The Naismith statue in Springfield, Mass. David Jablonski/Staff
The 2015-16 college basketball season is just around the corner. In honor of the Flyers winning 53 games the last two seasons (and because I couldn’t come up with 2,015 reasons), I’m counting down 53 reasons (in no particular order) to look forward to the season.
Follow the blog between now and the season opener against Southeast Missouri State on Nov. 13. I will have four to five updates per week.
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No. 47: Road trips
The A-10 schedule gives sports writers like me a way of avoiding snow plowing duties back home in January and February. That goes over really well with my wife. I’ve been fortunate to see every arena in the conference in the last two seasons, save the Palumbo Center at Duquense because the Flyers have played at the larger CONSOL Energy Center down the street.
Time permitting, I try to play tourist on each trip, stopping to see the Naismith Statue in Springfield south of Amherst, the Edgar Allen Poe Museum in Richmond, the Air and Space Museum in D.C. (got to stop there if you’re covering a team called the Flyers), etc. Here’s how I would rank the road trips from best to worst.
- New York City (Fordham and A-10 tournament in Brooklyn): Nothing in the A-10 beats New York City. I could travel there for 30 years and not see it all. Tom Archdeacon took Mike Hartsock and I to a famous bar, P.J. Clarkes in Midtown, last March the night before the A-10 final, and regaled with us famous travel stories from this past. Two years ago, I rode the subway to the Bronx and then walked a mile to Fordham. Rose Hill Gym isn’t much bigger than a high school gym, but it’s got character and history and probably just enough seating for Fordham. The Barclays Center, of course, is the polar opposite.
- Richmond (VCU and Richmond): Two years ago, I took an Amtrak train from New York (after covering the Fordham game) to Richmond. I ran 10 miles or so on trails along the river leading out of downtown. It’s just a beautiful scene. This year, I visited a Civil War battlefield on the way to the airport for the flight home. I don’t mind going to Richmond every year, and VCU and UR have two of the best arenas in the conference.
- Washington D.C. (GW and George Mason): Easy to get to, easy to get around, plenty to see.
- St. Louis: I’ve yet to get a photo of Archie under the Arch, but the A-10 seems intent on sending UD here every year, so there’s still time.
- Rhode Island: This gets a high ranking for its proximity to Newport, a fun place to spend a day, though not quite as fun in the middle of winter. There’s not much in Kingston other than RI itself, but it’s a short drive from Newport.
- Philadelphia (St. Joseph’s and La Salle): I was in Philly about 10 minutes last winter before I was sitting at Geno’s eating a cheesesteak at 10 a.m. on a snowy morning.
- Pittsburgh (Duquesne): I would rank this higher, but I’ve been to Pittsburgh enough it’s not nearly as exotic in my mind as other places on the list. I can’t do any more Instagram posts of the Mr. Rogers statue.
- Davidson, N.C.: Davidson has a fancy campus, much like Richmond’s. I didn’t see any couches on porches or beer cans in front yards (not that those are bad things). There ought to be a Whole Foods there (Actually, there is one next to GW’s campus). I give Davidson bonus points for the Wildcat statue and the weather.
- Amherst (UMass): I flew into Hartford, Conn., and drove north for this game last season. Amherst is a great college town in an area saturated with small colleges, but it’s a pain to get to from Dayton.
- Olean, N.Y. (St. Bonaventure): Did you think anything else would be last? I missed this trip last season, but drove to Olean two years ago. It was cold and bleak. I’m sure it’s a fine place in the summer, but it’s not going to beat any place on this list. On the other hand, a writer from the Bona Blog thinks Dayton is just a bigger Olean.