Chicago area alumni turn out to support MSU women's basketball team in Big Ten Tournament
A collection of sights and sounds of rounds two and three of the Women’s Basketball Big Ten Tournament in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
Hoffman Estates, Ill. – Between the sound of pep bands and fans cheering, the atmosphere in and around the Sears Centre Arena for the women’s Big Ten tournament was full of activity.
The skills and thrills fan camp out side the arena had fans of all ages taking part in basketball skills challenges.
Jennifer and Craig Hurwitz brought their two children from Palatine, Ill., a northwest suburb of Chicago to see the Spartans in action.
Jennifer Hurwitz was pleased to see the child friendly atmosphere the conference was able to produce.
“It’s been fun,” she said, “It’s nice that they have the kids thing outside. (Ethan and Olivia) had a really good time going around doing all the basketball activities. It’s very family friendly, and just gets them excited to come and watch basketball.”
In addition to the fan tent outside the building, there was an autograph signing featureing 2000 men’s basketball champion, and Spartan legend Mateen Cleaves, as well as Wisconsin football star and Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne.
Jennifer and Craig Hurwitz graduated from MSU right as Cleaves was getting there, but said they were looking forward to getting his signature.
“We are very excited to meet Mateen Cleaves,” Jennifer Hurwitz said. “He kind of just started (when we were there) but 2000 was a good year.”
Hurwitz said it was good to have the tournament back in the Chicago area, and she is looking forward to bringing her family back in the future.
“You see more green than you see anything else,” she said. “Chicago has a lot of green, so everywhere we go there’s Michigan State and it’s a go green, go white type thing.”
Hoffman Eastates resident and 1998 MSU graduate Jeff Lortie works in downtown Chicago, and said having the Spartans come to him is better than making the trip to Michigan.
“It gives us a chance to get back and see games without having to make the trip to East Lansing,” Lortie said. “We’re Spartans through and through, and any chance we have to see them, we take it.”
At his consulting firm, Lortie works with fellow Spartans, as well as alumni from throughout the Big Ten, which he said is more fun.
“What’s also good is we have a lot of Michigan people, Ohio State, Indiana, Purdue,” he said. “A lot of bragging rights in the office.”
Lortie and his son, Ben, occasionally come to Sears Centre Arena for other events
Ben said he likes that it’s not as crazy as the other events, and MSU is his favorite because of his dad.
“They’re not as busy, so we can come here,” Ben said. “I follow them pretty good.”
Both Hurwitz and Lortie picked the Spartans to upset the top seeded Nittany Lions.
Before the MSU game started, Purdue upset Nebraska, a stat that gave the Lorties more confidence.
“Anything can happen, we’ll just have to yell hard for them.”