Pack play on big-time stage, lose small
With 10 minutes left to play in the Colorado State University-Pueblo ThunderWolves’ 94-73 loss to 17th ranked Marquette, senior guard Rome Smith turned to teammate Dwayne Wright during an opponent’s free throw. Even though the Pack found itself down 13 points, Smith was satisfied.
He wasn’t happy because Colorado State University-Pueblo was down by double digits, he was happy because he was on an NBA court, playing against a Division I opponent, in front of over 13,000 fans.
“I turned to Dwayne and said ‘I don’t ever want this game to end.’ I wish we could play them again today,” Smith said the next day.
Smith had a little more interest in the game than his teammates. He had over 20 of his old family members and friends there to watch him.
From his grandparents to his childhood babysitter, Smith said he had a full entourage of people who made the two-hour drive from the Chicago area to watch him play.
His parents even flew to Chicago from Denver the previous week to visit his grandparents before making the trek to watch their son play at the Bradley Center, where the Milwaukee Bucks play their home games.
The game didn’t get off to the start Smith was hoping for. As Marquette jumped out to a quick 13-3 lead, he found himself playing tense at the beginning of the game.
“I tried to force the issue at the beginning,” Smith said. “I was just excited in a great atmosphere. Once I settled down it got better.”
Smith eased into his game, scoring a team-high 14 points for the Pack.
Head coach Pat Eberhart said even though Rome struggled early finding his shot, he had an all-around good game and played the best of anyone on the team.
Being one of the leaders of the team, Rome had a few things to tell his teammates before the game.
“I made sure everyone kept their individual confidence,” Smith said. “I think it’s kind of our motto. If we keep our swagger individually, then as a team we’ll have a great confidence and a great drive.”
Smith said the once in a lifetime experience was something he’ll never forget.