By: Andrew Utz ~Staff Writer~
I never heard of Xavier before I applied in high school. Even while I was filling out my first March Madness bracket my senior year, I still knew little about the basketball culture surrounding the Jesuit university in Cincinnati.
Don’t get me wrong. When I stepped on campus for my first campus tour, I absolutely fell in love with it. Hence, I have been here for four years.
But in 2011, I received an email from Father Graham apologizing for the unbecoming actions of the basketball team. I wasn’t a basketball fan then, so I had no idea what he was talking about. Later during school, my chemistry teacher showed me the video of the brawl at the Crosstown Shootout and asked me if that was really the school I had chosen to attend. I begrudgingly told him it was.
Just like in the college classic “Animal House,” both Xavier and Cincinnati were placed on double- top secret probation for two seasons. Neither of the schools were allowed to host the annual rivalry game, and the event was relocated to a neutral court at US Bank Arena. My freshman year, I missed the terrible loss to UC.
For my sophomore year I went down with the pep band to US Bank Arena and cheered on Xavier. The game was electrifying, both student sections cheering back and forth. The pep bands played across the stadium, one trying to outplay the other. At the same time, it felt different, having to travel to the arena and being on an unfamiliar court.
Last year marked the end of the probation and the restart of having an alternating collegiate host to the Shootout. This started with UC hosting Xavier.
At Xavier, students huddled in dorms around TVs to watch the game on campus. We cheered and roared together as Dee Davis put up three after three. We held our breath like it would matter to the incredible free throws of Trevon Bluiett.
The victory now rolls onward into our thoughts as the game returns to Cintas Center this coming season. So for my senior year, it’s going to be UC at Xavier. Cintas Center will be like no other game throughout the year. Campus will be buzzing with excitement and with students sorting out tickets or deciding who is driving to get the blue body paint. Students will rush in to get their seats. And I’ll be right there — courtside behind my drum set in Section 118.