March 15, 2017

Dribbling to the Garden

The lore of Friar basketball includes many stories of devoted fans, but none more committed than the 12 seniors who dribbled basketballs from Alumni Hall to Madison Square Garden in 1971. Their stated purpose – to pay tribute and draw attention to the resurgent Friar basketball team, which had just qualified for the National Invitational Tournament. Chuck Borkoski ’71, one of the student organizers – and a loyal fan to this day – shares his first-person account.

In this segment, Chuck describes the origin of the plan to dribble to New York, an idea hatched by a group of enthusiastic student fans at the on-campus 21 Club, the night the Friars beat St. Bonaventure to earn an invitation to the tournament.

The group’s 212-mile journey began at the same site where the idea was conceived, PC’s Alumni Hall. Covering parts of three states, the trip involved relying on the kindness of others, including those at colleges that allowed the caravan to park overnight.

The long trip complete, all that was left was a curtain call before a full house at Madison Square Garden and the opportunity to root for the Friars in the long-awaited game.

Chuck volunteered for one of the most difficult jobs – arranging for police permission to dribble along Rte. 1. The Rhode Island and Connecticut State Police cleared the group for those states, but New York required that each community grant permission. It seemed like a daunting task, until fate intervened.

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