Welcome to the “N” Club

There were maybe 20 of our purple-clad gang sitting around an outdoor patio table at the mainstay Salt Lake City postgame gathering spot, Gracie’s, just blocks away from Vivint Smart Home Arena. As we chilled in the uncanny 75-degree weather, a pair of TVs 20 feet away repeatedly cut in to March Madness coverage with images of THE Goaltend (joining “The Pass” and “The Foul” in NU hoops lexicon), followed by a long shot of Chris Collins’s facial grimaces on the post game dais. We couldn’t hear the audio, but the frequency of the visuals let us know just how big a story this had become.

We were part of a hundred or so mellow Wildcat fans who had exited the arena after Nate Taphorn and Vic Law saluted the Wildcat crowd one last time. None of us had much interest in watching Arizona-St. Mary’s after the mind-boggling experience fresh in our memory banks. We were perhaps halfway through the 12 stages of recovery from the game and were slowly transitioning in to reflective mode. Our table was a mix of my fraternity buds from college, a handful of Wildcat fans from the ’07 era who joined our group and my father-in-law, Jack, as diehard a non-NU alum as you’ll find.

LTP & Jack outside Vivint Smart Home Arena as Jack earned his full fledged Wildcat membership card.

It was the very same bar, that just 48 hours earlier, was packed to its entirety with jubilant Wildcat fans celebrating the nail-biting Vanderbilt victory. A simple LTP email and blog post meant to Julie McCoy the sea of purple had turned an initial small group gathering in to some sort of Wildcat Fibonacci multiplier.  Gracie’s owner, Dino, had told me he’d save the upstairs for Wildcat fans if I could bring 100 (he sounded skeptical). He estimated the actual turnout to be somewhere between 500-700 and proclaimed it the biggest crowd he’d ever had.

On this night, the much smaller crowd had created its own sub-groups gobbling up pretty much every seat on the patio. As Wildcat fans trickled in, we all gave thumbs up to one another with smirks, which seemed to say the same thing – “great comeback, crappy call, proud of our team.”

The debate about Chris Collins’ passion being what got us there versus the need to contain himself in that moment was playing out at our table.  Having been in the arena to witness the incredibly poor first half play by our ‘Cats that was only topped in infamy by the terrible officiating, most sided on the fact we would’ve done the same thing.  The refs were brutal – both ways, no less – missing a handful of incorrect out of bounds calls, missed fouls (hello Isiah Brown tip) and a choppy, ticky-tack turned no-call inconsistent game that dominated the conversation.

As the second half Wildcat rally began to unfold, the emotions in that arena were hard to convey. Incredible noise and bandwagon Cinderella fans turned Vivint in to a home game once again. Northwestern had more fans than every other program all weekend, but when Nate Taphorn hit his first of two threes, it was game on for the rest of the arena.

Each crappy call turned grown adults in to the same emotional plane as Jim Phillip’s son who became the most popular social media meme of the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga fans in our row conceded “this is just brutal, brutal officiating – both ways.”  If Gonzaga was our latest rock, when you combined it with our own fault-induced first half hole and the officiating, we were facing basketball’s Mt. Everest.

Yet, there was the moment – the one we’ll all cling to as that instant frozen in time where we thought “we’re winning this thing.” Once down 21 in the second half, the lead was down to seven with under six minutes remaining. Bryan McIntosh’s pull-up 3-pointer caromed to the right and an unguarded Vic Law elevated and jammed home a two-handed put back that had the entire arena in full-on, full-throated primal screams. The ‘Cats now down just 5 forced a Gonzaga timeout among man-hugs galore. Section 113, my section (half court upper deck) was tackling one another with joy as we jumped up and down. Welsh-Ryan west was on.

Perhaps the loudest moment in any NCAA Tourney opening weekend (ever) happened on this Vic Law put-back slam to cut Gonzaga’s 21-point lead to just 5.

Jack, my father-in-law, had declared he was in with me on this can’t-miss trip back on March 1, 2017, the night of “The Pass.” He watches every game and attends every home football tailgate we’ve had. He’s a die hard. He’s also the same guy who 48 hours earlier served as my human crutch to get me through the final minute of the Vandy game. At this point, he was straddling the role of an NU die hard and a third party observer to this circus show of a weekend. He just nodded and paced in our row saying,  “I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe it.” There wasn’t a sliver of doubt we weren’t going to win this game. Destiny’s darlings, no doubt.

