Tulane win 'step in right direction' for city
Updated: December 28, 2005, 1:40 PM ETBy Wayne Drehs | ESPN.com
NEW ORLEANS -- As she stood on the Fogelman Arena floor, the Tulane Green Wave logo under her feet, Lisa Stockton couldn't find even the slightest of seconds for herself.
Friends, teachers, parents, strangers -- they all wanted hugs. They all wanted to say thank you. And they all wanted to welcome the Tulane women's basketball coach home. Her players, zigzagging their way through the 829 fans in attendance Sunday, were having just as much trouble as their coach. Only they were the ones doing the hugging. They were the ones saying thank you. It had been almost four months since this group had been home, four months since Hurricane Katrina sent them to Lubbock, Texas, to go to classes, play basketball and pretend life was normal. Yet here they now were, 10 girls and their coach, bringing big-time athletics back to New Orleans. Without students on campus, without class in session, this group from Tulane, "carrying the torch," as university president Scott Cowen likes to say, sent a message to everyone from Boise to Boston with its 72-60 victory over Central Connecticut State. "This lets everybody know, 'We're fine. We're OK,' " freshman guard Ashley Langford said. " 'Tulane University is going to be back. The city of New Orleans is going to be back.' "It just gives people some hope." And in these parts, that might be what they need most. For Sunday wasn't about Tom Benson, George Shinn or any other owner worrying about its bottom line. It was simply about playing a game, in its simplest form. It was about an orange ball and two glass backboards bringing together a team, a university and perhaps most importantly, a city. "There are so many steps that need to be taken for the city to get back to where it was," junior guard and co-captain Jami Montagnino said. "But while that's taking place, we just want to try to give these people a sense of entertainment, a brief escape." It was a weekend that the team had been counting down to on a dry erase board since they arrived in Lubbock. The weekend they'd get to eat jambalaya. The weekend they'd go back in their dorms and dig out what was left of their stuff. And the weekend that they'd take to the floor, look down and see not the black and red of the Red Raiders, but the blue and green of the Green Wave.
AP Photo/Judi BottoniFreshman Ashley Langford notched the first double-double of her career (15 points, 11 assists) as the Tulane women brought sports back on the bayou Sunday.
|The Saints were playing a home game in Baton Rouge. The Hornets were preparing to play a home game in Oklahoma City. But on Sunday, a team from New Orleans finally got to play a game in the Crescent City as the Tulane women won at Fogelman Arena.
The Green Wave's 72-60 victory over Central Connecticut State -- marking the first college or pro sporting event in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina nearly four months ago -- instilled hope in a city only beginning its rebuilding process and improved Tulane to 4-1 this season. For more on Tulane's return to New Orleans, click on the links below:
• Tulane women win at Fogelman
• Women's team returns to campus
• Mowins: Tulane women bring sports back to bayou
• Prepsters help city pick up pieces