My alma mater won’t see the Big Dance. It will be lucky to see a square dance. I’m guessing that by this time tomorrow, all they’ll be seeing is the plane home to Tampa. But by gum, after trailing Villanova by 16 at the half on the opening night of the Big East tournament, the University of South Florida Bulls stampeded back and, with 5.1 seconds left, took a one-point lead, thanks to the clutchest of layups from No. 10 (above), Anthony Crater.
We held on from there and won. USF won, that is. I realize for most if not all of you, “we” doesn’t apply to this institution. It’s my school and, technically, it hasn’t been my school since Rusty Staub was diving for sinking fly balls. But indulge me for a moment.
I had given up at halftime. I believe I e-mailed a friend the following message when I tracked down the midpoint score from a remote location:
USF down by 16 at half. Glad i’m not at msg. So no suspense there.
Then I made use of my spiffy little electronic device and saw they/we were down by 8. Then by 4. Then I raced to a television (the Bulls on television…what a conference!) and saw them/us commit two horrific turnovers in the final two minutes and pull it out anyway.
I’m a lousy college basketball prognosticator, I’ll happily admit. I pulled a VILLANOVA DEFEATS TRUMAN, and couldn’t be happier about it.
I’m a lousy college basketball prognosticator probably because I hadn’t intently watched a college basketball game in approximately 52 weeks. I attended my first college basketball game in a Staub’s age a year ago when USF played DePaul at the Garden in the 2010 Big East tourney’s opener. We won that afternoon. Stephanie and I were so ostentatious in our school spirit that we were picked to be the fans who moved down from so-so seats to closer seats. Also, we were the only ones in our section. Or our tier. At a quarter to twelve in the morning for a game involving low-seeded schools from Tampa and Chicago, you’re going to stand out in New York when you’re sitting alone.
I was charged up by our win last year. We were actually pretty good — good enough for me to notice we were in the Big East tournament (to which they nowadays invite everybody, I learned). I was so stoked I made a point of watching our second game on ESPN the next day, which was a rather predictable loss to Georgetown.
And I’m pretty sure I hadn’t watched any college basketball from last March until this March, unless catching a glimpse while channel-changing counts. I watched the last few minutes of the Bulls getting their tail kicked by St. John’s the other night on SNY, but really I was just waiting for Mets highlights to come on.
So I don’t know anything about college basketball at large. I really don’t. But I know we’re still in this tournament. And I know giving up never pays in sports. I should’ve remembered that from who knows how many happy recaps I’ve been fortunate enough to absorb, but it’s always nice to get a reminder about that.
Oh, and this — this, too, is nice. It’s from the AP writeup of tonight’s game:
The Wildcats squandered a 16-point halftime lead, completing their collapse when Wayns threw away an inbound pass with 22.8 seconds left that Crater converted into a go-ahead layup.
Why is that nice? Because somebody else collapsed for a change. A team I was rooting against for a couple of hours did the collapsing, not mine. That it was a team based in Philadelphia…well, that in basketball is what they call the bonus situation.
At least I think it is.