… the delusion Train visits Penn Station.
Mrs. HoyaBen and I arranged a mighty NYC weekend to enjoy the Hoyas (Broadway, dinners and a museum as well) and while I have felt comfort in my misery this year thanks to the comradeship here, I had faith that we would rise up at some point during this murderers row stretch (Creighton, Villanova and MSU) and so it fell to the game at MSG to validate my tiny bit of optimism.
And what a game.
I have been visiting the Hoyas at MSG since the 1980's and it is almost always like a mini-home game a trend stronger in recent years. Sure enough we visited our favorite pub across from MSG (Tir Na Nog) before the game and there were plenty of Hoya fans there to chat with including some sad Scots from the Esherick era who seemed stuck in a time warp. The Esherick era guys needed reminding that we have won the overwhelming majority of our games since the JTII era began in the 1970's. There was also lovely young woman wearing a MSU t-shirt who after we threatened her life she admitted that her brother is a Hoya alum.
Inside MSG it was a Hoya festival. The red people from the early St John's-Marquette game drifted out and while the house was only half full, it was half full of Hoya fans. From the opening the team had an energy that we have seen only glimpses of this year. Tough defense forcing significant MSU turnovers. An offense with too many miscues of our own, but miscues because we were trying to go inside (a happy change) rather than just tossing the ball aimlessly on the outside. We battled through the first half and the collapse we worried about never came. Down a point we were confident we were in this one.
Then Reggie made the difference. He hit the three to start the second half scoring and MSU missed their first shot and we were on our way. The crowd was loud and fun throughout the second half. A second half marked by a ton of plays that could be debated as the best of the year. Seriously. There was the immortal Lubick inbounds layup (for all our moaning about Nate when he sees a basketball play and it is within his capabilities, he can perform at a level that warms a coaches heart, especially if it is his dad … drink). The steal and breakaway by Bowen that brought down the house (he is our dribble penetrator to the basket, let him did it more). The give and go between Hopkins and Starks that was a thing of beauty (I watched Komrade dribble the ball between his legs way out top and said to myself, hmm something is going on here) and the house was roaring gain. Or DSR doing his best Willis Reed and coming back in for the final stretch (our top rebounder by the way). And then there is the gif that must be melting our internet, the Trawick dunk. Boom.
This is all not to say there weren't problems. If MSU hit a higher percentage of their free throws, or their three pointers (for which they were open too much) or if DSR was hurt worse than he must have been to sit out much of the last ten. Or if the MSU breakaway dunk that brought the game close and roused their fans had turned the tide.
But it didn't.
The Hoya eight played like grown-ups. They had the seriousness of purpose that has characterized Starks and few others lately. To a man.
And we are proud of them. And when they continue that for the second part of the season it will be a sight to behold. They have adjusted to losing Smith and they have shown us what a team they can be. Worthy of the tradition and our unflagging support. I was thrilled to be there.
And here is a Kate for another generation (CAS '79).