2006 Crosstown Shootout - Bracketography.com

The 2006 Crosstown Shootout


by Andy Force
Senior Writer, Bracketography.com
January 22, 2006


Part Two of a Three-Part Series

He may be your brother. She is your wife. While blood and marriage are thick and powerful, the Skyline Chili Crosstown Shootout strains and separates like a sieve. Cincinnati has been called the "Best College Basketball City" by SportingNews magazine. Two teams have earned Cincy that distinguished title, but one game epitomizes the energy.

Once a year the Cincinnati Bearcats touch gloves with the Xavier Musketeers. The last 10 years have seen an incredible string of unforgettable outcomes, staggeringly close games, and heroes both unlikely and expected. 

In just the last few years, Xavier has twice knocked off a #1 ranked Cincy team. Kevin Frey beat down a seemingly invincible Kenyon-Martin-led squad in 1999-2000 and Lionel Chalmers helped best the 1996-1997 edition of the Bearcats. 

With a 9PM EST tip-off, students and alumni were afforded an opportunity to swill a few libations.  Rational fans, with a little help from their liquid friends fast became rowdy victory hunters.  An atrocious parking situation forces nearly all to trudge to the Cintas Center, home of Xavier basketball, on foot.  Big off-campus houses situated on each side of Victory Parkway funnel fans through a canyon of 1,000 cheers.  Like gypsies through a mountain pass, the masses are huddled together, narrowly avoiding danger.  For the Cincy fans, danger is in the form of verbal barbs fired from both sides of the Xavier-fan riddled gauntlet.  Bearcat fans will endure much more before their beloved team takes the court.

A train of fidgety, amped-up students moves toward the battlefront like gameready zombies. Despite the completely bland name, the Cintas Center provides a wonderful venue for the 2006 Crosstown Shootout. A few red-donned weeds break up the visual garden of navy. A flat, sheer-faced wall creates a stage for both the Xavier band and the rabid, vivacious mob of fans. Before "The Game" students, dance, sing, chant and honestly lose their minds. At least five different groups decided painting letters on their chests would impart their crazed support of the X-men. "Musketeers" required a sizable social unit, but the chosen 10 surprisingly stayed in alphabetical order despite the mayhem. The 2006 game itself was nip-and-tuck the entire way. Cincinnati very nearly completed a miraculous comeback. Down six with 36 seconds to play, made triples coupled with errant Xavier free throws drew the game to a regulation draw. Tied up 14 different times, an overtime session was needed to decide who gives it and who takes it for the next 12 months. Future star Stanley Burrell made one of two at the line in the closing seconds. The Bearcats' final play featured James White dribbling 60 feet and slicing into the lane. He received some contact but put up a wild shot that missed, ending the game. Interim Cincy coach Andy Kennedy stormed the floor prior to the fans. His maddening stomps helped even the deafest viewers understand his mood. No foul, no luck, no win. Cut to thirty minutes later, five blocks away outside a local bar. An occupied stretcher is hustled out with paramedics surrounding the coherent, but somehow injured bar-dweller. Shock permeates the street corner until a Cincinnati fan mumbles,"The refs didn't call a foul on that one either." 

These fans don't fit basketball into their life. They construe life to fit inside the parameters of a basketball game. THE basketball game: Xavier-Cincinnati. It absolutely lived up to the billing as one of the best rivalries in the country.