Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What If Wednesday

It's Wednesday, so you know what that means, lets take a trip down memory lane and talk about two sporting events, that could of went the opposite way if "what if" happened.

On a side note, congrats to Harvard, South Dakota State, Detroit and Western Kentucky for all winning their conference tournament championship games last night. Along, with the Northeast Championship Game, that I mentioned in yesterday's post, the Patriot League (Lehigh vs. Bucknell), and Big Sky Conference (Weber State vs. Montana) have their Championship Games tonight.

McNamara's Run in the 2006 Big East Tournament
Syracuse all but needing to win the 2006 Big East Tournament to reach the NCAA Tournament, received a heroic and memorable 4-game performance by their star PG Gerry McNamara. The Orange (7-9) in the Big East that season were the #9 seed in the Big East Tournament and started play vs. Cincinnati. Down by two, McNamara would write the first chapter to this unbelievable story, splitting two Bearcat defenders, he swished a 3-pt basket with 0.5 left, Syracuse wins 74-73. Next game, McNamara and the Orange knocked off top-seeded UCONN in OT 86-84, in which McNamara knocked down a 30 footer to force overtime. In the semi-finals, Syracuse upset arch-rival Georgetown, 58 to 57. In the Championship Game, McNamara and the Orange cruised by Pitt 65 to 61 to win the automatic bid for the NCAA tournament out of the Big East Conference. Ironically, Syracuse would lose their first game in the NCAA tournament to Texas A&M, running out of gas from the previous 4 games in 4 nights Big East Tournament. For his wonderful performance in the four games, Gerry McNamara was awarded the Big East Tournament MVP award.

"What If"
A great story and run by McNamara and the Syracuse Orange, but "what if"? Say the Bearcats were able to get a hand or finger on Gerry's 3-pt attempt at the end of the game? Or if UCONN prevented him from lofting the 30 footer to force OT? What if either of those two clutch 3's rim out? What if Georgetown doesn't let him race the length of the court to find a wide-open teammate to win that game? What would of happened if they were able to beat Texas A&M in the NCAA's? It was a heck of a run, with so many what-if moments along the way. What if...

Kemba'a Run in the 2011 Big East Tournament
What's better then winning 4 games in 4 days? Winning 5 games in 5 days. That's what the UCONN Huskies and Kemba Walker did in the 2011 Big East Tournament. Like Syracuse in 2006, the Huskies started the tournament as the #9 seed and not expected to do much in the tournament. After winning their first two games in the tournament by 26 over DePaul and by 17 over Georgetown, Kemba would nail a GW-jumper vs. #1 seed Pitt in the quarterfinals, 76 to 74. In the semi-final matchup, UCONN beat Syracuse in OT, 76 to 71 and eventually winning the Big East Tournament over Louisville, 69 to 66. It was a historic and heroic run by the UCONN Huskies, that didn't end till the Huskies won it all in the NCAA tournament down in Houston, Texas. The Huskies won 11 in a row to end the season and proved no matter what, if you get hot late and have a player like Kemba, you always have a chance. Kemba won the Big East Tournament MVP, as well as the MOP in the NCAA Tournament. 

"What If"
Again, what would we read in the papers if UCONN would have not had their historic run? If Kemba's jumper vs. Pitt bounces off the back of the rim, do they win in overtime? Or what if Syracuse beats them in the semi-finals, do they still have the run in the NCAA Tournament? If Louisville beats them in the Finals, who's the MVP or the tournament? Clearly, again so many "what if" moments that we never know because of what actually happened. What if...

There have been some great moments in the Big East Tournament over the years, but these two stand out the most, because it wasn't just a single moment in a game (i.e. Allen Iverson or Ray Allen) it was a stretch of games against some quality opponents in a short period of time. That's why the Big East Tournaments is one of the best things to watch.