Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Fairfield/Marist Running Diary? I think so!

College kids and Thursday nights are infamous. Some go home for the weekend, some study, some visit their local watering home. Me? I travel with our own Tom Cleary to PoTown to catch the Stags face Marist. I summoned my inner Bill Simmons and (attempt to be funny) follow the game with a running diary. Enjoy:

7:03 TC and I arrive at the McCann Center and play a little cat-and-mouse game with the parking attendants at Marist. We go through this every game, for some reason. At the gate, we were told to continue to the parking lot closest to the gym. Moments later, they blocked us from the VIP Parking and told us to go to student parking all the way on the other side of campus. Long story short, Tom and I pulled the ‘media parking’ card, got a grand tour of the Hudson Valley, and then parked next to the Stags’ Dattco bus. Now that’s dedication.

Once we got inside, we were greeted by some screaming and yelling Marist cheerleaders, who handed me a game program and a free alarm clock courtesy of the school’s AD. Why can’t we get that kind of treatment at Harbor Yard? Imagine Lucas the Stag giving out day-by-day calendars and taking pictures as you walked in? But in all honest, Hutch, you’re doing great.

Guacamo’s Pizza in the media room, a local classic for those of you from Poughkeepsie or know friends that go to Marist. I’m not sure what it is, but there is just something about pizza in New York. No offense to the Nutmeg State, but it is the equivalent of watching the JV team or the varsity: they’re close, but they’re not quite there yet. Maybe it’s the water (as my old grandma always said), maybe it’s the Italian influence, maybe it’s that once you cross the border into New England it’s illegal to do so. But it’s there and it’s real.

Speaking of JV team, a
Marist radio broadcaster drops a heart-werenching line to Stags’ fans in the media room: “We can’t lose this game. This isn’t even their varsity team”. Has it really gotten to that point?

7:22 Marist takes the court to… “Knock on wood” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Am I missing something here? Does Notre Dame come out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium to Radiohead or STP? Does UNC come onto the floor listening to Sound Garden. When did mediocre 90’s alternative rock become the go-to song for D-I college basketball?

Speaking of which, what does this say for the future of fight songs and pump-up band music in our future? Are we supposed to prepare ourselves for the days when the Stags take the court to the All-American Rejects when we’re forty. I’ll be long retired by then

7:25 Women’s game score update #1. Sensing a trend

7:33 Big Ed emerges from the locker room looking spiffy as always. He takes a drink of water at the end of the bench. Given Tom’s most recent column, I can’t help but wonder if it was to wash down a Tums.

7:36 Stirring national anthem from the Marist Pep Band, clearly trying to make amends for the Bosstones slip-up. The Marist production people follow that up with Jordan-esque lineup calls and ‘Sirus’ from the Allan Parsons Project. I’m a fan of the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the announcer clearly has been drinking Red Bull and popping Osi Umenyora’s Five-Hour Energy pills all day. No other man should ever get that excited saying the name “Ryan Schneider”. No one.

7:38 In a stunning turn events, the band director comes onto the court and begins to dance. The players are then hushed to the sidelines as the ban director leads a chorus of singing in the middle of the court. Marist. I know you’re trying. But I know Ohio State. I’ve worked with Ohio State. And you, sir, are no Ohio State.

As a side note, is there anything funnier than a sixty-five year old man with his pants as high as Steve Urkel screaming, “Scratch em! Claw ‘em!” five feet from Ed Cooley? I’m pretty sure he didn’t laugh that hard the first time he watched “Coming to America” And what do you do if you’re a Marist player on the court waiting while this guy is singing? I’m pretty sure you put your head down and wonder if you were one sprint, one rep, one shot away from being up the Thruway at a Big East school.

7:41 Tom mentions that Lyndon Jordan is not on the bench. Clearly we’re off our game to have not noticed this until three minutes into the game. “That sucks,” he adds. Well put, sir.

7:42 Cooley takes a timeout after Ryan Olander egregiously misses an open assignment. He gave Olander one of those Ralph Kramden looks and, predictably, tells Ryan to pop a squat next to associate head coach Bob Simon. Oh, freshman. “One of these days, Ryan!”

7:43 Women’s basketball update, number two: Marist leads Fairfield, 29-20, on the Guacomo’s out-of-town scoreboard. Obsessed, much? I’m pretty sure the entire Hudson River Valley will go into a coma if this team doesn’t make the NCAA Tournament later next month. It’ll be worse than the Red Sox comeback in 2004. Worse than the ‘Miracle at the Meadowland’. Worse than the time the raccoon got stuck in the copier.

7:44 Herbie Allen drains a three-pointer to put the Stags on the board. So much for the injured wrist that ‘The Mirror’ reported earlier this afternoon. What are we paying these guys for, anyway? Dejuan Goodwin answers on the other end to push the Marist lead to seven.

Jacked-up announcer guy makes arguably the greatest media timeout call I’ve ever heard: “Timeout…. Timeout.” Watch your back, Michael Buffer. This guy’s a mover-and-shaker.

7:48 Ryan Schneider drives on Greg Nero, who looks like my grandfather trying to keep up with him and trail his man to the basket. Seriously, I don’t think anyone realized how hurt this man has been playing all season. You can see it in his mannerisms. On a related note, I hope CC Sabathia is taking notes.

