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Northwestern Basketball Achieves A Milestone

The Wildcats Make the NCAA Men's Tournament

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Right when it looked like Northwestern's come back could be a reality, a Vanderbilt player goaltended the basket and blocked a Northwestern shot, a violation that was never called.

The Northwestern Wildcats advanced to the NCAA Men’s Basketball ‘March Madness’ Tournament for the first time ever this year, following a  23 – 11 record in the regular season. Northwestern entered the 68-team tournament as an eighth seed, beginning with a West Regional matchup against ninth-seed Vanderbilt in Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 16.  

Northwestern won the game 68 – 66, advanced to play the number one ranked Gonzaga, and to many people’s surprise made it a very close game, cutting Gonzaga’s lead down to five near the end of the game.  After a controversial goaltending no-call, which would have brought them within striking distance, the Cats ended up losing 73 – 79.  But Cats fans, including a number from the Parker community, were thrilled about the team’s historic run.

Parker has had eight students matriculate at Northwestern since 2005, 18 current faculty members graduated from the university, and countless other alumni since Parker’s founding have been associated in one way or another with the Wildcats.

Northwestern freshman Jacob Lending, FWP ‘16, stressed the importance of the team’s success, particularly for the current Northwestern seniors.

“This is the last year they will be in school rooting for Northwestern,” Lending said, “and I think it’s cool for them to finally see the culmination of all of the hard work that the team has put in.”

The excitement felt by Northwestern upperclassmen is matched only, perhaps, by some of the alumni that have been fans for decades, rooting them on–some might say fruitlessly–year after year. “The athletic successes, as rare as they are–when they come, they are sweet, and they feel great,” Upper School history teacher and Northwestern ‘87 graduate, Jeanne Barr, said. “I can’t even begin to describe the elation in my house when Northwestern made the tournament.”

Northwestern grads have been waiting for a big showing from the basketball team for a long time.  “For the four years I was at Northwestern, they never had a win that was a big enough win for the students to rush the court, and I saw them lose most of their games,” Northwestern alum Kyle Kamin, FWP ‘93,  said. “Me and my Northwestern friends have been waiting a really long time for this to happen, and we are really pumped up about it.”

Kamin expressed some of the hardship of being a Northwestern fan even recently. “For the last couple years, the team has gotten off to a great start only to collapse in the second half of the season,” he said.  “There were certainly times last year where I thought they were gonna make it to the tournament, only to be disappointed while the season winded down.”

One of the biggest moments in the team’s run this season was when the schools were being chosen for the 68 slots on Selection Sunday, which took place on March 13.  

“I still reserved a little bit of pessimism only because I was so nervous about getting let down,” Kamin said . “The moment they called Northwestern’s name, I jumped off the couch, and I gave everyone in my family big hugs, and I was just ecstatic.”

Coach Chris Collins and the Wildcats gave Northwestern and their fans something to be proud of this year–and something that the team can hope to build on. Their talent isn’t going anywhere. Sophomore forward Vic Law is considered to be one of the team’s top players, sophomore forward/guard Scottie Lindsey played very well, and starting point guard Bryan McIntosh, a junior, is considered to be the team’s best player.  They’re all coming back.

While some Northwestern fans go to the games just to spectate, others–like Northwestern alum and Parker music teacher and Department Co Chair Kingsley Tang–went to play an actual role in the event. “I became a fan because I was on the marching band,” Tang said. “When I was a graduate student, I actually conducted the basketball band, so for two years I went to every single home game, women and men’s, which was challenging at times, because they weren’t that great back then.”

Tang is comfortable with the team advancing just one round in the tournament. “I think we’re okay with it,” Tang said.  “It’s a fan base that understands that things have improved a ton.”

With a first-time tournament run, a solid coach, and a group of tested young guys, the Wildcats have a bright future–and their fans, at FWP and abroad–seem as optimistic as ever.

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Northwestern Basketball Achieves A Milestone