Flock to Bender!
"Good morning, residence hall students, and welcome to 'Beat Holy Cross Week,'" was the message all us loyal Andersonites and Lettsians woke up to this past Monday. And what a message it was.
This was a message of rivalry, of excitement, of hatred for another school planning to invade our Bender Arena territory. The message was that AU would meet these Crusaders head-on with hostility and counter their overwhelming power.
This message was something foreign to many AU students, who probably questioned why there was anti-Christian sentiment on their voicemail. No, students, what we have here is not a religious barb, but a rallying cry against our dreaded rivals.
Finally, the administration is breathing some life into a previously apathetic program. Both the Men's and Women's Basketball teams have a legitimate chance to make the NCAA Tournament this year, and this weekend will go a long way to determine how real those possibilities are.
Let's just look at the women for a moment. Head coach Shann Hart's team is tied for first, and with wins this weekend over Holy Cross and Colgate (Sunday at 3 p.m.), the Eagles will all but clinch the regular season Patriot League title.
Not only is it Hart's biggest game, but it is also the final home game for two of AU's greatest women's basketball players of all time. Seniors Chanel Spriggs and Kaitlyn Schuyler, who will end up in the top-10 lists for steals, assists and three-pointers, conclude their Bender Arena careers Friday.
Their losses will be felt next year, but what better way to leave a legacy than by avenging the tough losses Holy Cross has continually handed to the Eagles.
The AU buzz this week is mainly for the men, though, who finally broke through and beat the Crusaders in Worcester, Mass. earlier this season. While a win for the women on Friday would all but assure them a top-two seed in the PL tournament, a loss by the men would knock them down possibly as low as sixth.
As good as Spriggs and Schuyler are, don't forget about the finales of the best point guards in the league, seniors Andres Rodriguez Jernavis Draughn his running mate. For likely the last time, fans will watch the two dazzle with their open court moves and stifling defense.
No matter what happens this Friday though, the acknowledgment by the administration that a team exists is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, more than just the Screaming Eagles will be painted in red and blue.
While "Phil Bender" always stimulates some interest, we must feel the hangover of it into next year. No. Not that kind of hangover, but one of excitement and of character that create jealousy and intimidation.
I'm sorry, but a measly sign not even big enough to cover the words "Mary Graydon Center" is not going to do it. It's nice that Greek organizations are making signs, but let's see what the turnout is.
AU has done a nice job hyping up this game, but let's hope that in the next day or two, the "pregame" party gets moved up an hour so fans can watch Spriggs make her final steals and Schuyler drain her final threes, instead of holding a makeshift pep rally for only one team.
Sometimes it's not so bad to be the underdog ... just ask the Red Sox. Well, now may not be the best time to ask them. But ever since AU joined the Patriot League, Holy Cross has been our nemesis, our archrival.
Finally, we have a chance to avenge those losses and send the Crusaders scurrying back to Red Sox Nation crying. They may be upset because the Yankees got A-Rod, but let's focus on our own Evil Empire and dethrone the champs before the tournament even starts.
While I liked the voicemail message, if I could change it, here's my version:
"Good morning, residence hall students. On the dawn of 'Beat Holy Cross Week,' the AU administration would like to extend this message to all you loyal Eagle fans. Watch Spriggs steal and Andres pass. Let's go Eagles! Kick some Crusader .."