The ball was in the air Monday night and the buzzer was about to go off. When it did go off, the ball, launched by Shabazz Napier, was in the net and UConn had won its eighth game without a loss. Florida was the loser.
The home fans, which The Register’s David Borges described as a “rowdy, sellout crowd,” reacted as one would expect, erupting in that joyous burst of raucous energy that means, basically, hooray for us, we won.
That is really what games are for, to give fans, very briefly, that warm gush of pride, even though they know that tomorrow they are going to have to face the same problems and tensions that were there yesterday. A great, last second victory, or even a last second loss, are made for relief and respite.
I can’t remember the name of the man who said, “The greatest feeling in the world is winning . . . the second-greatest feeling is losing.” He knew of what he spoke.
That evening, alone in my living room, the Seattle-New Orleans NFL game was a disappointment, because the Seahawks completely dominated right from the beginning. (The only sports fans who enjoy that kind of game, which lacks suspense, that I know of are those who live and die with UConn women’s basketball. Most of them have never watched a 40-point blowout they didn’t love.)
So, Kevin Ollie’s team was the answer, and did they ever come through!
The game reminded me, as all such games do, of UConn-Clemson and Tate George at the Meadowlands in 1990. It was an NCAA Tournament playdown game. This was the ultimate buzzer-beater because, trailing by a point, UConn had to go the length of the court and score in one second. Scottie Burrell, with his baseball pitcher’s wing, sent it true to George’s sure hands. George jumped, turned in the air, and made it.
Two nights later, of course, Duke’s Christian Laettner scored at the last tick, to eliminate UConn, whose fans and followers experienced the second greatest feeling in sports, losing.
Last weekend gave us more than one last-second verdict, in games that made the national football standings shiver, shake and tumble. The team that tumbled the farthest, because it had the farthest to fall, was Alabama. The world now knows, of course, that the Crimson Tide fell with a resounding thud from its perch at the top of the BCS standings when a talented young Auburn speed burner named Chris Davis caught a 57-yard field goal attempt deep in the Tigers’ end zone and raced all the way back for the touchdown.
I was dozing at the time – too much football can do that to you – but I saw the replay several times. I had no rooting interest so I wasn’t heavily affected either way, but it surely interesting.
My favorite memory of a last-second victory is the Torrington High School vs Ansonia High game in 1962, when, as a young sports writer for the Torrington Register, I walked the sideline and watched Bob Peters, later a football player for Columbia, run almost the length of the gridiron, get knocked out of bounds, and then throw two passes to Vic Radzevich Jr. for the win.
Had Peters gone out of bounds three or four seconds later, the game would have been over because time would have expired. But there was still a second or two left. His passes were true. Radzevich’s hands were sure. Torrington won. THS fans drove home in procession and when they entered the city, the blowing of horns was deafening.
Torrington was a proud city that day, and it’s victories like this that make the (sports) world go round.