Floor seats (and an insider’s glimpse) at the Dean Dome

Posted on 03. Feb, 2011 by in Sports

Through Dean Harter, a good friend of mine and a customer who owns Retrah, a great store in Lewisburg, Penn., I had the opportunity recently to meet Don Friday. Don is the head basketball coach at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Penn. (Note: Dean also happens to be an orthopedic surgeon and became friends with Don when he was an assistant at Bucknell and Dean was the team physician). Don subsequently invited us to sit with him on the bench and watch his team play North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Saint Francis is a small Division I school and helps fund its athletic department by playing larger schools early in the season. Dean, his wife Connie and I met in North Carolina for the game. Seeing the Dean Dome for the first time is quite something if you’re a basketball fan. They’ve got endless ACC Championship banners hanging from the ceiling along with plenty for winning the national title. It’s really a college basketball shrine.

We went to the morning shoot-around at 9:00 a.m. and then did some sight-seeing. By about 2:00 p.m. we were in the locker room with the team and Don was talking to his players about how to handle such a powerhouse team. I know Don wanted to make a game of it, but he talked a lot about the opportunity to play a top ranked team in such a hallowed place.

Tip-off was at 3:30 p.m. and things started off well. Saint Francis was actually ahead after four minutes and stayed close for ten. After that, Carolina’s strength and the depth of its bench started to wear our guys down. It became quite a rout late in the first half and Carolina won by forty-seven points. Saint Francis was 1 for 13 from the three and Carolina ran away with it in the second half.

Don and the team were pretty disheartened, but for me, it was a great experience. We also ran into one of the University of Miami coaches the day before, so we left after the game, grabbed a quick bite and went to the Duke/Miami game just down the road in Durham. Duke was ranked number one at the time, so we had quite a day of basketball.

One little foodie tip while I’m at it. We ate at Vin Rouge in Durham. We were thoroughly lost on our way to the Duke game and tripped across this place. It’s the most authentic French bistro I’ve ever been to outside of Paris and we really enjoyed the rustic atmosphere, the hearty fare and the friendly staff.

Since our trip to the Dean Dome, Saint Francis has been back home playing in their league and has won five of six, including a strong win over Long Island University, who is leading the Northeast Conference. Don called me the other night and his mood had improved dramatically from when I last saw him. Congratulations Don and thanks for the fun time at the Dean Dome!


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