College’s March Madness: Just Do It
Should Zion Williamson continue playing for Duke, despite his insane shoe-breaking incident while wearing Nikes last night just 30 seconds into the game against arch-rival North Carolina?
I feel compelled to preface this blog post with the fact that I am a devoted UNC fan. My oldest sister graduated from Chapel Hill and I’ve been a Tar Heel fan ever since my family and I visited her on that beautiful campus with a stellar basketball history and legacy that has led to watching UNC play live in a dozen games.
Having said that, Duke star Zion Williamson–and he is–needs to keep playing because if fear begins to drive him regarding basketball (or other elements in his life), then he’s no longer playing to win. And I fully understand the Nick Bosa tactic, which is to sit out the remainder of a season after an injury before a massive first-pick payday that’s just months away.
I get it.
Perhaps it’s easier for me to form my opinion without all that NBA Draft money in my near future. Still, it seems like super talented athletes like Zion Williamson and Nick Bosa may be too willing these days to squander the unique awesomeness of college athletics for what’s next in their careers. That first college experience happens only once in life.
It’s worth noting, as a lifelong Buckeye fan in Columbus, I’ve noticed that a lot of former star players (especially basketball and football) return with the latest Buckeye gear by Homage after just a couple of years in the pros to relive some of the glory days on the sidelines in the Horseshoe and in the Schottenstein Center. And they along with the coaches and fans love it. It’s one of the ways that college sports are far different than professional sports. There is something truly special about college basketball and football that cannot be replicated in the NBA or NFL.
But that’s a much longer blog post for a different day.
It’s been determined that Zion Williamson’s injury is a Grade 1 knee sprain and he is being evaluated on a day-to-day basis. Even though I am a UNC fan and I enjoyed the blowout win at Cameron Indoor last night by the final score 88-72–Go Tar Heels!–I always want to see the best athletes perform on the biggest stages.
Zion Williamson is freakishly talented, so I just hope he doesn’t let a freak accident stop him from playing what will be his only college basketball season. The dream scenario is his next steps involve playing for the next month or so but doesn’t lead Duke to a win in Chapel Hill or a national title.
I think that’s fair.
P.S. I can only imagine the emergency shoe tests being orchestrated at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon today.
A Sister’s Charming Act
In every NCAA tournament, there’s at least one lower-seeded team–a Cinderella–that captures the heart and imagination of the nation whilst we watch our brackets crumble under the pressure of shocking upsets. Normally, this Cinderella of sorts solely references a men’s basketball team. However, this year, March Madness may finally have a true Cinderella in 98-year-old Sister Jean…
Good News: The Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago narrowly defeated the Nevada Wolfpack 69-68 tonight to reach the Elite Eight.
Better News: Cinderella’s
slipper heartwarming and quick-witted spirit will continue to be in the international spotlight, befitting the uniquely-special character of college sports during this time of year.
#1: This Isn’t Lil’ News
Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway has officially been named the head basketball coach of the University of Memphis.
This announcement comes after Tubby Smith was fired from this position a week ago. With this hiring, Penny has now made the coaching leap from the prestigious AAU and high school sidelines to the college game to great fanfare. The people of Memphis and its basketball team seem excited for his triumphant return (Penny played two seasons at Memphis when university was called Memphis State from ’91-’93).
“Hardaway was introduced at a Tuesday news conference that was open to the public, leading to a pep-rally atmosphere.”
–Jeff Goodman, ESPN Insider
And one well-known former competitor had some very nice things to say about one of Orlando’s famous Magic men.
FYI – Penny Hardaway is my favorite basketball player of all-time. And it still feels very wrong that he never won an NBA title. Add onto that list his unfortunate string of injuries. Despite all of that, in his prime, Penny was one of the best players on court at any given moment. But more than that, he’s proven during his post-NBA career that he’s an even better man off the court.
Memphis signed a winner in Penny Hardaway in ways that aren’t singularly measured on the hardwood, but equally away from it.
P.S. It would be fun to see Chris Rock reprise his role as Lil’ Penny in some way…
Redefining the Sweet 16
It was destined to happen one day. My timeline was within the next 10-15 years. But it happened a little earlier than that…
For the first time in NCAA college basketball tournament history, a #16-seed has upset a #1-seed!
The UMBC Retrievers (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) not only defeated but dominated the overall #1-seed UVA Cavaliers 74-54 in Charlotte, North Carolina just moments ago. While UVA would’ve won 99 games out of 100 against UMBC, the Retrievers secured that one win at the most important time on the biggest stage to make college basketball history. Perhaps it’s fitting this game happened on March 16. As in march on, 16…march on.
And the college basketball
Retrievers Underdogs for the ages will do just that in this tournament fittingly called March Madness.