Another Odyssey Awaits!Posted by jstevrtc on November 8th, 2010
But first, you must travel.
A long and difficult road…
You shall see things wonderful to tell.
You shall see a cow on the roof of a cotton-house.
And oh, so many startlements!
I cannot tell you how long this road shall be.
But fear not the obstacles in your path
For fate has vouchsafed your reward.
Though the road may wind, and yea, your hearts grow weary,
Still…ye shall follow them.
Even unto your salvation.
–The Blind Seer, O Brother, Where Art Thou?
In mere moments, our beloved countdown clock at the top right will again touch down at the all-zeroes, and the 2010-11 college basketball season will have begun. At RTC we use the clock to count down to six different points of a season — Midnight Madness, the opening night tip, Selection Sunday, the first NCAA Tournament game tip, the Final Four, and the championship game. Tonight we will reset the clock for the third of those, and even though we don’t believe in summer breaks around here, with the opening tip tonight, RTC will officially have begun its fourth season.
At the risk of imitating the boilerplate-speak that ends just about any flight on any airline, we have to say this right now — we know you don’t have to come here. College basketball blogs spring up and fade away at a shocking rate. Though none of us (at least according to the folks down in RTC Human Resources) ever actually wore a tin foil hat and/or lived in a parent’s basement, this venture started with one guy and a old laptop, then two guys, then a third, then 35. This particular head of the hoops blog hydra has become a far different organism than we ever thought it would, and we know whom we have to thank for that. We would still probably be doing this if you weren’t around, but in our view this all amounts to just about zilch if you don’t tell us what you’re thinking, if you don’t do us the honor of participating in the conversation. Over the past four seasons, our comments sections (and Twitter mentions column) has hosted coaches, current and former players, fellow bloggers, professional sportswriters, TV presenters, and, most of all, general fans of this wonderful game. That last category encompasses all the others, and is therefore the most important one. No matter your name, occupation, level of sanity (we’re kidding), or socioeconomic status, no matter if you have something negative or positive to say , we hope you’ll keep coming back, and keep telling us your thoughts. Welcome to our fourth shot at this…and thank you for being here.
We get a few questions about it, so allow us to address it here — we use “ubiquitous” in our site description for two reasons: 1) despite the several accusations we get to the contrary, we have no specific conference or team affiliation, and attempt to cover the game on a national level, and 2) we indeed try to be everywhere. Whether in the stands or among the credentialed, we have always tried to see as many games as possible in person and fill in the rest through television (seriously, where’s that Nobel for the inventor of the DVR?). In doing this, we want to put you there. That’s why we live-blog, that’s why we tweet from games. We know how lucky we are to be there, and we try to bring you with us as best we can.
It’s no profound or innovative thought to realize the truth of that adage that the journey to a destination is usually more fun and/or meaningful than actually arriving at that endpoint. We love being at the games, but some of the greatest enjoyment comes from the in-between moments. Maybe we’re just gluttons for punishment, but we still get jazzed by those minutes spent catching up on scores and checking our favorite sites via the laptop while sitting on an airport floor, waiting on a flight to another game. We love the evening train somewhere in New England en route to a Northeast Conference matchup or a battle of Big East leviathans. Even when the scarcity of gas in the tank is causing our heart rate to rise, we love banging along some middle-America highway at midnight, something like High Violet through the speakers, knowing another game is waiting the next day. Rarely, we’ll tweet or post something here that might seem more travelogue than college basketball coverage. It won’t happen often, but we hope you won’t mind if we include you on that part of the journey as well.
We ended last season in Lucas Oil Arena with the most famous missed shot in the history of the game. As a website, we got to enjoy more parts of the journey than ever last year, and that journey did indeed present us with oh, so many startlements, and they were wonderful to tell. And in their relative smallness, Butler was by far the biggest cow on the tallest cotton-house that we’d ever seen, let alone just from last season. As we prepare for another odyssey, we can’t help but think about how, no matter what your rooting interest was at the time, as Gordon Hayward’s heave reached the height of its arc, we all felt the same exhilaration. That basketball’s journey was the embodiment of the season and the Tournament as a whole. It was much more important than it’s eventual destination, no matter where it was to fall. At that moment, every single college basketball fan felt the same admixture of hope, fear and wonder, no matter what shade of blue they were backing. This reminiscence is not to detract from Duke’s championship in the least. They earned it, and, except for in Durham and several pro-Blue Devil pockets around the country, what Duke achieved in finishing first has actually been reduced a bit by all the analysis of what Butler did in finishing second. But my, oh my…what a way to end things, with all of college basketball fandom united and then divided again within a second. After the game, the RTC representatives in Indianapolis walked out of the arena, repaired to a nearby hotel lobby, sat drained and dizzy in chairs as surrounding fans cheered or cried. We were unable to muster the energy to make the half-hour drive to the suburbs where our loyal friend’s hospitality awaited. Our lack of vigor wasn’t because of the outcome. We had no personal connection to either side. It was because we now had an outcome. The journey was over. We’d arrived at the destination.
And here we are tonight. We start another journey of Dukes and Butlers. The highway awaits with new cotton-house cows and startlements. Bring on those night trains, airport floors, and frantic highway runs. And please know, that yes, there will be times that we at RTC will have hearts (and bank accounts, and gas tanks, and loved ones, etc) that will grow weary, but your being there with us and taking part in the discussion will help us follow them.
This time, we’ll rise and then eventually land in Houston, collapsing in different hotel lobby chairs. It’ll be after a new, different — and though most of us would never have speculated this when it was still in question — possibly better Tournament. But let’s not think about that now, please. The Final Four and the crowning of a champion will be here soon enough. First, we must travel…
Reset the clock. Let’s go.