- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 09 December 2015
- Written by MELISSA PRAVATA | STAFF WRITER AND MAGGIE ZELINKA | CO EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
The college basketball season may be young, however Monmouth University has a lot to celebrate. With recent wins over the No. 17 Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the University of Southern California Trojans at the Advocare Invitational basketball tournament over Thanksgiving, the team has gained the nation’s attention. However, the team’s most noise has been coming from their own bench rather than their fan base.
“I didn’t expect us to go viral but it is great publicity for a great university,” said junior forward Greg Noack, one fourth of the famed Monmouth Bench.
The Bench, led by sophomore guard Dan Pillari, includes freshman guards Louie Pillari and Tyler Robinson along with injured Noack. Throughout the televised tournament, the Bench has been bringing an energy to the court that may just be what this team needs to continue their success.
Their celebrations have gone viral, featured on Instagram and Twitter accounts such as ESPN, Barstool Sports and CBS College Basketball, along with various recognition from athletes such as Frank Kaminsky III of the Charlotte Hornets literally calling the Monmouth Bench his spirit animal. The choreographed Hawks will put on routines on the bench to support their teammates whenever it is needed.
“It helps the school shed light to a very good and very special basketball team and I am very proud to be a part of it,” said Dan Pillari.
National attention has sourrounded the Monmouth Bench because of their over the top celebrations to support their team. Although the Hawks have not seen NCAA tournament play since 2006, this year they are bringing huge noise to season play with their recent triumphs.
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) favorites Iona this season, who has won the golden ticket to tournaments in the past, however the Gaels have not been coming out in top in early play while the Hawks are making a name for themselves by being the underdog victor.
After the upset against Notre Dame began to unfold, cameras did not only notice the talent on the court, but off the court as well. Cousins, Dan and Louie Pillari, as well as Robinson and Noack began to become more animated on the sidelines to support their teammates.
“I just do it for the team, giving energy to the guys off the bench is something I can do when I’m not in the game,” said Robinson.
One of the Monmouth Bench’s most appealing moments came following a major three point play by freshman guard Micah Seaborn in the win over USC. As soon as Seaborn sunk the three in the game against USC, whom have already defeated Monmouth once this season before, Dan Pillari ran in front of injured teammate Greg Noack, stood on his hands in front of his teammate while Noack grabbed Pillari’s ankles and began clapping them together.
The Monmouth Hawk’s bench has received various recognition from news outlets such as The Daily News, the Asbury Park Press, the New York Post, and many more. USA Today has said, “Monmouth may have assembled the greatest bench squad in college basketball history.” Which is also the bench’s profile on their twitter handle, @monmouthbench.
Louie Pillari, the freshman and new comer of the cousin duo says, “I don’t pay much attention to the media, I just like helping our team win.”
Humbled, and hungry the Monmouth Men’s Basketball team makes their way home this coming weekend from a two game annual MAAC upstate New York trip and prepares for their home opener against Wagner on December 13 at 2:00 pm. All students are encouraged by the team and newly formed “Monmouth Bench” to attend.
As soon as Seaborn sunk the three in the game against USC, whom have already defeated Monmouth once this season, Dan Pillari ran in front of injured teammate Greg Noack, stood on his hands in front of his teammate while Noack grabbed Pillari’s ankles and began clapping them together.
The Monmouth Bench has received various recognition from news outlets such as The Daily News, CBS, Asbury Park Press, New York Post, and many more. USA Today has said, “Monmouth may have assembled the greatest bench squad in college basketball history.” Which is also the bench’s profile on their twitter handle, @monmouthbench.
Louie Pillari, the freshman and new comer of the cousin duo said, “I don’t pay much attention to the media, I just like helping our team win.”
But the media certainly pays a lot of attention to them. ESPN’s SportCenter Instagram account has received 114,000 likes and nearly 12,000 comments on a video of the Monmouth Bench madness. House of Highlights, an Instagram account dedicated sports highlights, also uploaded a clip which is now known as the ‘Katniss Everdeen.’ This post has received 92,700 likes and over 10,000 comments.
Monmouth Bench continued to dominate social media when @WhiteBBallPains asked them to handle their Snapchat for a 24-hour period on Friday, Nov. 30. The four teammates antics on Snapchat included jokes about how their uniforms are never dirty because they do not play, a video of them pretending to practice by shooting basketballs in an arcade, and concluded with a serenade of Piano Man by Billy Joel.
Max DiLeo, who played with the Hawks from 2011-2015 and is currently playing professional basketball with the Oettinger Rockets said, “I think it’s great for the players to contribute to the team’s success even when they are not on the court by encouraging and creating a good atmosphere even at away games. The national coverage is great too. It helped draw more attention to the big wins we had but most importantly it seems like a ton of fun.”
When asked his favorite celebration, DiLeo said “My favorite celebration has to be when Dan [Pillari] died and they brought him back to life. Dan and I had some good celebrations last year during timeouts.”
Thankfully for the Monmouth Bench fans, ESPN dedicated an entire camera to just observe their celebrations during the Advocare Invitational.
The Monmouth Bench has become so well known that rumors have circulated of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) creating rules specifically to deter their celebrations. ESPN’s Jay Bilas tweeted, “Source: NCAA currently discussing rewriting bench decorum rules to curtail celebrations of Monmouth bench. Remember, it’s about the kids!” on Monday, Dec. 7.
David Worlock, NCAA Director of Media Coordination/Statistics, responded to this claim with a tweet of his own.
“With regards to @JayBilas tweet we are NOT rewriting bench decorum rules. We received request for a rules interpretation & determined... Monmouth players aren’t interfering w/game. Just having fun, not harming anyone. Spontaneous reactions, not coming on court so all is OK. FWIW I attended tourney in Orlando, saw @MUHawks play 3 games. Couldn’t keep eyes off bench. Great kids, super nice to my 6yr old at hotel,” he said.
Humbled, and hungry, the 5-3 Monmouth men’s basketball team prepares for their home opener against Wagner on Dec. 13 at 2 pm. All students are encouraged by the team and newly formed “Monmouth Bench” to attend.
PHOTO COURTESY from top to bottom USAToday, Slamonline.com, and Service-RS.rv.