I'm a huge college basketball fan. I know a lot of you are. If you're not, please excuse the off-topic post.
I watched my team, the Syracuse Orange, go down in flames last night against a better prepared, healthier, and more motivated team from Texas A&M. This has been a frustrating season for Syracuse fans who have come to expect a high caliber program. We played a tough conference schedule, lost a lot of games to highly-ranked opponents, and finished the regular season with a spectacularly embarrassing loss to a DePaul team that didn't make any post-season events.
Then, in one of the most magnificent examples I have seen in 31 years of rooting for Syracuse, we made a magical run through the Big East Tournament. We won four games in four nights - a feat that has never been accomplished before. We won, nigh after night, on the strength of a gutty point guard who simply refused to lose. Gerry McNamara, already assured of legend status at SU, demonstrated a level of leadership, energy, and passion that charmed the capacity crowds at Madison Square Garden and earned the respect of basketball fans across the country. His number three will hang from the rafters in the Carrer Dome soon enough.
But the magic ended abruptly last night. It was apparent almost immediately that the injury McNamara had somehow played through last week had hobbled him. The team was lost without his leadership, assists, and always astonishing ability to hoist up a game-changing shot just when we needed it. The writing was on the wall long before the final buzzer.
I'm saddened that we won't get to play Duke in the third round. My good friend Buzz Bruggeman is a passionate Duke fan and alumni and he and I have been exchanging e-mails since the championship week began. When the brackets were announced, we got excited about the prospect of a face-off between our respective teams.
Ain't gonna happen.
If you're a fan - good luck to your team. I'll watch as much of the tournament as I can - I love the game. And I'm more than a little saddened at a great run brought to such an abrupt ending. Two years in a row of "one-and-out" NCAA performances is a bitter pill to swallow. But I will always have great memories of a conference tournament run that will talked about for years to come. In his freshman year, Gerry was part of a team that won our first ever National Championship. In his senior year, he led a talented but not great team to a miracle Big East title. Pretty nice bookends for a career.
We now return to our regular programming...