It’s the middle of the semester. It’s a school night. But can I be honest with you? I haven’t done any work since 7:05. Sure, I’m swamped. Sure, I’ve got work to do. But it’s Wednesday and it’s a basketball night.
Tonight, the Owls played the first of two key Big Five matchups this week. Playing in the hostile Tom Gola Arena, home of the La Salle Explorers, it was going to be a tough game. We may have gotten a national ranking this week, but the Big Five doesn’t care.
After my Owl Team individual interview, I hiked it back to the apartment, threw on sweats, and tuned into 1210AM to listen to the game, which wasn’t being broadcast on TV. The anticipation was high, the stakes higher. A win would give TU a Big Five title, a loss would probably strip us of our new national rank.
The game started out slow with the teams trading momentum, with big surges by the Owls and then dropping back to even. Mike Eric and Mone Moore seemed to be in reversed roles, with Eric leading the team in points and Moore in rebounds in the first half. Juan Fernandez ended the night with 2pts, both on his two free throw attempts, but more than made up for it with his skilled backcourt passes, wise dishes, eight rebounds, and seven assists. He was a team player, and it wasn’t about the points tonight.
Twitter was blazing with photos of the Cherry Crusade’s rollout posters and everyone who was there was updating on the atmosphere to fill the rest of us in who were listening in from a few miles south. As Khalif Wyatt went on a personal 10-0 run against the Explorers in the second half, I could only imagine while listening to the radio broadcast his excited demeanor and the LeafFaces I’d see in photos tomorrow. Khalif (or Leaf, as we call him here) got the reputation for making crazy faces such as this one, and so, finally, they’ve been archived on a Tumblr and #LeafFaces has become an overnight staple of TU basketball.
The contest got tight, and with about eight minutes left, I got up from my computer and started pacing. I’m passionate, I’m loud, and when I can’t be there screaming for my team, you can add pacing to that mix. Regulation wound down and it was clear we’d need another five minutes to decide the outcome. I couldn’t keep still and couldn’t keep from shouting in elation as time expired, the horn went off, and and the scoreboard read we were up by one, 80-79 in OT, to get our 11th win in a row. Not sure my neighbors appreciated that elation, but it was worth it for a win like that.
Four days from now, the Owls will head back north on Broad to St. Joe’s for another Big Five and A-10 matchup. Again, it’ll all be on the line. I love Tom McCarthy’s play-by-play, but radio during overtime is torture. At least on Saturday, I can pace while watching the game on ESPN3. But until then, I guess I’ll actually have to get some work done. Great W tonight, Owls!