06 November 2011

Saint Mary's: The Inexorable Game

6 November, 2011 4.40p.m. by Darcy Ireland

The following article is meant to be a sample article, to let readers taste the sort of delicacies the author


to prepare throughout the dawning 2011-12 season (T.M.M. Season 8). The article highlights the

Saint Mary's

at Oregon match held on 12 December 2009, which the author had the privilege to attend.

The Gaels not only

defeated the Ducks that evening, 81-76, but they also advanced to a regional semi-

final in the 2011 NCAA Men's

Division I Basketball Tournament, marking the best season for the Gaels

since 1959, when they made a regional

final in that year's tournament. This article's title was inspired

by the title of this relevant article, written by Mr.

Kyle Whelliston. The author would appreciate and

would highly value any given critical, yet constructive

comments. Enjoy!

When arrogance appears, disgrace follows,

But wisdom is with those who are unassuming.

Wealth is of no avail on the day or wrath,

But righteousness saves from death.

(Proverbs 11.2, 4; Kethuvim)

EUGENE, Or. -- The audience attending that game ought to have known better. “That little school in California.” “Oh, that place where [Portland Trail Blazers point guard] Patty Mills played college ball.” If one were to define that night as if it was a sea of quotes, one would find that that ocean was filled with interesting expressions of opinions. Yet, it shouldn't surprise the readers that such petty remarks were uttered regarding the Gaels from Moraga. After all, a majority of the people attending that game in charming MacArthur Gymnasium were either students of the host institution or former students of it. The Ducks weren't here to lose a match to 'that little school in California,' to drop a game to 'that high-school team from the Bay Area.' The host team was here to dismantle the Gaels and consistently win, perhaps even at all costs. Sometimes, fate is necessary to humble the hearts of those involved in a given situation. In this case, the truly better team won that night in Eugene. The Gaels weren't content with attempting to merely win its conference title and bow out to some larger institution in postseason play. Their performance that night proved that the boys from Moraga had the necessary grit and determination to win with humility, respect, and selflessness.

The student section around me was undoubtedly clad in its school colours of green and yellow. Although I took a cue from the surrounding fellow students by dressing in a modest, forest green shirt and a pair of jeans, I honestly chose to cheer neither the Oregon Ducks nor the Saint Mary's Gaels that night. As an unbiased, quiet, and researched observer, I intended to simply see the fighting spirit of the boys from Moraga with my own eyes.

Now, this was the last year of eligibility for the Gaels starting center, Omar Samhan, whom many media outlets regarded as an absolute 'beast' of a player. Having heard of Samhan beforehand, I was curious to see what the center could do. Well, the fellow certainly could play basketball, even against the supposedly big and bad young men from Eugene. However, my primary attention was focused upon the collective, and efficient, efforts of his Gaels team, who did not disappoint those, including myself, who were seeking a good show.

The boys from Moraga flashed their offensive efficiency that night, compensating an unusually low number of three-point baskets by precisely shooting baskets closer to the net. Their total firepower fueled the Gaels to a 81-76 victory over the confident trees of men from the school nestled in the Willamette Valley. By the time that game had ended, I respectfully cheered for the admirable Gaels, having been impressed by their beautiful display and humble attitude.

After the final buzzer, which bookended the second half of the match, the student section was obviously distraught and perhaps even surprised. For them, 'that little school in California,' indeed. Little to no respect seemed to be given to those gents from that lush valley, which is enveloped by green, rolling hills, and is east of Oakland. The sheer irony of the reaction to the match by the supporters of the Ducks was that most of the students attending were originally from California. More than vividly do I recall walking by a chap, who donned a t-shirt which proclaimed the University of Oregon as the 'University of California-Eugene' one day, while trotting through the heart of the campus. The disrespect showed by the student section, particularly by the lads from the California Bay Area, somewhat astounded me. However, the Gaels, the Irish warriors, who won that battle that night could take solace in knowing that at least one person in the Willamette Valley chose to positively appreciate that victory for their sakes.

Pride goes before ruin,

Arrogance, before failure.

Better to be humble and among the lowly

Than to share spoils with the proud.

(Proverbs 16.18-19, Kethuvim)

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