Well, the Final Four is set, and with three of my picks still alive (Memphis was the other), bracket entry "rjaymoose will not win" indeed has a shot to take first place. All I need is for Florida to beat Georgetown next Monday, but both have their work cut out for them before the even get to that point. While the games were going on, there were two stories involving hoops on Tobacco Road that caught my attention.
First off, NC State head womens basketball coach Kay Yow, who as some of you may know has been battling cancer for some time. After two bouts with the dreaded disease, it has returned for a third time as Stage 4 cancer. Yet through this all, Coach Yow found the strength to get back onto the sidelines and lead her Wolfpack, sparking a run that ended in the Sweet 16 with a loss to Connecticut on Saturday night. While her players, most notably Khadijah Whittington spoke about how she had inspired them to play harder, Coach Yow spoke of how the time spent with her team either in practice or in games helped with the physical pain she's been through. This was truly one of the most inspirational stories in sports period, much less college basketball. The lesson that I took out of this: when things seem to be at their worst, you can either give in or fight. Coach Yow, as we all should in our daily lives, has chosen to fight. You are truly an inspiration and you will be in my prayers. Thank you.
On Friday afternoon, North Carolina senior Jason Ray was hit by a car not too far from his hotel in Hackensack, NJ after getting a snack at a nearby convenience store. Ray, who was to perform at the East Regional this weekend as UNC mascot Rameses, is still on life support and in extremely critical condition according to the Associated Press (http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070325/APN/703253447). The story can be found at the link in parentheses. Please say a prayer for Jason and his family.
With the happenings stated above, the games seemed somewhat trivial despite their magnitude. But with all the commotion at the Division I level, the game of the year may have been the Division II championship game between Barton and Winona State. If you didn't see the game, Winona State was up seven with forty seconds remaining, seemingly having wrapped up a second straight national title and an undefeated season in the process. Well, Barton (more specifically guard Anthony Atkinson) had other ideas. What ensued was one of the craziest finishes in the history of college basketball, capped off by an Atkinson layup as time expired to give Barton the 77-75 win. My favorite scene: Atkinson's "mobile Thomas Hill" celebration, running around the court in tears with his hands on his head as teammates attempted to catch him. Here's the link to the video in case you missed it:
Just copy and paste the link, then click on the "Division II Championship Game" file. If you haven't seen it yet, 1. How on earth haven't you seen it? and 2. You're in for a treat. Unless you're a Winona State fan.
Bizarre story of the week: Steve Alford's plane was hit by lightning on its way from Iowa to New Mexico. Thankfully no one was injured by the strike.
Alright, enough with the links. In the Final Four I like Florida to repeat, but all three games should be outstanding. Two ones and a pair of twos...maybe the committee did know what they were doing.