Imagine for a second that you are standing outside in the cold last Saturday afternoon, just standing in the line to get into the Bradley Center about two and a half hours before the Wisconsin game. You are with your buddies from the residence hall, and you are in a prime state to watch the game. All of the sudden, your one particularly primed companion leans over to you and says "Dude, we need some cigars, let's go get some." You then embark on an epic journey to find these cigars, because at the moment, they seem like a more vital necessity than food and water.
After about 15 minutes into a fruitless search, you and your buddy stumble upon the 3rd Street Pier, one of the most luxurious bar/restaurants in Milwaukee. You stand there for a second contemplating what you see, and you shoot your friend a glance that says "Oh no we're not." Your friend's facial expressions immediately reply "Oh yes we are!" You two then proceed to walk into the 3rd Street Pier, and find yourselves lost in a sea of business executives, doctors, and lawyers in designer suits. To say the least, you and your friend stick out in the crowd with your Marquette jerseys, blue and gold sweats, blue and gold Mardi Gras beads, and yellow afro wigs with aviator sun-glasses.
If it were a movie, you would here the sound of a needle scratching off the sounds of Frank Sinatra soothing the confused high-society that is staring you down as you walk up to the bar. You can feel their eyes cut through you like a warm knife through butter as you feel like Oliver Twist asking for more porridge. Your friend then motions to the equally confused bartender, father's credit card in hand, and orders five of the 3rd Street Pier's cheapest cigars. You receive your fine tobacco products, and walk back out onto the street. Your friend then turns to you and says "Was that really necessary?"
Anyway, there really is no need for you to imagine yourself doing this, because that was in fact how I spent a period of my pre-game activities. Despite the embarrassment, we had fulfilled the purpose of our epic journey. One half hour, about 16 city blocks, a sketchy-looking $28.47 bill on the credit card of my buddy's father, and nearly 50 dirty looks from Milwaukee's elite later, we returned to our spot in line outside the Bradley Center with our heads held high. About five minutes after we got back, my friend turned to me and said something that I will never forget: "You know why we are going to win tonight? Because we got these cigars and we made absolute fools of ourselves doing it."
My friend's statement did little to appease my logical confidence, but somewhere in my heart of hearts I felt that his statement would some how in some way come into fruition. But we all knew it would not be easy. From the very moment we filled up the student section, we knew tonight would be different. We were too used to moderation; moderation in the score, level of play, and the energy amongst the student section. But this was Wisconsin, we all knew too many pompous jerks from back home who have been predicting our doom all year. We needed to make a statement right then and there.
To say that we made a statement, essentially, is an understatement. I have been to several Marquette games at the Bradley Center and I had never seen that much emotion poured into a Marquette game by the student section. We watched and screamed at the top of our lungs as our guys out-hustled, out-willed, and out-played the favored Badgers. We wanted to do what we could to provide our players with energy. There were too many signs that the game was ours to win. I happened to see a certain Badger fan fall down the Bradley Center stairs face first, spilling his nachos and his humiliation onto the arena floor. He got up and I noticed that red blood was dripping from a few areas of his face. Indeed, all that was Bucky in the Bradley center that night was losing its composure.
When all was said and done, I could not have been happier that the black and blue that colored my shins (from the chairs ahead of me after jumping up and down for half of the game) upon the conclusion of the game matched the black and blue that colored the pride of the disheartened Badgers. I felt like I had done my part, which left me with a subtle yet important sense of accomplishment. Even if it had been me who fell down the stairs that night; with the atmosphere that had been created by the students and embraced by Tom Crean, I could tell you that it would have been blue and gold blood that streamed my face.
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