Thursday, February 28, 2013

The U vs. The Crazies: A Rematch ... but So Much More

By Spencer Pyke

It’s Sunday, March 23, 2008.  I sit sulking in my girlfriend’s car on the way back to college after spending Easter Weekend with her family. My beloved Miami Hurricanes have just been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament by eventual Elite 8 participants, the Texas Longhorns, in a nail-biting defeat, 75 – 72.  Julian Gamble is just a freshman, Jimmy Graham, as we would find out, is clearly playing the wrong sport and our leading scorer, Jack McClinton, just could not do it alone.

As I stare out the window, replaying the game over and over in my head, she clearly does not understand why I am so upset. Honestly, I do not expect her to.  Outside of her family, I do not know if she cares about anything as much as I do my teams.  As I imagine what could have been, deep down inside, I may have known Miami did not have the talent to make a run in the tourney, but that did not make the loss any less painful.

When you are a true fan, in my opinion, you never admit your team does not have what it takes.  Man, I still think the Marlins could have beaten the Giants in a seven game series last year and the Dolphins could have beaten the Ravens, but that’s a whole other story.

Since that solemn Easter Sunday, the relationship with the girl has ended, along with a few others, and my beloved Hurricanes have not sniffed the dance.  Toss in three early exits from the National Invitation Tournament, and it’s been just short of hell.

Like most loyal fans, I was ecstatic at the team’s potential heading into the 2012-2013 season.  Being a Miami fan in this Atlantic Coast Conference region of Virginia -- where Virginia, Virginia Tech, Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State reign -- I soaked in everyone else’s dismissal of our legitimacy.  I paid careful attention to everyone who claimed that State, Duke and North Carolina were the favorites to win the conference, telling them not to overlook a certain veteran-filled platoon from down South.  Covered in royal and baby blue from head-to-toe, these “Bible Belt” fans just laughed and urged me not to forget that Miami has always, and will always, be a football program.

27 games later, and 23 wins I might add, the U is ranked in the top five and nearly the entire ACC, outside of Chapel Hill, is praying for Duke to knock us off this Saturday in what ESPN is calling “the mosted heated rematch of the season.” If Duke falls short, much like they did in South Florida back in January, it all but wraps up Miami’s first regular season ACC crown.  If you listen closely down here, you can hear the murmurs and the whispers, “Anyone but Miami.”

High-five Reggie.

This is nothing new to fans that bleed orange and green; we have been the most hated program for decades. As Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Ohio State and Florida State fans around the country cross their fingers, hoping that the NCAA slams us, ironically enough, for “our lack of institutional control,” the basketball program, thanks to Jim Larranaga, who already has my vote for President in 2016, is the silver lining on a dark cloud hanging over our head.

The center of it all.

This whole situation represents the City of Miami to the fullest. One day, dark clouds and strong winds from a hurricane could ravage the city, only to be followed by the sunniest, most picturesque day imaginable.  That is in essence, what the “Magic City” is all about.

As for Saturday’s basketball program, there is nothing magical about it.  Six veteran seniors, a group of solid juniors and one superb sophomore, have this team jockeying for a #1 seed come tournament time.

Often times overlooked, Durand Scott and Shane Larkin have developed into the best backcourt in the nation. Not Louisville, not Michigan, not Duke, but Miami. Scott and Larkin both average over 13 points a game, and are both in the top three in steals in the ACC wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. Big men Kenny Kadji, Reggie Johnson and the aforementioned Gamble are forces to be reckoned with down low while Trey McKinney-Jones and sixth man, Rion Brown, are deadly from beyond the arc.

Yo, Seth, you mad, bro?

Miami is good; check that, Miami is damn good.

As we head into the final days of February, am I saying Miami is the favorite for the National Championship? No.  Am I saying winning the ACC Tournament will be easy as key lime pie? No.  All I am saying is, while we may not cut down the nets come April, we can surely kick back and enjoy this incredible ride while it lasts, unlike mine on Easter five years ago.  

1 comment:

  1. You may not be saying the Canes are favorites to win the title but Vegas is!!!