March 5, 2008
Senior night at the old Moody Coliseum – the multi-colored floor, hallways lined with brick walls, pull-out wooden bleachers for a lower bowl – SMU prepares to take on the No. 2 team in the country, the Memphis Tigers.
This was long before any thought of the American Athletic Conference existed, this was a good ol’ fashioned Conference USA mismatch.
Led by head coach John Calipari and eventual No. 1 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Derrick Rose, the matchup afforded a nationally televised audience to the afterthought that was the SMU basketball program.
I went to this game with my father. We used the free tickets the university couldn’t hand out fast enough in hopes to fill their arena for the national stage against a top opponent.
Our seats were about halfway up in the area where section 213 sits today, and I can even remember as a skinny 16-year-old kid trying to squeeze into those rather narrow, not very comfortable seats.
I don’t remember an exceptional amount from the game, but I remember telling my dad I wanted to get there early. I wanted to watch Memphis warm up. I wanted to watch one of the best players in the nation, Derrick Rose. I wanted to watch Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey. I wanted to watch what I thought real college basketball looked like.
Swish, swish, swish, didn’t matter – big guy, small guy – their entire team hit from everywhere in warm ups. Instead of running lay up lines, they were running dunk contest lines. It was incredible to me. Something I could only dream of as a life-long (*since my dad became an employee of SMU in 1998) Mustang fan.
SMU put up a valiant effort on senior night, as expected. Memphis still won, 72-55, Calipari’s 100th conference win as the Tigers’ coach.
April 23, 2012
The day Larry Brown was introduced as SMU’s new head basketball coach.
Nearing the end of my sophomore year as a student, I had seen the SMU football program rise back into the national spotlight with their first bowl win in a quarter-century, but at the same time, had been relatively accepting of the fact that the SMU basketball team may never be something to hang my hat on outside of the possible Cinderella conference tournament run to sneak into any NCAA tournament.
In some ways, a lackluster basketball program had its perks. Tickets were always free, courtside in the student section every game, shake hands with Coach Doh, arenas so empty you know the opposing team hears every single thing you yell at them (polite or not).
Then Coach Doh got fired… Then the rumblings started…
Larry Brown? SMU is hiring Larry Brown…? The hall of famer…? No… He’s not coming back to college…
The first time I got to meet Larry Brown was a day or two after his introduction.
My former roommate and I (shoutout to Scott) both used to work in SMU’s office that handled parking and ID’s on campus. Well, being a new SMU employee, Larry Brown needed himself an ID card.
I truly didn’t believe Larry Brown was my school’s new head basketball coach until he walked through the door of that office. I thought it was all still a long, drawn out episode of Punk’d.
But here he was…and here I was…holy crap, I’m shaking his hand…holy crap, I instantly feel better at basketball.
The Godfather had arrived.
March 3, 2016
In the four years that have followed (and the eight since that night against Memphis), SMU basketball has been through more monstrous highs and devastating lows than most programs feel in a decade, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all of it.
— The grand opening of the newly renovated Moody Coliseum in 2014 – SMU announcing to the nation that they have arrived by defeated No. 17 UConn, only to storm the court on No. 7 Cincinnati a few weeks later after shellacking them by 21 points.
— The thunderous chants of ‘LAR-RY BROWN’ *clap clap, clap clap calp* and ‘MOODY MAGIC.’
— The day all of our hearts stopped, as we watched team after team be selected for the 2014 NCAA Tournament, but not us.
— The night Nic Moore sent SMU to Madison Square Garden after draining a three in the final seconds against Cal in the NIT.
— The day we went to UConn’s house, and won the American Athletic Conference tournament.
— The goaltending call against UCLA.
— The day the NCAA broke our hearts again by announcing the sanctions against the university surrounding the investigation involving Keith Frazier.
All of those moments led to Thursday night.
The night the SMU-faithful got to say goodbye to three seniors – Jordan Tolbert, Markus Kennedy, and Nic Moore – two of which being focal points of this entire shift in the landscape of college hoops in Dallas, and the other who is just a bada** dunking, rebounding machine.
#FOE – Family over everything, a popular saying amongst this team, and a fitting one.
We’ve all read (probably too much) about everything that this team has been through this year, but I want to put all of that aside for just a second to say one thing – thank you.
Thank you, Nic. Thank you, Markus. Thank you, Jordan. Thank you, Larry. Thank you, SMU basketball.
Family over everything means that no matter what happens, they’ve got your back, and for everything SMU basketball has provided this community over the past few years, your SMU family has yours.
Through the disappointment, it’s rather fitting that one of this team’s and these senior’s final moments will come on the floor after a game inside Moody Coliseum thanking the fans.
Not at some conference tournament game in Orlando, Florida, not at an NCAA tournament game in who knows where…
But at home, not just in ‘The House that Larry Built’, but in the house that they all built.
— Joey Hayden (@_joeyhayden) March 5, 2016