March 11, 2010

Okay, that all did happen

It's taken me a couple days to make sure what happened in Hartford this past weekend did actually happen.

Sure enough, when checking the ESPN2 listings BU is indeed playing Vermont for the America East conference final. It seems like it's been a long time coming for the senior class, and that's because it is. But it's finally here. In the last year they could, they made it to the biggest game in the conference for a chance to really assist the program for years to come.

What will happen on Saturday in Burlington? There will be a basketball game. That's all I know. What could happen is something that is mere speculation. If somehow Vegas does set a line on this game I will assume UVM will be slight favorites. In my opinion this game is a pick em'. One thing is for sure: both teams are going to be fighting, diving, sweating, and playing harder than any games you or I've seen in recent America East play. It's sure to be better, and more crowded than the Sixers game I attended last night:

The band, dance, cheer team and six BU students made the journey to Hartford Friday for the women's first round game against UMBC. Couldn't have been a scarier matchup in my opinion, but according to our very knowledgeable commenter base the team that lost two games in the regular season has the huge advantage? Had I known this I guess I wouldn't have been so nervous for the ladies' sake.

Anyways, BU got an early lead and didn't completely look back. Playing with essentially a roster of seven the ladies' did what they needed to simply put to advance. They shut down Carlee Cassidy and by doing that shut down the 'Trievers offense.

The UMBC dance team is always something to be marveled at. It's a mixture of dance moves you'd be more accustomed to seeing in an 18+ Gentleman's Club and very revealing outfits for a college scene. Especially that of the America East. In addition, year in, year out the UMBCDT is the most ethnic of all the other school's combined. I guess this shouldn't be a complete shock considering the conference (minus UMBC) is pretty much set in the northeast.

Anyways, the other thing besides the UMBCDT that I got to marvel at was the set up of the Chase Family Pavilion for the tournament. Hartford did an excellent job. The arena is one of my favorite's in the conference to begin with, but the tournament also featured a Ben & Jerry's set up and a fan fest area featuring beer and lobster rolls. Good God - SPRING BREAK Woooooo!!

I scoped out the scene Friday in preparation for a spending spree that I knew was inevitable on Saturday. After the women's game the bus was loaded back up for Boston to get back in time for the BU men's hockey game against Northeastern. I had pretty much assumed that would be my last game in Agganis. I don't know how the stars aligned as they did, but I'll get at least two more thanks to BU's sweep of NU and securing of third place in the conference. Who would have thought?

Friday game, and the bus ride was used for sleep. I was nervous heading into Hartford and i wasn't even playing. Looking back on it all, I don't know why I was - BU absolutely destroyed Hartford pretty much in the first five minutes and didn't look back.

It was a pretty glorious game. It was clear that Corey Lowe was in a unique zone, unconsciously knocking down shot after shot. Tyler seemed focus on winning and winning alone. Jake couldn't be stopped, Pelage was a monster on the boards, and of course there was John Holland who was acting like regular season John Holland.

The game was a blow out, meaning we got to see/freak out at Mike Schulze free throws. He was one for two, meaning in all likelihood he will go down as a career 50% free throw shooter. Only bad news that came from BU's opening round game against Hartford was Tunde Agboola's second career turnover. TERRIBLE!

I got picked to partake in the halftime competition which was the oversized shirt, shorts, shoes and then a layup. I always thought this competition was reserved for kids still in middle school, but when pride's on the line I don't bat an eyelash. I went balls to the wall and opened up as big a lead as the Terriers had in the first half. I was fully dressed before the dude from Hartford even had his shoes on. He launched a half court shot that, as I'm told, almost went in. I just let it sail by and sunk my layup. Then I proceeded to freak out. I'm sure I was hated, especially since I had to remove my costume, ruining any chance of sympathy the crowd might have had.

Afterwards I was given a gift pack of Newman's Own products. Newman's of course sponsered the event, and I must say, did a great job. Tons of giveaways and plenty of branding. In addition, they gave thousands of dollars away to charities for the media timeout free throw competitions. Cooper of the Loyal Crew and Brochure kid each won $1,000 for charities. So honorable:

After the game we found our hotel, ate, and mentally prepared for the following day. Mentally preparing for us was trying to get over the hotness of the America East sideline reporter, Ashley Underwood, who was the talk of the tournament. Also mentally preparing was celebrating victory with alcohol! We didn't have to play the next day.

(Sidenote: A google image search AFTER the tournament shows many more hits of Ashley, just sayin')

Sunday came as planned and we checked out of the hotel. Our hope was to get to IHop before the women's game. Unfortunately, Sunday at 10:15 a.m. is the most busy time for any IHop anywhere, so we had to settle on the McDonald's right next door. No harm, because Mickey D's breakfast brings it. Not as hard as BK, but you can get one respectable meal for $5.

Once we were fed and ready to rock we made it to Chase. I hate the UVM women's team. More so, I hate May Kostopoulos. Somehow, May beat K-Mac in the fan favorite voting and according to the website she got more than 1/3 of the votes. I'm calling hacked shenanigans. I don't believe that could've happened. Because of this, we, as the eight student fans from BU decided to "ewwww" May everytime she touched the ball. It seemed to kind of work in the start of the game. She had turnovers, missed shots, and seemed to be out of the sync.

