Game #9-141: Holy Cross at Hartford HawksDecember 1, 2012 7:00 pm
The Sports Center
I am 44, and I haven't held a baby in a long time. But Johan puts his youngest daughter in my arms after we've finished eating on Raymond Avenue so he can bring the car around. The calmest little child. Her quiet, brown-eyed stare follows her father out of the restaurant. I, of course, am antsy. We are going to miss the tip of the Holy Cross-Hartford game. Holy Cross is my team, my school, and I haven't seen them yet this year. But you can't be antsy and properly hold a baby.
Johan's older daughter is here too. Neither she nor my eleven year-old son Ian have eaten much. My father, another Holy Cross aficionado who has driven down from Massachusetts, talks with Johan's wife about how eating at the table with adults helps to socialize children. Children should be encouraged to eat with the family at the appointed time. "It is a civilizing force," my father says.
"Yes!" says Johan's wife. "That's what I've been trying to tell him all this time." She gestures in the direction Johan has gone.
We go over to the game in West Hartford in two cars. We all find our way into Chase Arena without paying admission: a fan hands me an extra ticket outside the entrance; the work-study student in the ticket booth gives me a voucher for two more; Johan and his family park behind the building and simply walk in through an open door.
But free basketball is played to little effect. Hartford shoots threes galore and runs the break at every chance. Holy Cross, with a bigger front line, plays along -- fast, slow, medium, whatever.
Finally, a floater from Holy Cross point guard Burrell and some defensive energy from sixth man Obeyskere start the Crusaders on an 8-0 run that gives them a 22-20 edge at the half. Despite the lead, I am not watching anything that will calm my restless feelings about this team.
Johan states it matter-of-factly. "If Hartford makes their threes, they will win. Your boys aren't gonna stop them."
He is right. As the second half begins, Hartford simplifies the game. They run high screens against Holy Cross' man-to-man that create shots at the wings and the top of the key. Those shots begin to fall. On consecutive possessions Nwakamma, a forward playing away from the hoop, converts from straightaway and Cole hits from the wing. On defense, the Hawks let the Holy Cross shoot anything beyond seventeen feet and rely on the Crusaders' early season reputation as one of the worst shooting teams in Division 1.
During what becomes something like a 22-5 streak, the Hawks rarely miss on one end and corral just enough defensive rebounds on the other. Their lead balloons to 42-28.
Johan puts the baby back in my arms. He and his wife begin to pack up the family's gear -- car seat, bottles, extra fleeces.
This time, holding the familiar shape of the baby finally settles my nerves. I can see by her expression that she will soon fall asleep. I can see some things about my team too. Burrell, playing point, is not creating enough shots for his teammates. He must see an angle twice before he will dare make a pass. And Holy Cross's defense is porous. On one possession, Hartford's Moore throws the ball from the top of the key to Nwakamma on the block, who pitches it back out to Moore. Two long chest passes that no Holy Cross defender puts at risk. I write in my program, "How, Holy Cross, how?"
The Crusaders do make a charge -- a Burrell floater, a Hamilton jump shot off the best offensive set Holy Cross runs all game, another Obeyskere follow-up for a dunk -- and cut the margin to two, 44-42, with a minute to play.at HARTFORD 48, HOLY CROSS 45
Of course by now the baby is long gone. Johan and his family are driving home for the bedtime routine. But I still feel in my arms the civilizing effect of the little one. So it's okay that Holy Cross does not complete the comeback and loses by three points, 48-45. Another familiar shape. But I understand the calm my father always shows in these moments. And I understand, too, why my son, who is years away from holding his own children, can't sit still as the game comes down the stretch.
HOLY CROSS 4-4 (0-0) -- J. Burrell 5-14 0-0 10; D. Dudzinski 5-10 3-4 13; M. Miller 1-7 1-2 3; J. Stevens 3-6 2-3 9; C. Hamilton 3-5 0-0 7; E. Obeysekere 1-4 0-0 2; P. Beans 0-3 0-0 0; T. Abt 0-1 1-2 1; D. Goens 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-51 7-11 45.
HARTFORD 4-3 (0-0) -- Y. Moore II 3-7 2-2 10; M. Nwakamma 4-12 3-4 12; N. Sikma 2-6 0-0 4; W. Cole 3-11 0-0 9; E. Cooper 1-3 2-2 5; J. Peterson 1-5 0-0 2; J. Schneck 0-2 0-0 0; C. Wroe 2-4 0-0 4; O. Faulk 0-1 0-0 0; T. Dyson 1-3 0-0 2; J. Aska 0-0 0-0 0; A. Burrell 0-0 0-0 0; P. U'u 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-54 7-8 48.
Three-point goals: HC 2-17 (D. Goens 0-1; J. Stevens 1-3; P. Beans 0-3; D. Dudzinski 0-1; J. Burrell 0-2; M. Miller 0-3; T. Abt 0-1; C. Hamilton 1-3), HART 7-30 (J. Peterson 0-4; W. Cole 3-11; M. Nwakamma 1-3; C. Wroe 0-1; Y. Moore 2-5; N. Sikma 0-4; E. Cooper 1-1; T. Dyson 0-1); Rebounds: HC 37 (D. Dudzinski 15), HART 22 (Y. Moore 7); Assists: HC 7 (D. Dudzinski 3), HART 7 (Y. Moore 3); Total Fouls -- HC 12, HART 8; Fouled Out: HC-None; HART-None.