Sweetest NCAA Memories #13: Adam Morrison’s Tears

Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2009

memories

RTC asked its legion of correspondents, charlatans, sycophants, toadies and other hangers-on to send us their very favorite March Madness memory,  something that had a visceral effect on who they are as a person and college basketball fan today.  Not surprisingly, many of the submissions were excellent and if you’re not fired up reading them, then you need to head back over to PerezHilton for the rest of this month.  We’ve chosen the sixteen best, and we’ll be counting them down over the next two weeks as we approach the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

Adam Morrison Bawls at Midcourt  (submitted by Sam Wasson of bleedCrimson.net)

morrison-crying

Back in 2006 I had to travel for work during the NCAA Tournament. I was not pleased, I missed a bunch of the first and second round games. I happened to still be out on travel in Georgia and it was Thursday night. I came back from dinner with my co-workers and settled in to watch the game that was being shown on CBS in that region. That game happened to be UCLA vs. Gonzaga. Since I traditionally participate in a bracket or two during March Madness, and being the dumb mid-major loving guy that I am, I had picked Gonzaga to advance and of course was rooting for the Zags. Everyone knows what happened in the game, but I distinctly remember standing – not sitting – but standing in front of the t.v. in my hotel room as Gus Johnson screamed, WHAT A GAME!!!, WHAT A GAME!!!! Even though Gonzaga lost, that game was a quintessential example of why college basketball and March Madness will always be better than anything pro team sports can offer up.

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Sweetest NCAA Memories #14: Coppin St.

Posted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2009

RTC asked its legion of correspondents, charlatans, sycophants, toadies and other hangers-on to send us their very favorite March Madness memory,  something that had a visceral effect on who they are as a person and college basketball fan today.  Not surprisingly, many of the submissions were excellent and if you’re not fired up reading them, then you need to head back over to PerezHilton for the rest of this month.  We’ve chosen the sixteen best, and we’ll be counting them down over the next two weeks as we approach the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

Coppin St. Eagles Fly High - (submitted by JC of HBCU Sports Blog)

Just six days after my 16th birthday, an NCAA tournament game changed the direction of my entire life.

I had grown up around historically black colleges and universities in the state of Maryland, but I was too young to remember the tournament appearances by Alcorn State in the 80s, and Southern’s win over Georgia Tech in 1993 was past my bedtime.

coppin-st-sc-1997

But #15 seed Coppin State was a school right in my back yard, and their 78-65 upset over #2 South Carolina in 1997 came at a critical point in my college selection process, and amidst the ending of a TV-watching curfew.

Two days later, Coppin State missed a chance to go to the Sweet 16, losing to Texas by one point.

Antoine Brockington and Coppin St. Flew High on This Night in 1997

Antoine Brockington and Coppin St. Flew High on This Night in 1997 (photo credit: Al Bello)

Two years later, I would enroll in Coppin’s cross-town rival, Morgan State University.  Twelve years later, it’s still the greatest moment in NCAA history.

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Sweetest NCAA Memories #15: Bob Knight

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2009

RTC asked its legion of correspondents, charlatans, sycophants, toadies and other hangers-on to send us their very favorite March Madness memory,  something that had a visceral effect on who they are as a person and college basketball fan today.  Not surprisingly, many of the submissions were excellent and if you’re not fired up reading them, then you need to head back over to PerezHilton for the rest of this month.  We’ve chosen the sixteen best, and we’ll be counting them down over the next two weeks as we approach the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

Bob Knight: Fountain of Youth (submitted by RTC intern MP)

As a lifelong Tar Heel fan, I have plenty of moments to choose from when thinking about the NCAA tournament. My first basketball memory was watching UNC beat Michigan in 1993. I decided to apply to UNC and UNC alone after their 2005 championship. Yet, my favorite memory from March Madness has almost nothing to do with the Tar Heels, or any actual basketball. Instead, it has to do with a job I worked during the opening rounds of the 2005 tournament in Winston-Salem,  NC, and the time I spent in the presence of The General.

Bob Knight NCAA

Bob Knight’s last taste of March Madness was my first time seeing it in person. I worked behind the scenes, mostly with media in the press room. The day before games began, I was rounding a corner in the tunnel when I saw Coach Knight heading for his news conference. I was surprised by how old he looked off the court; he moved so gingerly. Then I was shocked when Knight missed a step on the way to the stage and fell to the ground. I couldn’t believe this was the same man that had thrown a chair onto the court twenty years earlier. This was the man who would eventually crack 900 wins? I took a seat in the back as Knight was helped up. And when he sat down, something changed.

