Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Congrats, Jay. And Calm Down.

The two best buzzer-beaters in NCAA men's basketball tournament championship game history are now Lorenzo Charles' dunk to give North Carolina State the 1983 title and Kris Jenkins' three-pointer Monday night to give Villanova the 2016 title.

There was really only one thing missing from those two shots, and that's the fact that had the game-winning shots not gone in, there would have been overtime. Neither was make-or-break, but that's a small point.

Had Gordon Hayward's shot against Duke from half-court gone down in 2010, that would have trumped both, by the way.

Perhaps the most incredible thing about the shots from 1983 and the other night is the difference in the reactions from the winning coaches.

Do you remember what happened after the 1983 game? You can see it all HERE.

Of course you remember though. Jim Valvano sprinted around the court looking for someone, anyone, to hug.

And Monday night?

Villanova's Jay Wright was quite the opposite. You can see his reaction HERE.

If you didn't know any better, you'd think his team lost.

Valvano and Charles, by the way, would both meet a tragic fate, and neither lived to see 50. In fact, they both died at 47, Valvano famously from cancer and Charles in a bus accident.

TigerBlog ran into Princeton head football coach Bob Surace yesterday morning. Surace showed TB his pre-tournament prediction in ESPN's pool - compliance note, it's completely free and above board and fine with any NCAA rules.

Before the tournament began, Surace predicted a Villanova championship, and a 75-74 win over North Carolina in the final. No, really. Surace did that. He showed TB and everything.

That's an incredible prediction.

Actually, now that TB thinks about it, Surace's reaction to correctly picking the finalists and nearly picking the exact final score was way more animated than Wright's to having his team actually win.

The UConn women made it four straight NCAA titles last night, with yet another romp, this time over Syracuse.

TigerBlog respects how good UConn is. As he's said, he doesn't think the Huskies have to apologize for being that good. It just makes it dull, that's all.

TigerBlog would be more interested in watching the championship game if there was a competitive side to it. If a men's team dominated the same way, it would be hurt the excitement of watching it the same way.

Before the turning of the page on the basketball season, there is one note. Princeton assistant coach Brett MacConnell was named to the NABC 30 Under 30 team, which honored 30 assistant coaches across the country who are under 30 years old.

MacConnell has done a great job with Princeton, especially in its recruiting efforts. His work in that area has helped Princeton land players like Devin Cannady and Amir Bell in the last two years, and this past year he helped Princeton to a 22-7 record and the NIT.

It's a great honor for MacConnell, especially considering everyone else on the list, which you can see HERE.

And with that, let's talk about the spring. Or what is passing for it.

March was pretty warm. April has not been. In fact, there has been accumulating snow in much of the Northeast this month. Not in Princeton, mercifully, but it's been freezing here too.

It'll actually be somewhat nice out this afternoon. Low 50s and sunny.

The baseball team is home today against Monmouth. Princeton has won five straight games, including four straight in the Ivy League to start the season. The Hawks are off to a 4-1 start in the MAAC.

As TigerBlog has said, it's really hard to catch teams in the division when you know that you have to win three of four on a weekend. It's important to play from ahead.

It was really important for Princeton to do so this past weekend, since every team in the Gehrig Division is either .500 or above. Princeton is the only 4-0 team, with Cornell at 2-0, Penn at 3-1 and Columbia at 2-2.

Cornell was unable to get its doubleheader against Dartmouth in last weekend due to the weather.

This weekend is the second, and last, cross-over weekend, with the Tigers at Yale and Brown. Then it's three straight weekends of four games against the Gehrig Division.

There's a long way to go, obviously, but with only 20 games during the Ivy sprint, each one is huge.

Of course, this weekend's forecast is iffy, and that creates another challenge, getting all the games in.

Oh, and TB will end today with one more basketball thought.

Villanova gave its students the day off to celebrate yesterday, cancelling classes.

It got TigerBlog wondering something to which he has no idea. Maybe someone out there does?

Has Princeton ever cancelled classes for a campus-wide celebration of something, sports or otherwise? Anybody?


Anonymous said...

May, 1970: US 1, Cambodia 0 - classes and finals cancelled. "Victory" later forfeited, US captain left position, replaced by former Michigan footballer (who, contrary to reports, had worn headgear designed by former Princeton coach).

D '82 said...

Jay Wright's reaction to Kris Jenkins' buzzer beater reminds me of Bill Tierney's reaction to Kevin Lowe's sudden death overtime winner against Virginia in the 1994 NCAA lacrosse championship.

At least Wright's composure could be attributed to Jenkins' shot occurring at the end of a play which unfolded exactly as it had been designed and practiced innumerable times in practice. Villanova got exactly the play and the shot which it had planned and wanted.

In contrast, in the 1994 Virginia game, Jeff MacBean's pass into the crease from behind the cage missed its intended recipient but happened to bounce right to Lowe, who skipped it past the Cavalier goalie for Princeton's second overtime title.

Tierney was standing on the sidelines holding a small clear plastic cup almost completely full of water. As the Tiger players jumped into a giant celebratory dog pile on the field, Tierney walked forward calmly. He raised one arm slightly, as if a delicatessen worker had just called his number in line. Not one drop of water spilled from his cup. For a guy whose sideline histrionics are legendary, it was a remarkable display of nonchalance.

Coincidentally, also back in 1994, I ran my company's March Madness office pool. The winner was a South African woman who, still back in the era of a 64-team field, correctly predicted 52 of the 63 games, including -- incredibly -- all 15 games from the Sweet Sixteen onward. When I asked her how she had accomplished her feat -- perhaps the greatest prediction in the history of sports betting -- she revealed that she had made per picks primarily on the basis of which school colors and team mascot she liked better.