The ensuing Scottie Lindsey swat with a hair over 5 minutes to go kept the volume at a max of 11 on a scale of 10.  Then, Dererk Pardon’s goaltended shot happened. The ensuing tech on an incredulous and animated Chris Collins. An instantaneous 4-point swing that shattered the chisel pounding basketball’s Everest.

The video scoreboard, about the size of Welsh-Ryan itself, displayed what you saw at home – a no-brainer missed call, by three officials. I still can’t believe it. Goaltending is not reviewable, but this very play I hope leads to a rule change where coaches get one official challenge a game.

NU hoops fans added an unforgettable call and this image to our brief NCAA Tourney memory bank.

I’ll go to my grave believing in the sliding doors of live that we win that game if they make that call.

Of all the postgame commentary I’ve read and watched, Chuck Culpepper of the Washington Post captured my sentiments the best. I particularly liked his open:

“Having found their way this month to a fresh perch of giddiness, Northwestern fans on Saturday found their way to a further pleasure of fandom: aggrievedness. Lucky them.

Like so many of their American brethren of basketball and football, they’ll get to spend the rest of their days with the chance to practice one of the treasured human pastimes: reliving an officiating error, then envisioning how the whole wretched ending would have altered without said officiating error.”

Chuck’s bittersweet empathy note struck the note we all left Salt Lake City with….we belong. The officiating screw job is part of the new club we’re in – the club of basketball relevance. Every program of note has one of them in their NCAA Tournament annals. We are now part of the “N Club”.  “N” for normal basketball program that can be a regular participant in the Big Dance without having it be THE national sports story just for participating. “N” for never having to hear about the basketball version of the scarlet (purple?) letter in every basketball telecast ever as “the only major conference team to never have made the tournament”.  “N” for not having the words “Northwestern basketball” conjure up “negative” sentiment as we no longer have to feel as though the basketball Gods are conspiring against us (NCAA refs, well, that’s a different club).

As the sun began to fade on our season at Gracie’s the group was debating the best locale for the 2018 first round draw.  Nashville emerged as the favored choice, though several members of our new NU optimists club pointed out a good seed would likely send us to Detroit for geographic consideration.  These are the nice problems to have. A new normal.

Our crew began rationalizing how next year’s likely NCAA Tournament appearance would perhaps be even bigger in size from a fan attendance perspective. Those of us who attended will want to bask in this all over again.  Sure, the novelty of “First.Time.Ever” had us all using the term “Basketball Rose Bowl”, but we chatted how we feel even more compelled to strong arm anyone who didn’t come for nothing more of wanting them to share such a joyful experience.

I heard two phrases all weekend long that kept popping up from the dominant 1990s era throng of purple. One was the ESPN 30 for 30 (I call dibs on making it, by the way) mantra – “What if I were to tell you…” and the other was “1.21 gigawatts” in reference to the iconic Back the Future line, implying we had been transported to this moment in a time machine.  

While nothing in my sports lifetime will compare to the Northwestern Rose Bowl appearance, from a Wildcat fan experience, Salt Lake City was actually better in a few ways. The condensed downtown area was similar to Indianapolis, where every fan is staying within a six-to-eight block radius of the arena. For four days, purple dominated the streets to the point where you didn’t even have to give a sly, “Go ‘Cats”.  On route to games, pep rallies and postgame bars, we barely recognized any other colors, and certainly no throngs of fans.  Salt Lakers commented repeatedly on the amount of fans and we took over the town.  The concentration of fans made it easy to congregate as one, yet surreal in many ways as well.

After the Vanderbilt win, things got really wacky.  My buddy Mike kept inquiring about how many “marriage pesos” (in reference to the currency mostly guys used to extend or attend their visit to “Bracketville”) friends cashed in to get here. Now that we were here through Saturday, there was an element of “what the heck do we do on Friday?”

Coincidentally, ComicCon, a wildly popular comic book character convention was kicking off on Friday at the convention center next to the arena. So, there we were, a town filled with thousands of purple-clad fans in wildly unseasonably warm weather (it was 75 and sunny the entire time) passing adults dressed in everything from Harry Potter outfits to scantily-clad, I-have-no-idea characters. Throw in St. Patrick’s Day on the in-between game days and you have an elixir for a scene that really defies description.

It felt like a live version of the old game show “This Is Your Life” was unfolding.

On Thursday, a pregame, in-arena text beckoned me to meet in the concourse for a group of fellow WNUR Sports (student radio station) alumni.

