Tuesday, March 6, 2018


My plane was an hour late taking off for Charleston, but I still arrived at the North Charleston Coliseum in time on Sunday to see the entire second game of the first doubleheader.

Last weekend, running into last night, the CAA played its end of season tournament to decide which school would be invited to the big dance that begins in earnest on Thursday.  I had followed Northeastern's basketball all season, and was there both as a scribe/researcher and also as a fan to see the games. I'd bought the package of tickets that would give me entrance to nine basketball games in a four day period.  Had it not been for some miscommunication with my hotel's shuttle service, and the flight delay,  I would have been able to see four games on Sunday alone. As it was I saw three. Lots of basketball. Very good seats.

The CAA is a mid major conference.  As it relates to the big dance,--the moniker for the NCAA Division I basketball tournament-- being a mid major means that only one team from that conference will be invited to participate.  Therefore the energy at these conference tournaments can be significant.  In the SEC the tournament will be exciting, but the consequences not especially significant. A team like Kentucky will be invited to the big dance, even if they get shellacked in the first round.  Not so in the CAA. You lose, you are out.  Also, in the mid majors it is not unheard of for a team that stunk up the court all year to suddenly get hot and win the tournament. A team can be stellar all season, and have an off night, and then are not invited to the dance.

So for a fan and a scribe the CAA could provide--and in fact this year did provide--a good deal of excitement.  The problem for my university and, by extension really the whole league, is that the venue for the tournament happened to be a short distance from one of the participating schools' campus.  And this year, that school was a team that advanced to the finals.  So last night, Northeastern played what amounted to an away game in the championship, and while leading almost the entire game succumbed at the end and lost in overtime.

I saw the three games on Sunday and two on Monday. Then on my flight on Tuesday I take my window seat and overhear the fellow on the aisle speaking about how he is getting people to go to the championship game.  We talked  basketball all the way from take off to landing. For those engaged, March Madness can be all engaging.

One of the announcers last night claimed that these moments can affect us for life.  I think they can. Nobody who played in the championship game last night will forget what took place. I feel for our Northeastern players. The headlines today will read that they squandered a lead. This is so, but the reason they had a lead to squander is that they played brilliantly in the first thirty minutes. I have watched many games this season and that is as good as we play.  So, maybe give credit to the team for being up by so many in the first place.

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