I recently went to watch the Melbourne Uni Black Angels Big V basketball game. I was asked to do a guest post about it for the Melbourne Uni website, as it is currently off season for the NBL. With a young family, my wife and I don’t get out much so, I thought it could be as good a chance as any to actually be outside of the house past six o’clock on a Saturday night. The fact that it was toga night made it even better.
I was lucky enough to attend Michigan State University as a student/athlete. Correction, I was lucky enough to attend Michigan State as an ATHLETE……….. student. It is a big time program that takes its basketball very seriously. The school has over 40,000 students and a basketball arena that seats 15,000. In my five years, every single game was sold out, even the practice ones. The complete lower bowl was filled with students who call themselves the Izzone, after our legend in the making head coach, Tom Izzo. They all wear their appointed white t-shirt, never sit down, and actually have practices of what chant to do and when. For this game I was not expecting quite the same atmosphere, but any sense of nostalgia would be well worth the trip.
On the way to the game there were a few signs I was no longer in college. Instead of driving around packed into a ’93 Ford Taurus and listening to a Limp Bizkit mix tape, I am now packed into our Kia Rondo with no radio on. There is no point in trying to listen to it over the nagging of 3 restless kids. Everyone settles down pretty quickly except for our eight month old son. He is wondering why he’s not being given his milk and being put to bed. After about ten minutes of listening to him cry, my wife pounces out of her seat, army rolls into the back, does her best spider-man climbing a wall impression and feeds him. He never even had to move his head. The whole thing was done effortlessly in high heels in a way only a mother could pull off. If you are wondering, no, this never happened in college.
When we finally got there and were walking in it looked like a typical toga party. The thought of them is great but the reality of them, is usually much different….
When thinking of a theme for a party, toga’s seem to be an easy solution. It’s a costume and concept everyone is familiar with and all you need is a white bed sheet. That being said, have you ever seen a 20 year olds bed sheet?....
There is no way a college kid is going to spend some of their beer money on a new bed sheet for a party. What they will do is spend their beer money on beer, rip the bed sheet directly of their bed, and throw it around their waist. Bam, instant toga! This is exactly the reason that instead of a party full of men and women in glistening white costumes, you get ten or so inebriated guys in ill fitting, dirty bed sheets and Chuck Taylors. Who are all standing around a keg quoting Animal House.
The toga aspect of this game, was no different. Aside from four guys who did look to be enjoying themselves, the rest of the crowd were just there to see a basketball game, a game that turned out to be very well played. Melbourne Uni hosted the Mildura Heat in a game that could have gone either way until the final buzzer. If it wasn’t for the impressive performances of Mildura’s imports, the Black Angels would have probably won.
I have to admit though my favorite player was on Mildura. He was a husky, back up point guard and looked to be the oldest guy out there. He looked like he came straight from work and after the game was headed straight to the pub. I was told he is a legend of Mildura basketball and had played something like 450 games and counting. He has played all those games not because it has made him rich. Not because it gets him any media coverage. I doubt he even has any twitter followers. His presence on the court and reasons for playing pretty much summed it up for all the players. They are out there for the chance to be a part of a team and for the love of the game.
If you get a chance to get out and see the Uni team or any other Big V games this season, I highly recommend it. You might as well bring your toga too, because you never know when a party is going to break out.
The 450 game player was Shannon Erskine. Read an interview with him here