STARDATE: SELECTION SUNDAY
Ahhh. It feels good to be earning another spot on the front page.
Since my last contribution to the site, Marquette men’s basketball said “buh bye” to Xavier and proudly claimed ownership of the 2023 Big East Tournament Championship title, for the first time ever. It’s a darn good time to be a Golden Eagle!
The time has come for me to head back out on the road with [redacted university program] to support our boys in their conquest to
destroy everyone choose violence in the NCAA tournament. Marquette’s excellency has earned them a #2 seed in the tournament (!!!), which sends them, and me, to bright and sunny-
It looks like it might kick up to almost sixty towards the end of the week, but... clouds, and rain, and mid-20s lows... that’s not quite the “vacation” spot I was hoping for. I suppose this just means I have to wait for a trip to Houston, after we take revenge on Purdue. Riiiiiight?
(EDIT, 3.18.23: Hi, this is Editing Kit here. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate Fairleigh Dickinson for kicking Purdue in the pants for us.)
(EDIT, 3.20.23: Hi again. This did not age well.)
Let the journaling begin!
*cue theme music*
THE FLIGHT (03.15.23)
Flying to Columbus was a mixed experience. Good plane, quick trip, but we were three to a row which meant limited leg room, and overall just a lot squishing together. I love the people I was traveling with, but I’m not particularly a fan of having our legs pressed together for an extended amount of time. The entire plane was also way more people-y: beyond flying with the team, we had university officials like University President Dr. Michael Lovell and Athletic Director Bill Scholl on the flight, as well as what I believe was friends and family of the team.
There’s not much else to say about it! Despite the crampedness, this flight felt easier compared to Uncasville.
THE SHENANIGANS (3.16.03 + 3.18.03)
The get-to-know-the-player infographics from the Big East tournament game against UConn enlightened me to some very important information: Tyler Kolek’s hobby is ping pong. It’s not another sport he likes, it’s not something he does in his free time for fun. Ping pong is his hobby. He is committed to perfecting his ping pong craft. How many times do I have to type ping pong before it either looks or sounds wrong? Ping pong. Upon receiving this information, it became my life’s goal to pretend I’m any good at ping pong, and find a way to play Tyler Kolek in it.
Unfortunately, ‘twas just a hopeless dream. I may never be able to live life the same, knowing that one of life’s greatest opportunities has passed me by. On the flip side, I did end up fist-bumping him when the team came back from Sunday’s game, though, so all’s well that ends well.
Regardless, the lack of ping pong did not stop me from having the time of my life out here in Columbus. Free days must not be taken for granted! After talking with Emarion Ellis (because I’m cool like that), I learned that the players actually aren’t really allowed to go out and explore when they’re on the road. It makes a certain amount of sense — keeps the players safe and out of any kind of trouble — but when you travel that much, it must take a little bit of the fun out of it, even if it was a business trip in the first place.
On the lovely morning of Thursday, March 16th, the members of [redacted university program] and I got pulled to accompany the team during their open practice in Nationwide Arena. It was good vibes all around as spectators flitted about the seats, while the guys dribbled about the court. I can’t one hundred percent guarantee how they were feeling, but I’ll say that there were smiles all around.
Once that wrapped up, thoughts turned to dinner plans. I headed out to a little spot called Boston’s, which was a pizza joint, at which I got mac ‘n’ cheese. Some would say that I was a little homesick. TVs all around the restaurant meant it was easy viewing for the games going on that night. If you haven’t had the chance, head out to your nearest sports bar-esque establishment: watching basketball with total strangers is so fun. The collective “ooooh”s when something suboptimal happens and the random clapping and cheering when good things happen just make things feel alive, and in a different way than being in the arena for a game feels alive.
Friday was gameday. More on that later!
Saturday, aka A Free Day Brought To You By Kam Jones’ 18 Point Run, was probably the best day of the trip. In newly-made tradition, my [redacted university program] buddies and I got bussed to the very lovely Columbus Zoo & Aquarium. It was honestly a little bit too cold to be going to the zoo, which meant that we were basically the only people around. It was fun because the staff was very excited to talk to us about the exhibits, and also what our whole deal was, because about seventy percent of us were wearing something Marquette affiliated. One employee came out of the elephant enclosure and asked for a selfie, because “my brother’s going to love this.” Said brother graduated in 2013, but it was still odd to be treated like a celebrity.
Everything about this zoo was cool. They had a lot of different things that I haven’t seen at other zoos, which is good, and things I had seen at other zoos, which is also good. I’m a Reptile Enjoyer, so that was probably my favorite section of the zoo, but like I said: they’re all good exhibits. Check out these oddly human-eyed frogs!
They also had a manatee tank, which was indescribably awesome. Supposedly there were six baby ones, but I’m not a marine biologist, and manatees are gigantic, so I cannot attest to the amount of babies that were in there. I think that if I would be reincarnated, I’d want to be a manatee, or something similar like a sea lion. I’d love to torpedo around in water all day long, crunching on lettuce. One of the manatees was named Stubby, which is a delightfully mean name for a manatee, and he was wide. He was at least the width of my armspan, and I’m 5’6. I hope that he’s living his best life.
THIS IS MARCH (3.17.23)
My only true qualm with Nationwide Arena was the terrible WiFi and cell service. Even with several bars of cell service, almost nothing would load on my phone, and it was inconvenient at best. Otherwise, the concourse was really beautiful, and I’d love to come back sometime soon. If you've been to Lucas Oil Stadium, it felt a bit like that. Tons of windows and natural light, super spacious, etc. 10/10.
The game against Vermont was nerve-wracking; there was quite the amount of pressure riding on this game. A win for Shaka, a win for Marquette, avoiding being the victim of the next tournament upset... it was a lot. Being practically on top of the court meant I got to hear Tyler Kolek tell the athletics staff he felt like his thumb was broken when he left the game in the early goings, which was terrifying to say the least. Luckily, Kam Jones knew what he had to do during the second half, and he gave us that beautiful 18 point scoring run. It took Marquette a second to get there, but a win is a win.
AND THEN THERE WERE 32 (3.19.23)
We all know how the game against Michigan State went. However you felt physically and emotionally watching this game on your television, I can guarantee it was much worse live and in person. The only word I can think of to describe the Spartans fans is aggressive. I know we all love the game and we all get a bit out of pocket at certain times when it comes to our team, but I heard too many MSU fans cussing at Shaka and the boys.
There’s one not-so-bad thing about this heart-shattering ending to the post season. With under a minute left in regulation, Joey Hauser had lost his shoe for what seemed like the umpteenth time. As the man inbounding the ball at that given moment, he was a mere ten feet away from me as he slipped his shoe back on and kneeled down to tie it. By this point, my dear readers, I’d had enough. I leaned forward and barked for him to double knot those laces.
And he did.
I can’t actually prove that it was because of me, but I certainly can’t disprove it either.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have now been kicked from their respective 2023 NCAA Tournaments, so it’s back to the whiteboard until winter comes around again.
See y’all next year.
Follow me on Twitter for sometimes interesting commentary pertaining to things Marquette, Big East, and sometimes other stuff too - @saxapologist