Not a Professional Team: A Reed College Basketball Journal
It’s three o’clock and the assistant coach is late. The van to the game isn’t full because three players couldn’t come, but mood among the players is high. Forward Ned Carson’s parents flew all the way from Boston to be at this game and local forward Alex Rice’s family is crossing the Willamette for the game. Your correspondent, a second or third string forward, just bought six new pairs of irregular Nike socks; star player Matt Edwards just bought a pair of new shoes. There is something special in the air.
Friday was the first game of the Reed Gryphon’s season. Coming off a disheartening loss to the alumni, we’re playing our biggest rivals: New Hope Christian (once upon a time known as Eugene Bible College). Coach Mario De Iseo said, “We match up well against NHC, and it’s a natural rivalry.”
We roll into New Hope Christian greeted by 45-foot glowing white cross. It’s about five o’clock and there is a buzz around their campus. The non-flirty, family oriented cheerleaders are wearing appropriately long skirts. A couple of male students have their faces painted and give us semi-welcoming stares as we approach the doors. We’re going in.
Once we’re inside the stereo is on loud but the stands are empty. We start layup lines to get loose then move over to our bench to prepare mentally. The announcer then comes on and the NHC fans storm the court; everyone is hyped. It was a lot to take in, with the 45 person student section and the national anthem sung by a chamber choir.
New Hope Christian scores the first points of the game after several sloppy positions from each side.
Opening day nerves are definitely running high: nobody is playing like their usual selves, but it is still early. At the end of the half the score was 31-22 with NHC leading but the game is far from over.
The second half starts like a train wreck as we drop 8 points in a minute-twenty. Things don’t stay this way as we start to understand their flex offense and they change to zone defense. Coach Mario recognizes the switch to zone defense and calls “X.” Immediately the game changes as Paul Flanders and Matt Edwards start hitting big shots. Isaac Eger was even starting to click.
Tragedy struck in the tenth minute of the half when Sam Geller broke and dislocated his ankle. Sam had been doing a good job tenaciously defending his men, and injured himself coming down awkwardly on a rebound. While sitting on the sideline in excruciating pain, he kept his manners about him yelling “FUCK THIS HURTS – oh sorry don’t mind me. AWW FUCK, excuse me.”
The team rallied and pulled the game within 3 but the mental errors of the first half came back to get us. Your correspondent took the last shot of the game, which was a 34 feet three-pointer and about three feet wide of the hoop.
We leave this game with a W but we learned a lot tonight about ourselves. This time New Hope Christian had home court advantage – in two Fridays we do.