From Gordon Hayward’s miss to Kentucky’s togetherness: Mike DeCourcy’s best college basketball moments of the 2010s

first_imgThe 2010s were a decade of change in college basketball.There was the rising influence of the age limit rule, as Kentucky and then Duke built teams around large collections of elite NBA Draft prospects. Said Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski: “If it goes in, it would go down as the greatest shot in the history of basketball.”Maybe we can say it was the greatest miss, then. There was the enormous upheaval in conference membership, with the Big East split almost in two and the ACC, SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all experiencing significant alterations.There was the Justice Department investigation that led to the formation of the Rice Commission and so many current NCAA enforcement inquiries.MORE: SN’s college basketball All-Decade teamThere also were so many marvelous moments to experience that I really couldn’t fit them all into this column. I came up with a dozen, easily, and this is my list of my most memorable moments of the decade.Probably the wildest moment of the decade was when UMBC defeated No. 1 seed Virginia in the first upset of its kind in NCAA tournament history. Because that game was in Charlotte, where Sporting News is headquartered, our Ryan Fagan was there. He wrote brilliantly about what occurred, and I tried to put the event in perspective from my seat at a table in a Pittsburgh sports bar.I was in the arena for nearly all of my top moments — but one, it may surprise you, occurred in a drug store parking lot. With that, my best moments of the decade:12. Gonzaga reaches the topBy the time Mark Few reached his 14th season at Gonzaga, he had accomplished deeds in college basketball that seemed unimaginable when he took over following Dan Monson’s departure for the head coaching job at Minnesota.Few had led Gonzaga to the NCAA Tournament in every season he coached. He had won 11 consecutive West Coast Conference regular-season titles. He had convinced such programs as Stanford, Memphis, Illinois and Michigan State to visit Spokane for non-league games. He’d gotten Gonzaga to four Sweet 16 appearances and coached a player, Adam Morrison, who’d earned national player of the year recognition.On Sunday, March 3, 2013, though, he spoke to me fully aware Gonzaga was about to be ranked No. 1 for the first time in its history. I texted to see whether he had a few moments to discuss this remarkable achievement and, being one of the most gracious and generous competitors I’ve covered in nearly four decades in the business, he eagerly agreed.It’s no secret that I’m not much for regular-season polls, but it still was amazing for Gonzaga to climb that high. The Zags since have earned No. 1 seeds and reached the 2017 NCAA Championship game. Those were bigger deals. But their climb to the top of the AP Top 25 poll, and Few’s willingness to talk that evening, said so much about what makes the program special.11. From Germany, with loveAs the 2018 Big Ten Tournament progressed, and as the Michigan Wolverines advanced, I paid some attention to the mother of star center Mo Wagner because I’d been assigned to write a piece about him for Sporting News and our partner site in Germany, Spox.When Wagner dominated an able Purdue defense in the championship game, Beate Wagner celebrated every basket with uncommon expressiveness. Because of foul trouble, and because he wasn’t needed any more, he played only 17 minutes in the final but scored 17.When he was named the Big Ten championship MVP, his mother wept, joyfully. I was standing nearby and was able to snap a photo of the reaction.Living and working in Berlin, she’d had only occasional opportunities to see her son play in person. Mo put on a show for her.10. Rivers conquers the DeanDomeAustin Rivers was only at Duke for one season, and it did not end as planned, with Lehigh and CJ McCollum chasing the Devils out in a major upset.Rivers’ one trip to North Carolina in 2012, though, could not have gone better.The Blue Devils trailed their archrivals by two points when they began their offense with about six seconds left. A ball screen set by Mason Plumlee led to Tyler Zeller switching onto Rivers, who faced the goal from behind the 3-point line with three seconds left. Zeller gave him a 4-foot cushion, concerned about a