Willie acknowledged the sentiment with a hug.
Chicago Sun-Times reporter Steve Greenberg says the boy, 11-year-old John, is Northwestern Athletic Director Jim Phillips' son. Wooed by the team's Cinderella-esque reputation, many other teams' fans and unaffiliated Salt Lake City residents seemed to jump on board, too.
Xavier used a harassing zone defense to stifle Florida State on one end of the floor and rode a balanced scoring attack to put the Seminoles away on the other end in Orlando, Fla. Northwestern shot 30% from the field, 1/11 3pt FG and with 8 turnovers they went on a 8-6 run down the stretch to show a sign of confidence and hope for their fans being down to Gonzaga 38-20 to end the 1st half. But in the second half the Wildcats came roaring back, by doing to Gonzaga what Gonzaga had done to them.
One player asked where his locker name tag was to ensure he didn't leave without it. Meanwhile, Northwestern resembled a team that belonged in the tournament and will benefit from the experience.
"We do look forward to that", junior guard Silas Melson said.
Among the crowds of 16,952 and 18,565 that attended the Cats' games against Vanderbilt and Gonzaga, respectively, fans wearing all shades and variations of NU apparel packed their assigned cheering section and scattered throughout the rest of the arena.
"When I walked out and saw all that purple out there, it got me for a second", Collins said. "I honestly can't really remember". This is such a special moment.
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Captain Amarinder told mediapersons after the 10 minute meeting that it was a courtesy call. He said the Congress government will be accountable to the people of the state.
It was hard not rooting for the Wildcats. The senior missed his first three shots and never got into much of a groove on the way to nine points. The team kept fighting, which fans pacing around the concourse level admired as they murmured around after the game. "We're all emotional. We're coming back from 20 down".
Of course, there were conversations about the officiating. The refs missed the call and then issued a technical to Northwestern coach Chris Collins for his reaction.
When Chris Collins first heard the NCAA's statement on the non-call in his postgame press conference, all he could do was laugh it off. Collins committed what should have been called a goaltending violation after blocking Dererk Pardon's layup attempt with 4:58 left. He compared the Zags' transition game to Michigan State's, and that Nigel Williams-Goss "makes them go". It is what it is. "These guys are all my brothers, and I look at them as all my little bros, taking care of all of them".
Collins, as could be expected, was appreciative of the NCAA's apology. "Kind of a rough call toward the end there, but it was a good season".
Playing under a spotlight is nothing new to Gonzaga this season.
"It's really incredible", he said.
"We're always going to attack inside out", said assistant coach Tommy Lloyd, who compiled the scouting report. "We're going to learn from the experiences we had in the tournament and use it for next year".