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(Photo by George Mason Athletics)
Late Night at the Patriot Center
Courtesy: George Mason Athletics
Release: 01/27/2011

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It's about an hour before tip and both teams are in the Patriot Center, but the pregame festivities started well before Thursday afternoon...

There was the Green Machine, playing from their vast collection of songs to entertain the early-arriving crowd. The popcorn and sodas were flying out of the concession stands as fans prepared to settle into their seats. Mason players had emerged from the locker room to get up some pre-game shots. Media had arrived, the Patriot Club hospitality room was abuzz, and it appeared the stage was set for another action-packed Wednesday night of CAA basketball.

Except instead of Doc Nix, it was junior Ryan Pearson conducting the band while the New York native danced along to "Empire State of Mind." And spotted in the concession stand line was Pearson's classmate, Mike Morrison, ready to grab some popcorn. Up in the stands, freshman Jonathan Arledge was practicing his stroke from the concourse portal entrances high in the seating bowl.

This was anything but an ordinary night at the Patriot Center.

As you are aware, the snowstorm which walloped the D.C. region on Wednesday afternoon brought traffic to a gridlocked halt, and among them was the Towson team bus. When it became clear the Tigers were not going to make it to the arena in a timely manner, the decision was made to postpone the game to Thursday afternoon.

Mason's players hung around the locker room for a few more minutes before it became clear they could safely make their way back to the dorms across campus. The brave fans who had trekked through the snow also departed, but left among those in attendance were a number of athletic department staffers who were in no position to attempt to navigate the traffic-choked roads around Fairfax.

These are their stories.

Well, nothing nearly as dramatic as you might see on a prime-time TV drama, but there was plenty of action at the arena late in the night and the GoMason Blog was there to take in the sights and sounds.

Mason public address announcer John Rodock, mired in gridlock on Main Street in Fairfax, decided to abandon his car earlier in the evening and walk the three miles through the snow. He arrived and looked no worse for the wear. Others who were coming from on- and off-campus scrambled to get there by any means necessary, with trips from the Field House taking more than an hour to get to the Patriot Center.  Once the game had been postponed, the consensus was to ride it out inside the warm and dry 10,000-seat arena.

Radio man Bill Rohland wisely had packed a deck of playing cards, and so he took on members of the Athletic Communications staff in a game of spades. Unlike other such contests described on the GoMason Blog, this was a neck-and-neck game that saw Rohland and his partner, associate athletic director Maureen Nasser, come away with the 'W'. The GoMason Blog demands a rematch.

After a few minutes, they rolled out the balls (two to be exact) and an impromptu game of knockout broke out, including members of the Patriot Club, tickets, events and arena staff. The action was intense on the east-side basket, but events coordinator Doug Zebrak came away the victor.  Staff then continued to get some shots up, and the GoMason Blog even received some one-on-one instruction from assistant coach Michael Huger on improving our free-throw shooting form. We will stick to the scorer's table.

Around midnight, many of the staff had heard positive reports on the road conditions and decided to make their way out into the night. Some, such as strength and conditioning coach Handy Handerahan, decided to grab some space on the basketball locker room couch and call it a night. The GoMason Blog, equipped with a vehicle not quite built for snow and ice, decided to grab some shuteye in the athletic department offices.  

With the sunrise came the sounds of snow plows and shovels, and everyone involved moved on from a night to remember as they got ready for Thursday's game.