possible drive to the goal. It was too much room. Rivers rose, fired, nailed the shot. Duke won.OK, so there was some noise in the building, but it all came from the Duke behind, and those behind it, including NBA coach Doc Rivers — Austin’s dad.I was in the corner end zone press seats, opposite from where Rivers cut loose that shot. I’ve been fortunate to attend many games in the greatest rivalry in American sports, but this was the most dramatic.9. A long way downThe UNI Panthers held a 12-point lead over Texas A&M with 34 seconds remaining in their NCAA Tournament second-round game in Oklahoma City. That’s when you start booking the tickets for the regional, right? You’re going to the Sweet 16, obviously.Except A&M wound up on that plane.It remains difficult to fathom how UNI could surrender a lead that large in a time frame that small, but it happened. The Aggies score six baskets, one of those a 3-pointer, and a free throw — countered by only a single Panthers field goal — to tie the game at the end of regulation.Twice — not once, but twice — a Panthers player inbounding the ball saw no options and tried to throw it off the defender’s leg to gain a new five-second count and wound up, instead, seeing the ball gathered by an Aggies player and laid in the goal.The Aggies won in double overtime. UNI, as one would expect with a coach as classy as Ben Jacobson, handled their defeat as well as possible. Their locker room was quiet, but those at the center of the collapse dealt with the questions they faced with poise.8. Kansas silences Mizzou one last timeWith Missouri set to leave the Big 12 Conference to join the SEC for the 2012-13 season, the Tigers were scheduled for one final visit to Lawrence, Kan., with the two teams battling for the league lead on Feb. 25, 2012.Allen Fieldhouse was so loud as they prepared to start that game that it was laughable. In fact, I did laugh at the absurdity of the noise level. And here’s what was stunning: I could not hear my own laughter. I’d never experienced anything like it.Mizzou proceeded to bury the Jayhawks for the first 30 minutes of the game. The Tigers led, 67-53, with 10:13 left. Then Conner Teahan nailed a 3-pointer for the Jayhawks. Four minutes later, it was a one-possession game. With 16 seconds left, Thomas Robinson converted a 3-point play to tie it. Robinson then rejected Phil Pressey’s layup attempt, which led to overtime, which led to KU winning, which led to more delirium.7. Front-row seat to the danceIn 2014, I opened the NCAA Tournament at the site in Raleigh, where All-American Jabari Parker and No. 3 seed Duke and No. 1 seed Virginia were the featured attractions. At least, that’s how it seemed as it opened.In the day’s first game, No. 14 seed Mercer played the third-seeded Blue Devils, and my press seat was at the foul line across from the Bears’ bench. So I had a close-up view of their center, Daniel Coursey, converting a 3-point play with 1:08 left to put Duke behind, 68-63. The Devils didn’t recover from that and wound up losing by seven.Immediately after the game, senior guard Kevin Canevari, who’d played six minutes that day and averaged 1.5 points for the season, made himself an enduring part of NCAA Tournament history by joining his teammates directly in front of me to thank the traveling support section and then, with little warning, breaking into a full-blown version of the “Nae Nae” dance.It’s the social media era, so I pulled out my iPhone and sent a clip to Sporting News. But I’m pretty sure it’s a CBS/Turner camera that caught the tape that airs every March.MORE: SN’s college basketball Athlete of the Decade6. They call him ‘Huggs’With 8:59 left in the 2010 Final Four game between West Virginia and Duke, Mountaineers star Da’Sean Butler attempted to drive the baseline and wound up on the floor in pain. He knew it was bad. He knew it hurt like hell. He also knew that any chance he had of leading the Mountaineers to a comeback victory against the Blue Devils was over, and that his plans for a professional basketball career might be delayed.It was a lot to process in front of 70,000 spectators, and coach Bob Huggins could see Butler’s distress when he came out to the court. Huggins immediately cradled Butler’s head with a hug. Butler later said he was apologizing to Huggins for playing poorly and not helping to get Huggins his first championship, and that