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Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Links (3/13)

I feel sorry for people who aren't sports fans.

When their time comes, and they're spending their final moments on this earth, they'll look back at the best times of their lives and think only of mundane things like their wedding day, watching their children be born, playing with the grandkids.

I get to remember last night.

The Syracuse-UConn game was quite simply one of the most dramatic, exciting, exhausting, exhilarating events I've ever witnessed.

After the Alabama-Vandy game last night, a few of us headed to a bar across the street from the arena. I was only partially paying attention to the Syracuse game at first, and in truth, I kind of hoped the Orange would lose, allowing them to be fully rested for the games that really matter next week. Every 10 minutes or so, I'd wander back over to the TV to check the score, and by the final few minutes of regulation, I was glued to my spot. How could I leave?

The end of regulation was insane. Krisof Ongeneat should never have been on the court. He's awful. Someone -- anyone -- should have boxed out for a rebound on UConn's last possession. Eric Devendorf's 3... that's about the closest call I've ever witnessed, but in truth, I think the refs got it right.

When Devendorf's shot went down, I was the only one in the bar screaming. By the end of the first regulation, I was the center of a crowd that included just about everyone in the place. Most were rooting for the Cuse, including a large contingent of Kentucky fans who told me they really want Billy Gillespie canned no matter the outcome of the SEC tourney. There were a handful of guys from Georgia, however, who had money on UConn -5. First off, that's a sucker bet. Secondly, it made for great theater. For a truly dramatic event like last night's game, you have to have a rival.

After Devendorf's 3 was waved off, I was enthralled. By the second OT, I was cursing Jim Calhoun. In the third OT, I thought Cuse was done. In the fourth OT, I wanted the win more than ever. By the fifth OT, I just wanted the roller coaster ride to end.

It was the type of game that, even if Cuse had lost, I would have considered it an epic moment. That they won made it that much sweeter.

Anyway, if you haven't seen the highlights of the six overtimes yet, do yourself a favor and get on YouTube right now. If you want to read about the events, check out the amazing work (well past deadline) of my friends Mike Waters and Donna Ditota at the Syracuse Post-Standard.

In the end, when it was finally over, I was as exhausted as Paul Harris, who couldn't even get far enough off the ground by the fourth OT to land a lay-up. I had no voice. I was on the verge of tears. A game I hadn't even wanted Syracuse to win at the beginning of the night had turned into one of the most memorable sporting events of my liftime. And isn't that why we watch sports? You never know when you're going to see something you'll never forget.

A few other highlights:

-- With every great sporting event, isn't there always a strange confluence of fates that seems too good to be true? Well in this one, Andy Rautins nailed a 3 to tie it at the end of the third OT (a HUGE shot!). In 1981, his dad, Leo Rautins, drained a 3 to tie it in OT in the previous longest game in Syracuse history. Crazy.

-- The guys who had money on UConn were a great bunch to watch with. Not only were they hilarious (one of the guys was belligerent but polite, so he'd say things like, "F**k you, sir") but since they were giving 5, by the end of each OT, they were simply rooting for another OT so they'd have a chance to win their bet.

-- I was getting text messages from at least a dozen different people, including friends from Syracuse I hadn't talked to in years. Nothing brings people together like sports.

-- I was at the bar with Brett Jensen from TotalUGA and Fletcher Page from the Red & Black. Fletcher was the perfect sporting event wingman. He could care less about Syracuse, but he was doing more smack talking than even I was. Brett was the perfect middle man. He did a great job of maintaining the delicate peace between the two factions. He was like the Jimmy Carter of our group. (Although, Brett yelling "Noonan!" at the TV while UConn was shooting free throws I think had a direct effect on Syracuse winning the game.)

-- Do you realize that there was just one -- ONE -- lead change in overtime? Syracuse never led through the first five OTs, despite roughly 11,493 different chances to put the game away.

-- Hasheem Thabeet is a game changer. That kid is just a stud. Cuse could not pull down a board to save their lives late in regulation or overtime until Thabeet fouled out. That changed the game.

-- Speaking of fouling out, if one more guy had gotten his fifth for Syracuse, Jim Boeheim would have had to start pulling fans out of the crowd and giving them jerseys. Senior guard Justin Thomas had only played six minutes total since Dec. 17. He played seven out of necessity last night.

-- Just a truly heroic effort by Jonny Flynn. It's not that he made any particularly dramatic shots, but the fact that the man played 67 minutes and still had the guts to step up to the line over and over and over again and drain free throws. One for the ages.

-- For some reason, the jerk of a bartender where we were called last call at 1:15 -- Ten minutes before the game ended. When it was finally over, I wanted to buy a round of drinks for my vanquished foes, but the bartender wouldn't do it. He said he was tired so he called last call early and wanted us to leave. He was a Florida fan. He had a mullet and jean shorts on. I'm not making this up.

-- I should probably apologize to the State's Seth Emerson for my outburst on the street after the game. I was a little excited.

Anyway, sorry to all of you for subjecting you to a lengthy diatribe on the game, but moments like those need to be celebrated. If UGA tops Florida in six OTs in football this year, I'll offer up as much of the space on this page as you'd like to relive the excitement.

