Howard Herman: Michigan, Penn State at Madison Square Garden

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Random thoughts while watching the snow banks along the MetroNorth train tracks on my way to Manhattan. Oh, and there were some pretty good snow banks and a lot of lawns fully covered. Jealous we are.

It was pretty interesting on Saturday afternoon, watching former Williams College basketball player Duncan Robinson play on the big stage.

Robinson and his Michigan Wolverines were in Madison Square Garden for a basketball-hockey doubleheader against Penn State. And I've discovered one thing - the world knows who he is.

Against an average Penn State team, he was never left alone. I guess that means he's no longer just an interesting former Division III player. In the first half on Saturday, he shot 50 percent from outside the 3-point arc, but that was just 1 for 2. Part of it was his picking up two personal fouls, and part of it was that defenses are watching him now. He did have two assists in eight minutes of play in the first half.

It was the lowest scoring performance that I had seen since he scored nine in an 82-70 loss to Amherst back in his freshman season. Of course, he scored 30 when Williams beat Amherst in the NCAA Division III Final Four.

His story is unusual, but not as rare as you might think. There are always Division I players coming out of nowhere and making their marks.

We in Berkshire County were fortunate to having seen him get is start at Williams.

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UMass athletic director Ryan Banford, who is working to try and improve on the numbers of fannies in seats at the Mullins Center, should look into one of these basketball-hockey doubleheaders.

Bring a Penn State or a Michigan in for a doubleheader. It could be Ohio State, Minnesota, Boston College or Wisconsin. Just as long as you have a school with a recognizable basketball and hockey team.

Sell tickets that are good for both games. There were 15,000 in the Garden Saturday. This could bring 9,000 to the Mullins Center.

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If you are looking for a local college team to watch, you should head to Williams' Lansing Chapman Rink on Feb. 11 to watch the Williams men's hockey team.

Coach Bill Kangas' crew came into Saturday's game ranked 10th in one national Division III poll and 11th in the other.

He has an embarrassment of riches in the pipes with senior Noah Klag and freshman Michael Pinios. Both are among the top goalkeepers in the nation.

Most coaches would like one goalie to win the job and get a majority of the playing time, like Tuukka Rask does with the Bruins. But in Williamstown, neither goalie has been able to beat the other one out. That's been good for them, and good for the hockey team.

Kangas is still trying to get a Williams men's hockey team to the NCAA Division III tournament. Maybe this will be the year.

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So, as you have heard, Madison Square Garden is the world's most famous arena. At least, the folks at MSG remind you of it before every game. But I will say this: All the money spent on renovating the arena was well worth it.

Here I sit in the hockey press box, a box that stretches from end line to end line, and I'm watching two games at once.

Michigan and Penn State are on the floor in front of me. But right next to my computer is a TV with the UMass-Fordham game on. The screen is actually under my desk.

The desks are glass tops and every four seats or so, there is a TV monitor that you can see through the desktop. Change the channel, plug in your headphones, it's all there. It's almost, but not quite, as nice as my den. It's quieter at home.

Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.


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