Huggins responded by saying he loved Da’Sean and calling him “a special kid.”Many have written or said that moment humanized Huggins, but I’d known him for two decades by then and covered his Cincinnati Bearcats teams as the Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer from 1997-2000. I never doubted he was a good person, that he always cared about his players.If no one had ever unfairly demonized him, he wouldn’t have needed to be humanized.5. Watford lights up BloomingtonOn Dec. 10, 2011, I had two great choices about what to cover: the Crosstown Shootout between Xavier and Cincinnati, 20 minutes from the house, or Kentucky at Indiana, a drive of two-plus hours. I’d always loved the Shootout, and convenience probably was a factor. I chose to stay close to home.I was there for the bigger story, but not the one that was more fun.Cincinnati-Xavier ended with what I termed the “Crosstown Punchout.” It was an ugly scene and one of the more disappointing events I’ve covered. When I was finished writing, I got in the car and began driving home, with the Indiana-Kentucky game on the radio. When it was close to the end, I pulled over into the parking lot of the Walgreens and began watching on my iPhone.It was there that I saw Christian Watford’s 3-pointer over the challenge by Darius Miller that resulted in Indiana’s 73-72 victory. It was one of only two games the Wildcats lost all year. I wish I’d been there, for a lot of reasons, but was glad I got to see it — even on a tiny device.4. ‘All I do is win’On the final day of the greatest season any college basketball conference has enjoyed, Pitt was matched against Villanova at the Petersen Events Center with a chance to win the 2010-11 Big East championship.I’d grown up in Pittsburgh. Although there were many great players in the area during that period — Sam Clancy, Dennis Wuycik, George Karl, Billy Knight — the city never was all that invested in the sport. Many peers who grew up in the region around the same time became excellent sports journalists; for nearly all of them, hockey was their true love.So it was genuinely amazing to see what Ben Howland started at Pitt and Jamie Dixon elevated between 2001 and 2011, with the “Oakland Zoo” cheering section providing a homecourt advantage that aided the Panthers in becoming a force in the Big East.The victory over Villanova was nothing special. The Panthers won, 60-50, but that lifted them to 15-3, a game ahead of runner-up Notre Dame. Without a lineup of future NBA stars, Pitt won the league that sent a record-11 teams to the NCAA Tournament.The Pete was packed for the game, and when it was over the song, “All I Do is Win” from DJ Khaled was played full-blast over the sound system The members of the Zoo did as the track told them, and players such as Gary McGhee joined in: “Everybody’s hands go up/And they stay there/ Up down, up down, up down/All I do is win, win, win.”It was one of the most compelling connections I’d ever seen between a team and the school’s student section.3. Kentucky’s bouncing group hugThe theme of the 2012 Final Four, at least the theme imposed by those who covered it, was that Kentucky had no business being there with its immense collection of one-and-done players (three in an eight-man rotation), that those freshmen were playing in college only because they were “forced” to do so and their connection with the UK campus was tenuous, at best.It was the most galling news conference scene since the 1992 Cincinnati Bearcats were derided by the collective media because so many of them were products of junior colleges.When it was over and the Wildcats had beaten Kansas for the title, they did not break off and celebrate as individuals who’d earned championship rings on the way to the NBA Draft podium. (I saw that once, a veteran player falling on the court and reveling in the moment as if he’d done it himself. You might even guess who it was).Instead, the Wildcats gathered in a corner opposite the benches, because it happened to be where most of those on court ended up as the buzzer sounded, and they bounced in unison to express a collective sense of joy.They were a team, like any other. Only closer than most.MORE: John Calipari is SN’s Coach of the Decade2. ‘Jenkins … for the championship!’My press seat was right there. The 3-pointer by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins to beat North