Friday, March 13, 2009

How Syracuse and Connecticut Could Have Avoided 6 OTs

Watching Thursday night's epic six-overtime battle between Syracuse and Connecticut was an astonishing experience for those who persevered well into Friday morning to watch its conclusion.

The gutsy performances displayed by both teams in Syracuse’s 127-117 victory were mind-boggling, as it seemed the clash would never end.

This was never more apparent than when my mother turned to my brother and me at the end of the second overtime and asked, “So, will they play a third overtime?”

Obviously, taken aback by her question (Mom loves sports but admits to occasionally opening her mouth before she thinks), I began thinking about the possibility of the game continuing forever.

Perhaps it was the madness of March seeping into my psyche, or just the exhaustion of being awake past midnight on a work night, but the ideas of how to properly finish this classic encounter began rolling into my mind.

So, if a sleepy Syracuse team fails to advance over West Virginia in the semifinal, perhaps the Big East could have avoided the six-overtime marathon by simply thinking outside of the box:

1. Despite Paul Harris’ 29-point performance, the forward’s numerous misses from point-blank range were tough on the eyes. Perhaps a simple layup contest could have determined the winner? First team to miss loses.

2. The referees lead a ferocious game of Simon Says at center court. Last man standing wins it for his school.

3. Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun look at each other and simply nod, knowing how to settle this. A duel? No, this isn’t the 1700s. The rival coaches play a game of one-on-one to determine who advances. Suit jackets must stay on, no matter what.

4. After four overtimes, dribbling becomes optional. What an interesting dynamic to consider as fatigue continues to grind down both teams. Rugby, anyone?

5. When the third overtime fails to produce a winner, the referees decide to go back and take one more look at Eric Devendorf’s shot at the end of regulation. “On second thought, now that we look at it again, it was good. Let’s go home.”

6. In a fine display of college spirit, the teams agree to a game of beer pong. Only upperclassmen of legal-age are eligible, of course. But alas, the game of 10-cup goes into, you guessed it, overtime.

7. After failing to best one another, the rivals agree to join forces and play the semifinal as the Syrnecticuse Orskies. West Virginia and the rest of the Big East will not stand a chance!

8. When both coaches are informed of the Big East’s 1:00 AM curfew, the players disperse to their respective hotel rooms. The last player on the bench from each school finishes the game: playing Xbox Live.

9. The public address announcer calls for any former players in attendance to proceed to the court for one last moment in the spotlight. In street clothes, Gerry McNamara drains six 3-pointers to seal it for the Orange.

10. And finally, in a moment that will define the history of Big East basketball, the Madison Square Garden crew sets up the arm wrestling table for the final battle to decide who advances and who goes home.

Syracuse and UConn.

A trip to the semifinal on the line.

The two combatants cautiously walk to center court.

Otto the Orange versus Jonathan the Husky.

Best out of three.

March Madness personified.

Justin Jones contributed to this article, and in his mind, actually wrote it.

No comments: