‘We’re so proud.’ Dozens gather to see St. Peter’s Peacocks off ahead of Sweet 16 game
The St. Peter’s men’s basketball team will play Purdue in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
Dozens of people from the university gathered in Jersey City Wednesday evening to see the team off as they boarded the bus to head to Philadelphia. It was a modest, but passionate gathering.
Students say that there is a buzz on campus as the team advances in the tournament. Others say that they are caught up in the Cinderella storyline – an underdog few others have seen in the NCAA tournament.
“I’ve never had so much fun watching March Madness, like ever,” says Heather Murphy, of Jersey City. “Jersey City adores this team so much.”
But it wasn’t always like this. Jersey City has long been known for tough players. But this is mostly due to a high school that doesn’t even exist any longer – St. Anthony’s High School. The team, led by coach Bob Hurley for years, cast a shadow over every other team in the city.
“Nobody really knew about St. Peter’s. it was a little Jesuit school,” says former St. Anthony’s star Jerry Walker.
As a high school player, Walker tried to challenge the college team at St. Peter’s.
“We wanted to scrimmage St. Peter’s, my ’89 team. They didn’t want to scrimmage us because we felt like we could beat St. Peter’s. They didn’t want to play us, I’m telling you, that’s the truth,” says Walker.
Peacock Pride! Send a good luck message to the St. Peter's hoops team
But he says that St. Peter’s has come a long way and that Jersey City is proud of the team.
Walker played college basketball at Seton Hall. But his brother played for St. Peter’s in 1991, the first year the Peacocks made it to the NCAA tournament.
“Something you’ll always remember in your life and ad the end of the day, you achieve your goal,” he says.
Walker says he thinks St. Peter’s was plenty good back then too. But he says this run has reached another level.
The crowd that came out to see the team off to Philadelphia says they are happy to be there.
“It’s in the air. Something’s different everyone’s smiling,” says St. Peter’s freshman Jana Khalil. “It’s midterm season. But no one even cares about that. We’re just so focused, we’re so proud of the boys.”
The Peacocks are still a hot-ticket item. One resale website shows that the cheapest ticket for Friday’s game is around $250.