What’s more, the tip times were staggered perfectly to allow an intrepid hoops junkie to catch (most of) all four games: DePaul-Georgetown (noon); Lehigh-American (2); Coppin State-Howard (4ish); Duquesne-George Washington (8).
So just how does such a day unfold? How does someone focus on every game and dodge traffic in between? And just how poorly does a person attempting this zigzag across the District eat? It was all worth exploring in the wake of Saturday’s adventure.
With much of the day crammed, there’s no reason to pass up the chance to have plenty of time to get into D.C. for a noon tip.
More importantly, there’s time to plan some marginally healthy food intake for the day (though given the track record, doing better than usual is not a hard bar to scale). Stashed in the car: Four granola bars, two nutrigrain bars and three bottles of Diet Snapple. Will that win out over media room food over the course of the next 13 hours?
Route: I-695 to Route 295 to New York Avenue to L Street to Sixth Street.
Arrive at Verizon Center.
Miles traveled: 35. Time spent in the car: 55 minutes. Money spent on parking: $0 (thanks, Mex Carey!)
A look down press row reveals John Thompson Jr. already occupying his customary seat within shouting distance of the Georgetown bench. A Hall of Famer is already spotted more than an hour before the first tip of the day.
Press room fare includes bacon, egg and cheese croissants. Tempting, but no. The granola bar devoured in the car will do at the moment. Just a cup of water for now with the first of the opening tips nearing.
Jack the Bulldog — he of bobblehead lore — makes his regular appearance at the under-4-minute timeout in the first half. He reaches midcourt before parting ways with his skateboard. Given the DePaul-Georgetown game’s sleepy start, it’s the unquestioned highlight to this point.
Out comes the T-shirt Gatling gun, though the guy firing it isn’t in a costume. That’s a shame. That tends to be a seasonal deal, like the time the gun operator was in a headless turkey costume. Yes, that happened. The crowd must settle for some free shirts rather than a bizarre image that is nearly impossible to forget. Not a bad deal.
And Dave Leitao, the former Virginia coach in his first year back at DePaul, receives his second technical foul in a few minutes and is ejected. He somehow pulls off this feat while his own team is at the free throw line. It’s safe to assume this can’t possibly happen again today.
Georgetown wraps up a 74-63 victory, pulling away in the final five minutes to improve to 10-6. That’s one full game in the books, so things are far from finished, but it is still 3 minutes, 4 seconds of game action ahead of Dave Leitao for the day.
Hoyas show drive, hit free throws to hold off DePaul
Back to the car, which is naturally blocked by two other vehicles in the garage. This is a minor inconvenience compared to the overall traffic leaving the garage. It’s the sort of thing someone who doesn’t normally leave games until a couple hours after they end tends to forget.
One of the Nutrigrain bars is eaten. Also: The escape from the parking garage is complete. Clock’s ticking on Lehigh-American.
Route: Sixth Street to Massachusetts Avenue
Arrive at Bender Arena.
Miles traveled: 6. Time spent in the car: 33 minutes. Money spent on parking: $0 (thanks, American and your free garage parking on weekends!)
Total miles: 41. Total time in car: 88 minutes. Total parking money: $0
A quick pass through the media room after scrambling into the building. There’s cold pizza there. It remains there.
Impeccable timing. The second half is just about to get underway, right in line with the plan for the day. Lehigh’s up 35-26, which raises the possibility American is going to have to play its best defensive half of the season to get back into it. Offense just doesn’t come easy for the youthful Eagles.
Scan the crowd for former Maryland (and American) coach Gary Williams. Nope. He was here last Sunday to see the Eagles lose to Colgate. He did not resurface for an encore to bookend the week. Total Hall of Famers spotted today remains at one.
Receive a text from the indomitable @schwawa (NBC 4 senior sports producer Heather McDonough): “Were u listening in the car?” Oops. Probably should’ve been. “Yes, you should have been!” she mock-scolds. Everybody’s a critic. Also: An apology is owed to Dan Laing and Jeremy Huber for not tuning in for their broadcast.
The under-4-minute timeout arrives and American has just 41 points. Looking doubtful the Eagles hang half-a-hundred today.
Another technical foul! It looks like it’s on Lehigh’s Jesse Chukwu for hanging on the rim after a dunk. The box score later lists it on the Mountain Hawks’ bench. Either way, Lehigh coach Brett Reed uncorks a tantrum that registers an 8.3 on the Leitao Scale. It’s the highlight of a fairly nondescript half.
Delante Jones’ layup in the final 10 seconds gets American to 50 points. The Eagles fall 65-50 and have dropped eight in a row. Two games down, two to go.
