Friday, March 13

A Word on Cuse/Conn Sextuple Overtime

127-117 in 6 Overtimes. Before the Orange and the Huskies squared off last night in the Big East quarterfinals, my good friend The Concierge and I had a phone conversation. We said we just wanted a good game. Our conversations have toned down since high school when we were at each other's throats everytime these two teams took the court. Concierge has been a Syracuse fan since forever and eventually attended the school, while I had a devotion to UCONN since it was the place of my birth. Even though I ended up going to the U, I never stopped pulling for the Huskies and thankfully the Canes moved to the ACC. I am not a supporter of having more than one team in a sport, but I very well could not drop my childhood team as I began rooting for Miami.

Both of us have had some memorable victories in the rivalry and have celebrated when the teams won national championships, but last night was something completely new to college basketball alltogether. I know the teams did not set a record for most overtimes which is 7, but I can honestly say I have never seen a game go on that long in my life. Concierge and I texted during the game, but it was after the first overtime that he called me to talk about how crazy this was. At the end of the brief call he said, "I'll call you at the end." That soon turned into "I'll call you at the third you at the fourth" and so on. By the end it was past 1:00 am and Connecticut lost and I was not looking forward to work today.

The game was an epic, but not an all-time in terms of greatness. Both teams made mistakes that prevented them from ending the game early. Not to say it was not great, but the length and marathon style is what made it unbelievable. In regulation, UCONN had 22 turnovers, shot 44% from the free-throw line, and shot 3-13 from the 3 point line. I thought that had bought them a ticket home after regulation, but Syracuse left the door open. In overtime it was UCONN's turn to keep the Orange in the game, as the Orange did not lead the game until the 6th OT. The UCONN led the game by as much as 6 in the extra sessions but could not close the deal. 24-42 free-throws overall is not the way to get it done if you are Connecticut. The Orange almost won the game in regulation but Eric Devendorf's shot was just after the buzzer. On the replay, the game clock started late after Gavin Edwards tipped the ball and it fell to Devendorf. If the shot had counted with the clock starting late I would have been upset, but then again they could have counted it and spared us all the overtime sessions. By the 6th overtime, both teams had lost critical players to fouls, but it was one of the Cuse staples that sustained them to the victory. As the players grew more exhausted and Thabeet left the game, Johnny Flynn overcame his heavy legs and worked his way to the basket as Andy Rautins hit the deep balls. The famous 2-3 zone became the difference. Connecticut perhaps should have switched to a zone themselves as they started playing seldom used players off their bench. Paul Harris and company took over against the bench players since they had the man-to-man advantaged. Once Syracuse went up by 7 A.J. Price took his last foul and headed for the bench.

The lasting image I will take from the game was after Devendorf fouled out and was replaced by Justin Thomas who had not even played 30 minutes all season. As UCONN brought the ball up the Orange players sat dead tired in the zone, but Thomas who had just come in was jumping around and waving his arms, the lone source of energy on a court of drained players. After the game Jim Calhoun was his usual salty self saying that he will look back on the game this summer, but for now it is a loss. Jim Boeheim could not have been prouder of his team.

This was a game no one will ever forget, but now UCONN has to drag itself into the tournament. They will likely get a number one seed since Oklahoma, Kansas and Pittsburgh also lost yesterday but the Huskies have never advance to the final four without winning the Big East tournament so it does not bode well they will not get to Detroit if they shoot under 60 percent from the foul line and turn the ball over more than 20 times. The Orange will face West Virginia tonight and without a deep bench, I cannot see how they can play at a high level. No doubt Bobby Huggins will be turning up the pressure on the leg-weary Orange. West Virginia will be playing their third game in as many days so that goes in Syracuse's favor. If the Cuse find someway to win tonight they will have to play tomorrow night against Louisville or Villanova and if they go on to win this tourney it will be one of the greatest team accomplishments in the history of college basketball.

As I went to bed or rather tried to, I was still worked up from the game, I simply texted the Concierge, "Grats sir." There was nothing else to say after a game for the ages and everyone, not just the players and coaches, was wiped out.

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