Monday, January 5, 2015

Maggie Dixon Classic: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

New York City­ - The day itself was gray with a few sprinkles. That did not dampen the celebration and atmosphere of good feelings. For the record, there were two basketball games contested at Madison Square Garden. The annual Maggie Dixon Classic featured a doubleheader celebrating the past tradition of the women’s game and its present. The scores:

Queens 76, Immaculata 60
UConn 70, St. John's 54

Queens and the Mighty Macs, who hail from the City of Brotherly Love, were powers in the women’s game four decades ago. Currently, Queens is at the Division II level while Immaculata is Division III. Inviting the respective schools was very appropriate, as the two played in the first women’s game at the Garden back in 1975.

The Dixon Classic has a wellness area where one can get blood pressure checked free of charge. No need to go to that, as my reading would be inaccurate. Simply, the pulse quickened as past Immaculata and Queens greats were introduced at halftime of the opener. Among the former Queens greats was pro and Olympian Gail Marquis, whom I’ve had the pleasure to officiate with.

To no surprise, despite the loss, the Immaculata group stayed through the entire second game savoring every moment of their Garden experience.

The second game saw St.John’s come up short against UConn, short on the scoreboard, not the effort category. Two days removed from a tough win over Seton Hall, the Red Storm battled and gave an outstanding effort, leaving it all on the Garden floor.

This Dixon Classic had a little of everything. The team that redefines the meaning of the term ‘powerhouse’ in UConn. A strong challenger in St. John’s. Two programs rich in tradition and early trendsetters of excellence in the women’s game. It was a field and a happening Maggie Dixon would have loved to see, and one believes she was smiling approvingly from above, because of all that these teams represent in the women’s game, past and present.

Representatives from Queens and Immaculata's meeting four decades ago at the Garden...far left is legendary Queens coach Lucille Kyvallos. Gail Marquis is next to her, second from the left:
Queens and Immaculata in game action:
Victorious Queens College poses on the Garden floor:
The nuns. Women's hoops guru Mel Greenberg once said "Immaculata has two habits: Those worn by the nuns, and winning." Here, some of the good sisters chat postgame with a few Immaculata players:
St. John's coaches meet outside the locker room before addressing the team at halftime of the UConn game:
Red Storm mascot Johnny Thunderbird visiting the on-site health clinic:
UConn's Breanna Stewart with the free throw follow-through:

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