The Post Game Show

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Moment # 1

I figure now is a good time to start posting moments that I mentioned in a post two weeks ago (http://thepostgameshow.blogspot.com/2006/01/moment-of-clarity.html), and of course, I'm starting off with last March's Cinderella Hornets men's hoops team, who won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship and made the NCAA tournament. Those few days in Richmond, Virginia were probably the most fun I've ever had on my own. For one, this was my first time taking my car that long of a distance. Of course my car is one big problem after another, but I love it just the same. Champ held up like, well, a Champ the entire week, so that wasn't an issue. I stayed in the same Mariott I had the year before, but I was free to explore things on my own, and saw a little bit of Richmond that I wouldn't mind living there.

On to the basketball. The first game the Hornets played was Wednesday, March 9th against Bethune-Cookman, and it wasn't even close. 66-43 was the final, and that was to be expected. It would've been a waste to win the regular season crown and get put out the first night. The Friday afternoon semi-final jump-off with South Carolina State was the game everyone worried about. Thurman Zimmerman and Brian Mason are the Bulldogs' big guns, but only Mason showed up.

Zimmerman scored zero points and fouled out in what was thought to be his last game (he got clearance to return this season when he got his undergrad degree). My favorite memory of that game was Zimmerman's fifth foul. He got a rebound and started up the floor, until he collided with Aaron Williams, who definitely played that collision for all it was worth. Zimmerman (6'5, 240) got called for the charge on Williams (6'2, 175) and he just said "f*** it," went to the corner of the bench and took off his shoes, Dennis Rodman style. Delaware State wins 61-48 and advances to the championship game to play Hampton.

That MEAC title game was probably one of the five or ten greatest basketball games I've seen in person. Hampton was up by as many as 13 in the first half, until Darrin Shine sparked a 9-0 run to bring DSU to within 25-21 at the half. And the Second half was just as nip and tuck as it could get until about a minute to go with the Pirates up three. Hampton's Devin Green, now a sub on the Los Angeles Lakers made a horrible pass that Jahsh Bluntt intercepted at half court, passed off to Aaron, got back to his spot and nailed a three to tie the game at 53 with a minute left. All this time, Dennis Jones, Ralph Wesley and I are elbowing the hell out of eachother courtside going "Man, is this really gonna happen?!" No one scores for about 45 seconds, and the Hornets have the ball. Time has never stood so still. Williams brings the ball up. He's looking for Bluntt, but finds senior reserve Bruce "B.J." Davis, who was clutch all year long, in the corner for a three...it bounces off the front of the rim...5, 4, ...it's a scramble between Terrance Hunter, Bluntt and Green, and the ball pops in the air.

3...The ball is going in Aaron Williams' direction, and I'm thinking "my God, how's he gonna get a shot off?" 2...In one swift motion, Aaron jumps, volleyball taps the ball toward the hoop.... SWISH! 1.6 seconds to go. Pandemonium. Insanity. Me losing my gotdamn mind. We held our breath as Hampton's Dewayne Spencer thrw a full-court pass that 6'9 Aaron Fleetwood knocked down and that was it. We were going dancing, for the first time ever. The NCAAs!

As sports editor of the campus newspaper, I knew this was going to be big and I was thankful to God that I was there to give it the right coverage. We eventually put out a MEAC champs/NCAA tournament preview edition the day of the game vs. Duke, which I was very proud of. Our kids took that paper to Charlotte for the game, all riled up and ready to roll. And the game was close in the first half, the Hornets tying the game at 28 on Tracey Worley's rebound and layup. Duke would eventually go up 20 in the second half, but we ended up making it closer at 57-46, getting a standing ovation from the North Carolina Tar Heel fans before the Blue Devils ran out the clock on their win.

Overall, those 10 days in March were enough to make me realize that whatever doubts I had about my career field were dead. Nothing will ever compare to what I experienced. I lived a sportswriter's life those 10 days, and it was just pure heaven. But as a student at Delaware State, it was great to see us in the news for something positive. Coach Jackson's trials with his son's health, the team having to come together as quickly as possible, and the anonymous nature of that team was what made that year so special. While they might repeat this year, the old saying goes, you never forget your first. And I'll never forget the first championship team I ever covered. And the first time I never wanted 10 days to end.

3 Comments:

  • At 9:30 PM, Blogger jameil1922 said…

    hampton's only NCAA tournament win my freshman year was easily one of the best moments of my college career. i have never seen my campus so united as it was that day. everyone was watching the game together on the big screen in the gym-- with the president and the dean of students. it was a nail biter to the end with the 15 seed upsetting #2 Iowa State. beautiful. we partied in the streets for hours and for once, the cops didn't come break it up. GO PIRATES!

     
  • At 11:50 AM, Blogger spchrist said…

    keep the posts coming...

     
  • At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Derek said…

    This will not really work, I think like this.
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