Since I first purchased season tickets to the Monmouth men’s basketball team last season, I haven’t been faced with a situation where I was unsure who I wanted to win a game. Up until tonight, I wanted Monmouth to win every game, every time they played – period. However, tonight’s game presented a problem to me because I’m a graduate of both universities! Back in 2003 I earned a Bachelors Degree from Monmouth and a few years ago in 2006 I earned a Masters Degree from Rutgers.
What’s an alumnus to do?! Who’s an alumnus to root for?!
Well, as you might imagine I opted to root for Monmouth since it feels a little bit more natural to me. Also, I think I have more of a connection with Monmouth (good or bad). Although no matter what the outcome of the game, I knew that I was leaving the game with my alma mater winning!
But tonight’s game was an interesting one at the MAC Center in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Not only were there a bunch of red shirts in the crowd, but there was a crowd in the first place! Tony Graham over at the Asbury Park Press says that there were 2,852 fans in attendance and I wouldn’t doubt it at all. That building was jumping! Personally, I’m looking forward to this Wednesday night’s game against Villanova which I heard is completely sold out. That’s a 4,200 seat arena that is sold out – should be fun to watch.
Back to tonight’s game.
I was very impressed with the level of competitiveness that Monmouth played with early on tonight, but that would seem to for the Hawks’ style. When the Hawks play against bad teams, they play down to their level. When they play against good teams, they play up to their level. Being so inconsistent isn’t a good thing for any sports team and I wish that Monmouth would just play their game each time they take the court instead of acting like this weird chameleon type of team. Mr. Graham at the APP’s Hawks Nest had a quote from RJ Rutledge regarding Monmouth not playing their style of game in the latter part of the game:
“We hung in with them for most of the game,” Rutledge said. “It’s just that at the end we let the turnovers get to us and we didn’t keep on playing our game.”
The other major issue that bothered me tonight was that the final score didn’t reflect the level of competition that Monmouth played with for most of the game. When you see that Rutgers scored some 79 points to Monmouth’s 56 points, you think, “Wow. Monmouth got blown out.” The truth is that they didn’t get blown out at all and that certain players like RJ Rutledge, Ed Waite, and Nick Del Tufo had phenomenal games tonight. Sure, Del Tufo needs to keep his level of aggression up on defense, but he was one of the stars for Monmouth tonight. I will admit that the final score, though, definitely captured the feeling of the game in the last 5 or 6 minutes.
And that’s the final issue that bothered me about tonight’s game. As a fan sitting in the stands and having played competitive sports against all different types of skill levels of opponents, I’m pretty good at telling when a team packs it in and calls it a day. Somewhere with 4 or 5 minutes left in the second half, it really appeared like Monmouth packed it in and called it a day and that’s a damn shame. I don’t deny that Monmouth was outmatched in terms of skill, but I do believe that if Monmouth was playing at their best and playing their style of game – well, they may have had a chance of beating this Rutgers team tonight.
Here’s hoping that Monmouth can keep their level of aggressive, competitive play up for the Villanova game this Wednesday. If they can believe that a victory can happen, then you never know – something great might happen on Wednesday night.