Monday, March 28, 2016
I admit it. I gave up. And this wasn't one of my half-hearted, prepare-for-the-worst give ups, this was the real-deal, game's-over, start-dealing-with-the-hurt give up. There were 9 and a half minutes left. The Orange had gotten behind by 16 points. Then they cut it to 8. Virginia hit 3 3-pointers and it was back to 15. And I'm pretty sure everyone reading this had pretty much the same thoughts. But not Chase. I told him it was over, hoping that if we started mourning early, the grieving process wouldn't result in tears when the stone-cold truth finally set in. Chase said "it's never over til it's over." And even more importantly, he believed it. It's great to be 8. I'm still in shock over what transpired over the next 10 minutes and I promise to watch that stretch again and have a more detailed, thoughtful, basketball analysis of one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the NCAA Tournament. But for now I just want to speak from the heart. I have always given Coach Boeheim a tough time for mostly 3 things but they all changed tonight: 1) His prickliness. He's a grumpy old curmudgeon. Sometimes it's cute and acceptable, other times it's rude and condescending. Tonight, even though he barely cracked a smile he said he's never been prouder of a group than he was of this team. 2) His tournament record. Yes, it's good, and he's now going to his 5th Final Four, but with all the great teams, 1 title seems too few, especially considering all the upsets (Navy, Richmond, Vermont, Texas A&M, Marquette, Dayton) all double-digit seeds that knocked off superior Orange teams. And until tonight, the Orange had never pulled off a major, shocking upset in the tournament. 3) His strategy. He plays 2-3 until the cows come home and if you can beat it, well then, he'll shake your hand and offer kind wishes for luck in the next round. Tonight he changed, he adjusted. He saw that when given time Virginia was picking apart the zone and nailing 3-pointers from the place now known as Curryland. But he made an adjustment, threw something at them that they weren't expecting and it helped them win the game.