College basketball coaches have plenty of chances to take part in memorable games, with 25 regular season games, conference tournaments, and if they’re lucky, the NCAA tournament.
For Springfield College Men’s Basketball Head Coach Charlie Brock, who has spent the last 16 years coaching at Springfield, there have been exactly 435 chances to coach that “most memorable game.” 435 games that could go down as a lifelong memory.
Naturally, searching through his memory bank to find one game out of 435 that stand out above all is an incredibly difficult task. “I’ve coached a lot of games at Springfield College,” Brock remarked as he went through the mental list of contests he’s coached in.
Some of the more memorable games range from winning playoff championships at MIT against Clark, to a game against WPI a few years back in which the game went into overtime, but Brock wasn’t in the gym to watch his team win.
“I was removed from the game,” Brock said. “I was watching the end on here,” Brock said, pointing to the computer on his desk. The overtime thriller ended with Sean Martin dropping in a layup as time expired, allowing Springfield to walk off with the victory.
For Brock, it is actually a loss, not a win, that goes down as his most memorable game at Springfield College.
In the 2012-13 season, the Pride compiled an impressive 18-7 regular season record, en route to a New England Men’s and Women’s Conference Tournament Championship appearance, as well as a spot in the NCAA Championship tournament.
In the first round, Springfield was pitted against the Ithaca College Bombers, a powerhouse in their own right who had gone 21-9 that season.
“Well first of all, they were really, really good,” Brock explained in regards to Ithaca. “We were pretty good.” Ithaca came into the playoffs hobbled by injuries. At one time or another, one or more of the team’s three stars were banged up.
By the time Ithaca met up with Springfield on March 2, the trio of talented players were all in top shape, and hungry for victory.
For Springfield, they were led the entire time by senior Alex Berthiaume, who netted 35 points, with his 27th point making him the 28th player in Springfield College history to have scored 1,000 points over his career.
Despite Berthiaume’s dominance, the game proved to be a tense, nail-biting event, as each team traded blows and swapped leads as the first half came to an end with the Bombers holding a narrow 38-37 lead.
Per usual, Blake Arena was loaded with a rambunctious and rowdy fan section. “The fans were amazing. It was a whiteout, it was crazy.” Brock said. Cheering and jeering their way through the game, Springfield’s fans easily could be a factor as to why the Pride were able to stay competitive.
As the second half got underway, the back-and-forth shootout continued. Springfield scored 22 of the first 32 points in the second half to take a lead of 59-50. With Berthiaume leading the charge and a strong home court advantage, things were looking up for Brock and the Pride.
It proved to be a game of runs, as Ithaca went on a 15-0 run soon after Springfield’s hot start to retake the lead at 65-59. With less than eight minutes left, the Pride went on to score five points in a row, bringing the game to within one.
“It was a great game down to the wire,” said Brock. “It came down to just a couple of possessions.”
Unfortunately for Springfield, those possessions didn’t end up going their way, as the Bombers exploded for an 11-4 run, which would prove to be too much to overcome. The Pride’s tournament stay ended up being briefer than expected with the 89-77 loss.
Despite taking a loss and knocking his team out of the tournament, the thrill and excitement of the game holds a special spot in Brock’s memory as one of the most memorable games he has coached at Springfield College.
Shawn McFarland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org