Monday, March 12, 2012

March Madness is here/Relishing the underdog

As I write this, I'm not even sure if the Bruins are going to get an invitation to the NIT, but it almost doesn't matter to me at least because I was suddenly reminded of how nice it is to read about a victorious underdog making it in the realm of sports.

From SBNation last December.

You see, the New York Times just published a lovely piece about journey undertaken by the Cal State Long Beach basketball team to a guaranteed spot in the NCAA tournament (aka March Madness.) (Source: "How Long Beach State Got In", March 13).

Yeah, I didn't know they had a good basketball team either. (They do, however, have access to some of the finest bike infrastructure in the country.)

So anyway, the New York Times talked about the team's magic sauce:

  • four returning seniors (a rarity, it seems, in a sport where it is lucrative for the best players to leave after one year of college ball for the NBA); 
  • discipline; 
  • steady improvements in their record; 
  • and a coach that seems level-headed and skilled (Don Monson was at the helm of the Gonzaga team in 1999, when they made their fairy tale appearance at the NCAA Final Four. Even I heard about that run to glory, and it was 1999; I was living under a rock.) 

The story itself, imho, was well-written; the way the story brought us through those last excruciating three games Cal State Long Beach had to win in order to get its NCAA berth (the second appearance since 1999) reminded me of why people get excited about sports, and why I like reading about scholar-athletes.

The Cal State Long Beach team has played consistently well all season long. The coach went on the record talking about how much he admired a particular athlete on his team, Casper Ware, commenting on how much this athlete has grown as both a player and as a person, in his four years as a student.

It sounds like the Cal State Long Beach basketball team earned its spot in the NCAA tournament. Congratulations and I hope the players have the time of their lives in the coming weeks.

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