Game 109: at Boston University 67, New Hampshire 46 Thursday, December 8, 2005
Case Gymnasium - Boston, MA
On Thanksgiving Tuesday in 2005, the city of Boston made a collective decision to leave town early. The city's residents clogged the westbound MassPike with their automobiles, stringing up a 38-mile-long snarl of traffic that stretched all the way to Worcester.
But holiday gridlock and bitter chill couldn't keep 5,000-plus hoops junkies from packing Agganis Arena to watch the Boston University
basketball team play the Michigan
Wolverines. It didn't stop the young journalist who, delayed by the traffic, arrived too late to pick up the proper credentials. And there was no barrier, man-made or otherwise, that would get in the way of the helpful (if not underinformed) arena employee who led me through the white-walled maze to the Press Box. That's where I watched the first half, surrounded by BU administrators in well-tailored business attire, all eating salmon paté off small black tablets.
Sitting there, avoiding the gaze of well-heeled higher-ups (who were wondering aloud what the fellow in the corner was doing with the notebook, why he was the only one in the Press Box actually taking an interest in the game action), I felt a pang of sorrow. I was in the wrong place, but most importantly, I was in the wrong Place.
Sure, the new building was sparkling and lovely; and yes, it warmed my heart that a majority of the fans below were wearing home scarlet and white, instead of the famous maize and blue available at popular sporting goods stores everywhere. But my heart was heavy - I missed The Roof.
Sixteen days later, it was back to BU for a home matchup with New Hampshire
. This game was at the Terriers' other, older home - tiny 32-year-old Case Gymnasium, the second floor of a brick box, connected to the hockey arena below by one confusing staircase
Instead of thousands of fans enjoying the game from sculpted chairbacks, a handful of people sat scattered in hard seats (which allowed the Terrier mascot to give each attendee copius amounts of personal attention). The Roof's media room, as always, had no extra amenities whatsoever - it's a dimly lit closet, with a bowl of greasy snack-mix spilled over onto a folding desk. Instead of holding court at a table with a logo-covered backdrop afterwards, head coach Dennis Wolff addresses questions in the team's film room (visiting coaches are invited to use the hallways).
Now this was more like it, I thought - real mid-major flavor, the way it oughta be. But I couldn't help wondering: where was everyone? This was the exact same team that had battled a Big Ten team so bravely, that had elicited such warm applause just two short weeks earlier. Had people simply forgotten? I mean, it wasn't as if folks who had attended the Michigan game didn't know where to find the other place.
It's doubly odd, considering the city. Right down the road from both BU venues is the grand dame of ballparks, Fenway Park, a green and dingy dinosaur that Boston has pressed lovingly against its collective bosom. If the Red Sox can charge hundreds of dollars to sit on its roof
, the Terriers should surely be able to get more than 200 people to show up and pay $10 to sit in an aged basketball dungeon.
During the first half, inspiration struck. The Roof simply hasn't been romanticized properly, I thought. I pulled out my quill.
Are thou art so possessed with player hate?
'Gainst Case Gym stick'st not to conspire,
Seeking that fallen Roof to ruinate
When to repair should be thy chief desire.
O! change thy thought, and change thy mind:
To love thy ancient home and enter thereto.
Be, as its presence is, humble and kind,
Proud home of Scarlet and White since '72:
Go! Get thee to a game, and harbor little fear,
They're 180-74 there over 32 years.
No, no good at all - too much thy-thee-thine. I crumpled the paper and started again.
It was the best of venues, it was the worst of venues, it was the age of the Internet, it was the age of George W. Bush, it was the epoch of Agganis, it was the epoch of Case Gym, it was the season of non-conference games, it was the season of America East play, it was Matt Wolff's autumn of hope, it was his winter of redshirted despair, BU had everything before them, BU had nothing before them, they were going direct to the Tournament, they were going to get a conference tourney eight-seed - in short, the 2005-06 season was so far like the 2004-05 season, that some of BU's noisiest fans insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Nope, too much of a run-on sentence. Surely there was some way to capture my feelings about The Roof in poetry or prose. I spent the second half penning a masterpiece of ethereal Old World PR.
A Prayer On Going Onto The Roof
God grant a blessing on this gymnasium and arena
And on the Terriers, if all remain unspoiled,
No scorer's table or chairback or bench not simple enough
For balling lads in Boston-town; and grant
That Coach Wolff for portions of the year
May handle nothing and set eyes on nothing
But what the great and passionate have used
Throughout so many varying America East seasons.
Damn it, I hate when I use insufficient punctuation.
Finally, I gave up - nothing was clicking. The fans of Boston University Terrier basketball would have to clear their own consciences if they wanted to continue to provide a case study for the greedy theories of Bud Selig and David Stern, the cold and twisted logic that dicates that all teams need new arenas in order to "survive." Neither nostalgia, humility or appreciation can ever be force-fed, it would be up to them.Apologies