Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Clash of the Titans

I just got back from the world famous Morehouse v. Clark Atlanta basketball game. It is always a thrilling contest pitting two teams never evenly matched, but brimming with so much intensity that they both push each other to the limits.

This year was no different.

I got to the gym very early, as I'm wont to do, and I slipped in from a side door adjacent to the pool at Morehouse's Archer Hall. My good friend and one of my Morehouse mentors Mr. Bobby Westbrooks, always keeps the door propped so that he doesn't have to walk all the way around, and since I knew this, I took full advantage of that knowledge and slipped in. The hallway of the fabulous Forbes Arena was silent other than a few workers milling around. As I turned the corner around the concession stand, there was Bobby. Our conversation went like this.

Bobby: I knew I was gonna see you tonight!
Me: Yeah Bobby, it's been hard to stay away. How've you been?
Bobby: I was out for a few days with the flu.
Me: I'm sorry to hear that Bobby. You've gotta take care of yourself.
Bobby: I know. Are you staying outta trouble?
Me: Of course Bob.
Bobby: Yeah, right. Have fun tonight.

So, I walked down the concourse to the doors, and into the actual gym where there was activity everywhere. Cameras were being set up all over the building, wires were being laid down, microphones taped in place, the cheerleaders were practicing, and the Morehouse team was shooting around. I saw the head Tennis coach, Mr. Terry Alexander, and he and I chatted about Morehouse's chances this year in tennis. He seemed hesitantly optimistic. After a short conversation, I made my way down to the floor where I've been sitting since I was given my seats by my friend and original Morehouse mentor, Tony Clark, '98. My seats are on the first row, floor level of section BB, seats 7 & 8.

I nestled into my seats, took my coat off and rested it over the back of the bench and watched the fellas shoot around. To my immediate left was a table set up so that the sportscasters covering the game for ESPNU would have a place to sit close to the action. Covering the game was none other than sportscasting legend, Charlie Neal.

I struck up a conversation with Mr. Neal in which we discussed his new job at ESPNU, the demise of sports coverage at BET, world affairs, greek life, News & Notes with Ed Gordon, and Southeast D.C. It was a treat to finally meet someone that I had watched and heard doing so many games over the years on television.

Eventually, the stands started to fill up with the Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta faithful. They were dressed to the nines. Whatever the new fashions are, believe me, they were on display tonight. Everything from vintage to thrift shop to couture was on display at the game. Haircuts were fresh, and I could smell all of the newly pressed hair of the Spelman and CAU co-eds.

An old classmate of mine now in his senior year, Tommy, sat to the left of me, and my buddy Taurean sat to the right of me. Next to him sat another friend of mine, and fellow Maroon Tiger Sports Editor, Ken, and next to him, a friend of mine who came from out of town to the see the game, Doug.

Of all of the outrageous styles and fashions, the craziest thing of the night was most definitely a sign that one Morehouse student held that read, "I PREFER SPELMAN WOMEN." It got quite a rise from the crowd, and he proudly held the 4 x 3 sign for most of the game until it was taken by the authorities.

A great deal of the latest Southern/Atlanta rap was being played prior to the game, and the crowd growing larger by the moment, was becoming more and more animated as each song sent them further into a frenzy.

During the beautiful rendition of 'Star Spangled Banner' by a CAU co-ed, I would be lying if I said I didn't hear idle chatter. The chatter was not unnoticed by the ESPNU crew standing a mere 4 feet away from me.

The thing about being at a game that's being televised, is dealing with the tv timeouts. They come at unusual times, and they are often, which breaks up the action, but at the same time allows more music to energize the crowd, to be played.

When I was at Morehouse, I was a proud member of the Morehouse Madness. We were the spirited group of guys who sat down front and berated opposing players, coaches and the refs. Well, I guess the name wasn't good enough, because the Madness was renamed the Maroon Maniacs. I got a t-shirt out of the deal, and it's a cool logo, and the sentiment is the same, but they weren't nearly as loud, nor as knowledgeable about the game and its players as we were. Only my friend Ken and I were berating Clark's guards. And not once did I hear a comment about the head coach's horrible suit uttered.

Anyway, Morehouse scored first, and then CAU scored 5 quick points, followed by 7 more quick points from Morehouse, and an early double digit lead, which is customary in these games. Basically, Morehouse has a far superior team to CAU, and in the last 11 games, we've won 10. We outplay them, out-think them, outcoach them, make our freethrows, and the crowd definitely carries the team through. Any 3 point basket, or a big dunk, and the stands erupt into an ebullient and glee-filled place.

