Monday, December 21, 2009

Long Way from Home: Trip to South Bend

It is the end of December. What does it do in the north and northeast at this time of the year? It snows. Luckily, the weather didn’t affect our travel plans too much. The flights lifted and landed without a hitch.

Now to the trip…
Indiana looks identical to parts of middle to eastern Pennsylvania (my old stomping grounds). The drive from Chicago to South Bend could be even more uneventful than the ones I used to take from Allentown to Lancaster. Snow on the ground, trees submitting to the chilling temperatures, billboards advertising scummy bus stops and sleazy hotels and never ending cornfields except without the corn. It was like a scene out of Ethan Frome (if you haven't read it, don't bother, bunch of symbolism that climax's with a tragic sleigh ride down a mountain side. Hope I didn't ruin it)

The ride to South Bend was bleak. It was 5pm and pitch black outside accompanied by an occasional snow flurry. The trip back was even bleaker. The loss to Notre Dame set a pair of records we hope never again get broken. Fewest points scored in a game (31) and most turnovers in school history (43). The last game before holiday break got us again…

Purcell Pavilion is as good as advertised. What makes a pavilion a pavilion? What makes an arena an arena? Stadium? Hall? What’s the difference? Anyway, the recent renovations make Purcell Pavilion top notch. Still no video board? But after talking with the SID, he passed along that the video board will come next year (they needed to raise more money, which for Notre Dame is really a non issue). I can only imagine, it might end up being the size of the Bobcats scoreboard at TWC Arena. I digress, the banners hanging from the rafters are intimidating, the pro style seating creates awesome sight lines and to sell out of season tickets and slam 8,000+ people in there days before a major holiday is unprecedented. Of the 8,000+, I’d venture that maybe 400 of them were actual students. A lot of community support was just like Coach Aston warned the team about.

But when you boil it down, a court is a court. They all span 94 feet and a cylinder at each end. Its basketball. Even Coach Aston agreed. The only gym she felt shell shocked in was Pauley Pavilion (Go figure another pavilion that regularly haunts visiting teams) and rightfully so. She even met the man himself that day!

I’m writing this on the bus to Chicago, looking for inspiration from the scenery, looking for something to turn me from my hellacious mood, but coming up with nothing but dead trees, dusting of white stuff and a billboard for ‘Big Billy’s Truck Stop and Rest Area’. Adding to the buzzkill I already had.

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