You spend your life in the gym, you spend as many hours playing, teaching and coaching basketball as Bob Leckie, so you know when a game is won, the same way a boss does. The elite knows their meal is done without relying on a timer.
Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, that moment came for Leckie sometime in the last minute — when it was clear the Saint Peter Peacocks weren’t going to run out of free throws, when it was obvious they weren’t going to commit any flagrant fouls, as the seconds melted away and the peacocks were there, safely on the left side of the hyphen.
“Intuitively,” Leckie said with a laugh, “after so many years and so many games, you just know.”
This part was easy. This part was familiar.
That part wasn’t: As he watched his alma mater put the finishing touches to a 67-64 win over Purdue in the Eastern Region semi-final, securing a spot in the Elite Eight, Leckie felt something he had never felt before – not as a player at Brooklyn’s St. Francis Prep or Saint Peter’s, not as a coach at Bishop Loughlin or Saint Peter’s, not after thousands and thousands of games.
He started crying. At a basketball game.
“And wouldn’t you know, talking to you right now, I’m starting to wake up again,” Leckie said with a laugh.
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Leckie was sitting on a charter bus on Saturday morning that took him and his former Saint Peter teammates home for the day – where they could regroup, recharge their batteries and get a good night’s sleep before starting all over again on Sunday. Next, the Peacocks will face North Carolina for the right to play in the Final Four.
Think about that last sentence. Read it again.
Saint Pierre. North Carolina. For the FINAL FOUR.
“Unfathomable,” said Bob Leckie. Then he laughed.
“Incredibly believable,” he added.
It’s started to sink in for everyone — for old-school die-hards like Leckie, and for anyone who’s just embraced the Peacocks: they’re not just one win away from the Final Four, they’re now exactly halfway. way to a national championship. Three down, three to go. It may seem unthinkable, or unimaginable, or unfathomable, or implausible.
But what if I had told you two weeks ago that St. Pierre would still be standing and that Kentucky, Gonzaga, Arizona and Baylor – among many, many others – weren’t. not.
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“I didn’t go to school here,” said Larry Portocelli, who stood outside McDermott Hall on the postage-stamp-sized school campus near the corner of Glenwood Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard. . He was expecting a friend and together they had hoped to see if the school bookstore was open on Saturday (unfortunately it wasn’t). “My friends from all over the country want the Saint-Pierre equipment. Who doesn’t love a story like this?
A few blocks away, a five-minute walk from Montgomery Street, where it meets Summit Avenue, the former Jersey City Armory stood proudly sentry on a rainy Saturday morning, its red brick facade glistening as if boasting of all the memories bursting within. .
Back then, it was the place to be in Jersey City in the late ’60s when Leckie and his Run Baby Run Peacocks teammates led the nation in scoring, losing 109 on Manhattan and 112 on the Vermont and 123 on Stone Hill. There was one unforgettable Saturday night in February 1968 when somehow they got 7,000 people together with Niagara in town. It was the Calvin Murphy show that night. He scored 50. It was the last game Saint Peter’s lost that year before the NIT semi-finals, against Jo Jo White and Kansas.
“We were Jersey City darlings,” Leckie said. “Wherever you went, people knew who you were.”
They will know this bunch of peacocks too, and their names will resonate in Jersey City for as long as the elders have them: Lee and Banks, Ndefo and Edert, the Drama twins. For those who live and breathe St. Peter, as they watch with watery eyes and cry out with raspy, raspy voices, it will be an eternal timestamp.
“They will never be forgotten,” said Bob Leckie. “What did they do, for themselves and for a school that really needed it? It will be forever.
New York Post