NYC Countdown: Day 2

"Old" Yankee Stadim, courtesy of Way Back Sports

I haven't been to New York City since 2003.

The last time I was in the Big Apple I was in town for a wedding. I got the best haircut ever in the Bronx and ate the tastiest, cheesiest slice of pizza not too far from the barber shop.

The Cubs and Yankees were in first place and my cousin (who lives outside the city and has Yankees season tix) told me if the Cubs and Yanks were to meet in the World Series, he would have given me tickets and paid for my airfare.

If not for an ill-fated foul ball and a complete Cubs collapse, it could have happened. As it turned out, I have yet to return to NY, therefore, never getting a chance to go to Yankee Stadium.

That's why I immediately circled the date on my calendar when I saw that there was a possibility that the SIU men's basketball team would be playing out east.

Thanks to victories against California (Pa.) and UMass, the Salukis are making my dreams come true. I'm pretty sure they don't care about how much it means to me to have the opportunity to go back to New York City, but in some backwards way I care that they get to play in NYC at Madison Square Garden.

And now SIU gets an opportunity to play Duke and possibly UCLA or Michigan. Those are all schools from power conferences and if the Salukis can pull out a couple of wins, it could help make Carbondale a destination school for the Midwest's top basketball players.

Not that it already isn't. Ask the fabulous freshmen Kevin Dillard, Ryan Hare, Torres Roundtree and Anthony Booker. To them, SIU is the destination school of the Midwest.

New York City has been known as the place where stars shine. Here's hoping the Salukis' stars shine a little brighter Thursday and Friday night.