On Friday, Kyle Henneberry, a former Wildcat basketball walk-on (’97) organized an alumni basketball game at a nearby rec center mixing a few varsity guys and my club basketball teammates (we played again on Saturday and have committed to growing this tradition in future tournament cities to make it our own “tradition unlike any other). Kyle, a Spokane native and diehard Gonzaga fan as a kid, became the angle for fan coverage in his hometown.

Every fan in Salt Lake seemingly had a passionate story, a membership application of sorts for being in the club.

That Friday afternoon, Jack (my father-in-law) and I happened to stumble upon the Lumpkin and Taphorn families in a sports bar.  Jack got the full family story from Sanjay’s grandfather and enjoyed his time with Grandmother Lynn who regaled him with tales of attending every single game in Sanjay’s time (and explaining that “Sanjay” means “victorious” in Indian). Meanwhile, my always-on, dig deeper for a story sensibility was in gear talking with Nate Taphorn’s mom and dad. Lisa Taphorn described “The Pass” from her vantage point in the stands and she hilariously re-enacted how she was trying to get his attention in the aftermath from the stands yelling “Nathan…Nathan…” to no avail. As she watched hundreds pour on the court she looked around and said “why not?” and she too flooded on to the floor to join the embrace.

In between all the events, I spent much time text shaming friends in to joining us in Salt Lake, sending photos of me with friends they knew – and it worked.  My buddy Scott, the New Orleans Pelicans team doctor, made a day of decision, bought a flight and would crash on my hotel room floor. A bunch of grown-ups back in the time machine acting like kids again.

Fitz took to the stage on Saturday’s pep rally and fired up the packed house of purple into a frenzy.

The Northwestern brass hit the “lather, rinse, repeat” button for the alumni pep rally, which I described in detail here from Thursday.  Greeny returned as emcee and after Jim Phillips asked the crowd and the band if we knew the way to San Jose, Pat Fitzgerald popped on stage and became chief cheerleader.  This was an encore to Fitz’s Thursday act, where he stood on his chair in the arena leading the arena in “Let’s Go ‘Cats!” cheers that reverberated throughout the arena.  Jack sat there and nodded, saying “There is no other school on the planet that has this…it’s simply unbelievable. What a special, special feeling this is. That is your football coach for crying out loud.”

Jack repeatedly asked rhetorically “what made the connection so special?” throughout the weekend. I pondered that question as each day went by. Was it the small size of the school? Was it the connection of many of us that dreamed the dream of big time academics and the Big Ten athletic experience, that never quite materialized until after we graduated?

Picking up with friends like it was 1993.

Nope. It was the people. Plain and simple. The kind of folks you created deep meaningful connections with because you admired most of them in ways that celebrated their uniqueness. Sure, many other schools have that I’m sure too, but something about this mix is indeed tough to put your finger on. That underdog bond so many of us share. Five, ten, twenty years later seeing people and slipping right back in to being 20-year-olds again.

Priceless.

A part of me thought the ComicCon characters were going to grab us and shove us back in to the 1990s where our group first originated “will it ever happen?” dreams.  Instead, a former club basketball teammate of mine who had married my college girlfriend, high-fived me and introduced me to his beautiful kids and asked to pose for a photo to send back their mom. That moment provided a lump in the throat – somehow living in this time machine-driven future and connecting the dots of life backward and feeling pure joy for so many of the friends whose lives have turned out so well.

It was fascinating to catch up on the sliding door decisions of life for all of the friends and acquaintances I hadn’t seen in ages that converged like a 68-team bracket funneling down to the national championship. They had been in my “early rounds” of life, as I had to them, and now, just like the Final Four slogan, it felt in some ways like “The Road Ends Here”.

This was the moment. The one that we pictured in a funny way, wondering what age we’d be and life juncture we’d be, when the day finally came when we went dancing. March 16 and March 18, 2017. Salt Lake City. A city forever etched in ‘Cats fans’ minds and tinted purple.

I repeatedly shared my past 20+ year journey and how I had lucked out on my own life “draw”, including my wife, whom I met through a fellow NU grad and of course, my three girls.  Jack became one with Wildcat nation as we both bragged about my wife/his daughter to whom I didn’t have to use any marriage pesos for this moment.

Hanging with Evan Eschmeyer and Maureen Holohan – one of dozens of fun memory lane moments during the weekend.

Of all the ‘Cats fans in my extended network, only two of them did not make the trek. On Saturday, it was almost an even exchange of a new influx of friends and fans replacing the outflux who had overdrawn on their marriage pesos.