Knight was suddenly in complete command again, somehow looking younger beneath the lights. He cracked jokes with sports writers about Albert Pujols. He asked a local sports writer if there was a law in the South against yankees walking the streets after dark. Best of all, Knight recounted a conversation he had with Dean Smith ten years earlier, in which he told Coach Smith, “You have to get that wins record, Dean, because Adolph Rupp was a son of a bitch, and you aren’t.” This was the man I knew of. The transformation Coach Knight underwent when cameras rolled that day is indicative of the power I believe March Madness holds on those of us who love it: it is an event that, for a few weeks each spring, makes us young again. For however long my school is still alive in March and into April, I feel like I am once more five years old. That is how powerful this thing is to me. I’m sure Bob Knight feels the same way.

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Sweetest NCAA Memories #16: 1996 UMass Minutemen

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2009

memories

RTC asked its legion of correspondents, charlatans, sycophants, toadies and other hangers-on to send us their very favorite March Madness memory,  something that had a visceral effect on who they are as a person and college basketball fan today.  Not surprisingly, many of the submissions were excellent and if you’re not fired up reading them, then you need to head back over to PerezHilton for the rest of this month.  We’ve chosen the sixteen best, and we’ll be counting them down over the next two weeks as we approach the 2009 NCAA Tournament. 

Who knew that the 1996 UMass team would have such an effect on our correspondents?  We got two unique submissions relating to Coach Calipari’s plucky national semifinalist.

refuse-to-lose-2 

Refuse to Lose  (submitted by Obsessed with Sports)

A year after being knocked out of the Sweet 16 by “Big Country” Bryant Reeves and Oklahoma State, the Minutemen were back deep in the dance. I was only 11 years old but I had been a die hard Minuteman fan for all of a year at this point. If someone had asked me who my favorite athletes were, Marcus Camby would have been #2 right after Ken Griffey, Jr.

I thought it was so simple to make noise come March. To me it seemed that UMass was there every year. How wrong I was. Back then I didn’t know about how Marcus Camby got to Amherst, why he chose UMass or how much money he allegedly took fro magents while there. I didn’t understand the recruiting genius that was coach John Calipari. Regardless, right years later when I was accepted to the University of Massachusetts as an undergraduate, it was those great basketball memories that had stayed in my mind all these years. Coack Cal was long gone, that Final Four banner engulfed in controversy, but the memories remained.

March is about loyalty. Staying true to the team(s) that you represent for whatever reason. There are always new sweetheart teams that you fall for but it comes down to those perenial favorites that you live and die with.

Last year UMass was in the hunt. Although they did not make the tournament (after another A-10 tourney blow-up) they did make it to the finals of the NIT. The university had the most embarrassing shirts made: NIT Finalist… but still Massachusetts was again on the national stage.

Remember, come March; stay loyal and Refuse To Lose.

Solace in Geographic Solidarity  (submitted by Allen R of Houston Basketball Junkies)

My earliest distinct memory of watching college basketball and really getting into it is of John Calipari and his University of Massachusetts Minutemen went to the Final Four in 1996.

Yes, this was only 13 years ago and I’m still fairly young when it comes to being a college basketball historian.

But I can remember like it was yesterday being a wide-eyed 7 year old watching Marcus Camby reject shots by the minute and John Calipari strut the sidelines as the Minutemen’s young, up and coming coach. I admit, I thought that Calipari with his suits and slicked back hair was one of the coolest guys out there. Let me remind you, I was still 7 at this time.

They were also a team from the northern part of the country and at that age I still felt like an outsider, having just recently moved to Texas from the Northeast. That Minuteman team was somewhat of a surprise, although Camby won a slew of national awards that year, including the Naismith Trophy if I remember correctly.

But I didn’t just enjoy the Minutemen that spring of ’96, I fell in love with college basketball and March Madness. I discovered the joy of preparing a bracket and getting off of school early to watch the early tournament action. To this day, the 7 year old boy in me still longs to watch that #16 seed knock off the #1 in that most unlikely of upsets.

Things have come full circle for me, as I write about college basketball and John Calipari now coaches at the University of Memphis, which is the biggest obstacle to the tournament dreams of my college: the University of Houston.

It’s funny how life works out some times.

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