Google Maps estimates a trip from my place of business to Charlottesville, VA will take two hours and twenty-nine minutes. In the case of heavy traffic, they up that estimate to three hours and ten minutes. Having acquired a ticket to last night's game, I allowed myself four hours to make the trip, to hopefully avoid Beltway traffic.
It took me two hours and forty five minutes to go the first fifty miles. Welcome to Virginia, where we haven't grasped that whole "bridge ices before the road" thing just yet.
As a consequence, I missed most of the first half, and am in a greater position to talk about John Paul Jones Arena than the game played inside. Although I will say UNC's play in the waning seconds continues to impress. The Heels took almost six seconds off the clock after Virginia scored with 8.6 remaining to close the lead to one. Additionally, Ellington had the wherewithal to know when to stop passing and hold on the ball, ensuring that he and not the poorer free throw shooting Quentin Thomas was put on the line at the end. Also impressive was Green and Ginyard's realization that with 2.9 second remaining, they didn't need to pull down the rebound, but only keep it in the air out of the hands of the Cavaliers. I may not like how many of these games are going down to the wire, but UNC will probably have more late-game experience than any other high seed in the NCAA's.
So, JPJ. Named not after the not-about-to-surrender-naval-captain, but the father of the commodity trader, who was in attendance last night. I'd once caught a game in University Hall, and while I miss the claustrophobic feeling the high-sloped seating imposed on visiting teams and the groovy sixties architecture, the new place is an aesthetic win. It's confusing as hell to find your way down to the lower level though, as you have to duck through a small entrance and traipse behind all the luxury boxes to make your way in.
It's intersting though, that I didn't see the improved atmosphere that others have. In fact, coming out of the last timeout with two minutes to play, it took a good thirty seconds of imploring from the student section to get the fans on their feet. It can get loud, but it's more like the Dean Dome in that there's a fair amount of inertia to overcome, as opposed to Carmichael, where it's the default state. Amazing how everyone likes to criticize UNC's arena, and then hurries out to replicate it.