By: Joe Walsh
For every college basketball team, their conference tournament is crucial to their goal of reaching the NCAA tournament. For every other college student, it’s an excuse to travel, cheer on your team, and of course party.
“Last year, a bunch of friends and I went up to my house near Albany where the tournament was,” Marist College junior Jeff Bode said. “Since it was in Albany again this year, I felt we had to make another trip, so we went up on Friday for the night.”
Marist’s conference tournament for the MAAC took place from March 5 to 9 at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY. Both the men’s and women’s teams strived for an NCAA tournament bid. The men’s team lost in the quarterfinals to Niagra with a score of 79 to 50, losing their shot at the big dance. The women’s team won the championship against Canisius with a score of 78 to 63. Later, the Marist women were given a 12 seed for the NCAA tournament.
“Yeah, the guys did lose in the quarterfinals,” said Eric Troiano, a junior at Marist. “The good thing was we got to see them win the night we went up during the first round; we went nuts. The six of us who went wanted to catch the women’s game too since they are sick, but it was too early in the day and two people still had class at that point.”
Troiano was quick to move on from the basketball tournament to his personal experience.
“Bode’s parents treated us like royalty,” he added. “When we pulled up, I just expected to be hanging out there for a while eating chips and drinking soda or something. Little do we know that there is an all out three course meal sitting on the table when we walk in! It was amazing to eat so much great food since I cook for myself mostly, and it’s not that good.”
Michael Maresca, a junior, went to Bode’s last year for the tournament, but is currently abroad in Florence, Italy. He also experienced a quality meal and “great company.”
“I wish I could have come this year,” Maresca said. “Even though the excuse was to go see our basketball teams play, it really wasn’t about that. It’s not like everyone at a Super Bowl party is there for the football. My favorite parts of that weekend were hanging out with my friends in an environment that isn’t like school. We rarely get the chance to all chill at someone’s house which is a lot nicer than the dorm feel of college.”
While the games had a record attendance of 50,820 spectators, it seems that those who spoke to The River Reporter consistently talked about the totality of their time spent off Marist’s campus; not just the two hours of basketball they watched. Probably for good reason. It would seem like a waste to only focus one’s energy on two hours of a trip that lasted over 24 hours.
“I think it’s the most logical time to leave for a bit,” said Ben Thiefels, a junior and RA at Marist. “We have been at school for six weeks straight and mid terms are coming up. It’s a nice way to get your mind off school for a bit to recharge. Pretty much the opposite of the pressure our basketball players were under. Guess I feel bad for them regarding that aspect.”
The “Bode Experience,” as it has been called, provided not only a place for Marist students to sleep after the game, but a bonding experience that coming together over sports provides beyond the games themselves.
“I can’t believe that many people went this year,” Michael Maresca said. “I hope we weren’t the only ones having that good of a time. That would be a shame. Man, I love sports.”