7:49 Just as I stop typing, Nero drains a three. He’s a gamer. Simmons was right. Maybe Neroisms are the next big thing on North Benson. Did you know that Greg Nero doesn’t read books? He stares at them until the knowledge comes to him telepathically.

7:52 Dejuan Goodwin hits a three, resulting in Ed nearly taking off his jacket. For those of you that don’t know or aren’t fans of our blog, Cooley takes his jacket off when he’s really, really irked. In his first season at Fairfield, I think his average “Jacket on the back of a chair” time was well over 30 minutes a night. With a much improve team, though, he’s far more reserved on the bench – and likely helping his wallet from incessant dry cleaning bills. He may turn back the clock tonight if this keeps up.

7:55 Sean Crawford drains a three, and Chuck Martin burns a timeout to discuss the defensive miscue. Now that Tom and I think about it a little more, Frank Romano’s “Crawford is our Stephon Curry” sounds a little bit better right about now.

7:58 Another nice play by Crawford as he picks Schneider’s pocket in the glass and causes a turnover. He, like most of the Fairfield guards is awfully raw, but at the very least this group will be battle tested going into March and into the future.

Speak of those pesky underclassmen, Ryan Olander hits a fifteen-footer, displaying some of the range that Ed Cooley spoke of in our meeting of Tuesday. “He could be one of the best that’s ever played here,” Cooley said.

8:06 Despite a switch to a 1-3-1 zone to prevent things like that from happening, Ryan Schneider drains a three and pushes the Marist lead to ten points, the highest of the night. And for those of you at home playing the “Marist hits a three” drinking game, you probably should quit while you’re ahead. [Editor’s Note: Schneider hit another three-point shot literally ninety seconds later, as in three possessions. You can’t make this stuff up]

8:19 As the Stags take the court to warm up for the second half, the Marist Pep Band breaks out the Dropkick Murphy’s, causing Tom to think of the bygone glory days of Troy O’Leary, Lou Merloni, and John Valentin. Ah, Red Sox fans. Hope springs eternal. [Another minute, another scoreboard check. We’re on pace for over twenty here, people. That has to be some sort of record.]

8:36 Sign of the Apocalypse if you are a Fairfield fan: forward Greg Nero emerged from the locker room in a grey jumpsuit and a handbag. The man practically played crippled tonight, and you have to wonder if the bang and bruises are just beginning to take a toll. As we speak, the Fairfield bench is now down to seven men. Seven. If they shut him down for this season, this team may not win another game all season.

8:41 Sign of the Apocalyse, Part Deux: Mike Evanovich begs, pleads, and implores Jamal Crawford to give him the ball in the post. This is where it gets good: Crawford actually gives him the ball, and Evanovich makes a halfway decent move and scores. [Marist leads, 45-29 with 15:37 to play] Back courtside at the press table, Tom and I are considering writing about spring training in next week’s issue to avoid manic depression. At the very least, we may take a side trip to Mohegan Sun on the right home from PoTown just to ease the pain. Oh, the humanity.

Speaking of Evanovich, what’s with the beard? It’s not a full beard, given that there is no moustache. But it’s an awfully suspect impression of a chin strap and it is bordering on neckbeard territory, dangerous waters for any self-respecting gentleman. Tom can’t seem to figure out what it is either. I say we name it. I’m thinking, “The 41 Special”. No, wait, “The Iowa State ‘Stache.” Feel free to chime in with names if you’re actually reading this blog.

8:54 Evanovich, from the top of the arc, lobs a gorgeous alley-oop pass to Yorel Hawkins, who slams it down with authority – a much needed shot of momentum for Fairfield. Who is this guy anyway? He posts up. He catches. He shoots. He passes. He goes down stairs.

9:07 The Stags are on a mini-run and pull to within fourteen. On a fastbreak, Yorel Hawkins whiffs on a fastbreak lay-up opportunity, causing his head coach to put his head in his hands and scream. Can somebody pass the Tums?

9:27 Yorel Hawkins is forced to foul Korey Bauer to keep Fairfield’s grim hopes at a win alive. It was Hawkins fifth foul of the evening. He immediately yanked his jersey out of its typical tucked-in mode. When did this become the standard in basketball? I’m blaming Rasheed Wallace, somehow.

9:29 With 33 seconds remaining in regulation, I’ll let you decide which scenario is more surreal: a) Sean Grzeck with four fouls, b) Jimmy O’Sullivan calling for “one more” on an offensive play and getting it, or c) all of the above.

9:31 David Devezin drains two free throws to push the Marist lead back to eight. “That should seal it,” Tom proclaims. For the game? Probably. For this blog post? Yes, sir.

9:48 But, wait! There's more. Here's Ed Cooley's top four lines from an unfortgettable post-game press conference: 1) "We took too many 'Christers' tonight: a three-pointer that you hate it from the second it leaves they're hand and hope to Christ it goes in," 2) "Lyndon looked sick as a dog when I saw him today. I had to drive him home. He said, "Coach, I think I just pee'd myself'," 3) "Nero looked at me and said he wanted to play. How can I coach not respect and love that kind of fire?," 4) Zero turnovers? I'm pretty sure Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles were doing the scoring," and, last but not least:

5) "We're going to be a scary, scary team up in Albany. My focus is to get our team ready for three days in March. Trust me, you're not going to want to be the team that plays us come the MAAC tournament."


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