Went to the Siena/Georgia Tech game tonight at the Pepsi Arena with my father. Some interesting tidbits:
1. My dad got tickets from two of his hiking buddies. They have season tickets, but one had to work late, so we got to go. This has happened before. Siena is 2-0 with my dad attending and 0-3 when the ladies attend.
2. The old Siena Coach, Paul Hewitt, now coaches Georgia Tech. Because he was the winningest Siena coach, I asked my dad how he would be received. My dad correctly predicted the crowd response – hearty applause
3. Georgia Tech scheduled the game last year because one of their players is from Albany. Or was. The guy decided to graduate early.
4. It was spring break, so the student contingent was missing, but Siena might literally have the oldest fans in all of college basketball. My dad and I were the two youngest people in our section. The average Siena fan is an portly Irishman wearing a newsboy cap and a “Class of ’38” sweatshirt. He has not missed a game since Latin was spoken in church. He will not respond to cheerleaders his granddaughter’s age (“MAKE SOME NOISE”) but he knows the rulebook and loudly points out any of the referee’s failings. (Judging by the commentary and the number of bifocals in the stands, the officials’ eyesight must be really bad). Siena packs the stands (8000+) for two reasons. There is nothing else to do in Albany and their fans never die.
5. Siena has the least physically imposing team in college basketball. Their 6’9 center Ryan Rossiter has just entered puberty at the age of 21.
6. Siena won, much to everyone’s delight, except for Paul Hewitt, who looked a bit nauseous, considering he’d come all the way from Georgia to lose to a team who he supposedly “outgrew”. Understandable – his job might be on the line.
7. Last time I went to a Siena game was in 1994. It was an NIT game, and they upset Georgia Tech at the Pepsi Arena. That was the last time the two teams played. However, given the age and dedication of the fan base, I would imagine that 6,000 other people also attended both games.