Hey everyone hope this post finds everyone doing well! I don't know about ya'll but I cannot express how happy I am that Spring is here (for all my people in Boston......I'm sorry). Not only am I thrilled that spring is here but more importantly, MARCH MADNESS is also upon us.
The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is without a doubt my favorite sporting event there is. Millions of brackets are filled out (I gave up on doing brackets two years ago due to my inability to pick upsets), Twitter is filled with trash talk, predictions are wrongfully made and legends are made as schools who people rarely hear of take on the giants of the NCAA.
For three weeks the whole country watches these games, most of the time cheering for teams they have never seen play before. Every year there is a "Cinderella Story" that captures the heart of America. It truly is an amazing thing. This post is for the "Madness".
The tourney this year has been nothing short of thrilling so far.
Within the second 97% of the millions of brackets filled out online were messed up when UAB beat Iowa State, which set the tone for the kind of day it would be. About two hours later Georgia State would pull a major upset over Baylor. Georgia State is exactly the kind of story that makes the NCAA tournament special. They come from the Sun Belt conference (I guarantee most people have never heard of the Sun Belt and if they did they probably can't name more then two teams if that). The head coach goes by the name of Ron Hunter. When his team won the conference tourney he tore his Achilles in celebration! He had to coach from a rolly chair which was quite the sight to see lol. His son, RJ Hunter, is the teams best player and is the one who hit the crazy game winning three against Baylor. The shot will undoubtedly go down as one of the biggest NCAA moments of all time and can be see on YouTube.
It was unreal. The Panthers would go on to lose to Xavier in the next round but the post game interview was the special moment that really captures what the NCAA tournament was all about. Camera crews were in the locker room when he told his players, as everyone was crying, that they had done something every single one of them would remember for the rest of their life. They had let everyone around the world know who Georgia State was and they should be proud. When addressing the media he broke down while having his arm around his son, RJ, and told reporters that as a father and coach this week had been the best of his life.
Anyone who saw the interviews could not have been unmoved by it. It was a really great thing. My alma mater Harvard took on my favorite college team (besides Harvard of course) the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. No one thought we had a chance like always both man the guys really played their hearts out. We ended up losing by 2 points in a heartbreaker but I couldn't have been more proud of the team!
My most memorable college basketball moments were competing in the tourney. I wish all college athletes could get a chance to experience the tourney. It really is one of kind experience and difficult to fully express in words how great it is. In my four years at Harvard we made it to the tourney two times. I can remember like yesterday the feeling we had sitting in the main hall in the Murr center. On Selection Sunday we were picked as one of the teams that would be shown on TV when our named was announced for where our first game would be. With many of our families and fans in the main hall as well, we went absolutely crazy when our named was announced. It was only about 15 seconds but its a moment I will never forget. We were matched up with Vanderbilt and would have to travel to New Mexico to play them. The hotel we stayed at was nice and weather was perfect. It was time to get down to business. We had our open practice on the arena which was fun. It people came to watch all of our practices I don't think we would ever have a problem with "no energy" on some days. Another difference is that the locker room is always open so reporters can come in at anytime and talk to you.
A funny story that happened that year was that while waiting for our time to get on the court for our open practice, us smart guys of course thought we should exercise our minds while waiting. So we decided to play a game of hangman. Our forward, Wesley Saunders, tried to get fancy and use the word "pulchritudinous". I personally have never heard of the word and he swore he really knew the meaning but I have my doubts. One thing for certain is that he didn't remember the spelling! He didn't put enough lines for all the letters and of course the reporters came in during the end of the game when he realized that.
They were all over it. Never heard the end of it.
Finally it was game time. The nerves and excitement I had leading up to the opening tip was unreal. But once we started, it was just another basketball game. We ended up losing by about 7 points but the experience was worth it all. Plus we knew we would be back!
Last year we "upset" Cincinnati in the second round and then had a battle against Michigan State in the third. I put upset in quotations becuase within the team we felt that we were definitely the better team compared to Cincy and that if we lost that would be the upset (this stays between us!). Of course we would never say that during any interviews, because unlike the freshmen guard from West Virgina who thought it was a good idea to guarantee a win against Kentucky on Friday (they lost by 40), we knew how to properly handle media obligations. The game against Michigan State was one of my favorite games Ive ever played in even though. we lost. We started off the game terrible and went into halftime down by almost 20. They were so much quicker and bigger then us. It looked like it would get ugly. At halftime I was pretty emotional and told the guys we werent going out like this and we were going to fight til the end. We came out hot and went on an insane run. We hit threes, blocked shots, and got out and finished on the break. The place was going NUTS. We have never had so many fans cheering for us before.
This was the largest crowd I've ever played in front of and the whole arena except for a small Michigan State section was cheering for us. I'll never forget how hype I got when I made the pass to Laurent who hit a three in the corner for us to take our first lead (would only last for a few seconds as Michigan State would answer with a three of their own). I got exhausted from going so crazy and It sounded like the gym was about to come down with how loud it was. After Michigan State hit the three to answer ours we would never regain the lead and would have to foul late down the stretch. We lost but those 10 minutes we went on that run was by far the most entertaining and thrilling stretch in my career thus far.
The reception we got after the game from friends, family, the harvard community, and complete strangers was truly remarkable. We had shocked the world yet again and for few days felt like we were on top of the world.
Crazy as that may sound that's what March Madness is all about...
Until next time folks!
Brandyn Curry played his college basketball at Harvard University and will be chronicling his first season in Holland with SPM Shoeters Den Bosch. For more information on Brandyn Curry visit his player profile page here.
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