After our leadership conference today, I should have been exhausted. But I came back to our apartment, cranked out a bit of econ homework, packed up some snacks, and we made our way through the snow to the Liacouras Center two blocks away. The plan was to white out Xavier, our conference rivals and pre-season favorites to win the Atlantic 10, with t-shirts and rally towels with our famous “I Believe” slogan displayed prominently. It would be the first whiteout in the Liacouras Center’s history. I couldn’t be exhausted; it was going to be a magical night.
We took our seats at 5:30 for the women’s game, and exhausted from the conference, Dan fell asleep in the stands. After the women’s victory, the students all received t-shirts and the atmosphere really started picking up, everyone anticipating the men’s matchup. I caught up with Ray and Adam, two good friends who run their own sports radio show, Stadium Talk, for WHIP, the student-run radio station on campus, and my sister, who had come with friends from her hall.
As the players were introduced, the rally towels waved at a feverish pitch and the sea of white made it impossible to distinguish one TU fan from another, leaving only the Xavier fans dressed in navy easily visible. I kept texting my mom, eager to see if the Liacouras Center looked as incredible on ESPN2 as it felt from the stands. I’m convinced the passion was so loud, so evident, that even a television audience could tell.
We never trailed once the whole game, and never stopped rocking. Temple fans never quit, never sit down. Everyone seemed on point: Mike Eric had a career rebounding night, Juan Fernandez was easing into his routine after Wednesday’s hip injury, TJ DiLeo was making shots, Ramone Moore was again on fire with a remarkable 30pts, and Khalif Wyatt had a team-high four assists. I don’t think ESPN knew what they were in for when they chose to televise us tonight. The Liacouras Center may be small, but it’s loud, and tonight was close to the loudest I’ve ever heard it.
We had tons of alums in the house including Kevin Negandhi, a SportsCenter anchor, and Luis Guzman, who played on the team a few years ago. Negandhi, one of my favorite alums, was tweeting back to students constantly who caught him rocking in the stands to the band or cheering on the Owls. You can bet we’ll get a shout-out from Bristol tomorrow morning at 9am.
We sang our “I Believe” chant twice, with chills every time, holding the rally towels bearing the same slogan high in the air, reaffirming that the Musketeers just couldn’t handle the Owls. The buzz around the arena was just too palpable, too exciting, too magical. As much as I wanted #whiteout and #TUMBB to start trending on Twitter, I knew they were trending in North Philly, and on the court, that’s all that mattered tonight.
I walked outside of the Liacouras Center tonight six hours after I walked in, and was greeted by a blizzard of accumulated snow and ice, the furor of the drifts matching that of the Owls’ passion inside. Needless to say, my ears are still ringing, my heart still pounding. Another night, another game, and we’re still atop the A-10.