The Monmouth Hawks are getting a lot of attention this season for their play on the court. The Hawks are off to a hot 4-2 start, with big wins at UCLA, vs. Notre Dame and vs. USC. Their only blemishes are road losses to USC and a very tough Dayton squad.
But as good as Monmouth has been on the court this season, its bench is the one getting most of the attention — and not for its play.
The “Monmouth Bench Mob” has brought national fame to four otherwise anonymous bench players — Daniel Pillari, Greg Noack, Louie Pillari and Tyler Robinson — who have embraced their new-found stardom.
Their funny, creative sideline celebrations have become huge social media hits, with a new celebration going viral each time the Hawks play.
But their popularity doesn’t end there.
The quartet has appeared on SportsCenter and Fox Sports’ Garbage Time, and have been featured in an article by USA Today’s For the Win, which power-ranked the mob’s eight best celebrations.
Their Twitter account, @MonmouthBench, has more followers than the Monmouth Basketball Team’s account. And if you type Monmouth into Google, the first thing that pops up is “bench” not “basketball.”
But as silly as it may sound, the quartet takes their celebrations very seriously. To them, it’s doing their part to help the team win, by keeping the crowd involved and showing support for their teammates on the court.
“Being at the end of the bench, you have one job — and that’s to go nuts and support the team as much as possible,” said Noack in an interview with USA Today.
And few teams go nuts and supports their team as much as the Monmouth bench.
So how does the group decide which celebrations make the cut on gameday?
The bench mob meets after team meetings for 15-30 minutes to brainstorm new celebration ideas and practice choreography. Then, on game days, Noack keeps a card in his sock that has the planned celebrations listed in order. After timeouts, the players look at the card to see which celebration is next.
Then, when something big happens on the court for the Hawks, you see the bench mob posing with a trophy fish, acting as human scissors, or reviving a dead player. Check off another celebration gone viral.
With all the attention that Monmouth’s bench is getting, it would be easy to understand if head coach King Rice was frustrated by the potential distractions. Admittedly, the antics could take away from what the Hawks are accomplishing on the court.
But Rice is one of the bench mob’s biggest fans. Although he doesn’t get to catch the celebrations live (he’s too busy coaching a live game), he has watched highlights and enjoys seeing how much fun his players are having during the game.
“When we write things on the board before the game, one of the things that’s been on there every game since I got here is: Have fun,” Rice told USA Today.. “I truly think that 18-22-year-old college athletes should be having fun. They have their whole lives to be grownups. As grownups, sometimes, we don’t let them express themselves the way they want to.”
So go ahead, Monmouth Bench Mob, keep expressing yourself. Have fun. Not only does your coach love it, the rest of America loves it to.
Only in college basketball could four bench players at a mid-major become social media and television stars because of crazy, funny sideline celebrations — and that is why we love college hoops.