Michael Jackson, Staff Writer

“Because no one should have to choose between chocolate and peanut butter—no one. Reese’s, the official candy of the Big East tournament.” I thought the announcement at the women’s Big East tournament that Reese’s was the official candy was enough, but Reese’s topped itself by providing a mascot at Madison Square Garden (MSG) for the men’s Big East tournament only a few days later.

We affectionately called him Maurice, even though there’s no evidence that this is his actual name. He seemed to have grown up a Notre Dame fan. Either that or he was severely mistreated by the other bands in attendance at the tournament. These are two possible explanations for his seemingly innate ability to correctly perform the arm movements to Celtic chant and the leg movements associated with the Irish jig. During lulls in the action, particularly when the most basketball-disinclined individuals were selected to shoot free throws to win AE Jean gift certificates, our band could be heard chanting “Maaaaaurice, Maaaaaurice, Maaaaaurice” or “Reese’s pieces [clap clap, clap clap clap].”

Maurice was an integral part of the tournament experience, and the only thing that promoted a dessert product more during the tournament were our Shamrock shake green uniforms. Although, if you tried to purchase one at McDonald’s across the street from MSG following our games that typically tipped off between 9:30  and 10:00 p.m. each night, you would also have been tongue-lashed by the cashier, like I was: “Are you kidding me? Ten thousand people have just come through wanting one—sorry buddy, NEXT CUSTOMER!” I may have responded one of those nights with the comment “well, at least I still have Maurice!” And was he ever reliable, supporting us each night and even visually taunting an official after what may or may not have been a questionable call. It was quite entertaining to watch a 6’10” chocolate cup wave off an official from the stands with his white gloves and Botox-induced permanent smile. At least he was not creepy like the hoard of characters strolling through Times Square. Along with telling your children not to talk to strangers in Times Square you should also tell them not to be fooled by the multiple Elmos, Cookie Monsters, Mickey Mouses, Hello Kitties, Marios, and Spidermen, who approach with open arms in hopes of making a few bucks off a picture with tourists. These people were creepy, and they did not help themselves with their unwashed character suits complete with half-falling off eyes. The mother who pushed a couple of them away from her children and yelled “get away dirt bags” was onto something. This only furthered my trust in Maurice, and it made him an exemplar of the current Reese’s slogan: perfect!

The only thing better than Maurice during spring break was the tantalizing-turned-incredible 18.4 seconds to end the women’s Big East tournament—and Conference for that matter—at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Having collected the rebound off Kelly Faris’ (UConn) miserable shot that even caught the shot clock operator off guard, UConn was forced to inbound the ball on the sideline. The sequence was inconceivable: first a lob to Stewart on the backside, kicked out to Faris on the wing, a drive baseline cut-off by Achonwa, a desperation pass to Mosqueda-Lewis in the corner, an off-balance heave to top of the key—INTERCEPTED BY DIGGINS… 8 seconds, 7 seconds—Diggins weaves the sideline taking bumps and defensive forearms … 4 seconds, she pulls up on the opposite end finding a streaking Achonwa open for a layup attempt… 2 seconds, a tease of a shot, IT’S GOOD … IT’S GOOD… IT’S GOOD! 1.8 left and Faris throws up the desperation full court shot that falls to the ground just like the spirits of the “neutral site” Husky fans. Notre Dame is the last-ever Big East Champion and breaks its 0 for 6 streak against UConn in conference championship games! Queen Muffet prevails over King Geno. “The King is dead—long live the Queen!”  chant Muffet’s sisters in the crowd.

Michael Jackson befriended a large mascot without ever meeting the person inside the suit. Talk about stranger danger. Contact him at mjackso7@nd.edu.