Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Travel Blog – Double Dip: UNC at UK and Oakland at Miami

Travel Blog – Double Dip: UNC at UK and Oakland at Miami
By Andy Lopusnak,
December 2-4, 2011

The first weekend of December brought my third double dip of the season. This time it was CBS' first college basketball game of the season on Saturday when the #1 Kentucky Wildcats beat the #5 North Carolina Tar Heels 73-72 at Rupp Arena in Lexington. 

For this week, I flew out of San Jose through Atlanta to Cincinnati then drove to Lexington for the basketball game. Then flew out of Lexington to Ft. Lauderdale for the NFL game on a direct on AirTran. I flew home from Miami International through Atlanta to San Francisco. So for all you flying fools: SJC-ATL-CVG-LEX-FLL-MIA-ATL-SFO. Sadly, of the five flights, I was upgraded just once (MIA-ATL).

Getting to Lexington, I flew into Cincinnati. I haven't been to the Nati for an NFL game since 2007 and in that time, a new skyscraper has arisen in the Queen City. The Great American Tower is the city's tallest building at 660 feet (and third largest in Ohio). It's lattice design on the top is inspired by a tiara once worn by Princess Diana. Tower construction began in July of 2008 and it opened on January 11, 2011.
I did get a chance to take some scenic footage of the Nati before I drove down to Lexington. There wasn't any cloud coverage, but at time there was some nice reflections on the Ohio River.

After getting abite to eat at my favorite restaurant, Carrabba's Italian Grill (the Tampa-based chain), I walked around downtown Lexington and grabbed some shots. I stumbled upon the city's "zero milestone" which had a small green statue of a Bedouin riding a camel that's been a Lexington landmark since 1926. The statue is just 24x10x21 inches.

While driving around, I saw the sign below. Apparently, if you go to Hardee's you can get the "Big Bag Lunch" for only $500. WOW!
THE GAME: Kentucky 73, North Carolina 72 
Almost two years ago to the day, I covered this exact game with UK winning 68-66 thanks to game-clinching free throws by John Wall with 4.3 seconds left. That time, I was at the table doing talent stats for announcers Ian Eagle and Clark Kellogg. It’s my only time with CBS for football or basketball that I was talent stats though I’ve done it numerous times for other networks. The last time here. I got one of the game giveaways – a blue and white UK-branded Santa hat with a basketball as the puff ball at the end. Again, the Wildcats gave away over 20,000 of these hats for this contest. McDonald’s sponsored it and makes me wonder if they made a bunch of these in bulk for every year. 

This game was the first CBS college basketball game since the Final Four and featured the top-ranked Wildcats and the #5-ranked Tar Heels. UK blocked a potential game-winning shot in the final seconds to preserve its unblemished record. 

Since basketball pre-games warm ups aren’t in full uniform, I only briefly walked around the court snapping shots of what the so-called experts believe to be nine first rounders in next year’s NBA draft (UK freshman power forward Anthony Davis pictured below).

Also at the game were John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, whom I photographed for the 2009 NCAA Tournament for CBS. Here’s my favorite shot from the UK photo shoot of Cousins.

What I shot most during pre-game was the DSLR camera setups on the hoop structures by the professional photographers covering the game. The photographers there had their set ups for game action using wireless trigger remotes to get specific shots (layups, slam dunks, etc…). 

At my next college game (not until January), I’m considering doing a time lapse from this perspective. If I do get to set up for a time lapse like this, I think it may be the first online of its kind. I’ll need to get a “magic arm” which is an extender that can be connected to the super clamp that I already use for all of my time lapses. 

Legendary Rupp Arena became my 12th different college basketball venue to get time lapsed and the first since the Final Four. I placed my 40D where CBS has its beauty camera. It was clamped on a guard rail in the upper concourse over the edge away from the crowd.

I arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at 8pm and drove to the hotel to get some rest. Without the extra day between like last week’s SEC game on Friday and the NFL one on Sunday, there wasn’t enough time to do any photos prior to the NFL game. 

THE GAME: Miami 34, Oakland 14 
Though I’ve been to Miami for games, this is the first time I’ve flown into South Florida since 2005. All the other times, I drove down from Tampa so I could spend time with my family. With the double dip, it was impossible this time to get to my hometown this time.

In my now ten Dolphins games in Miami, the Fish have a 3-7 record with both wins coming in the 2005 season (over Buffalo and Tennessee). Overall, the Dolphins are 5-16 in the 21 games I’ve covered since “turning pro” in 1996. 

The Raiders on the other hand have now lost seven straight games that I've covered. Oddly enough, the last time I did an UNC-UK game then an NFL game the next day; the road opponent was the Oakland Raiders. Nearly two years ago to the day, the Silver & Black upset the Steelers in Pittsburgh 27-24 thanks to a fourth-quarter rally by Bruce Gradkowski. The Raiders trailed by 14 late in the final stanza and won it with 17 seconds left. 

That didn't happen this time as the Dolphins won 34-14. During pregame I was able to snap shots of Pro Footba ll Hall of Famers Don Shula, TedHendricks and Rod Woodson as well as former Heisman Trophy winner and #1 pick Jim Plunkett (pictured below). 
I didn’t shoot a time lapse because almost a year ago to the day. My time lapse of Sun Life Stadium from last year when the Dolphins played the Cleveland Browns is my most viewed video on YouTube with nearly 8,000 views (more than all my time lapses combined). 

Last year, I also did two other time lapses at Sun Life Stadium. The first was in the graphics truck (click here to check it out) and the other was on the cart camera when my intervalometer didn’t work for most of the game (not uploaded anywhere).

Here's a selection of my best shots from this past weekend...


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