Sweet Sixteen?

Written by on March 26, 2018

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS March 26, 2018, #685… Sweet Sixteen?
After further review…Now that the NCAA March Madness tournament has moved to the “Final Four,” perhaps the Sweet Sixteen should have been titled “sweet seventeen!” Wouldn’t you have liked to see the Retrievers play one more game? The who? The Retrievers? What school do they represent? Why UMBC, of course! UMBC – does the “U” stand for university? Yes, it does. Ok, then where is that university? UMBC, (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) located at 1000 Hilltop Circlein Baltimore County, is an honors university in the University System of Maryland and was founded in 1966 – 336 years after the Harvard Crimson.
UMBC’s mascot is the Chesapeake Bay Retriever an “American original who embodies the classic traits of a good retriever: “loyal, upbeat, affectionate, and tireless,” which also describes the school’s basketball T*E*A*M. They finished second in the American East conference, but by winning the conference championship were an automatic bid into the 68-team NCAA tournament. With a season record of 25 and 11 they were seeded 16th and assigned to play the University of Virginia Cavaliers, seeded number one with a 17 and 1 ACC record and an overall record of 31 and 3 – the tournament favorite! Final score 74 – 54, Retrievers!
This is the first time in NCAA history that a number 16th seed has defeated the number one seed. What impressed this writer, and most of the madness watchers were the Retrievers’ starting lineup: one freshman, one sophomore, one junior, one senior and one graduate student. Their T*E*A*M victory was one of “True Grit,” which is also the name of their mascot. These five and their bench played with the upbeat,” tireless effort that describes their mascot. While they did have three players at 6’9″, they had no players at 7′ or more.
The Retrievers’ top scorer, Jairus Lyles, was listed at 6’2″ and their point guard, K.J. Maura, Puerto Rican born, although listed at 5’8″ said in an interview, “I’m 5’7″ – on a good day.” The T*E*A*M played like they just wandered into the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C., found a game going on and decided to join in. These Retrievers’, along with their second-year coach, Ryan Odom, whose father, Dave Odom (a former high school and college coach) were just having fun! Dave gave son Ryan the best advice: “Just coach your T*E*A*M.” And that he did! With little or no arguing, aka. hassling the officials. Further, they played, seemingly, with no regard to who made the basket or got the credit.
Will you be part of your T*E*A*M with that same perspective?
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To contact Jim, go to JimTunney.com or email Jim@JimTunney.com.

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