One of the no-shows, was my pal Dan.  As I sat in the cafeteria area of the concourse 45-minutes before tip-off, hundreds had gathered to watch the end of the Wisconsin-Villanova game on a big screen. Northwestern was the dominant fan base in this area so I figured, why not bring Dan in the arena with us?  Scott and I Facetimed him.  I stood up with my phone so he could see the crowd and simply yelled a series of “Go-U…” chants which were met with boisterous “N-U” responses.  He lost it laughing, shaking his head.

The other die hard missing was my friend Willie. He was in New York City giving the eulogy for former Wildcat football standout and 1955 team captain, Sandy Sacks, whose memorial service was lined up a long time ago for this date. The passionate Wildcat fan and former head of the New York alumni club chapter was LTP rapid in his love of all things Northwestern. The irony of this date, coinciding almost with tip-off of Northwestern’s second round NCAA Tourney game was apparently not lost on attendees.  Northwestern president Morty Schapiro, conspicuously missing from round two festivities was attending these very services.

It’s gestures, and priorities like this that make me proud of our community.

Pride.

It’s the one-word takeaway from four days in Salt Lake City for those of us that attended will forever bond us. The sense that “we were there” as the brand ambassadors for our school that had been a punchline in basketball circles for the past eight decades and was now a team and a brand that stood for packing a punch.  Seeing Arizona, St. Mary’s and general basketball fans on their feet partaking in ear-piercing “Let’s Go ‘Cats” chants is, like so many elements of this experience, indescribable. We had no idea what the commentators were saying, but you could just feel the nation tuning in and trying to collectively will what very well would’ve been the most epic comeback in NCAA Tournament history. Something that seemed so right for this team and this program.

Back at Gracie’s, serious debates around potential 2018 NCAA first round sites continued. We discussed the Allstate X-factor of next year and Wildcat fans we’d never met before impressed us with their intimate knowledge of every returning player on this team.  This much passion this deep in to March made us chuckle that we hadn’t even begun the mental countdown to football season (only five months til kickoff), yet we were already locked in for next basketball season, even pondering Chris Collins’ non-conference scheduling philosophy.

Northwestern’s “Forever Team”

The player-by-player optimistic opinions and unfair projections began in earnest. What will B-Mac be like as a senior? Can Vic Law improve his consistency? Will Scottie Lindsey make another leap in his game this off-season? How will  Pardon’s incredible play in clutch minutes translate in to his junior year? Will Falzon be the old Falzon post injury? Can Gavin Skelly improve his 3-point shooting? What will Rap’s post presence do to our depth and chemistry? We were having basketball school conversations, just like most “high hoops IQ” programs.

The sense and true belief that this experience could become an annual? Well, it was pretty comforting as we reflected on one of those you had-to-be-there-to-believe-it experiences.

Jack did not sleep on Saturday night. He was so pissed off at the goaltending call he woke up in the middle of the night and re-read the coverage of the game. This run wasn’t supposed to end this way, or so he thought.  He mentioned repeatedly how he wished, in retrospect, he had gone to Northwestern so he could be even more a part of this “N” club.  What he didn’t realize is that he actually was – and is – no longer does it need to be assumed you “must be an alum” if you’re simply a fan. Wildcat basketball fandom is not exclusive, it has never been more inclusive. Hop on board, grab a friend and come cheer for our fair name.

That’s what normal programs do.

  • Louie

    So true, Jay. Having those two random guys from Utah sitting between us on Thursday screaming “Let’s go Cats!” along with the NU faithful was amazing. I’d never seen anything like that. I shook hands with all the people around me after the game and thanked them for cheering for Northwestern. Just a special, unforgettable moment.

    • LTP

      Was something, wasn’t it?!!!

