Happy anniversary! On this day three years ago, Robert Morris dominated the sports landscape by hosting the defending national champions and then defeating them in the first round of the NIT.
Chris: I’ll never forget when I got a phone call telling me we were playing Kentucky… and they were coming to the Chuck. I literally spilled my gatorade on me while I was driving back to school. What a surreal feeling! I loved that the game just kinda happened too. It was announced we were hosting Kentucky, the next day they were here, and the day after the game happened. There was no time to ask questions or get nervous, it was all excitement.
I remember being at Kentucky’s practice the day beforehand and just being mesmerized. There were more than a few guys who were going to be playing in the NBA in the very near future. I was asking questions to coach Cal, a hall of famer, who treated me like a professional instead of the scared, wide-eyed kid I was.
Then gameday. Everything about gameday was awesome (even the announcing duo: Bob Wischusen and Jimmy Dykes are two of my favorites). The buzz around campus is something that will probably never be matched. Classes were cancelled! There was a line to get into the Sewall Center! Fans rushed in hours beforehand and the rowdiness began.
My favorite part of the game was the first few minutes. It made all of the anticipation worth it. That place was LOUD and the boys came out on fire. When Russell Johnson stepped into a long two in transition, banged it, and gave Robert Morris a quick 8-0 lead that forced UK into a timeout, I’ve never once gone more insane as a fan. That was awesome.
When the clock finally hit, zero and Robert Morris took down Goliath there wasn’t a worry in the world. It was so worth it not being in the NCAA tournament. Also, the court storm was AWESOME. I still haven’t seen a better one this year. Absolutely the best sporting event I’ve ever been to.
Lee: Chris pretty much hit the nail on the head.
Just a crazy two-three day sequence. The moment the news broke on ESPNU (and Andy Toole was interviewed live), every sad feeling from losing to Mount went right out of my mind.
It was great redemption for a great group of seniors, and they created memories we will never forget. If you were a student at RMU then, whether a freshman or grad student, you won’t create a better memory in your time in Moon.
About three minutes after the news broke, my phone went bonkers. I had well over 100 people ask me how to get tickets, when will they be available, etc.
(A few buddies of mine were playing basketball at Sewall. I called them up to break the news and my man Zach Reicard answered the phone. He honestly thought I was bull shitting him for about five minutes until someone else saw it on Twitter)
I don’t think I’ve ever woke up with more energy then that gameday morning. I was ready to go at 8:30am. The student body came out and tailgated despite the temperature being -45 (at least it seemed). Me and my buddy, Matt Heiland, went into the Sewall Center early to reserve the front row of the Crazies section for the die hards, and put student ‘standing room only signs ‘on a stretch of bleachers so adults knew what they would be getting themselves into.
(My Sports Jounalism class got to visit the announcers and see the ESPN truck around 1pm. Best day of class ever. Wischusen was a great guy and answered every question the class had)
At 6pm, when I believe the doors opened, the sea of red poured in. It was glorious. I went outside to help my girlfriend into the arena, and saw the line of red. All I could do was smile.
By 630, the whole bleacher side opposite of the benches was filled, standing, and loud. It was INSANE.
Then Alan Buhler, dressed as Moses, parted the Red Sea just before tip. I remember making eye contact with Ryan Harrow during warmups. He was terrified. Scared. I didn’t say a word to him, I don’t think anyone did. He just seemed mind blown at what was about to ensue.
(At the top, Alan ATE it…I’m crying from laughter as I write this)
When I re-watched the game (if you haven’t, do it) my favorite part (other then the win and storm) was Dykes calling out the youthful Wildcats saying they need to leave UK if they are too scared of that environment. Other then Archie Goodwin and Jared Paulson, none of them wanted to be at the Chuck. They couldn’t handle it.
(When Russ hit the aforementioned jumper to force a UK TO, I think I punched Andy Heiland harder then I’ve hit anyone in my life out of pure excitement. He took it like a man)
Then there were the players. Ant ran until his legs fell apart. Karvel played with a broken wrist. Velton played with one arm, and picked apart the Cats like it was nothing. His drive and dish for a McFadden dunk was a THING OF BEAUTY.
(My boy Zach Lash (and others) got killed in the court storm, and he lost a shoe. But God dammit he stormed that court)
Russ played with so much swagger and toughness. More then any game of his career, and that’s really saying something if you know Russ.
Lucky was probably the best player on the court. His ejection helped UK stick around, but it also sent a message to the Cats.
The rest of the team played their hearts out. And don’t forget about Big Mike. All he did was outplay an future NBA frontline, hit two MASSIVE game winning free throws, and provide a few momentum changing dunks.
|Big Mike played his best game in an RMU uniform
at the biggest moment.
(Oh yea, we crowed surfed a baby?!?)
Andy Toole out coached a sure fire hall of famer. His out of bounds play was still one of the best plays out of a timeout I have ever seen since watching basketball.
(Under a minute, media cleared out in front of the crazies. Dre Frye started setting chairs up and I flipped out on him so he wouldn’t jinx it. Paul Jones literally tossed a table out of the way, and Matt Heiland would have set an Olympic record for how high he jumped over another table. Justin Bucci also would have set a 40 yard dash record)
When Kyle Wiltjer’s three hit back rim, and Velton Jones slapped the ball into the air, the Sewall Center erupted like a volcano. The joy from the players, coaches, students, fans, and alums was well worth missing the NCAA tournament.
Little Robert Morris just took down an NCAA giant, fresh off a National Championship.
(Feel free to share your favorite memory of the game in the comments section.)