—moving stuff from one home to another), which means, once my wife reads this, I may be finding my way to a couch near you. Before that, though, I hope to bring some of those images to you, because they are priceless artifacts of a bygone era, both athletically and academically. But I won’t bring them up from the basement, honey.

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