College Basketball

How’d it get so sunny in Philadelphia?

I used to (and still do) daydream about what would have happened if Joe Carter doesn’t hit that home run, if Ronde Barber doesn’t intercept that pass, if Robert Horry doesn’t make that three in game 2 of the 2001 Finals, if Scott Stevens doesn’t leave Lindros in a crumpled heap on the ice.  I daydream because I can only hope for those things not to have happened in a (better) alternate universe.

But now things are different.  I think about the wicked line drive off the bat of Zobrist that hangs just enough to settle easily into Jayson Werth’s glove.  In my nightmares, that line drive gets past Werth for extra bases.  I think about Levance Fields’ desperation 75 foot heave that clangs off the  backboard and  ricochets harmlessly to the floor.  In my nightmares, that ball goes straight into the hoop.

It’s so much better to imagine the worse case scenario knowing that in reality, the good guys win. As some wise man once said (on this site, no less), it’s easier to write joy and anger.

The Phillies might have started the ball rolling but the Villanova Wildcats  are adding on more snow.   Or should I say sand?  Because all of the sudden, it’s like California coast sunshine around here.

I’m  not a big believer in sports juju and all that nonsense (I’ll leave that up to  Pedro Cerrano) but now I’m starting to believe that perhaps this winning thing is partly affected by the psyche of the fans.    I think the 2008 Cubs are a prime example.  They felt so much pressure going into their NLDS series against the Dodgers that the minute things started to go poorly, they had no rebound in them.   When your players start thinking, “oh no, here comes that curse again,” perhaps that doubt and negativity does crawl into their minds and the next thing you know, they’re making errors and swinging at terrible pitches.

In a sense, the Villanova Wildcats have the Phillies to thank.  Instead of expecting the worst when going up against Duke, they have a fan base knowing that good things can happen in this city.    And maybe, just maybe, that has an effect on the outcome of the game.

Or maybe, it’s just because this is the best team in the NCAAs.

Don’t get me wrong, I clearly recognize the superiority of the talent on UConn and UNC.  And Tom Izzo might be the most underrated college coach even though he’s won an NCAA title.   But  Jay Wright and the Wildcats are the best team left in the tourney.   Team play is often overrated.  Two future NBA players will usually win you the NCAA tourney.  But when you get to watch it in action, it makes you appreciate the beauty of a team sport played the right way.  (I apologize for sounding too much like Larry Brown.)

Villanova has no sure fire NBA stars and no first or even second-team All America players.   They are practically anonymous.  And yet, hard-nosed team basketball has gotten them to a place that very few thought they could get to.  Along with the Michigan State Spartans, they are the team that you should root for if you have no other rooting interest.  There’s plenty of space on the bandwagon, and for once, I’m advocating letting jumpers get on.

Buying a championship
As I’ve explained before, the Gambling Gods hate me more than the Sports Gods.  So as a sacrifice to them, I put a small bet on the opposing team.  My thinking is that since I often lose sports bets, I’d rather lose a few bucks but celebrate my team’s victory.   I did it all postseason with the Phils (down go the Brewers, Dodgers, and Rays) and I’m now 2 for 2 betting against Villanova in the tourney.

So how much is enough of a monetary sacrifice?  Well, that’s between me and my bookie.  But it shouldn’t be so much that you’re actually angry when your team wins.  But it should be a significant enough amount that if your team does lose,  the money you win from your bet will allow you to drown your sorrows in a few beers.

The 3-1 odds on UNC present a slight problem but since I would rather lose the bet, I guess it doesn’t matter what the odds are.    My (bad?) luck might run out at some point but hopefully not until Jay and the boys  cut down the nets in Motown.

The call
11 seconds left.  The shot clock is turned off.   Carolina has just taken the lead 85-84 on two clutch free throws by Tyler Hansbrough.   Reggie Redding inbounds the ball to Scottie Reynolds.    Scottie dribbles around a screen, attacks the lane, kicks it out to Reggie Redding, 4 seconds left,  pump fakes as Ty Lawson comes flying by.  2 seconds.  Launches a 3.  It’s good!  It’s good! Cats win! Cats win! Cats win!

It’s not likely I know.  But in today’s Philadelphia, it seems to be the only ending that fits.  And hey, if it doesn’t turn out that way,  it’s been a great season for Villanova basketball.   And the Phils defend their World Series championship under beautiful blue skies the next day. Optimism? So this is what winning feels like.

By Vin

Vin is a Philly boy who shouldn't be invited into your house because he'll judge you on your book and music collection. He owns Dawkins, Utley, Iverson, and Lindros jerseys, which is all you really need to know about him. He can be reached at [email protected]

4 replies on “How’d it get so sunny in Philadelphia?”

I first thought that Nova would be Tar heel food on saturday, but I dunno. They play like a team. Plus, Jay Wright is the most underrated coach, not Izzo. He pushed every right button.

Also, don’t underestimate how easily Nova beat Duke, who played Carolina pretty close.

I hope you’re right RJ but it’s going to take a masterful game plan from Jay Wright. The Wildcats are smart enough to execute it if he does come up with one.

The problem is that you have to slow UNC down to win the game but Villanova is best when it shoots shoots shoots. Hopefully the refs will let nova play Big East/Villanova basketball. In a physical game, maybe the Tar Heels crumble like the Dukies.

Tough game last night. Vin you were right about Villanova being best with when it shoots, shoots, shoot, but last night they couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a friggin’ boat.

I blame that stupid depth perception at Ford Field. They missed some shots early and then it steamrolled from there.

Great run by nova though.

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