Posted by: wordofexcellence | April 1, 2011

The Final Four

So now we know who the participants are – VCU, Butler, Kentucky and UConn.  None of them was a #1 seed, none of them was a #2 seed, and UConn, by the skin of Kemba Walker’s teeth, got in as a #3 seed.

Who will win?  Much to the chagrin of those in my home state, I will predict that UConn isn’t going home with the trophy this year. Is my thinking skewed by my Syracuse connection?  Sure it is, I’ll admit that.

But what excites me about these tournaments is seeing the underdog succeed.  Oh how I rooted for Butler last year.  I’m not a Duke fan anyway, though.  Oh, how I will root for VCU this year. They have a Smart coach (ha!) and I just like to see “the little guy” be successful, particularly if my Orange are sitting at home watching on tv.

The NCAA men’s tournament has excited me since I was a boy. I vividly recall learning that Bill Bradley had torched Wichita State for 58 points in the consolation game. 

“The What!” you say?  Yes, indeed, there used to be a third-place game as a preliminary to the title game. Obviously, it gave lots of teams and their players another opportunity to shine.

I remember watching Loyola of Chicago (the Ramblers) sneak past Cincinnati in 1963, with 4 black kids starting. It was exciting to see this new phenomenon, and the thrill of a 60-58 game is always enticing.

In 1966, I was a senior in high school.  On the night of the championship game, a bunch of us were at a party at Gloria’s house.  Well, the girls were partying…we guys were glued to the tv set in the rec room watching Texas Western – with 5 black kids running around on Kentucky.  Astounding that a team would actually not have any white boys in the starting lineup! Well, Don Haskins’ crew won that game – I remember them…David Lattin, Nevil Shed, Willie Cager, Bobby Joe Hill, Orsten Artis, Harry Flournoy, Willie Worsley (all 5-6 of him); they won that game 72-65 and made history.

Both of those teams were underdogs. Isn’t it the underdog that stirs up something in our hearts, our bosoms, our gullet?  Don’t we just love to see “the little guy” succeed?

I don’t know anymore.  Maybe that’s just “old school.” Maybe I’m dating myself when I bring up all that ancient history.

But that’s alright. I don’t mind reminiscing. I was brought up that way, I guess. Walt & Marian Akerley did me well in my youth, and I think I owe it to their memory to remember some roots.

Go VCU! Go Butler! Go little guys all over the nation and the world. Hey, wasn’t David a little guy when he slew Goliath?


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