To say that “March Madness” is not upon us now is a real misjudgment. It is that time of year when impossible is the normal and there is always something left to leave on the court and giving less than you’re all is unexcusable. It is the time when athletes have to push themselves and realize that every game can be their last. On March 12, 2009, a game went beyond these goals, when something so unforgettable, so outstanding, so physically mind-boggling occurred that most people would probably never believe that it actually happened unless they saw it in person. Get ready for heart-stopping voyage.
In the legendary Madison Square Garden, where the major legends of basketball have laced up and brought down the house, the Big East Tournament began when two of the conference’s biggest rivals, the Huskies of Connecticut and the Orange of Syracuse, tipped off at 9:36 p.m. What occurred over the next batch of hours became intense. Back and forth the two teams went and with just 1.1 seconds left on the clock, one call, one shot turned into history. It was Syracuse’s Eric Devendorf who launched a three pointer which looked like, and was called by fans, the game winner. The referees convened and said, “No good.” The game would have been 74-71 in favor of the Orange, but that would have been too easy and predictable.
It took more than just one or two overtimes to settle the winner, try six, one short of being the longest game in college basketball history. Three hours and forty-six minutes of sheer highs and lows that led to eight players fouling out and unable to play, 43 total turnovers, 82 field goals, 143 rebounds, 244 points, and 6 double-doubles. All of players on both teams received some level of playing time, even those who hadn’t played all year. Some like Scottie Haralson and Donnell Beverly got around one overtime’s worth of playing time, while others such as the aforementioned Devendorf, Huskie A.J. Price, and Flynn each gained over sixty minutes total, with Flynn playing all but three minutes of the seventy minute epic. He had a game high 34 points and 11 assists to help put away the powerhouse Husky squad and their all-star giant, Hasheem Thabeet.
To put into perspective how great of a feat this is, realize that this game was incredibly long, three hours and forty-six minutes worth of back and forth game time, but it was worth the extra hour plus to watch. If you didn’t want to watch the game you could make it from Raleigh to Asheville in the west, to Columbia, South Carolina in the south, to Charlottesville, Virginia in the north, or maybe even Virginia Beach in exactly that time, if you wanted to get away to somewhere nice. You could easily watch a football game or even “Titanic” with some extra time to spare. You could watch 4 episodes of “Baldwin Hills”, “For the Love of Ray J”, “American Idol”, or even the new season of “College Hill” minus the commercial interruptions in a row. For me personally, I could just sit in either of my education classes plus another math class back-to-back, but I would honestly rather watch sports.
To see the back-to-back-to-back overtimes and see the anguish and pain from so much running and so much hope left on the courts truly gave insight to how much both teams wanted the victory. Sadly, someone had to lose. All I can say is that this game will go down in history and it will never be forgotten.