Hello Cuse / #ORANGENATION I was fortunate enough to attend the Battle on the Midway this past Sunday and have decided to share my impressions from the event with you as well as some photos I took (feel free to make them a computer background).
A little background, I grew up just outside of Syracuse in Skaneateles. Both My Parents and I are Alumni, My Dad Graduated in 74' so I have gotten first hand stories on the Pre-Boeheim days of Roy's Runts in the Manley Zoo. To him, Boeheim was the golf coach and assistant on the basketball team in charge of making sure the Athletes kept curfew(He lived in a dorm with Athletes, Pre-South Campus Apartments). Obviously he was growing future Oranges long before Sean wrote his fantastic book. This past June happened to be his 60th birthday and as the Orange were #1 and rolling towards what seemed like a sure spot in the final four I decided that when we eventually made our triumphant return to the Super Dome to claim another title, that I would surprise him with Tickets and the Trip of a lifetime. As we all know, that dream fell short (Thanks! Fab Melo). Luckily for me Syracuse announced they would be opening the season with an Aircraft Carrier game and a second opportunity for a unique Syracuse trip emerged. I should also mention that I moved to Los Angeles after graduation so although I knew the tickets would be expensive and rare at least I would only have to pay for one airfare ticket.
All summer long, I bugged the PS reporters, friends home, and connections I have at the University to find out when and where tickets might go on sale to no avail. As the game approached, suddenly in September the tickets were announced. I scrambled into full alert, and at first thought my dreams might be out of reach ($5K, $2K, $1K!!!). I think a few days later $500 tickets were released and I quickly pounced on them, not wanting to miss this event. In hindsight if I had been more patient, SU would later release $150 tickets, although they were behind the basket and as you can see in the photos we ended up with a pretty prime spot behind the Orange bench. The whole event was a logistical nightmare from the start, with SU releasing tickets at different times and the box office not offering any information on how many tickets would be sold or if the cheaper tickets were coming (they were eventually). Then the game was almost canceled and we were told the tickets would be mailed 2 weeks prior to the game (they came Monday, 4 days before the original game time Friday and 3 days before his scheduled flight Thursday) Throw in the last minute game change and it seemed like this event I had poured time and money into was doomed to fail.
In the end, it all Worked out and the event turned out to be an unbelievable experience. All the stress and reshuffling was worth it to be able to see the spectacle in person.
View of the San Diego Bay off the side of the Midway
We had no idea if there was going to be any sort of drinks or concessions available at the game and were pleasantly surprised to find that not only were they serving food and alcohol but it was reasonably priced for a Sporting event. (Beers $5-7, Cocktails $6.50, and Tacos, Popcorn, Nachos, and more for around $5-6). They also had a merchandise tent, and you could walk around the flight deck and see all the planes they have parked there. You could not walk inside the Carrier which you normally can at the museum. I ran into Mike Waters from the Post Standard and had a nice chat with him At this point, it was apparent the decision to move it to Sunday was the right call, even though the wind would pick up later. I also saw Bud Poliquin but did not say hi because I was unprepared without a list of 21st century common terms and phrases for him to use in metaphors.
From the beginning it was apparent that a lot of fans had made the trip and it felt like overtaking a Rutgers/G'Town away gym. The Red and Orange mixed together so it was hard to get an exact number but at Gametime it seemed like a 60/40 split in favor of the Aztecs.
These Guys had Orange and Camo warmups that were impressive and I even believe they were made by Nike.
A Panoramic shot from our Seats during warmups.
The players in their layup/dunks lines
Introductions with C.J. Fair chest bump
Then each player shook hands with the ref and opposing player. The sound system was quite loud on the boat and right before tipoff they were playing a mix of rap (Biggie) and classic rock (AC/DC). The atmosphere was absolutely electric and both groups of fans were fired up. The crowd was rocking figuratively and physically because the temporary stands had a little give to them.
The video boards were pretty nice, even if the Clock wasn't working very well.
Another wide shot. The entire crowd stood for the tip and the 'Cuse fans continued to stand and clap until the first field goal as usual. After that it was like being in the dome, several 'Cuse fans starting yelling for people to sit down including this gentleman in the sweatshirt. (Yes I'm calling him out on the internet because he's one of the terrible fans) Personally I paid $500 a ticket and I wanted to stand and yell, timeouts are for resting. The worse thing however was that at the start of the second half the freaking PA announcer said Do not stand for an Extended time, at which point I yelled at the fans sitting down that they hadn't scored yet and maybe an obscenity or two or three.
As I said we really lucked out that our seats were behind the bench and we could see every timeout clearly.
There were many Military members in attendance. One complaint is that they acknowledged them at halftime and 70% of the stand were empty as everyone tried to Pee and get refills, I wish they had taken a full timeout just to give them an ovation
Boeheim has practice Coaching in Khakis and a Polo from Team USA
As for the actual Game, as I'm sure anyone who watched at home saw it was sloppy and at times a mess. Being there, you didn't care as much because the energy and the crowd was incredible. I'm sorry for those who watched at home, this really was an event you had to be at to be enjoyed. It seemed like there was full minutes of chaos and back and forth action before one team or Coach would decide to slow it down and recompose themselves. It got chippy at times with the refs sometimes calling fouls and sometimes swallowing the whistle during a moshpit of bodies. The players were clearly frustrated at times between the uneven calls and inability to make any jump shot.
In the end it was a 'Cuse victory that won't tell you anything about how the rest of this season will play out but at least they pulled it off. We stayed and lingered around for the trophy presentation and after words which probably wouldn't have happened if they loss.
Baye Keita is the BEST EVAH
I'd like to think he's doing the Gangnam style (which they played during a timeout) face here to Erin Andrews
We lined up in a very big crowd and watched the players/Coaches leave the court one by one. Gerry McNamara probably got the loudest ovation and cheers of Ger-ry Ger-ry! And he told the crowd if he had been playing, they all would've gone in.
In the end it was a truly incredible experience, but I understand it probably stunk on TV. I agree with Sean that it should probably be the last game like this But that's partly so I can say I was at the Only one. I'd suggest doing it at Fort Drum since the University has developed such a partnership with them, or maybe outdoors at the fairgrounds, surrounded by military vehicles and fill half the stands with soldiers.
Oh and DOCTOR Darryl Gross was wearing a San Diego State Hat for most of the game, I didn't get a good picture of it, but what's the deal with that?