Monthly Archives: March 2008
Between today and tomorrow 64 division I basketball teams (my apologies to Coppin State) will take to the hardwood with their championship dreams in tact. By Saturday morning, 32 teams worth of dreams will have ended. If you figure there are anywhere from 15 to 20 student-athletes (most of whom are going pro in something other than sports) on any given team, that’s 960 to 1280 dreams (480 to 640 dreams ending). That’s a lot of dreaming. For a lot of these athletes, this is what they were trained to do. For some, it was just a shot they took in the hopes that they would make the tournament. But for all of them, it’s the little 10 year old boy inside all of them who spent hours outside in the backyard or at the playground tossing up basketballs and acting out the game winning shot with themselves as the star. They would lie awake at night just thinking about being featured on the “One Shining Moment” video at the end of the tournament, and they hoped to be featured because they were holding the trophy and cutting down the nets.
This is why I LOVE March Madness.
Every single one of those players, whether a 16 seed or a 1 seed, believes they can win the championship. They don’t care that certain seeds have never won it all. They don’t care that certain seeds have won more championships than others. All they care about is how they play the game on that day for the opportunity to make their dreams come true. You could say it’s the largest delusional cocktail party ever created, but I prefer to think of it as believing in yourself and never giving up on what COULD happen.
In the end, you can talk all you want about guard play, defense, 3 point percentage, post players, and free throws, but what I believe wins a tournament consists of three things: wanting it more than anyone else, believing you can do it, and the extra effort it takes in every game to make it happen. And that’s where filling out a perfect bracket is impossible because those three things can’t be found on any box score or stat sheet. They can only be seen in every game between now and April 7th.
64 teams of student-athletes are taking to the hardwood over the next two days, and all of them are playing with one similar factor:
If there is any truth to the idea that one game can save a coach’s job, then last night Mark Gottfried was handed a gift.
I’m honestly not even super excited that Alabama beat Florida in the opening round of the SEC Tournament. In the last couple of years, this would have thrilled me beyond compare, but Florida’s back to being what they were before the turn of the century. I am, however, ridiculously ecstatic that Alabama won a game…and won it the way that they did. Alabama went on a 14-0 run to start the first 5 minutes of the game. The halftime score was 46-23. It got a little sketchy for a period of time in the second half, but I think we all knew that Florida was not going to go quietly. In the end, Alabama came away with the victory 80-69. What happened? What clicked? I don’t know. All I know is that Alabama has struggled all year, and still has to win the entire SEC tournament in order to get a bid in the Big Dance. We’re 17-15 overall and 5-11 in conference play. We’re 102 in the RPI ratings with a 49th ranked strength of schedule. To say this was an off year would usually be right, if it wasn’t what we’ve pretty much seen for the last couple of years.
Coach Gottfried has had it rough. And honestly, it’s not entirely his fault. The team has been riddled with injuries and though that’s never an excuse, it still hurts a team when both their most talented and most influential leaders can’t play. Still, it all comes back to the coach, and Mark was on the hot seat this season, which hurts me greatly.
I was in college when Mark was hired as the men’s basketball coach. Before he arrived, the team had been in a great slump that included low attendance because, well, no one was interested in watching the basketball games. I went to one game my freshman year (the season before Mark came) and that was the Kentucky game. And to tell you the truth, I went because I wanted to see Rick Pitino (he was Kentucky’s coach at the time). If you’re wondering, yes he is as arrogant as he seems. He had bodyguards for crying out loud and I don’t mean the standard state police assigned to you for the game…actual black suit wearing bodyguards. But, I digress. Anyway, Mark was hired the next year and immediately made it cool to go to the basketball games, again. It was an exciting time and hope for their success was reborn.
This is now Mark’s 11th season as our coach, and those 11 seasons are defined with a lot of ups and downs. Mark still gets me excited about Alabama basketball. He is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, and he cares SO much about his players and the University. I’ve been pretty sad this season for one reason only because I knew that if we didn’t look good, he was probably out of a job. I still don’t know that he’s not, but I can tell you that if anything can save Mark’s job, last night’s game was a good start.
ROLL TIDE ROLL!
One of my favorite people in the entire world became a mother on Tuesday to this beautiful baby girl:
Congratulations to Dan and Shannon on the birth of their daughter, Laura Beth, on Tuesday, March 11 at 11:46 am. Laura Beth weighed 7lbs 11oz and measured 20 inches long. The entire family is home and doing well.
