Thank goodness for the University Athletic Association, where there are always great games to pay attention to on a Sunday afternoon. But usually, the atmosphere on a Sunday in the UAA isn’t nearly as raucous as it was inside Red Auerbach Arena this afternoon for the men’s game between top-ranked Rochester and No. 25 Brandeis.
The Judges had a significant number of fans there for their home game, but Rochester had a sizable Boston-area alumni gathering at the game as well. And Rochester pulled out to a 14-point lead early in the second half before Brandeis rallied to cut it to one, twice. You’ll see how John DiBartolomeo and the Yellowjackets responded in the video piece below.
In the second game, the first-place and last-place teams in the UAA looked like they did a role reversal, where last-place Brandeis took it to Rochester in a 62-49 win. I talked with Carol Simon after the game as well.
I also ran into MIT men’s coach Larry Anderson, who introduced me to women’s coach Sonia Raman. Lots of coaches seeing games this weeekend
Part of the reason I devote so much time to Division III sports in general is for the adventure of it all. I could have chosen to stay around Boston and see WPI throttle Coast Guard but not if there were a Top Five matchup a couple of hours away.
So I hopped in the car and drove a hundred or so miles west to Amherst. These games didn’t get me anywhere on my master list — I had seen all four teams play before and I had been in LeFrak Gymnasium as well — but it was a great experience.
I like to take the less obvious routes when possible. It helps me understand the geography of a state if I drive through more of it, so I took Mass. Rte. 2 instead of the Mass Pike. And on the way back, I dropped off my rental car and took the T to my hotel instead of a cab.
In between, we saw two great games. Paul Carr, a broadcaster at Wheaton (Ill.) about a decade ago, called the first game with former Lord Jeff Spencer Noon, then he and I called the women’s game together.
After the game I spoke with Bridget Crowley and Bre Dufault, who played on opposite sides but have been best friends since third grade. That interview is below, but I also asked Crowley off camera about a little girl she was talking to after the game. She said coach G.P. Gromacki had passed along a letter from a 7-year-old girl that had been addressed to Bridget Crowley, LeFrak Gymnasium:
“I really loved your game. I look up to you, you’re the best player. It was just a total confidence booster and it made my day. She drew a picture on it, she put a bunch of stickers on it. I was thinking, ‘I have to get back to this girl and make sure this mail gets to her quickly,’ and she lives right down the road. So I went to the store and got all these arts and crafts — glitter and stickers.
“We change practice jerseys every year, so I gave her my purple practice jersey and put it in with a note as well and stuffed it in her mailbox. She told me she’d be at this game and I was hoping she’d wear the jersey so she’d be easy to pick out. And she was very easy to pick out. It was so cute.”
Crowley spent some time with her pen pal, also named Bridget, after the game, on a day in which Crowley got pushed around quite a bit by stronger Tufts defenders. She talks more about it, with her best friend, below: