March 18, 2008

Warm Weather, Blue Skies

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March 16, 2008

In a room with so many people, it was almost scary how quiet the place became as North Carolina was named the No. 1 seed. The winner of the Coppin State/ Mt. St. Mary’s game was given the chore of facing the Tar Heels. A collective laugh echoed from the room as some players joked about the possibility of being that 16-seed facing Tyler Hansbrough and the Tar Heels.

As a matter of fact, we joked about the situation and how pissed some of the players would have been. Junior Jeff Foote would have stormed outside and kicked the first squirrel he saw. (Refer to Sun Senior Writer Lance Williams’ 10 Questions piece with Jeff Foote to understand the reference.)

Everybody’s attentiveness to the Selection Show was keen. It was almost weird to watch Memphis receive their No. 1 seed, players like Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts were shown sitting in front of the television playing on their phones. Meanwhile, in Ithaca, the players went through what one of them termed as a “rollercoaster ride.”

The tension continued to build.

American University was named a 15-seed, which kind of scared me because they beat Colgate in the Patriot League. Earlier in the year, we lost a game to the Raiders at home, so thoughts of a 15-seed for us didn’t seem impossible.

With each 3, 4 or 5-seed that passed the whole room gasped for air. It was almost in rhythm. You see one of the aforementioned seeds, you start thinking about playing in that possible location against that seed and then relieve or happiness sets in as the Red continued to wait for its appearance on the brackets.

Louisville, Notre Dame, Wisconsin (which Kreefer predicted), Pittsburgh, Washington State all passed through the minds of the room as they were placed on the brackets.

As the possible destinations were dwindling down, the hopes for warm weather (which was majority of the team’s preference) were decreasing. It seemed more and more likely that we would end up in D.C. or Little Rock. There was a chance with Tampa on the board for the last time in the first round.

Almost halfway through the show, it seemed like this was it … Greg Gumble announced Vanderbilt as a 4-seed in Tampa … thoughts of a shooting competition between junior Adam Gore and sophomore Ryan Wittman against Vandy’s Shan Foster were running through my head in those microseconds that last between the naming of the match-up. To some disappointment, Siena of all teams earned the chance as a 13-seed.

It felt like robbery.

It seemed like everybody wanted that match-up, players, friends and alumni but the wait continued. My roommate even sent me a message reliving the up-and-downs of the Selection Show, “This is making me nervous,” he sent thru a text message. “I’m bugging out,” was his quote that truly described the situation.

With Siena getting a 13-seed, some of the players started thinking that the Red must get at least a 13-seed, seeing as though Cornell beat Siena at home earlier this year. Despite the probability of the game in Tampa being erased, hopes were still up (even though many realized that UConn was still out there, scary thought.)

Stanford was announced as the next 3-seed and to much amazement, happiness and jitters all in one, Cornell was named as its opponents. Immediately storylines ran through my head … The East Ivy vs. The West Ivy, which shade of Red is better? How will Foote deal with the 7’0’’ Lopez twins?

It was weird, looking into the eyes and talking to the players, nobody seemed nervous. Despite Stanford’s talent and reputation, the Red didn’t really seem caught off-guard. I don’t know if it was the game against Duke or not, but if there is anything that I could tell from the players body language, they just want to play the game.