Connecticut Yankee vs. a Syracuse court [by Chris]
They’re calling it the greatest non-tournament game ever played.
After six overtimes and almost four hours of basketball, a team that hadn’t led for any of the first 25 minutes of overtime, tasted victory when Syracuse toppled the University of Connecticut.
I wouldn’t know.
My focus was on the tan and attractive 2003 Syracuse graduate sitting beside me at The Heritage in Lenox.
I grew up in West Hartford, Conn. with season tickets to UConn home games in Hartford, then went to Syracuse, where I covered the national championship basketball team for the school paper in 2003.
Jim Boeheim’s as decent to the media as you can expect from a Hall of Fame coach, earning my permanent respect, while Jim Calhoun – bully that he is – crafted some of the best moments of my youth.
I am a UConn fan that pulls for the Orange when the two don’t match up.
I’d kept my eye on the game throughout the night, watching the first half at Patrick’s Pub in Pittsfield and part of the second half at Firefly in Lenox.
When the game went to overtime, three friends and I went to the Heritage.
Walking in the door, we encountered a group of five girls and one guy screaming at every shot. Many of the girls were dressed artsy, while the other wore a Syracuse sweatshirt and stood closest to the bar.
They’ll appreciate my noble profession as a writer, I surmised by their artsy appearal. And my passion for sports won’t serve as a black mark against me. This was ideal.
During a commercial break, I sidled up to the Syracuse graduate and mentioned I too had attended the fine institution, but I’d grown up in Connecticut with season tickets.
“Pick a side, right now!” a mature women sitting opposite her yelled. “You need to choose.”
I told her it would be UConn, and she immediately turned her attention back to the screen in an effort to ignore me.
In the meantime, my friend Ed met a girl from Albany, his hometown, who said she was a runner.
“You look fit,” I remarked in an effort to be affable, more an effort to compliment a stranger and enhance my buddy’s chances than to make any inroads for myself.
After all, who doesn’t like a good compliment?
“That’s actually a really good line,” she returned, lifting her hand and wiggling her fingers, which held a glittering ring. “It’d work on most of the girls you meet.”
She later panned Ed’s material, so at least I got a passing grade.
My pleasantness unreturned, my focus went back to the game and the maiden in the Syracuse sweatshirt.
As the game went on, I clapped politely after UConn baskets, an effort not to annoy my company. They screamed and screeched after every shot. My lone insult was calling Syracuse guard and woman-beater Eric Devondorf a white-trash Gerry McNamara and telling them Gerry wouldn’t have missed a clutch free throw late in the game
(He wouldn’t have).
With UConn winning by two and about 20 seconds left in the third overtime, the Huskies drew a foul and had a chance to ice the game.
“They’ll make one of two, and Devondorf will make a 3-pointer to tie the game,” I predicted to the Syracuse grad. “Then we’ll watch a fourth overtime together.”
Lo and behold, UConn did make just one free throw and a 3-pointer by either Devondorf or Andy Rautins – I forget right now – sent the game into a fourth overtime.
“You didn’t believe in them,” she told me, waving a finger in my face.
Wait. What? I was mystified. What hadn’t I believed in?
I was the one who believed this exact event would transpire. In fact, I’d predicted it moment for moment.
Seconds later, the adult woman – I presume her mother – with a pair of shot glasses in front of her that had recently contained lemon drops, stood up and shoved me in the chest.
“Get over there,” she bellowed, pointing to the other side of the bar, where a lone UConn fan sat.
With my Notredamus-like penchant for predictions unable to leave an impression, and the mother hen of the group unappreciative of my presence, I retreated to watch the rest of the game on my side of the bar, where bartender Scott Tremlett entertained us with dirty jokes and assured us we’d be able to watch until game’s end.
I watched the Huskies unable to score throughout the sixth overtime, suffering an exhausting defeat.
I must have trudged home as unhappy as those UConn players. They’d suffered one defeat in four hours. I’d endured two in 10 minutes.