Whether it's the famed Rock Chalk Jayhawk song at Kansas, Utah State's often-emulated "I Believe" chant or the hawk mascot at Saint Joseph's continually flapping his wings, college basketball has many great traditions.
The most fun of all, however, takes place every December at a small NAIA school in Indiana.
For the past two decades, costume-clad Taylor students pack their cramped 2,500-seat gym on the Friday before fall semester finals week but remain eerily silent for the opening minutes of the game. Only after Taylor scores its 10th point do they erupt with cheers, applause and general mayhem not even Duke's Cameron Crazies could match.
A standing-room-only crowd of 2,717 fans didn't have to wait long to let loose this year as senior guard Casey Coons sank a long 3-pointer just 2 minutes, 49 seconds into the game give Taylor an early 11-0 lead over handpicked opponent Akron-Wayne. Here's a look at the five best parts of this year's Silent Night game starting with the most obvious one:
1. The best part every year is always the roar — and Friday night was no exception. Coons' 3-pointer sends the crowd into a frenzy loud enough to shatter eardrums.
2. From banana suits and bumblebees, to Darth Vader and SpongeBob Squarepants, to all of Santa's reindeer, the costumes at this year's Silent Night had to be the best in recent memory. My personal favorites had to be Donald and Daisy Duck, though. And bonus points to Daisy for her orange tights. That's commitment.
3. Near the end of the game, once the din has quieted down and it's clear Taylor is going to win, the fans sing "Silent Night" arm and arm as they sway back and forth. It's a perfect conclusion to a great night, and a surreal sight to see while a basketball game is still being played.
4. This was new this year, but it may have to be a permanent part of the tradition from now on. The halftime entertainment was a young boy going all-out dancing to the ubiquitous pop hit "Gangnam Style." He was so good he inspired much of the costume-clad student section to join him at midcourt.
5. Casey Coons has to be the king of Silent Night at this point. This marked the fourth straight year the senior has sank the basket or free throws that propelled Taylor past the 10-point mark and sent the crowd into delirium. Coons sank seven first-half 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 22 points as the Trojans cruised to a 90-58 win to remain unbeaten in Silent Night games.
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