It was BU who was REALLY out of sync in the second half and it was on the free throw line. BU had a legitimate shot at getting into the game, but a series of six straight missed free throws set BU back, and from the moment they missed the sixth, the game was over. BU never got back into it and the Catamounts pulled far ahead and didn't consider looking back.

Not the way anyone wanted the season to end - on a series of missed free throws. But there was some silver lining - with the Vermont win they most likely punched their ticket to the tourney regardless of how they do on Saturday against Hartford, who was also tournament bound. Because of that BU would receive the WNIT berth and have at least one more game in store. So don't start aggressively drinking quite yet ladies!

After the game ended we evacuated the gym with about three hours to kill before the men took the court. We decided to right wrongs and get some IHop. We had gotten it on Saturday in Boston before we left, and it seems like now, we're going to need to get it again on Saturday before our journey to Burlington.

We got all greased up and coffee-ed up and went back to Chase. It was a GORGEOUS day in Hartford so we enjoyed some rays and threw a tennis ball around. I had the fortune of meeting some of the posters from the AEC board and got to talk hoops. All of that was good because it was taking my mind and nerves off of the game that was about to happen.

The way I saw it - I needed to go as hard as the players were. Cheering loudly, making noise, holding signs, doing whatever I could to try to carry some support for BU.

Stony Brook was able to bring what I'm going to guess was 75-ish students. Half of whom stood, one of which was fat and had an amazing free throw distraction:

Before the game the SBU athletic director (I think) was handing out tickets to SBU students before the game. I was jealous, because none of us eight BU fans got that type of treatment. We had to buy our own tickets and hotel. A small price to pay in retrospect.

BU jumped out to the 13-point halftime lead then quickly blew it. As the game wore on in the second half it was more and more depressing. The thoughts in my head were along the lines of "they're really going to end their careers like this." Saddening to say the least, and on top of it all, Miss Ashley Underwood wasn't even on hand to divert my attention.

BU lost the lead, trailed for a little bit, then got back into it. With the band and us eight going crazy in the stands we go the support of the UVM crowd and BU started to turn it on.

I'm not sure when it was, but it became clear to me that the final four-minute "situation" after the last media timeout would be the only part of the game that would matter. And things were looking more up than down at that point with BU up three. They didn't let go of that lead. SBU got it to one, but it was Corey Lowe on defense and offense that made all the difference.

I don't know that I've ever seen Corey play more complete games than he did this past weekend. I've seen him play a lot and there's no doubt he's dealt with more than most players on the team have. I think he's still hurt, but if he is he sure as hell isn't showing any signs of ailment. Corey was an absolute monster, and put everything he had into what could've been his final two games of his college career.

He was knocking shots down from absurd distances, and he was in a zone unique to him in the weekend games. His defense was what impressed me the most. Between him and Los they forced the conference player of the year, Muhammed El-Amin, who Chambers did vote for, to eight turnovers. BU was one forced turnover away from doubling the Seawolves up. That was the difference maker.

It's ironic too. It was Wolff who was praised for his defensive systems, but until this year I never saw any player diving for steals, sprawling all over the court for lose balls, forcing 19 turnovers in a tournament game, or winning a conference semifinal.

The win was particularly emotional for Corey:

And I don't blame him. For the rest of us it was insane jubilation, that almost rivaled the National Championship. I mean look at me after the game:

I'm almost embarrassed. With like five seconds to go in the game, and it was clear BU was going to win, I sprinted down the bleachers and went to the "tunnel" area. I wasn't sure where BU would go, so I would just great them when they came off. That didn't last since they were relishing the moment on the court.

So I, and the students behind me, sprinted to the opposite side of the court and somehow made it onto the floor. Then it was hugs, high fives, screams, and more happiness than I've ever had with this team.

Some great photos courtesy of Shane Bufano, the UVM photographer who was there for BU. You can check out some of his other stuff, mostly UVM at his website.

Anyways, after the game and the team walked off the BU faithful started a "we goin' to the ship" cheer with an accompanying dance. We returned to the bleachers and rallied off a "U-N-H" chant because if the Wildcats could win we'd get a home game championship. The UVM fans were non to pleased considering they had backed us for an entire contest.

The BU bus departed and I splurged and bought a lobster roll, sat back, and watched a terribly ugly game (as most seem to be with UNH) that Vermont won by 19. Not overly surprising as I had already begun preparing to go to Burlington.

Then to find out the women's hockey team punched their ticket to the NCAA's - topped the weekend. Easily the best weekend the BU athletic community has had in quite some time.

So Vermont gets to play in both men and women's championships, while BU (men) and Hartford (women) also vie for a championship. There was one more winner in Hartford from this past weekend. Hoopville's own, Sam Perkins.

He flicked off his haters by sealing the deal and attaining the digits of Kristen Jeter using unusual tactics involving voodoo, journalistic integrity, and other dark forms of attraction that my simple mind can't even begin to understand. Final odds were set at 15-1 here on the blog, so if you somehow made a bet your check should arrive soon. Good job, Sam:

So that's that. If I could I'd do it all again. Hartford + Burlington > Puerta Vallartta.

I believe in this team. My picks might have had the Seawolves winning, but jokes on you, world. My picks have never been accurate, and the games I pick BU to win, they don't. So this year I pulled weird reverse psychology and it totally paid off!!

I ain't predicting for Saturday. The team and Chambers have made it this far. They just need one more and it'll all be on the line. GO BU.

No comments: