Fans find ways to get to Nets' Brooklyn opener

Fans find ways to get to Nets' Brooklyn opener

NEW YORK (AP) Nets fans found traveling to Barclays Center a bit easier Saturday after the Metropolitan Transit Authority opened up several subway lines from lower Manhattan into Brooklyn for the first time since Superstorm Sandy.

The city postponed Thursday night's opener against the New York Knicks because much of the mass-transit system was still not operating. By Friday afternoon, the Nets already had a plan in place to get fans from Manhattan to Brooklyn for Saturday night's home opener against the Toronto Raptors.

But having the subways was a huge boost, though not all of the nine lines that stop at the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center complex are back. Escalators at the station were still shut down and remaining water damage was evident, but there was a large crowd of fans waiting in the plaza when the doors opened.

Mike Kingsbaker spent the day volunteering at a shelter in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn before heading out to the game and did not have a problem with basketball being played in the city. The trip to the arena took him about five minutes.

``There's a lot of people that need a lot of help. Hopefully, they're going to do something tonight to kind of help some people out. I know Staten Island and the Rockaways (need help),'' the 32-year-old from Brooklyn said. ``I was kind of bummed to see that Knicks-Nets game not happen just because that just could have been a really unifying New York-type experience. Then the next night the Knicks-Heat game is going on.''

Fellow Brooklynite Jon Haz, 18, had to take a taxi to the arena because there were no trains available in his area.

Haz felt it was not right to have a basketball game while others were still struggling in the aftermath of the storm.

``I think it's wrong but a lot of people say it brings a lot of people's spirits in the city. I guess it's a good thing,'' he said.

Will Guerra, 25, of Queens, is a season ticket holder who was looking forward to the first game against the Knicks. Guerra and a friend drove to the arena after getting up before dawn on a scavenger hunt for gas, which many stations have been unable to provide because they have either sold out or have not had power at their stations.

``It wasn't that bad. We filled up last night at 4 in the morning. We got lucky, though. We were hunting,'' Guerra said.

Juan Puerto arrived Friday night from Spain.

He was disappointed with the cancellation of Sunday's New York City Marathon. He thought since basketball was being played, the city could have held the marathon. He and a friend drove 30 minutes without encountering much traffic.

In previous years, the 54-year-old had run the Sahara Marathon and the Mont-Blanc Marathon.

His first New York City Marathon will have to know wait.

``It wasn't the right decision,'' Puerto said. ``Tomorrow's the marathon. In all honesty, I feel very tricked. They could have warned us. I got here yesterday and they told us yesterday. I think they should have confirmed the event a lot sooner.''

UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable


UMBC's NCAA Tournament hopes end vs. Kansas State, but its Cinderella run was unforgettable

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UMBC's improbable run through the NCAA Tournament was brief. The statement the Retrievers made and their place in history is forever.

For one weekend in March, the tiny commuter school from Baltimore known for its academics and championship-winning chess team captured the hearts of the college basketball world and beyond. UMBC became the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 in March Madness, a victory over Virginia that made the Retrievers the ultimate Cinderella.

The fairytale came to an end Sunday night in a 50-43 loss to No. 9 Kansas State -- heartbreaking because it was a game UMBC could have won, but still satisfying because the Retrievers touched so many people by accomplishing what many thought was impossible.

"We put our name on the map. We gave hope to teams that come to the tournament with lower seeds," said senior guard K.J. Maura. "I think we gave hope to guys that are not even that tall like me. People that feel like they are underdogs in their life, I think we gave hope to everything they want to do in life."


Stephen Curry noticed the team and sent UMBC the sneakers the team wore against Kansas State. The Golden State Warriors had his Curry 5s, which are in limited release, and other swag sent to the team. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared the Retrievers "Surgeon General approved" and posted a photo of himself on Facebook wearing a sweatshirt from his alma mater.

NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers tweeted to UMBC guard Joe Sherburne, who claims to be Rodgers' biggest fan. And for a team addicted to the video game "Fortnite," their dreams were made when Ninja, a popular gamer who recently played against rapper Drake and JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, FaceTimed with the team early Sunday.

"They play with passion, they play with heart, they play together," coach Ryan Odom said. "We do things together for one another, and obviously when you have a big win like that (over Virginia) and it's so shocking, you know, people love to see that. They love to see the upset.

"And our guys handled it with grace and understood the circumstances. They weren't pounding their chests or anything. They expected to be here and expected to compete."

When UMBC returned to the locker room following its ouster, Odom had written just one word on the whiteboard. The Retrievers needed a buzzer-beating 3 against Vermont to win their conference title and make the NCAA Tournament, but they showed up believing they could beat Virginia, and the same about Kansas State.


So Odom simply penned "Proud" on the board for his players.

"Just very proud of these kids and what they've been able to do as the representatives that they are for our university," Odom said. "Just captured our country and beyond, to be honest, from a sporting perspective and it's really, really neat to see."

Sherburne said Odom relayed stories from friends who had texted or called from outside the country to rave about UMBC. Near tears after an 0-for-9 shooting night, Sherburne found consolation in the joy UMBC brought to so many.

"From when we beat Vermont until the last two hours were the greatest time of my life," Sherburne said. "What we did, everyone in here, it's the greatest time of our lives."

Odom arrived at UMBC two years ago and inherited a team accustomed to losing. He told them he was going to get them to .500 that first year; they thought he was joking. But slowly the culture changed and the Retrievers did everything Odom told them they could accomplish.

And then some.

"When I got here, first we were a four-win team that year, and then the next year we went on to win seven games," said graduate student Jairus Lyles. "Then Coach Odom and his staff came in, we won 21 games and this year we had a tremendous season."

Odom doesn't know how far the UMBC program can grow. Those four letters are now synonymous with the biggest upset in college basketball history, but it's a long way from becoming a basketball school.

"UMBC is a unique place -- lot of high achieving kids on campus," Odom said. "We want guys that want to be great from a basketball perspective and want to play after college. But, at the same time, we want folks that are highly motivated academically that want to do great things past basketball. Because the air goes out of the ball at some point for everybody."


Quick Links

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

Associated Press

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Phil Chenier tells stories ahead of his jersey retirement

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by Bullets/Wizards legend Phil Chenier ahead of his jersey retirement set for this upcoming weekend on March 23.

Chenier looked back on his playing and broadcasting career and told great stories. He also shared some memories of the 1978 championship as the franchise gets ready to honor its 40th anniversary.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!