For the last three years, I have attended Cornell’s season opener against the Binghamton Bearcats. Both schools are a manageable drive north on I-81 from my home near Scranton. Each of these games has offered an interesting sideline, a story within the story, beyond the final score.
Two years ago, Brian Earl was making his head coaching debut at Cornell. At the same time, Binghamton’s shooting guard, J.C. Show, a product of my local high school who had been mildly pursued by Earl’s Tigers, took the court for the first time since transferring from Bucknell. Show’s 26 points helped Binghamton spoil Earl’s first game, while rather thoroughly mixing my emotions.
Last year, the teams tipped off in Ithaca. For the first time, Jimmy Boeheim, son of the Hall of Famer, appeared in a Cornell uniform. His parents and I were there to witness the event. The elder Boeheim first came to my attention when he played for the Scranton Miners in the old Eastern League in the 1960’s. His gritty, baseline-to-baseline combativeness won the hearts of thousands of fans in blue collar Scranton. When I encountered him at a concession stand during halftime, his reaction was typical coach Boeheim: “Get out of my way … ”