November 8, 2011 1:05 pm ET by Joe Geyer
Game #8-001: William & Mary Tribe at Saint John's Red StormNovember 7, 2011 7:00 pm
Growing up in Mid-Majordom, the first games of the year for my team were always my favorites. The pure curiosity of wondering what my team would look like after the eight-month off-season media blackout, was only trumped by my mind imagining how excited I would feel if my team actually won a game against a high-profile school. On the drive into Queens, I summoned my childhood enthusiasm, and began thinking about what I would write when William and Mary pulled off the first RLU of the year over St. John's.
I had a lot of time to imagine the upset, as the 12 mile drive from my job to Carnesecca Arena took well over an hour in mind-numbing traffic; giving me just enough time to park my car in the tightest spot known to man, snag a cheap ticket from a gracious and/or bad scalper, and make it through the TSA-style metal detector in time for tipoff.
Not to give too much credit to our better-budgeted half, but Carnesecca Arena, or Alumni Hall for our older readers (I'm kidding), is what I imagine a college basketball arena should look like. It's a narrow, old school building, and the student sections are right on top of the court. Definitely an intimidating place to play when at its 6,100 capacity.
Luckily for William and Mary, the New York crowd seemed to be fashionably late and the building was not close to full. Tribe took full advantage of the lackadaisical home crowd that in the first half with a barrage of #superhoops and solid zone defense, emblematic of their head coach, Tony Shaver.
Shaver is one of my favorite coaches in college basketball. His teams are consistently better than predicted, mainly by preaching fundamentals and taking advantage of the three-pointer. Shaver's presence from the sidelines is reminiscent of Drexel's Bruiser Flint, minus... well just about everything, other than that they both usually rock tight 'staches. Shaver looked calm, the Tribe looked confident, and looked well on their way to a RLU.
But something went horribly wrong for the Tribe at halftime. Perhaps, the number three recruiting class according to an unnamed media outlet needed a half to work their nerves off. Maybe William and Mary did not shoot enough three pointers during halftime warm-ups.
Hell, maybe the three girls sitting next to me in the stands, complaining about the Johnnies sloppy zone defense, snuck into the locker room and gave Interim Head Coach Mike Dunlap, and Gene Keady some pointers. Either way, it was the cliché tale of two halves. St John's put on a defensive clinic, and by the under-sixteen timeout, the final score seemed destined to be in favor of the Red Storm. Shaver's stoic courtside demeanor and the Tribe's seemingly superior team chemistry, were no match for the hyper-athletic St. John's frontcourt.
This is the life of a fan living below the Red Line. A lot of solid first-halves, a lot more disappointment at the end of the day. Honestly though, the thrill of rooting for the underdog is what brings me back. Maybe it's just the inner Hipster in me trying to break out, but I relish the occasions when the seas part for a RLU, and I can say I saw this coming before anybody else. But for now I'll have to stick to daydreaming in my car.
On an important side note, best wishes to Steve Lavin during his continued fight against prostate cancer. I look forward to seeing him back on the sidelines.
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