Carolina in the 2016 NCAA championship game was probably the most dramatic decisive bucket in NCAA Tournament history, and it unfolded directly in front of me.Remember, Lorenzo Charles’ bucket for N.C. State to defeat Houston in 1983 was a put-back of a terrible miss. Keith Smart’s shot for Indiana to beat Syracuse in 1987 occurred with 4 seconds left. Mario Chalmers’ 3-pointer for Kansas forced overtime against Memphis in 2008. Christian Laettner’s huge play to defeat Kentucky in 1992 led to a title for Duke, but only after they won two more games.This was the championship game, and it had been tied on an improbable 3-pointer by star Marcus Paige with 4.7 seconds remaining. Overtime beckoned, and the way those two had performed there was no reason to regret that. But Ryan Arcidiacono drove the ball up the court, and the Carolina defense constricted to protect against a layup, and Jenkins sneaked in behind. Arcidiacono slipped the ball backward, and Jenkins fired.Pat Forde, now with Sports Illustrated, was seated nearby. I looked at him. He looked at me. We both had that “can-you-believe-it?” look on our faces. An amazing moment.1. AnticipationWhen Butler reached the 2010 NCAA Final Four, the Bulldogs had a team with two future NBA players — but also a few future businessmen. The program then was an elite mid-major, not the Big East contender it is today.I honestly did not expect the entire city of Indianapolis would adopt the Bulldogs. There are so many Indiana and Purdue fans in the city, and a fair segment of Golden Domers. Butler has a passionate following, but it is a mid-size private school and thus not an Indianapolis franchise, so to speak.That weekend, it was. Nearly the entire crowd of 70,000 got involved. And when star forward Gordon Hayward was able to get in position to launch a halfcourt shot that would have made the Bulldogs the first true mid-major ever to win it all, there was a lot of hope floating in the air for what seemed to be a long flight.Imagine what a story it would have been had the ball found the target. Imagine the delirium that would have gripped Lucas Oil Stadium. Villanova’s 1985 upset over Georgetown would have been nothing compared to this.And then the shot descended, and it struck the backboard and deflected toward the goal. But it came in too hard, and bounded off the front rim.“It almost went in!” CBS’s Jim Nantz shouted.last_img read more

Ind vs SA 1st Test Day 4 Review: Rohit’s frenzy record spree marks India…

first_imgImage Courtesy: The Indian ExpressAdvertisement m635byNBA Finals | Brooklyn Vs7q2l0hWingsuit rodeo📽Sindre Efz69l( IG: @_aubreyfisher @imraino ) 5063Would you ever consider trying this?😱a2z7tqCan your students do this? 🌚33Roller skating! Powered by Firework Rohit Sharma’s first test as an opener took a turn for the best with the batsman entering the record books on Day 4. India are in the pole position to earn a positive result after setting a mammoth target of 395 runs for the Proteas to chase after Ashwin managed to pick up 7 wickets.Advertisement Image Courtesy: The Indian ExpressAfter stretching out their first innings score to a respectable 431, South African bowlers were yet again taken to the cleaners by Rohit Sharma. The Mumbai Indians captain broke a spree of records including being the first batsman to score twin centuries in their first outing as an opener, maximum number of sixes by an Indian in a test match. Sharma also had a dubious record to his name after being the first Indian to be stumped twice in a game.Mayank Agarwal’s early dismissal brought upon Cheteshwar Pujara early on who managed to get some valuable runs under his belt after a lean patch. After the dismissals of Sharma and Pujara who got to their hundred and half-century respectively, Ravindra Jadeja was promoted to accelerate the run-scoring. Valuable contributions by skipper Kohli and deputy skipper Rahane to declare their innings at 323-4.Advertisement Coming to the fourth innings, first innings’ centurion Dean Elgar could not replicate his heroics after being dismissed by Ravindra Jadeja. The Proteas ended the day at 11-1 after 9 overs. The equation now stands as 384 runs to chase with 9 wickets in hand on Day 5.Read Also:Advertisement KL Rahul reckons not to mess with Jasprit BumrahRavindra Jadeja becomes the fastest left armer to 200 wickets in Indian test history Advertisementlast_img read more