Back-to-school basketball

Starting a new semester is always such a strange feeling. On one hand, when I climb the usual three flights of stairs to my room or habitually cut through the Student Union on my way to the library, the familiar sights and sounds from the soul of the campus make me feel like I never left.  On the other, the energy brought about by thousands of new schedules is almost tangible, presenting itself as the students who comb corridors in search of their next class, or my friends who tell detailed stories of their first days.
A second semester junior, I was almost surprised by how quickly I fell back into the swing of things.  The names Herter and Morrill aren't quite as alien to me as they were two years ago, and I feel at home passing time between classes in the basement of Bartlett, the building that has hosted the grand majority of my classes since freshman year.
Though I feel like I know this campus like the back of my hand, I started this semester with something very much outside of my routine: I attended my first UMass basketball game.
When I was picking colleges, one thing I considered was school spirit.  I come from a high school where no one but the players were excited about school sports, and I wanted to find a community supportive of our school name and athletics.
Why, then, have I never been to a game? Freshman and sophomore year, it just never seemed like the right time; it always seemed like either my friends were busy or I was.
The right time would eventually come the Saturday before winter semester was to begin.  My friend Evan, who I was visiting before moving into my dorm on Sunday, his parents and I made it to the Mullins Center around 3:30. Of course, we weren't going to see just any basketball game; this special game against George Washington would see Marcus Camby's number retired from UMass basketball during a halftime ceremony.  When the NBA player spoke, he received a standing ovation from the maroon-clad crowd surrounding the floor.
As far as first games go, this one was a pretty good choice.  Although we were ultimately closely defeated, the game was a tight one that kept me rooting on the edge of my chair.