A return to the car, and another granola bar (plus a bottle of Snapple) bites the dust. Time for another adventure with D.C. traffic en route to Howard, which lists a 4 p.m. tip but is the back end of a women’s/men’s doubleheader. The second game could start at 4:10. It could start at 4:45. It’s always a roll of the dice.
Route: Massachusetts Avenue to Macomb Street to Idaho Avenue to Wisconsin Avenue to Macomb Street (paying the price for ignoring the GPS) to 34th Street to Porter Street to Adams Mill Road to Irving Street to Georgia Avenue to Girard Street
Well, that didn’t go too well … until arriving to find an open parking meter right next to Burr Gymnasium. It’s the luckiest break of the day.
Miles traveled: 5. Time spent in the car: 35 minutes. Money spent on parking: $1.50 (thanks, guy who paid for more than an hour’s worth of meter time but didn’t use it)
Total miles: 46. Total time in car: 123 minutes. Total parking money: $1.25
The climb up to the Burr Gymnasium press box is complete, and Howard and Coppin State are a little more than three minutes in. That’s not bad considering the traffic difficulties.
The Burr’s a different place to watch a game, whether as a media member perched up in the crow’s nest or as a fan enjoying the scene. Consider: There’s a DJ down on the floor (see the photo above) and a vendor roaming the entire crowd (not just the high-end seats) taking orders for the concession stand. As far as atmosphere, there are no complaints about Howard’s arena.
The Bison’s James Daniel, the nation’s leading scorer at 28.5 points per game and a show any hoops fan should see at some point this season, launches a long a three-pointer. It swirls through the net to put Howard up 63-60 with less than four minutes remaining to the delight of the Burr’s patrons.
Howard finally closes out a 72-63 victory, snapping a four-game losing streak and improving to 8-9 (2-1 MEAC). Little wonder Kevin Nickelberry, the Bison’s coach, would later say his team really needed the win. Daniel scores 28 about as stealthily as possible, and rugged big man Marcel Boyd drops 23 points and 14 rebounds on the Eagles.
The jam-packed day has reached the three-quarter pole. Time to hurry down to Foggy Bottom for the nightcap, another granola bar going by the wayside on the way.
Route: Girard Avenue to Sixth Street to Fairmont Street to Georgia Avenue to Florida Avenue to 22nd Street to 23rd Street to Pennsylvania Avenue (missed a turn in a circle; it happens in D.C.) to 21st Street to H Street.
Arrive at a parking garage on George Washington’s campus a short walk from the arena.
Miles traveled: 4. Time spent in the car: 25 minutes. Money spent on parking: $0 (thanks, girl at the front desk at Smith Center with the validation stamp)
Total miles: 50. Total time in car: 148 minutes. Total parking money: $1.25
Set up courtside at the Smith Center. For the first time since noon, there’s no need to rush on to anything. It feels … weird. A pass through the media room moments later reveals pizza. Lots and lots of pizza. Still, going to hold out.
Some yawning is starting to kick in. Might be time to reconsider that pizza, unfortunately.
Capitulation complete on the pizza just after George Washington reaches the half with a 41-27 lead. This may be the worst game of the quadrupleheader, and there’s a drive home still to come. Staying awake trumps wise food choices.
George Washington is cruising, and Duquesne has most definitely misplaced its D. There’s no maybe about: This is the worst game of the quadrupleheader, though that’s no fault of the Colonials.
George Washington wraps up a 91-64 rout. Tyler Cavanaugh scores a quadrupleheader-best 30 points, while Kevin Larsen adds 25 to help the Colonials improve to 13-3 (2-1 Atlantic 10). Wonder if there’s any more pizza left.
GW’s Tyler Cavanaugh scores career-high 30 to beat Duquesne
Time to pack up after postgame interviews (and no additional pizza — honest).
Return to the garage, and so, so grateful for everyone at Georgetown, American, Howard and George Washington for helping with the logistics of a dream day of hoops. There’s nothing any of them can do, though, to make it easy to get home in the rain – though knocking out the remaining granola bar and Nutrigrain bar along the way will provide momentary distractions.
Route: H Street to 22nd Street to Eye Street to Pennsylvania Avenue to H Street to New York Avenue to Route 295 to I-695
Arrive home more than 14 hours after departing. Let’s do this again sometime. I dunno, maybe next year? One thing’s for sure: For those who love college basketball, it comes with the highest recommendation. Just don’t forget the granola bars.
Miles traveled: 36. Time spent in the car: 65 minutes.
Total miles: 86. Total time in car: 3 hours, 33 minutes. Total parking money: $1.25