March hath arrived.
Last night, college basketball fans were treated to something that will not happen again for a long time. The Big East’s longest ever game on the conference’s biggest stage, pitting the conference’s two most successful coaches against one another. Six overtimes, nearly four hours in real time, 67 minutes played by Jonny Flynn, 93 combined free throw attempts, and the Orange had the lead in overtime exactly zero times before Andy Rautins’ three shortly after the final extra frame began.
Gaudy stats aside, everyone pulled their load and then some in this game. It seemed like someone different was keeping SU in the game every time it was needed, whether it was Andy Rautins hitting a 3, Jonny Flynn feeding Rick Jackson, Paul Harris finally redeeming himself after botching bunny after bunny at the end of the 4th overtime, or Kris Joseph and Justin Thomas coming off the bench ice cold and keeping the Huskies at bay. AO even connected on both ends of a trip to the free throw line late in regulation.
Jim Boeheim said that he has never been more proud of a team than this group and right now, I can’t argue otherwise. SU played with the drive you would expect of a team in need of a win to make the Big Dance, but then you remember that SU didn’t have nearly that much to gain by winning this game. They could have very easily packed it in and said “oh well, we’ll get a nice week of rest for the tourney,” but they had more pride than that.
And after everything that happened, there’s another game Friday night (and maybe another one after that on Saturday). The team will obviously be gassed for its encore against the Mountaineers, and Orange fans may be disappointed to hear this game in and of itself hasn’t knocked UConn out of the running for a 1-seed, so all you can do is stay geared up for the run while it lasts.