"You may never know what becomes of your actions, but if you do nothing, there will be no results." - Gandhi
Game #9-321: Drexel Dragons at Hofstra PrideJanuary 23, 2013 7:00 pm
Mack Sports Complex
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - One of the things that made the Mid-majority is the fact that at its core, it was always about going to the games. In 2013, that may seem like a superfluous concept, and in most of sports media, it is. But what Kyle has started, and we've done our best to continue is a tradition and a belief that to truly understand, and to truly get to the core of the mid-major experience, you have to be in the gym.
All games, no matter how small, no matter how big, have meaning and stories that deserve to be told.
Did I mention how small?
Wednesday night, for one of the few times this season, I hemmed and hawed about making the 90-minute drive to Hofstra for its game against Drexel. It would be the fourth time I'd been to the Mack Center, neither team seemed to really be headed anywhere fast, and it was mid-term exam season (yea, correcting papers).
On a freezing Wednesday afternoon, the doubt quickly passed and I was on my way.
By the end of the night, I was glad I did.
Sometimes we know when the moments we remember forever will happen to us well in advance: a wedding, for instance. Well, unless you're in Vegas or something.
In most cases, however, they just happen, without warning or time to mull them over.
The much-traveled Taran Buie was having the college game of his career for Hofstra, and although he was off-balance, no one in the Mack Center was all that surprised when his superhoop hit nothing but the bottom of the net with 5.9 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 52. Buie had 29 of the 52 points for the Pride.
Frantz Massenat, like anyone starting for a Division I program, is pretty good at basketball and the junior had made a nice career for himself heading into this season. He was a first-team all-Colonial Athletic Association pick last season, and the preseason conference player of the year. He might have put himself into the public consciousness last March if Drexel's 29 wins had been deemed good enough by the NCAA Tournament Committee. Alas - still deemed the biggest snub by many - they were passed over. Drexel and Massenat went to the quarterfinals of the NIT, but that was it.
This year, Drexel was the preseason favorite in the CAA, but injuries and a host of close losses left Bruiser Flint and company a disappointing 6-11 (2-3 in the VCU-less CAA) coming into Hofstra Wednesday night. They trailed for most of the second half before a late run put them up and ready to pick up a big road conference win until Buie intervened.
With those 5.9 seconds still left, Flint - who unlike Jimmy Patsos 48 hours earlier - had been his usual energetic self, had time to call a play to get a decent look. From a pure selfish standpoint, I was rooting for him, overtime meant an extra 20 minutes before I would be home on a weeknight.
Drexel lined up unusually, with no one but the inbounder in the backcourt. There was some movement, but whatever Flint drew up didn't come close to materializing, with the ball coming to Massenat at his own foul line. He started to dribble, lost the ball momentarily, and was quickly double-teamed. Running out of time, he stepped through the double and launched the ball from about 55 feet away, two-handed from his waist.
You're kidding me.
(Sadly, photography is not my thing, and this is the best I could do with the celebration. Here is the fairly unbelievable video.)
Massenat couldn't really quite believe it, either, standing basically in place before a big pat on the rump by Flint shook him out of his disbelief. There was a courtesy checking of the monitor, but Massenat's shot was well on its way to YouTube before the officials had confirmed that the shot was clearly good and Drexel had a wacky 55-52 victory that would propel Massenat into at least temporary celebrity that being the preseason CAA Player of the Year didn't do for him.
Funny how life works.
But there was one guy who wasn't surprised in the slightest than Massenat had hit a 55-foot shot at the buzzer to win the game. Maybe a little. But if you watch the video closely and look behind the Drexel bench on the far right of the screen in the front row, there is a middle-aged man in a white "Drexel Basketball" collared shirt, who never left his seat. He just clapped a couple of times and started to walk down to the court to greet the victors.
In a fairly empty gym like Mack was Wednesday, you hear the random fan every once in a while being a little overzealous. Usually, it turns out to be a parent or relative who just can't help themselves.
But this was louder than usual, more guttural, more persistent. Every time Hofstra has possession of the ball, it went on, without fail and without a pause. Give the tempo of the game, he often had to do it for 35 seconds at a time, however never failed.