Lincoln had his 6 month appointment yesterday. He is moving along at perfectly healthy speed weighing in at 15 pounds and measuring 26 inches long. Here are some new pictures:
In response to this idiot who calls himself a journalist, Tyler Hansbrough’s jersey will not be raised to the rafters until he finishes his career at UNC, whether that is at the end of this his junior year (PLEASE, NO!) or when he graduates next year. They’re not hanging it up there tomorrow. They’re not even hanging it up there next week. And while every school’s policy is different, which is their prerogative, there is a specific criteria for having your jersey retired by UNC. You must be named a National Player of the Year…period…end of story. If that makes you believe that North Carolina has lower standards than Georgia Tech, then let’s look at some statistics. In the 98 years of North Carolina basketball, only 7 other players have had this honor. Do you even know how many total players that equates to? I certainly don’t, nor do I have the time to go back and count them all. But, the odds are clearly not in any player’s favor. However, you can go to Chapel Hill and visit the Basketball Museum on campus and read about EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM not just the 7 retired jerseys or the 35 honorary jerseys.
Bottom line, Tyler Hansbrough didn’t ask to be Player of the Year. He didn’t even ask to have his jersey retired. All he did was perform to the best of his abilities on the basketball court. If people want to honor him for what he’s done on the hardwood, then so be it. Is Tyler supposed to say, “Please don’t give me that award, please change the rules to something else.”? So, let’s all get off the high horse of UNC jumping the gun on this and retiring his jersey before he’s REALLY accomplished something. There are rules and he has indirectly followed them. How horrible of him and UNC to follow the rules!
As for the graduation rate of those other 7 players, which seemed to be such a bone of contention with the columnist, whether they left school early or not, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM HOLDS A DEGREE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA at CHAPEL HILL. And, Tyler Hansbrough is actually working towards a degree in exercise and sports science.
This may be my favorite Tyler quote because it just shows how motivated to win he is when he steps on the hardwood:
The main thing I always try to do is play hard. I look at it like this: There’s probably always going to be someone in the stands that’s never seen me before. I don’t want that guy to walk away thinking, ‘Man, Tyler Hansbrough (stinks).’
Yes, I probably adore Tyler Hansbrough a little too much, but really, what’s not to love! And really, the last North Carolina player I believed in this much was probably Vince Carter. I BELIEVED he and Antawn Jamison could win a national championship, but they only made it to the Final Four. To be perfectly honest with you, I didn’t believe the 2005 national championship team could win it all until the final buzzer sounded in the championship game.
Note: Thanks, Shayna for the link to the motivator-creator.
The Sporting News announced today that North Carolina Tarheel junior forward Tyler Hansbrough is their selection for player of the year. At North Carolina in men’s basketball, a student-athlete must win one of the following six player of the year awards to have his jersey number retired: the Oscar Robertson Trophy (selected by the United States Basketball Writers Association of America), the National Association of Basketball Coaches; the Associated Press; The Sporting News; the Naismith Award (presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club); and the John R. Wooden Award (presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club). There are 35 other honored jerseys, which belong to players who were first-team All-Americans, the most valuable player of an NCAA championship team, or any member of a gold-medal-winning Olympic squad.
Every recruit that walks into the Smith Center and seriously considers signing with North Carolina, looks into those rafters and dreams of his jersey hanging there. Tyler was no different except that his dream has come true. Hansbrough’s number 50, which he wears in honor of his older brother who is Tyler’s inspiration after Greg suffered from a brain tumor as a child that left him partially paralyzed, will be retired by the University of North Carolina and will hang in the front row of the rafters with these other men’s jerseys:
- #N/A Jack Cobb (1926) (National Championship, 1924)
- #20 George Glamack (1941)
- #10 Lennie Rosenbluth (1957) (National Championship, 1957)
- #12 Phil Ford (1978)
- #52 James Worthy (1983) (National Championship, 1982)
- #23 Michael Jordan (1985) (National Championship, 1982)
- #33 Antawn Jamison (1999)
The only thing that would make me happier would be if he added a banner to this section of the rafters:
I am so proud of him right now, I can’t even think of the words I want to say here, so I’ll just let Tyler and Roy do it for me:
Tyler: “It is a real honor to be the Sporting News Player of the Year, especially since there are so many players out there who are having good years. It’s an honor because it is something I worked hard for in the off-season. I’d like to thank my coaches and teammates for all they’ve done to help me win this award. We still have plenty to accomplish this season, but this is a nice way to go into the postseason. It definitely is a privilege to be put in that category with the other Tar Heels whose numbers are retired. It truly is something special to have accomplished. In fact, it’s kind of hard to sit here and talk about how it feels to be put in the same category as the players who are up there already. I just know it is really special and something I look at as a privilege to be part of.“
Roy: “I am ecstatic for Tyler and his family as well as his teammates who share in this honor. He’s a great example for all young players of how to prepare to play and how to play hard each and every day. He’s had a phenomenal season, especially considering all the expectations he faced coming into this season. He is quite deserving of this honor. It is even more special when you consider the other outstanding players that have also had great seasons. By winning this award, Tyler qualifies to move into the front row in the rafters and have his jersey retired whenever he decides to leave the University of North Carolina. There will never be another one just like him. I am so lucky to be his coach. For the rest of my career, I will be able to look up into that first row and see his jersey hanging next to the other retired jerseys and I know that will bring a big smile to my face.”
And when Roy smiles, I smile.