Sorry for being so late in my response to last night’s thrilling victory. Lucky this is the written word and not audio. I still hoarse from yelling.
Not sure what I can add to what has already been said, but here are a few observations (in no particular order) that hit me as I drove home last evening and awoke thinking of the same this morning. Funny, it seemed like it took forever to reach Lewisburg, but the three hour return trip went by so fast. I can’t recall passing a single car or going thru what must have been a toll booth across the Delaware River. At least it didn’t snow this year!
Arrived to a near empty gym with the shot clock counting down from 79 minutes.
Wondered around and met some BU students applying paint to their bodies in the men’s room. I asked if I couldn’t have a hand at it, as well. They said sure. As I reached for the brush and the can of blue paint, one recognized the brown Lehigh sweater I was wearing and thought it unwise and quickly turned aside that offer. A lot of good natured fun was to be had as I walked the halls and spoke to the BU faithful, ushers and concessioners. No signs of cockiness. They seemed to respect us and nothing but praise for our #3, CJ. Apparent, too, during player introductions as CJ received a warm welcome.
Said a brief hello to Matt Kerr and Coach Reed as the two took up seats 10 rows up off the floor to conduct the pre-game radio interview. Each looked cool, calm and collected. What else would you expect from the pros they each are?
I had wanted nothing more than to repel any BU advance during the first 4 minutes of playing time. Told all around me that would listen. It was sure to come. Wasn’t it? But, it didn’t! We led 8-3 at the first media timeout and maintained the lead and pressure for the next 4 minutes and the next….. As it would turn out, the defensive intensity never waned. I kept thinking back to what CJ had said over and over during this our latest winning streak, play “D” and the offense would take care of itself. It did. We simply took the play to Bucknell and did it in their building in front of 4000 dressed in orange and blue. The more noise they made, the more we seemed to relish it. The chants of “Defense” came up from our small contingent of fans every time BU touched the ball in those first 4 minutes of play. Sure, the BU cheering section would overpower us but I got the feeling our guys on the court could hear us. I know Coach Reed could and he would later (mid-second half) turn around to face the LU family members and friends with his fists pumped and waiving above his head as if to say, “More – more keep it up.” We did. It was surreal. We were in our element – on the road in a hostile environment and we loved it. Maybe all those road games, including the one up at Michigan State in front of 14,000 screaming fans dressed in green, were beginning to pay dividends. We simply traded in green for orange last night.
Gabe was in another world those first 20 minutes of play – standing toe to toe with Muscala…. punch, counter-punch throughout. A thing of beauty. Steve and Mary, his parents, couldn’t stop smiling while snapping picture after picture. Before the game, Steve said to me that he was worried. But, asked about Gabe. He said, “not at all.” That seemed a match as Gabe’s demeanor during pre-game warm-ups when he said to me in a very business-like tone, “One more!” It was to be just another day at the office for our big guy.
Resolve – we had it. No one had it more than CJ. This was to be his game. He showed it in the huddle (more animated than usual) and on the court. He and Coach Reed were on the same page and you had the feeling that all would be OK in the end. It nearly wasn’t but thanks to another part of CJ’s game – his quick hands – he was able to swipe the ball from Muscala just when he made his move to the basket for the go-ahead score with 6+ minutes remaining. Turns out he had three of the team’s 10 steals on the night. The team was determined not to give up the lead throughout the game. It would get down to one but never cross over in BU’s favor. I read that Hooptime said BU had 9 chances to take the lead and never could. How’s that for “resolve,” determination and gut-check?
82 points – against BU’s #1 scoring defense in the Patriot League @ 57.6 ppg. Not too shabby. We hit 50% of our shots against a Bucknell standard FG Defense of .364 (also best in league).
Officiating – solid. Few complaints to speak of. And, that’s from both sides. Good job, PL. Thought maybe Gabe would have been whistled on Ayers last second drive under the basket but upon closer look this morning, he kept his body off the shooter and had ball all the way. Once again, CJ positioned himself nicely for what might have been a rebound opportunity or, in this case, the deflection and break-away. The kid is always there.
BJ – can’t wait for next year. What leaping ability (2 blocks last night) and what a “pure” shot he has. Can’t think of a better 6th man who can give you minutes and a boost at a number of positions.
“Oh no” moment – had to be Mackey’s two missed free throws with 27 seconds to go with us up by one. BU was left with no timeouts with Ayers racing the ball up-court. The ball goes to Muscala and back to Ayers with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game. Huh? Why not MM to the basket? It’s something the big guy will wonder about for months to come. Instead Ayers gets the return pass and is left with no other option than to drive the baseline. Gabe gets the block, CJ the deflection and game over. What an ending. As is was last year. And, all signs point to another memorable year in 2012-13 when BU returns 10 of its star players.
Rush the court. I swear I don’t know what compelled me to do it but I did. Perhaps it was involuntary. I was caught up in the moment and followed the crowd. I simply wanted everyone – especially for the seniors – to know how proud I was of their efforts and the chance they’ll have to play on the big stage next week.
Cutting down the net. Sure, everyone will remember CJ and Coach Reed climbing the ladder and taking home a loop or two of twine. But, not me. What will stick in my mind is the sight of Tyrone Staggers making the climb up to the top of the ladder and snipping off a small 3″ piece of cord. So, too, will be the sight of Jena Etnoyer (Asst. Athletic Trainer) doing the same – high heels and all. And, everyone else that followed. You see, it’s a team sport and everyone associated with Coach Reed knows it – from walk-ons who bust it in practice 7 days a week – to the star of the team. We all celebrate as one. I’m glad I got a chance to witness it.