  • David

    I am so proud of our School and the players and coaches who represent our University. In my 26 years since graduating life has moved me to Los Angeles and subsequently to Seattle.
    Time has reduced my enthusiasm for most professional sports teams. But I still live and die with Northwestern Athletics. I have been committed to make at least one football game each season. I have had the good fortune to Witness NU in the Rose Bowl in ’95. I was there for the 33-31 win over Wisky during Kafka’s senior season. I was there for Wrigley and Game Day in 2010. I witnessed the 2013 OSU/Game Day adventure. I witnessed the NU OT victory in South Bend in 2014. I was able to be a part of the Stanford experience in 2015.
    As this season progressed and the NCAA Tourney became a likelihood I knew that I had to be a part of the experience. Due to a previous obligation on Saturday, I was only able to participate on Thursday. I flew in to SLC on the 6:00 AM from Seattle and Ubered down to the arena. I heard about the rally on Pierpont and walked over. What a fantastic experience. It packed, it was loud and there was such a sense of pride that everyone shared. Like you I was able to meet Sanjay’s Grandparents. They seem to be lovely people and you could see that it moved them that all of us hold their grandson in such high regard. I happened to bump into a couple of people from my dorm fresh/soph years.
    The game Vandy game was fantastic….it really felt like a home game. I felt emotional when the team took the court to start the game. NU was clearly the superior team through most of the game. It wasn’t until #5 started hitting shots that no one should be able to hit that Vandy mounted the furious rally. Each time Pardon stepped to the line for each of his 6 free throws down the stretch I had a weird sense of calm. I believed that he would hit the shots. Pardon has impressed me so much this season…and the way he won the Michigan game was unreal. He made an amazing catch (he may have a career as a TE), elevated, let the defender float past him, switch to his left hand and bank in the shot. I just believed the moment would not be too big for him. From my seat in the upper deck I didn’t realize that there was a major mistake by Vandy on that foul. McIntosh had torched them all game…I figured that they didn’t want McIntosh to beat them with no time remaining. I figured they wanted the ball last. When the final buzzer sounded I jumped higher than I have in years. Walking out of the arena all I could do is look at the people next to me and say “Dererk Pardon” and shake my head and everyone was feeling the same exhilaration.
    Gracies was fun after the game. I kind of had the feel of the crowded frat parties on a Wed/Fri or Sat night back in the late ’80’s. Upstairs, downstairs, inside and outside was all NU.
    I flew back to Seattle Friday AM. I was tracking the Gonzaga game on my I-Phone on Saturday. I could not believe how poorly it seemed we were playing. The event my wife and I were attending finished with about 11 minutes left in the game. We hurried to the bar and grabbed a glass of wine and watched the end of the game with a number of Gonzaga fans. As Law threw down McIntosh’s miss…I let out a roar that I had no control over. I knew we were going to win. But, a blown call, a technical and a couple of wild empty trips down the court by McIntosh and the game ended.
    I was outraged by the missed call and the T. But I was really proud of the effort and heart that our guys showed. I was really proud of our fans for being such a force in SLC. It made me emotional when the NU fans gave our players a standing ovation as they departed the floor in defeat. I was proud that none of our players or Coach Collins blamed the loss on the officials. We had gone toe to toe with a #1 seed and the nation saw what happened. Our players rose above…we have top notch people. I am proud of our school.
    When I was at the airport in the Delta Club, I grabbed a Salt Lake Tribune. Here is a paragraph from a Friday article.
    “Wow, did the Northwestern fans have fun-with some agonizing at the end. They stood and cheered the school’s promo video during a timeout, hugged one another after bid plays and generally took over the area like no visiting fan base has done in the state’s NCAA Tournament history, dating to 1960. Kentucky’s following at the Huntsman Center in 1997 may have come close in numbers, but not in volume.”
    This was a great event for Northwestern and Northwestern Basketball.

    • LTP

      This is awesome. Thanks for posting the quote from the Salt Lake Tribune. Love seeing objective folks confirm what we biased ones felt – there has never quite been a scene like that in a first round. Great stories – thanks for sharing!

  • LondonCat04

    The NU Club of the UK watched both nights from a pub and then a flat in London and had a great time bonding over our love of the ‘Cats. I was contacted by 9 alumni / friends of alumni who were visiting London on vacation or business and looking to watch the games with us–including a class of ’68 grad.
    That distant “Go U Northwestern” you heard coming from a basement? That was us singing nearly 5,000 miles away.
    While we weren’t in SLC, It was great to expand our usual group and wonderful to see that people wanted to take time out of their schedules to watch NU–even overseas.

    • LTP

      Sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing the story.

  • NUNUNU

    What an amazing weekend… SLC could not have been more fun (except maybe if goaltending wasn’t allowed there). Thanks for chronicling the festivities!

    LTP will be missed if you’re going dark again soon. What’s the next occasion that could spark another return??

    • LTP

      Hmm…perhaps a football preseason primer?

  • MF

    I wish I had administrative privileges over this website, because the headline that needs to appear is “LTP Honored as Northwestern University Alumnus of the Year.”

    I should first out myself — I am Marriage Pesos Mike mentioned above and I was one the lucky few who spent almost every waking hour in the aura of LTP — or, if you took Highlights of Astronomy, you might say the “penumbra” of LTP! Fact is, LTP was the Mayor of Salt Lake City. To wit:

    1. LTP was directly responsible for two separate gatherings of Wildcats — Wednesday and Thursday night — each of which numbered in the hundreds. Even Saturday’s post-game was a great night for Gracie’s and its very appreciative staff.

