Monday, March 24, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to the Final Four

Year after year, upsets happen in the NCAA Tournament. In other breaking news, the sky is blue. It's true, they don't call it March Madness for no reason. What makes the tourney, in my opinion, the biggest and best annual American sporting event is its unpredictability. Despite the fact that millions of fools across the nation, such as myself, foolishly try to fill out brackets to predict who will win with better accuracy than the other fools, you never know what to expect from each game which is undoubtedly the tournament's best quality.

Unfortunately, this same aspect of the Tourney came at the expense of strongly-favored local candidates, the Georgetown Hoyas. With Maryland and Virginia Tech toiling away in the NIT once again, and Coppin State, Mount St. Mary's, American, and George Mason all already eliminated, G'Town was the only D.C. area team we had left to root for. Add in the fact that they won the Big East regular season title this year (no small feat) and made the Final Four last year and their loss to Davidson is compounded even further.

Any fan of Maryland could have told you how dangerous this Davidson team really is after watching them play the Terps extremely tough in the Tournament last year. Another thing Maryland fans know all too well is getting upset in the early rounds of the tourney multiple times, a feeling that is circulating around M Street right now, but was not previously the norm for the Hoyas' teams of the past. I clearly consider myself a Maryland fan more so than a Georgetown fan, but that probably has more to do with recent history and the time I grew up in more than anything else.  I have very distant memories of Georgetown's dominant teams of the early 90's, led by big men like Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo and mercurial guards like Victor Page and Allen Iverson. At that time, Maryland was still embroiled in NCAA sanctions and while still a competitive program, was definitely second fiddle to G'Town. Beyond that, Georgetown meant a lot more to this region's basketball scene, as well as the Black community as a whole.

John Thompson took over on "The Hilltop" in 1972 and, in short, was the spark that created the Big East conference (due respect goes to Lou Carnesecca of St. John's, Rick Pitino while at Providence, Jim Boeheim at Syracuse and Jim Calhoun at Connecticut for their contributions in its early history, too). By the 1980's, he built Georgetown into a premier basketball program and transcended racial barriers.  For D.C. natives, the Hoyas became not only a source of local pride, but Black pop cultural icons in the midst of the crack epidemic and high murder rates. Bringing things back to the here and now, this Georgetown team, brought back to prominence by John Thompson III, is not the same as the teams from a bygone era. Nevertheless, this loss represents a loss for D.C., especially with this year's Hoyas expected to go so much further.

One bright spot from yesterday's game was the breakthrough performance of sophomore Davidson guard and tournament superstar Stephen Curry. Again, last year we saw this kid put up 30 points against the Terps as a freshman. He went off for 40 in Davidson's 1st round upset of Gonzaga and 30 against G'Town yesterday, scoring 25 of them in the second half. Curry is the son of longtime NBA veteran, sharp-shooter Dell Curry, which goes a long way towards explaining why Stephen has so much game. ESPN's Anna K. Clemmons gives us a look at the team's magical run from an alum's perspective here, while Yahoo! Sports takes another look at the game here. 

A star has truly been born and although it hurts to see it come at G'Town's expense, it is great to witness history in the making. He may look like he's only 12 years old, but Curry became the sixth player in NCAA history to score at least 30 points in his first three tournament appearances. Quite an accomplishment. Better yet, Davidson is clearly slipping into Cindarella's shoes this year and it couldn't have happened to a more likeable group (though Villanova is a close second. Shouts to Kevin Williams! What up, Arun?)


  1. Great use of the word "mercurial". Vocabulary like that and dare I say "professional" placement of those photos(or the art, as the wire season 5 taught me) is why we're paying you the big bucks.

    Oh yeah, and as long as we're throwing around British soccer terminology I'd like to go on the record as saying that Stephen Curry's second half shot selection was audacious, and that three he hit up after going up and under Jessie Sapp was downright flamboyant.

  2. Curry's electric pace and outstanding form left the Hoyas defence at 6's and 7's (ok maybe thats overdoing it a little).