Where was that noise coming from?
At the second media time out, I finally located the man in the collared shirt. I had seen him come out with the team before the game, walking with a limp as he made his way to the front row, but I didn't connect the two until then.
Was he a coach? Manager?
Some kids sitting next to me started to ridicule him a little, laughing and trying to match his "DEEEEEE-FENSE" with an "Off-ense" chant, but they were no match for his decibel level.
At halftime, I asked a couple of the Drexel fans, and the answer was Calvin Hicks. If you just read that, and said, "You don't know who Calvin Hicks is," I sincerely apologize and I deserve to be ridiculed.
If you said, "Who is Calvin Hicks?," please read this story immediately and then come back. We'll be here. (Actually, he was mentioned way back in 2003 by Andy Katz at the end of this article as well.)
Calvin had his own water bottle and there was a funny scene toward the end of halftime where a student manager in charge of trying to get Calvin to take his medicine was unsuccessful as he was intent on being ready for the second half.
Afterward, Calvin, who walks with a slight limp, but is in much better health than he was a few years ago, wandered around congratulating anyone he could find before making his way back to the team bus for the relatively short ride back to Philly.
I shook Calvin's hand - still feeling terrible I didn't know him earlier - and said, "Tough game, man."
"We were down, we were down, but then we came back and kicked their ass. I knew he could make that shot."
Calvin was waiting for the final Dragon to make his way back to the locker room, who was of course Frantz Massenat, who had radio duties. He gave Calvin a high-five, what he had just done starting to sink in a little bit as he faded from sight.
As others have stated better than I can add to before, guys like Calvin Hicks are what the Mid-majority and college athletics are all about.
There were a couple of people who weren't all that thrilled with the Massenat hero story, and they were on the Hofstra bench when it happened. If you watch the film again, Massenat might have gotten away with a travel when he split that final double-team.
It was mere feet from Hofstra coach Mo Cassara, and after the referees made the cursory look at the replay and started to make their way off the floor, Cassara let them have it and started to follow them before being restrained by his assistants.
That was pretty much the end of it, no one could blame Cassara for being furious, the man has gone through a lot of shit this season, and - as I've said before - by all accounts is a stand-up guy in a business where not everyone is. But he knows that, despite all the hullabaloo about Massenat's miracle shot, this was a tough loss for a Pride team that was close to turning the corner, despite all the aforementioned shit.
As noted college basketball fan Isaac Newton once said, "To every reaction, there is always opposed an equal reaction." For every victor, there is a vanquished, and get vanquished enough, and the unfortunate reality in Our Game is you're usually searching a new place of employment.
It started out as a meaningless game on a Wednesday night between two teams that may or may not be headed nowhere this season.
It ended as a night I will likely never forget.
And that's why we go.
DREXEL 55, at HOFSTRA 52
DREXEL 7-11 (3-3) -- F. Massenat 3-10 6-6 14; D. Ruffin 4-7 1-2 9; D. Thomas 2-7 0-0 4; D. Lee 5-14 2-2 14; K. Abif 3-5 0-0 6; D. McCoy 3-4 0-1 6; T. Allen 1-4 0-0 2; A. Younger 0-0 0-0 0; G. Pantovic 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-51 9-11 55.
HOFSTRA 5-14 (2-4) -- S. Mejia 3-8 2-4 8; T. Buie 10-20 2-2 29; D. Imes 4-8 0-0 8; J. Allen 2-4 1-3 5; S. Nwaukoni 1-4 0-1 2; M. Kone 0-2 0-0 0; M. Grogan 0-1 0-0 0; D. Brown 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-48 5-10 52.
Three-point goals: DREX 4-16 (D. Thomas 0-4; F. Massenat 2-3; K. Abif 0-1; T. Allen 0-1; D. Lee 2-7), HOFS 7-14 (D. Imes 0-2; M. Grogan 0-1; T. Buie 7-11); Rebounds: DREX 27 (D. Ruffin 8), HOFS 29 (J. Allen 7); Assists: DREX 12 (D. Thomas 5), HOFS 14 (S. Mejia 6); Total Fouls -- DREX 13, HOFS 12; Fouled Out: DREX-None; HOFS-None.
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