On Sunday, January 28, Marquette will be hosting #1 Villanova at the Bradley Center in a major nationally televised game on Fox. It comes just one year and four days after the Golden Eagles knocked off the #1 ranked Wildcats in the BC, giving MU their first ever regular season victory over a #1 ranked opponent. To both celebrate the anniversary and preview Sunday’s game, we’re going to let the AE staff tell you their stories and memories from that January 2017 night.
When Ben suggested the idea of everyone sharing their stories or memories of Marquette’s win over #1 ranked Villanova a year ago, I began to ruminate on what I could write about, and I was suddenly struck by a realization.
I don’t remember anything about the first 35 minutes of the game.
Anything specific about the game, I should say. I remember that Marquette played somewhat poorly in the first half. I remember that Josh Hart didn’t play all that much in the first half and that made Marquette’s double digit halftime deficit all the worse. I remember that things didn’t get better in the early parts of the first half.
But nothing specific. No “oh, I saw that happen” memories.
I make this distinction, because the final five minutes are loaded with very specific memories that I can’t unsee in my mind. Duane Wilson’s hesitation dribble drive. Wilson’s free throws to give Marquette their first lead of the game, and Steve Wojciechowski’s trust in Wilson making the throws that he pulled every rebounder off the lane, even though Wilson had split a pair just moments earlier. Josh Hart flying in from nowhere to tie the game on a putback, and the sensation of my stomach and heart attempting to switch places in my chest as a result. Katin Reinhardt’s free throws to put the Golden Eagles back out in front. The clock snafu on the inbound after Reinhardt’s freebies that gave Villanova a free timeout heading into the final seconds of the game. Jalen Brunson getting to the rim, which again caused organs to attempt to rearrange themselves, but missing. Villanova’s swatting attempt to tip Brunson’s layup back up and in. Sam Hauser hauling in the game winning rebound, closing his arms around the ball, and then raising his arm in triumph.
I remember all of this, clear as crystal. I also realize that my memories of all of this are actually mirror images of most people’s memories, because my seats are in Row Z straight back from the Marquette bench, and thus directly opposite the TV cameras. Anything earlier? Nope, nothing. Weird, isn’t it? My brain went from “don’t worry, you don’t need to remember any of this” to “YOU ARE GOING TO WANT TO REMEMBER ALL OF THIS FOREVER HERE LET ME BURN THIS INTO YOUR RETINAS.” Brains are strange.
I don’t know if I actually remember hearing the horn sounding, but that may be a by-product of my own screaming, not to mention the screaming of the other 14,000 people in attendance. It also may have something to do with the fact that my then-12 year old daughter was with me at the game and the fact that she was also screaming. Sharing every absurd moment of the comeback with her is easily my favorite part of the game. I don’t have any clue of the number of times over the final five to ten minutes of the game where I grabbed her and hugged her and and we shrieked in glee and/or terror given the moment in question, but it’s definitely “more than once.” On her dresser in her bedroom sits a very simple frame that I put together with her ticket from the game and a print of the photo of the court storm that I took that currently serves as the banner on the Anonymous Eagle Facebook page. I’ve been taking her to games her entire life. She doesn’t remember most of them, of course, but it’s been something that we’ve been sharing for more than a decade. It was random chance that it was her instead of her younger brother at that game, so I wanted to make sure she had a memento forever of the experience that we shared on that fateful January evening.
She’ll be with me at the game on Sunday afternoon, too. Will we get a repeat memory? Maybe, maybe not. Win or lose, it will still be wonderful to share the experience with her.