Rage in the Cage worth all the praise
In 2000 I wrote a column asking for it and another one in 2005. I suggested it to UMass athletic officials every chance I got. I wanted a Cage game. One men's basketball game in Curry Hicks Cage.
So needless to say, when the schedule was unveiled with a Nov. 27 game against Holy Cross in the venerable old gym, I was pretty enthusiastic.
I like old sports venues, tight quarters, quirky features and old ghosts haunting the place. You can have the palaces that are new Yankee and Cowboys Stadiums. I'll take Fenway Park, Michie Stadium and the Palestra.
In an era of shiny arenas, the Cage is a barn with outdated locker rooms, no jumbotron and really poor parking facilities.
But as the Minutemen try to regrow their fan base, the Cage offered an opportunity for a game with some legitimate atmosphere.
The UMass fan base embraced the concept. Two days after Thanksgiving people showed up wearing classic old T-shirts and carrying signs with photos of past players.
With few students in attendance because of the holiday break, the Cage didn't get quite as loud as it did in its Julius Erving or Harper Williams era glory days. But when the score got tight late, the crowd got louder and helped push the Minutemen to a victory.
The event was a success across the board and shortly after it ended UMass coach Derek Kellogg was already talking about making it an annual event.