And now, finally, as if we'd gone through six overtimes, on to the links...

-- Lots of fall-out from last night's UGA-Mississippi State game.

You can read the recap of the action from Athens' Roger Clarkson.

My game story for the Telegraph looks at what might be ahead for the Dawgs.

Georgia Sports Blog has some of the latest rumors on the coaching search.

Brett Jensen of TotalUGA.com has the harsh words of Zac Swansey, who not only threw Pete Herrmann and company under the bus, but then backed the bus up over them a few times to boot.

And the AJC's Chip Towers says it falls to Damon Evans to try to salvage what's left of the team after this brutal season.

-- Now that basketball season has come to an end in Athens, it's back to football. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) the Lane Kiffin watch moves forever onward. Get the Picture has the latest, in which the Lanester basically accuses ESPN's Chris Low -- a fine writer and reporter -- of making up the whole "pumping gas" story.

-- SouthernPigskin.com has a preview of Georgia's season complete with a good picture of Rennie Curran.

-- Missed this yesterday, but should pass it along: Scott Chancey of the Albany Herald gets some pretty interesting thoughts from former Bulldog Charles Grant.

-- The AJC's Michael Carvell has a nice piece on step 2 of the recruiting process -- actually getting your new signees academically qualfied.

-- The McDuffie Mirror is the latest to offer a tribute to retiring Gym Dogs coach Suzanne Yoculan.

-- When you just invested $100 million in a player, you probably don't want to hear that he almost killed a guy.

-- And finally, if you haven't been following the Jon Stewart-Jim Cramer feud, you've been missing some great television. The coup de gras came last night , when Cramer was a guest on "The Daily Show."

Just a quick programming note: I'm headed back home from Tampa today and will be on the road most of this afternoon, so likely won't have another update. There will be a few posts over the weekend though, and next week we get down to the important business of spring practice.

6 comments:

Jason said...

Um...I don't want to be a total jerk but does Zac think that he's the second coming of Chris Paul or something? He plays terribly out of control, doesn't respect the basketball and can't consistently hit shots - jumpshots or layups for that matter. I think we all appreciate his effort but really - where is he coming from here? I'm hoping it's just the emotion of a long and disappointing season and I wish him well should he decide to move on to another school that will have him.

iheartzac said...

david, i got on to you a bit(really my comments were more meant for poster "Brian") yesterday for not being fair to zac. but, for him to say this kind of stuff really bothers me. im sure he is doing his best. and, im certain that he is a million times better than me, but he has been truly awful this year. i was shocked that he played/started as much as he did. in fact, my friend (coincidentally named brian) and i would always take note of the score when he came in... his time almost always produced a "minus." i would be shocked if there was even one other d-1 school that he would start for.

Anonymous said...

David:

Awesome description of the game. You and a lawyer buddy of mine in NYC are the only 'Cuse alum I know -- if blog-readin' constitutes "knowin'". (In fact, I think you and my buddy Woody graduated from there around the same time.)

In one of those amazing transferences of our post-Net Age, I found myself -- like your new buddies in the bar, pulling wildly for Syracuse on account of I just knew you'd be going nuts if they won. Congrats! It really was one for the ages, and we Dawg fans will live our b'ball thrills vicariously through you (and will also take you up on your promise regarding our 5 OT win over Florida).

The jorted bartender is the archetypal Florida fan -- completely self-absorbed with his own needs despite amazing stuff going down just behind him and never happier than when he puts a downer on someone else's lucky streak. Damn him and his tribe. I hope you broke his crystal trophy with your butt.

Congrats again.

Ben said...

Couldn't read the entire Swansey article but didn't need to. If he wants to leave.....I say "don't let the door hit ya on the way out!"

Brian said...

If Zac "5 Second Violation" Swansey thinks he's too good for our program, then our program is in more trouble than I thought. I attended all but a handful of the home games this year, and at each game the firing or retention of Coach Felton was discussed at great length. I liked Coach Felton. I thought he brought needed disipline and stress on academics that was needed after the Harrick Era. I was willing to overlook the horrible win/loss record, the odd substitution patterns, and his refusal to ever call a timeout, but the recruitment and signing of Zac Swansey was indefensable. How Coach Felton ever thought Swansey was an SEC caliber guard makes me question every basketball decision he has ever made. The fact that he would choose Swansey over all the other point guards in the state of Georgia is mind bottling.

Swansey transferring is going to save the new coach a lot of trouble, because I'm sure his first move would have been evaluating the current roster and encouraging players who don't fit his system to move on. I guarantee Swansey would have been one of those players.

I know this sounds like sour grapes given Zac's post game comments, but Ive been killing him all year.

On another note, I refuse to believe the rumors, but if we hire Bobby Knight, I'm starting www.firedamonevans.com the next day.

On even another note, congrats, David, on the big Syracuse win, but I'll never forgive the 'Cuse and John Wallace for breaking our hearts in the '96 Sweet Sixteen.

iheartzac said...

ouch