The Monmouth Hawks Men’s Basketball team arrives in Orlando, FL and is taken to the Gaylord Palms Resort, which will be the headquarters for our team during our trip down south. We get acclimated to the weather, which doesn't take that long coming from chilly New Jersey, and get settled into our rooms. Our phones buzz and in come clips of every Notre Dame player so even in our free time we are picking up on their tendencies. We know how big of a game this is, and the immense statement that we have the opportunity to make, and we won’t take the #17 team in the country lightly.

Monmouth 70, Notre Dame 68

Thursday night was one of the biggest wins in Monmouth University history. Coming into the game we were 0-23 against top 25 teams, but that didn’t diminish our confidence and determination. For us at the end of the bench, we had one job, and it was to go nuts and support our brothers. We did that and then some, as Justin Robinson, Je’lon Hornbeak, and Collin Stewart drained threes, Chris Brady and Zac Tillman got buckets and Josh James was strong against one of the best point guards in the ACC. In the locker room after the huge win, Dan Pillari was in the middle of the pack and was mixing, and cooking up all these ingredients into a bowl and showing off some patented dance moves that not many people can pull off. All of us were screaming at the top of our lungs and having the time of our lives after making history. Justin Robinson had an amazingly motivational and inspiring post game speech in the locker room (which you can check out thanks to the Monmouth Digital Network HERE), that got all of us pumped up to battle with the Dayton Flyers on Friday night in the semifinals of the AdvoCare Invitational.

Dayton 73, Monmouth 70

This loss stung the most out of any loss we have experienced in our time at Monmouth because we left everything we had on that court. Even though we didn’t win this game, we got a lot better and proved to a lot of people that we can rally back from a deficit. It took a lot for our team to get back into this game and even though we didn’t score for the first seven minutes of the second half, we came within a 3 point shot at the end of the game. The locker room after the game was emotional, which really showed that guys cared and truly wanted to win. Nothing motivates you more than the pain of a loss, and good timing too, with a rematch with the University of Southern California awaiting us on Sunday.

Monmouth 83, USC 73

After our loss to USC out in Los Angeles, we all hoped that we would see the Trojans again in the Advocare Invitational in Orlando, and our wishes were granted. Sunday we had the pleasure of playing a USC team that had beaten us on the West Coast, but this time the tables were turned. Coming off a painful loss to Dayton two nights before, we weren’t going to let another one slip away, especially not to USC again. Micah Seaborn had a terrific 20 point outing, and the MVP of the tournament, Justin Robinson, was outside of his body and the Trojans could do nothing about it. Justin set a tournament scoring record and we took third place, finishing above teams such as Iowa, Notre Dame, Wichita State, USC and Alabama. It was a special thing to see, whether you were on the bench, in the stands, or watching on TV. People are starting to see that it’s a great time to be a Hawk.

Many of our bench celebrations were captured across national media outlets, and you can check them all out HERE.

Story by Greg Noack