It has been almost three years since the men’s basketball team won the Ivy League title, and with each year that passes the number of students remaining who remember that season diminishes. An even smaller number of individuals remain who were on the court that season. Captain Alex Gamboa ’05 and fellow senior guard Edwin Draughan ’05 are the only Elis still playing who were in uniform for the 2001-2002 championship season.
Gamboa recalled the excitement that swept across the campus that fateful campaign.
“When we were on a winning streak and close to capturing the Ivy championship the atmosphere of the gym was crazy,” Gamboa said. “For the Penn-Princeton weekend both games were completely sold out and insanely loud. The students showed up in full force with some completely painted in blue and the gym got so loud I couldn’t hear myself think. I have never been to a game in Cameron Indoor Stadium, where Duke plays, but I would imagine that the atmosphere that we had for those games was on the same level.”
Sam Walker ’05, who attended nearly all the games that season — both home and away, was for all intents and purposes a John J. Lee Crazy.
“It was a really exciting time to watch the team do so well,” Walker said. “As a freshman, I had big expectations for the future, but it’s been very disappointing.”
While some have vivid memories of the energy that was in the air during that season, other members of the class of 2005 have a more fuzzy recollection of the championship season.
“To be honest all I remember is that some of my guy friends were really excited,” Kirby Smith ’05 said. “Since I was a freshman, however, I don’t think I realized how big of a deal it was, because I didn’t know that they didn’t win the championship all the time.”
It had been nearly 40 years since the Bulldogs were atop the Ivy standing when they finished in a three-way tie for first place in the league with Princeton and Penn in 2001-02. The Elis would naturally like to make it a more common occurrence. To do so, however, they are going to need to not only play well, but to have the same kind of support they had back in 2002.
“I would love nothing more than to bring back that energy and excitement that we experienced my freshman year,” Gamboa said. “Our home court advantage is enhanced an enormous amount when we pack the gym and we definitely have the best fans by far.”