Our match against Northern Illinois, one of two semi-final matches on Saturday night in Northern’s gym in DeKalb, was a tough one. By the end of it, standing among several parents of players on the team, there was a sense of pure misery.
I don’t know, perhaps the team didn’t feel this. But the Bobcat fans in the stands were unhappy. It didn’t feel like we’d played well. There were too many crushing hits by Northern, too many blocks (13 team blocks to our 4.) Clearly, it was not the end of the season we’d hoped for.
But an hour later, having downloaded the 150 clips I took of the match, a different story soon became evident. Yes, Northern had played well. They’d beaten us 25-21, 25-16, 25-19. Yet dozens of clips showed us winning points as we fought to stay in the match. Northern outplayed us, but it was a pretty good match.
The next night, watching Miami play Northern on ESPN, back home in Athens, Miami was putting up a good fight. They lost in three, having taken a total of 58 points in the match. But 58 was only two more than we scored the night before. (And in the final match of last year’s MAC Championship, in which we defeated Northern in three, they only managed to take 48 points.)
As I explain in the video, I think the loud and exuberant Northern fans had much to do with the sense in the gym that Northern was pulling off a complete rout. I’m sorry to say it, but the Northern fans behaved the way I wish OU’s fans would: loud, exuberant, happy with every winning point.
Some of it was the gym. Seating only 800, it was no larger than many high school gyms. This allows for a certain pressure to build up, for the wildness to grow. But the heart of it is that the Northern fans were putting out lots of energy and enthusiasm. Cricket and I only wish we could get the fans going in the Convo that way. Where’s Jim Post when we need him?!
In any case, you’ll see in the video that while we lost, we were putting up a pretty good fight.