Down to four!

by | March 30, 2009 12:00 am

  As this weekend comes to an end, it’s down to four in the NCAA tournament.
Actually while I am writing this, the final two spots in the men’s tournament are still undecided and the women are still working their way to the Elite Eight.
As far as the men’s tournament goes, the Villanova/Pitt game will go down as one of the classic endings in tournament lore. It looked a lot like the end to the UCLA game several years ago when Tyus Edney took the ball the length of the floor to keep the Bruins alive.
This time it was Villanova’s Scotty Reynolds who was off to the races. I’ll be honest. I was pulling for Villanova and I really thought the game was headed to overtime. I thought Villanova had probably blown their chance at the upset when they botched the inbounds pass with around 10 seconds to play. They threw long and Pitt wound up with the ball, was fouled and knocked down a pair of free throws to tie with five seconds left.
I was actually watching the game at Joe’s Crab Shack in Nashville after having attended the East/West High School All Star basketball games. I’ll get into that adventure in a just a minute.
Anyway, Seth McDonald, Roggie Haston and I were seated at a table watching the game. I was clapping for Villanova in the game that was a close one the entire way through. The guys told me I was embarrassing them because I was the only one who appeared to be even watching the game in the portion of the restaurant where we were sitting.
When it came down to the end, it turned out some other folks were watching the game too just not as demonstratively as I was.
In case you didn’t see the game, on the final Villanova play, I really thought they were about to get a five-second count, but they finally got the ball in to a player in the middle of the floor, who tossed to Reynolds speeding down the sideline. He raced straight to the basket and scored with half a second left. He might have actually been fouled on the play, but the basket was enough for the win as Pitt’s desperation shot hit off the backboard. The shot was actually on line, just a little too high off the backboard.
Reynolds did exactly what he needed to do. He was aware of the time and how much he had to get the ball down the court. He didn’t settle for a jumper. He took it to the basket where he gave his team the best chance at a basket or a foul. That was one thing I was yelling at the television when the Vols got lost. I didn’t want them to settle for a three pointer. I wanted Tyler Smith to take it to the hole. But, I am a sports writer and not a coach. I don’t get paid to make those decisions. I just get paid to write about them.
You know come to think of it, it’s pretty odd for me to be cheering for Villanova. The last time the Wildcats were in the Final Four, they won it all in 1985. They defeated my favorite team, Georgetown. I was mad at Villanova for a long time.
The thing about filling out brackets is it makes me a fickle fan. Sometimes, I find myself going against the grain and cheering for teams I really don’t like. That’s why I don’t fill out a women’s bracket, especially not this year. You know why? I really don’t think anyone is going to beat UConn and I can’t cheer for them.
As far as the men’s tournament goes, the team I most want to win going with my heart is Louisville. I picked them on one of my brackets, but so did a lot of other people. My best chance of doing better in my bracket is if Oklahoma wins. I do like Blake Griffin a whole lot. Of course, as I am writing this, neither one of those two have officially made it to the Final Four. It may already be a moot point when you’re reading this.
On the women’s side, my two favorite teams, Tennessee and Western Carolina, have already exited the tournament. I had decided I would pull for Vanderbilt, but they lost a heartbreaker to Maryland. Now, I really don’t care who wins it all as long as it’s not the team that is probably going to win it all.
Now, back to the All Star game. I went down to cover the game and found myself in a precarious situation as the game ended. Actually, it wasn’t just me. It was everyone who attended the game.
We were in Trevecca’s gym as the storms started moving through Nashville. At first, it was announced there was a tornado warning issued for Davidson County. Then just a few minutes later and right after the game ended, the tornado warning sirens began to sound. We were all evacuated to the basement of the facility and spent somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour down there waiting for the storm to pass. Thankfully, we escaped anything bad, just a hard rain at the campus where we were. But it was nice to be in a place where there was basement available just in case.
It was just another one of the adventures in the life of a sportswriter. Note that exactly one week prior to that I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico covering an NCAA tournament game. Last Tuesday, I woke up in New Mexico and by 5:00 p.m. on the same day I was covering a softball game in Sparta.
Believe me. I’m not complaining. That’s one of the reasons I am one of the people who actually loves their job. (Except for the tornado part.)

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