Welcome back to the Anonymous Eagle Marquette Basketball Primer! Over the last 2 days, we've helped educate the class of 2015 on the current Marquette roster and the proud history of the program. Today we cover the key points of being a Marquette fan.
To start things off, let's talk about rivals. For more, we go to Rubie Q:
As a freshman at Marquette, it's probably likely that you have a friend or two who's attending school seventy miles to the west, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Maybe this person was a close friend of yours in high school. Maybe you think that you can maintain your friendship by attending a football game in Madison, or cheering for the UW-Madison basketball team when they're not playing Marquette. Maybe you figure that there can't be any harm in this, since Marquette doesn't have a football team and UW-Madison is the only D1 football program in the state and since Marquette and UW-Madison are in different conferences in basketball.
You have figured wrong.
I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your friend is gone. S/he has crossed into a dark place where you dare not follow.
From here on out, you need to think of your former friend as a zombie. And just as I'm sure that most zombies were pleasant, affable people before they became undead, flesh-devouring monsters, I'm sure that your friend was a nice enough person before s/he packed up her things and left for the People's Republic of Madison. But that was then, and this is now. And now your friend is a zombie.
If you're familiar with your horror films, you know that it's a fool's errand to try to save a zombie. When you try to save a zombie, in some misguided attempt to salvage that part of the zombie's soul that remains intact, you typically end up: (1) immediately eaten by a zombie; (2) chased by a shitload of zombies and then eaten by one or more zombies; or (3) turned into a zombie yourself. For obvious reasons, Newbie, we can't have that.
So don't be a hero. Let your friend go, because it's better to be dead than Red.
Here at Anonymous Eagle, we have nothing but hate for the Wisconsin Badgers. Our advice to you is this: ignore them 51 weeks a year and focus your hate into the yearly Badger Hate Week. Nothing is gained from engaging with Badger fans. Their crude, crass and belligerent tones are not to be acknowledged. They're attempting to feed off of your life force, as is typical for the followers of vampires like Badgers head basketball coach Bo Ryan.
This is the section of the primer where I acknowledge that there are two other Division 1 basketball programs in the state of Wisconsin. One of them (UW-Green Bay) has beaten Marquette twice before and is coached by former Marquette standout Brian Wardle. The other (UW-Milwaukee) is a joke who has never beaten Marquette in 38 attempts across Guess which one gets to call themselves a rival? HINT: It's not UWM.
Moving on to our rivals in the Big East, let's deal with both the Cincinnati Bearcats and the West Virginia Mountaineers. Marquette's been playing in a conference with Cincinnati since before all of you freshmen were born. Last season, I covered our long and contentious rivalry with the Bearcats. However, the man who was the head coach at Cincinnati for most of the 20 seasons of yearly games with them, Bob "Huggy Bear" Huggins, is now the head coach at his alma mater, West Virginia, after being fired by Cincy for being a maniac and then serving a year in basketball purgatory at Kansas State. It is truly a great thing for Marquette fans to be able cheer against Bob Huggins.
This brings us to the Louisville Cardinals. Names that draw horror from Marquette fans: Reese Gaines. Francisco Garcia. Taquan Dean. Jerry Smith. Preston Knowles. Marquette has had it's own share of dynamic victories over the Cardinals: the comeback game in Louisville in 2003, Dameon Mason's 3 point play in 2004 and the 2010 blowout to propel MU to the NCAA Tournament come to mind immediately. Combine these fierce battles with the Cardinals' fans' strange ability to have strong crowds on the road and the generally repulsive behavior of head coach Rick Pitino, and you have an outstanding atmosphere any time these two teams hook up.
Two Big East opponents will always carry a big game feel for Marquette, and not entirely because of basketball. The shared religious foundations between Marquette and Roman Catholic Notre Dame and Jesuit Georgetown provide for a rivalry on a bigger stage. Marquette has played more games against Notre Dame than any other Big East team, with a 116 game series that dates back to 1920. Noted tielighter aficionado Digger Phelps coached top 25 ranked Notre Dame teams against Marquette 9 different times, with Marquette getting the best of Digger 4 times, leading to many a great memory amongst Marquette fans. As far as Georgetown goes, well, it's just fun to take over their building.
After the jump: Mr. Kensington describes the joys of attending Marquette Basketball in person!
Mr. Kensington's been through the wars before and speaks truth. Let's listen in...
This week the Anonymous Eagle crew has provided you, the incoming freshmen of Marquette University, with a plethora of information in an effort to get you fully indoctrinated into the world of Golden Eagles basketball. Well your old friend Mr. Kensington would like to leave you with one last piece of advice...
GO TO GAMES!
It sounds like a simple enough request. And today you might be thinking "Dude, of course I'm going to go to the games." But come some Tuesday night in early December, you will find yourself debating whether you'd prefer to go watch MU play some directional, hyphenated commuter school or if you'd rather curl up on the couch with your favorite beverage and settle in for a Jersey Shore marathon. This will happen. When it does, you will be looking for the reason to venture out into the cold and attend this game against largely inferior competition. I am here today to give you those reasons.
For starters, going to these early season games provide everyone with the opportunity to see some of the more electrifying plays that will happen all season. Take a good long look at the player introduction videos this year. You will probably notice that a lot of the highlights in each player's video package will be against teams like Prairie View A&M, South Dakota and Longwood. That is because teams such as these generally lack the athletes to contain a team of Marquette's caliber. The result is our players get opportunities to showcase some "creative shot making" abilities. Teams like Pittsburgh and Georgetown aren't giving up too many 2 on 1, break-away, alley-oop dunks. On the other hand Mount St. Mary's... they're gonna get dunked on. See: Exhibit A.