Though Morehouse had an early lead, we could never get it past ten or eleven early on, and eventually CAU came back within three once or twice.

Our comments about the game were hilarious and definitely on point. Tommy, Taurean, Ken and I debated a variety of topics including USC v. Texas, Vince Young, people from Houston, people from Dallas and what was going on on the court.

As halftime neared, the stands emptied as the young men from Morehouse hurried toward the court to watch the 3 count 'em 3 dance shows during the halftime period. First the cheerleaders danced, coached by my friend and classmate Mia Welsh, they were precise, syncopated, and they did an outstanding job, much to the delight of several thousand young men in attendance. Oh, by the way, by halftime both sides of the arenas stands were filled to CAPACITY. It was raining tonight too, and yet everyone still came. The second dance show was by Morehouse's Mahogany in Motion who did a fine job as well. The last dance troupe was from CAU, and due to the gamesmanship and very heated rivalry, there was a great deal of talking during their portion, and no one really watched at all, so I have no review of them.

Early in the second half, a scuffle broke out in the stands just two rows above us. Police from Morehouse, CAU and Spelman rushed to break it up. A Morehouse student, while being pulled away, was shouting obscenities and threatening someone, but never quite to their face. It was all very comical, and as I hear it, over a seat at the game. The Maroon Maniacs may be maniacal indeed, but in the future, a little empathy should be shown for a fellow student who wants to watch the game. Now granted, I don't have the whole story, but from what I've gathered, it was all over a seat.

During the timeouts, the Morehouse and CAU cheerleaders, perform a series of backflips. The CAU cheerleaders only flipped to mid-court, while the Morehouse cheerleaders flipped from one baseline to another, making the crowd go crazy. At the end of the flips, the cheerleaders, jump up, straighten their outfits and put both arms in the air, staring directly at the CAU cheerleaders with a look that screams, "CHALLENGE!!!" CAU's cheerleaders were no match for Morehouse's, and that's a fact.

A few minutes after the first fight, another one broke out in another section. Craziness ensued, and the scuffle was quickly subdued.

All the while, CAU, led by the tenacious #00 from Vallejo, CA was quietly hitting big shot after big shot and keeping them very close in the game, and even coming within 3. However, Morehouse senior point guard and SUPERSTAR Brandon Childs, would not allow Morehouse to lose. He led the Maroon Tigers throughout and made gravity-defying move after move as he continually drew contact that led to him shooting freethrow after freethrow.

When it was obvious that we were going to win the game, Taurean and I decided to exit stage right, and leave through the southeast tunnel leading to the middle of campus. The light rain was annoying but palpable, and as we walked and talked, Taurean felt that we should get something to drink from the new cafe' on campus, Jazzman's.

Jazzman's was absolutely packed, as live music and poetry were being read to a full house. I have to say however, that despite the heavy traffic in there, we did get our smoothies very quickly, and they were quite good, as always.

In the end, we won by 14, and proved once again that our team is rather superior, which in essence could be a commentary on so much more but, we'll save that for another time.

* The total control and dynamic play of Brandon Childs.
* Unselfish and smart plays by the Morehouse team.
* The Maroon Maniac t-shirts. Or really the fact that I got a free one.
* Taurean's LRG
* The crowd was definitely in the game and came out in DROVES.
* The fact that the Morehouse v. CAU game NEVER disappoints.
* When Pattillo took the chairs from courtside. Classic Pattillo, always in control.
* The court was there, coordinating and in full effect.

* The two fights.
* The two figths during a nationally televised game.
* When they took the 'I PREFER SPELMAN WOMEN' sign the first time.
* When they took the 'I PREFER SPELMAN WOMEN' sign the second time.

Tommy, Taurean, Ken and Doug, thanks for making this one enjoyable.

I'm Joe, and that's how I see it.


At Friday, February 03, 2006 9:45:00 AM , Anonymous Long Live Madness said...

I can't believe you left before the game was over. You were definitely a member of the Maroon Maniacs and not the Morehouse Madness last night. The only time we left the game early was by police escort, from someone else's gym, for my "protection." And I still managed to sneak back in to see the end.

At Friday, February 03, 2006 9:54:00 AM , Anonymous Gen said...

Good post, BUT...

I've read some of your previous blogs and I must say I find it very interesting that your F.Scott Fitgerald quote in your blog's description is NOT reflected in the blog itself. Sure it's good to have school pride and all, but geez.

FYI, the late great Coretta Scott King didn't attend Spelman...guess MLK looked past your alum's "preference." lol

At Saturday, May 29, 2010 4:54:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!



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