It's the second Thursday of March in 2012. My car's weaving in and out of rush hour traffic on Columbia Parkway as I race downtown to a friend's condominium. The University of Cincinnati Bearcats had taken on the nationally ranked Georgetown Hoyas in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament just hours before, and I had successfully avoided seeing or hearing about the game all afternoon. Win or lose, I wanted to watch this contest as if it were live.
You know the game. Cashmere Wright muscled his way into the lane and dropped a floater to give the Bearcats a 2 point advantage with 7 seconds left in the second overtime period as they went on to defeat Georgetown - followed by shocking Syracuse the next night before finally falling to Louisville in the finals of the conference tournament.
It was the quietest rush hour drive I've ever had. I kept the radio off the entire way downtown to ensure I wouldn't hear the result. And when I finally arrived, I threw the car into park and jogged up to watch the DVR'd recording of the game with my fellow UC alum.
I can remember the end of that game like it was yesterday. Well it was only 17 months ago, so hopefully you all remember it too. If not - let me refresh your scatter-brained little heads: the score was tied 70-70 with under 30 seconds left when Wright set a screen, rolled back to the top of the key and caught a quick pass. He dribbled to his left, stepped into the lane - and my friend's television screen froze. We knew it was bound to happen; the game was in its second OT period, and we knew the recording would be close. But I didn't expect it to cut off here. Not with a tie game. Not with the Cats having the ball.
Excuse me, Mr. DVR: don't you realize my heart and stomach are hanging in the balance as the tiny game clock in the corner just sits on 9.7 seconds? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DIDN'T RECORD THE LAST 10 SECONDS OF THE GAME?!?!?
This wasn't my first rodeo, though. I recorded several hours after the game (back at my place) in the event that some crazy scenario like this would have happened. But this meant another damn silent drive as I avoided all forms of communication and raced to my apartment. I hadn't checked my cell phone in 4 hours. (Side note: I wouldn't wish silent car rides on my worst enemy; just brutal)
The payoff was worth it, though. That sense of unadulterated joy and relief as I jumped up and down in my living room and celebrated Wright's made basket will be something I'll never forget - and the crazy build up to that moment made it all the more memorable.
(Sorry - this was the best quality video I could find of the game)
You know the story. We all have 'em. That's just one in my line of Bearcat fandom. I grew up a UC fan in the 90's. I can remember going to football games with my dad and a few thousand others, and I can remember a packed Shoemaker Center at midnight as Melvin Levett leapt over a golf cart to slam home a crazy dunk. I don't go back as far as some of you, so I'm excited to hear your stories from time-to-time as well.
I graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2009, and I've been a football and basketball season ticket holder ever since. I don't have any crazy inside connections to the university or its athletic programs; I'm just a fanatic like each of you. My wife puts up with it as best she can, and lucky for me, she's a Bearcat too, so there's small sliver of mutual understanding.
I'll be helping Matt and Jeff out with the basketball side of things, and my only goal is to do everything in my power not to run this blog into the ground. I have no formal experience with anything like this; just a keyboard, my eyes, and my gut. So, buckle up; there are plenty of stories just like this to come. And maybe an occasional position breakdown or opponent preview sprinkled in. You can follow me on Twitter if you feel so inclined; I don't tweet a lot, but I'm definitely the funniest guy on Twitter with less than 150 followers...