Along those same lines, the early games against the lesser teams of college basketball give people the chance to see some players that might be relegated to the pine once conference season comes calling. Last year Davante Gardner had his MU coming out party early on - almost single-handedly saving the Golden Eagles from an embarrassing early season loss to Bucknell. In the first month of the season Davante was getting double digit minutes, dropping double digit points, and had people openly debating what his nickname should be. But after scoring 7 points in 12 minutes against Mississippi Valley St on December 21, Gardner wouldn't see anywhere that much floor time until the Georgetown game on February 13. Those that opted out of those non-conference games never got to see the flashes of potential awesomeness that number 54 showed us in the early going of last year.
Besides all of that, always know that the students set the tone. The Bradley Center is only as loud and lively as the student section makes it. The 30-somethings like myself can only do so much yelling and screaming before our wives tell us to shoosh or the elderly couple that sits behind us tells us to sit the hell down. (Brewtown Andy sez: This is why my tickets are in the last row of the lower bowl. Nothing behind me but concrete!) When the student section is hyped it gives all of us that wish we could still cheer like that the green light to join in. If the student section is only 40% full and everyone is sitting on their hands, then it makes dudes like me up in Section 422 look a little more foolish than normal when we try and get riled up. Don't get me wrong, the support from the alumni and the basketball fans in the city of Milwaukee is fantastic. Marquette ranked 11th in home attendance last season, at 15,586 per game. (Right in between Illinois and Indiana. For a school our size to be in that neighborhood is truly amazing.) But the home court advantage still starts with you, the students. So whether it's an ESPN Big Monday game against Notre Dame or a mid-week game against UW-Green Bay, everyone from Buzz Williams on down is counting on the students to show up in force and make our arena the most difficult environment for the opponents that it can possibly be. That may sound cliché, but it is completely true.
If that's not enough to inspire you, consider that you may very well have a front row seat for something historical. Like Crazy Earl said in Full Metal Jacket: "These are great days we're living, bros!" YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles will likely enter the season ranked in the top 20. They are coming off a Sweet 16 run, and are in the midst of a run of 6 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, the best run by Marquette since Al McGuire and Hank Raymonds combined for 10 straight from 1971-1980. They are widely considered one of the top teams in the most fantastic college basketball conference ever conceived by man, the Big East. To date myself, I was a senior when Dwyane Wade and friends took Marquette to the Final Four in 2003. I was there with that team every step of the way and I wouldn't trade that experience for ANYTHING. Now, I'm not saying that this season is going to be that sort of magical experience... But it might be. Or maybe next year will be. But if that run comes, every moment that you've spent cheering on your team leading up to it will make all the more fantastic.
Finally, if you remember nothing else we've said here remember this: Each game is precious. Whether you're a freshman spending your first day on campus, or a 5th year senior finishing up your last 3 classes, the clock is ticking. The day is coming when you will be looking down from your $500 season ticket in the 400 level, reminiscing with your friends about the days when you paid $110 dollars for the whole season and (if you got there early enough) sat pretty much courtside. You'll look at the student section enviously, remember how much fun you had, and talk to your friends about how much better/crazier/more into the game you guys did it when you were in school. You'll still be fans, you'll still bleed blue and gold, but it'll never the same as when you were a student. Enjoy it while you have it. There's nothing better!
So when you find yourself at that crossroads this November/December or beyond, I hope you'll harken back to the wise words that your boy Mr. K laid out for you in August and decide that best option for you on that night is to GO TO THE GAME.
We'll see you all at the Bradley Center in just a few short months!
RING OUT AHOYA!!!
I know it's Friday, and you all have a lot of First Friday In College-ing to do, so let's get you out of here on some bullet points and a video:
- Like Mr. K said, GO TO THE GAMES.
- Get there early. The Bradley Center will open about 90 minutes before game time. The earlier you get there, the closer you get to sit. Here's what getting lined up means to current students and the players.
- Dress as nutty as you want and make crazy signs. If the game's not on ESPN proper, it's being streamed on ESPN3.com. Show the world what you can think up.
- Invent ridiculous superstitions for yourself. After Marquette beat Providence in the Big East Tournament last year while I was wearing my Chicago Blackhawks Winter Classic sweater, I wore it again for West Virginia: Win. Due to where I was going to be, I was prevented from wearing it for the Louisville BET game: Loss. Sitting at home for the Xavier and Syracuse NCAA Tournament games: Wins. Couldn't wear it for North Carolina: Loss. Do I have a brand new game day outfit for this season: YOU BET I DO.
- Once the lights in the BC go off for player introductions, get on your feet and go nuts all the way through Where The Streets Have No Name and Thunderstruck and all the way until Marquette scores their first basket. It's how we roll.
- Round up an extra $50 a year and sign up for The 6th Man Fund. I know you don't have any idea what you're doing after college now, but it's a chance to earn season ticket holder points while you're still in school.
This is all just the basics and you can learn more by talking with your fellow students. They'll be more than happy to provide you with even more knowledge that can be applied to the modern Marquette student. In closing, I'm going to leave you with a video that still gives me chills. We'll see you out there! WE ARE MARQUETTE!