    2. LTP was the hub of the Wildcat Wheel. New friendships were formed over “How do you know [LTP]?” Old friendships were rekindled over “Isn’t [LTP] amazing?” And whenever I needed small talk with a purple stranger, I would steer the conversation to “yeah, I’m here with…you know he’s LakeThePosts…not kidding, that’s LTP!…I know, I miss it too.”

    3. His phone nearly caught fire. When I think of the number of texts and congratulatory emails I received — and I have only tens of friends — I can’t even imagine his inbox. Moreover, he had to respond to all of the “where are we going” and “how do I get there” emails. No one in 2017 should be allowed to ask “how do I get there” unless he is over 70 and still has a VCR with a clock that blinks 12:00.

    4. He is never without an “N” baseball cap. For a 40-something with a full head of hair, that’s a fashion feat.

    5. Even at our pick-up game — 10 minute uber, $6 entry, weathered and lopsided ball, running shoes, dusty court — LTP was a mensch. He takes the most difficult defensive assignment. He passes to shooters on-time and on-target. He collects improbable and gritty offensive rebounds. And his 15-footer is money.

    6. No one sells the Northwestern sizzle better than LTP. He inspired so many of us to make the trip, and I for one have new memories that I will cherish for a lifetime.

    LTP is exactly right that Northwestern now needs to welcome the next concentric circle of fans — the non-alum who loves his or her loose connection to NU. Let’s all help make that happen. Do it as thank you to LTP.

    • LTP

      Wow. This is incredible. I think I may have used up all my “friend pesos”, but clearly you are a scribe yourself. Any one that can drop VCR references with that aplomb should be taking the baton of the pen. I’m so glad you went from “on the fence” on Wednesday to going all-in through Saturday. Quite a journey pal, quite a journey.

    • David

      You would also know about “penumbras” if you took Jerry Goldman’s Constitutional Law.

    • MF

      I forgot to add that when LTP heard that his friend couldn’t come to Salt Lake because she was having a baby, LTP nearly demanded that the kid’s middle name be “Dererk.”

      • LTP

        Man, I did do that. Funny thing is that I almost convinced her had she actually given birth on the Thursday (she waited until Friday).

  • Alaskawildcat

    Great report, but have to differ on the name given to “The Play” as “The Pass” from the final Michigan game. I have seen some refer to it as “The Pass and The Catch” – since it was a dual effort. I would agree though that a single word is obviously needed and “The Pass and The Catch” just does not do it.

    When I was watching the game, while keeping connected with NU faithful on a gametime thread, I commented in my posting, “1.7 seconds left. Miracle finish ahead?” So for me that play will always be “The Miracle.”

    • LTP

      I’ve already scripted the 30 for 30 in my mind and I’m calling it “1.7”!

      • Alaskawildcat

        “1.7” I like it!

  • SJ Wildcat

    Nicely done LTP.

  • Joe Nunziante

    Thanks, Jay, for organizing such a terrific and memorable weekend! And for helping me relive it through these words. My pals and I might’ve lost our voices in SLC, but we brought home some amazing memories. Great to meet you and your crew.

    Just put a deposit down for two season tickets…see you @ Allstate Arena!

    • LTP

      You were equally huge in setting up Gracie’s with me. Well done, Joe. It was great to meet you. See you at Allstate!

  • KenRutsky

    LTP didn’t meet you in the crowd at Gracie’s Thursday, but thanks for coming back. ‘Cat’s hoops have a bright future and let’s hope this is the beginning of a new era and we can all say we were there when it happened!

  • TennCats

    Thanks so much for your vivid descriptions! We had so much wanted to be there (this weekend was blocked off since early Jan on our calendars). Unfortunately, I screwed it up by breaking my leg skiing in Tahoe March 2, and was in no shape to make another cross-country plane trip. You can bet that my knee scooter was dressed up with an NU pennant, though, and we both wore purple all weekend as we yelled at the TV from the living room couch!! All I can say is that we are SO PROUD of our team, coaches, and University, and there had BETTER be a “next year” in 2018! Thanks to all for the stories!

    • LTP

      Sorry to hear about your injury! All the more reason to mark down 2018. Can’t wait for an encore. How awesome is it to have March Madness expectations and not have to suffer through the “never made the Tourney…” drumbeat next year?