By Jonah Naghi
People say that Clark University is notorious for having a lack of sport spirit and talent. But last Wednesday night, January 23rd, Clark University’s Men’s Basketball team played an exciting game against MIT. MIT had played against Harvard University, a Division I school, in an exhibition game earlier in the year and lost only by five points. Of course, it was probably against Harvard’s practice squad since it was an exhibition game, but to come that close to a Division I team’s practice squad proved that MIT was no push-over coming to Clark. The Cougars proved they weren’t push-overs either as they put up a fight the whole night with their fellow Clarkie students supporting and encouraging them the whole way.
One of the people sitting next to me, a regular at Clark basketball games, said thatthe stands were relatively crowded. The side benches had a decent crowd and the stands facing the baskets were packed with Clarkies yelling and cheering from start to finish. They had good reason to cheer; after an exciting first half with charges, good defensive plays, and a big layup at the end the Cougars led 29-28 going into the half.
At halftime there was a great performance by the cheerleading squad followed by a raffle and a shooting contest. It was a peculiar raffle; if you were wearing a white shirt when you came to the game, you got a ticket and there was a raffle. If your number was chosen you got a set of shots to supposedly win a TV. One of the raffle winners, Freshman Mike Eglow, shot a bunch of threes, but he kept coming up short time and time again. The clock was ticking, but he didn’t break a sweat and with the Clark students facing him from the stands cheering him on, Mike drained his last shot from three point range at the buzzer and the crowd went wild.
However, to Mike’s dismay, he was awarded a coupon instead of the TV, but he would be the first one to tell you: the moment of making the shot was the real prize. I asked him what was going through his mind when he shot the ball, and he said “it felt like it was a moment in destiny.”
In the second half, MIT broke it open a little with some three point shots, but the Cougars kept chipping away to stay in the game with a couple of add ones. The Cougars trailed 49-46 with just under four minutes left. Though shaken up after the play, Captain Brian Vayda made a huge layup along with an add one to come within one point. He was still able to take the free throw, but it just went in and out of the basket as the crowd nearly leaped for joy. Speaking of the crowd, in the second half, Clark students were on MIT’s side of the court, so when they shot free throws the students were crazy, loud, and making annoying hand gestures to distract the shooter. It felt like a legitimate professional basketball game. Who says Clark doesn’t have sport spirit?
With about a minute and a half left, Clark was down by one point and had the ball. A fadeaway just went bounced out of the basket as the crowd was ready to explode. One could only imagine how loud it would have been had the ball gone in, but the Cougars weren’t thinking what could have been, they went right back on defense. MIT shot free throws with thirty-one seconds left. The crowd did everything it could with yelling and hand gestures, but both shots went in.
Clark then had the ball with less than thirty seconds left. The Cougars knew they needed a three-pointer. They got a good look, took it, but it just bounced off the rim. However, with great hustle, the Cougars got the offensive rebound, kicked it back out and took a desperate shot, but MIT played tough defense and it just fell short. The Cougars then went into the fouling situation and the crowd again yelled and waved their hands as much as they could, but MIT, a good and experienced team, showed why they put up a good fight against Harvard by making clutch free throws and pulled away 55-50.
Nevertheless, we cannot disregard how well the Cougars played and how much heart they showed out there. This is a good team. Again, MIT lost to Harvard in an exhibition game by only five points and the Cougars came just as close. This is a team that’s got potential, but they need your help to get to the next level. I got a chance to talk to senior Marcus Armstrong after the game and asked him how he felt about how the relatively large crowd helped them play. He said, “It definitely gave us energy…It’s good to have support when things are tough…you need to get the energy from somewhere.”
As I mentioned before, Clark seems to be notorious for a lack of sport spirit and talent, but that may not be the case anymore from what I witnessed one Wednesday night. But again, they need to your help, so please come to the Cougars’ basketball games to cheer them on. It’s time to amp up the sport spirit here at Clark University!