Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Xavier Wins Atlantic 10!!!


What a difference a week makes.

Last week at this time, we had just lost our final regular season game to UMass and had just come out of a rather dismal February. It seemed as if the season was quickly coming to an end, and se could look forward to the Not-In-Tournament Tournament. Then on Monday the Atlantic 10 tournamnet pairings were announced, and a quick scan of the card revealed that we were due to play UMass (the team we had just lost to) in the opening round.

It wasn't looking too optimistic, and we knew our only hopes of seeing the NCAA Tournament was to win 4 games in 4 nights, a feat thaat I beleive only WE have done, and then only once. (cue up "To dream the impossible dream" from Man of La Mancha)

Wednesday got off to a fine start, Crosstown rival UC had their conference opener at noon, and by 2PM I was listening to them go down by 1 point on a last second buzzer beater. (Sorry, had to slide that in there, uhm where was I?)

Then Wednesday evening came, and to make a long story short, we were able to defeat U-Mass , which meant that we earned the right to play Charlotte. (1 down, 3 to go)

Thursday night came, and it was a close one,no doubt about that, the folks who read my Survivor recaps are still waiting for Thursday's recap as college basketball took priority, and in a close finish, we defeated Charlotte (for the second time this season). Thursday was an interesting day at the A10 tournamnet, the top 4 seeded schools receive byes to Bye-Pass the opening round. This year all four of the top seeds bowed out on Thursday. The long and short of it, was we earned the right to play Fordham in the semifinals. As soon as we defeated Charlotte I decided that what with the tournament games being held in town at the US Bank Arena I needed to try togo see it, so a quick run to and I was in for semi final tickets. (2 down, 2 to go)

So Friday night, I make it down to the arena in time to catch the second half of the Temple-St. Joe game. We had traded wins with St. Joes one a piece during the main season, where we lost our one game with Temple. Hmm, thats a toss up over who wins, and I found its hard to get into a game when you don't have a strong interest either way. Then the real game came on Fordham-Xavier. I am afraid it wasn't quite the blowout that oddsmakers were expecting, in fact it was a bit close for comfort several times during the game. But we pulled ahead when it mattered and shut down the Rams. I will say the Fordham mascot is very personable, but have some respect for your team flag there buddy. So, upon hearing the box office is open, it is a mad dash to be 20 deep in line, but I secure final game tickets, without the ticketmaster service charges, even. Let's see this means its St. Joeseph's for the final game. (3 down, 1 to go)

Ah, its now Saturday, the rains are pouring down as we head to US Bank Arena. Time to settle in for what will be a grueling fight for the final. The game starts and XU is off to a big early lead, even though it is technically a neutral house, I can tell you a good portion of the 9,000+on hand were XU fans. But wait, dont get too comfy, after a quick played first 10 minutes with practically no foul calls, the game heads up and we are barely squeaking by at intermission,.

The second half starts, and remember how easy going the first half was, with little foul calls, well the second half is foul city. Unfortunately most of the fouls went in St.Joseph's favor, that and the fact that we couldn't seem to buy a bucket to save our lives and things were seriously not looking good in the second half. I think it was likt 10 minutes to go, and we were down by more than 10. I don't like the looks of this, but our players stepped up firing off several much needed treys in the final minutes of the game to get the score back within striking distance, then lets fast forward to the final 10 seconds of the game. It has been said the longest 10 seconds are the final 10 seconds of a highly contested basketball game. we were down by 1 with 5 seconds left, we draw the foul sending us to the foul line to shoot 2. 2 up and in, with no problem, to put us up 62-61 5 seconds left. Youy know with the big foul discrepency, I find it hard to beleive the folks over at the Hawks board are complaining about the officiating.

St. Joes gets the final posession, shot blocked, the horn sounds, the goal lights come on, and the celebration is starting then WAIT "THIS GAME IS NOT OVER, RETURN TO YOUR SEATS, I REPEAT THIS GAME IS NOT OVER" In one of those rules you only see enforced if it can effect the outcome of the game, the officials check video replay and rule that the ball was knocked out of bounds with 1.3 seconds on the clock. They reset the game clock to 1.3 seconds and the game continues. Well, we have the concience of mind to block the shot again, this time the clock expires and the celebration can officially begin! Yes, the team many left out for dead is heading to the NCAA with a guarantted berth. "The Hawk Just Died!"

After a celebration on the floor ("How many fans can you fit onto a basketball court?") , we have the MVP presentations, the trophy presentation, the ring presentations. Then comes the ceremonial cuttng down of the net. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house when the team hoisted injured Thornton up so that he could get the final snip of the net, holding onto the rim for stability.

Well, in just 2 hours from now, its Selection Sunday, time to see who our next oponnent will be.


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