Today’s sports blog spotlights five remarkable stories surrounding March Madness; i.e. this year’s NCAA national championship tournament.
Without doubt, incredible story lines that typically pervade March Madness coverage focus on last second finishes, heroic feats and dominating individual performances.
College basketball fans love reading about star players, brilliant coaches and underdog teams.
For example, college hoops fans will never forget Louisville’s “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison’s poise as a freshman in 1989, NC State’s Lorenzo Charles’ tip-in in 1983, Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew’s amazing last second shot in 1998, Princeton’s epic upset of UCLA in 1996, Michigan’s Rumeal Robinson’s clutch free throws in the 1989 championship game and perhaps everyone’s personal favorite memory – except UNC Tar Heels fans – Villanova’s Kris Jenkins’ shot of the ages in last year’s final game.
However, I always enjoy the compelling stories behind the scenes and away from the hardwood. I love reading about unlikely team successes, circuitous personal journeys of players and coaches and indomitable wills of those who overcame injury or other adversity to emerge victoriously in “One Shining Moment” as so eloquently captured by the NCAA tournament jingle.
With that in mind, here are my stories on March Madness’ 5 top stories:
South Carolina Gamecocks
The University of South Carolina Gamecocks will make their Final Four debut this coming weekend. Few fans had them advancing far in their brackets. The team’s suffocating defense and stellar play from Sindarius Thornwell, PJ Dozier, Mail Kotsar, Duane Notice and Chris Silva proved college basketball fans, coaches and pundits wrong. Love this underdog story.
A second first timer to the Final Four, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are a mid-major no more. The Zags have quieted the skeptics who ridiculed the supposed weakness of their WAC Conference scheduled and intimated that wildly successful coach Mark Few could never advance to the national championship semi-finals. Way to go, Gonzaga and Coach Few!
UNC’s Luke Maye
Loved UNC coach Roy Williams’ mea culpa quip following his team’s dramatic last second victory over the Kentucky Wildcats this past week where a self-deprecating Williams confessed “how smart he was” to allow game winning shot makers Maye to “walk on” to his Tar Heels squad after failing to offer him a scholarship. Gotta love Maye’s never losing hope to play for UNC and his inexplicably emerging as last weekend’s March Madness hero.
This highly overbearing and terribly meddlesome father of electric UCLA freshman guard Lonzo Ball witnessed his son’s team’s departure from March Madness after rival first year Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox totally outplayed him in a Sweet 16 game. Sure, the elder Ball’s non-stop braggadocio irritated me, but we can all agree that it more than likely motivated a quiet and composed Fox to a 37 point outing against the Bruins, arguably the best performance in this year’s tournament. Thanks, LaVar! Just let your son play ball!
South Carolina Coach Frank Martin
The South Carolina coach has unwittingly become the college basketball community’s newest star. What fan hasn’t admired the amazing job he’s done this year with the Gamecocks? More importantly, upon listening to this guy speak, what parent wouldn’t what their son playing for him and what person wouldn’t want his leadership, poise, gratitude, level of commitment and desire for excellence to be replicated for all?
And, that’s my 2 cents.
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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!