Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Favorite March Madness Moment Ever: My Alma Mater Making the Big Dance

For fans of any of the major powerhouses, making the NCAA tournament is always a reason for celebration, but for most it also feels like a right, I mean who really thinks teams like Duke or North Carolina will go years without making it to the field of 64? But for us who went to small schools and come from Mid Majors, making the tournament feels like seriously a once in a lifetime experience. That's exactly how it felt when we punched our first ever ticket to the big dance in 2007. Not too many people know or have heard of Texas A&M Corpus Christi, most confuse us with the actual Texas A&M and in reality we are known more for our beaches than our basketball, but all the cards fell in to place and the nation was gonna find out just who this upstart team from South Texas was. Our first year of Division I basketball was in 99-00 and we started out as an independent for our first few years until 2006 when we joined the Southland Conference. Our coach was Ronnie Arrow, who was no stranger to playing the Cinderella role. Ronnie Arrow was the coach of 11th seeded South Alabama in 1989 when they defeated 6th seed Alabama before losing a closely contested game to eventual champion Michigan in the next round. After beating Northwestern State by 3 to win the Southland Conference championship the little school that nobody knew was named a 15 seed and was to play major powerhouse and #2 seed Wisconsin in the first round. The days leading up to the tournament were so cool, our team was getting national coverage from ESPN, Ronnie Arrow was doing interviews on Outside the Lines, it was so surreal and so fun. I was so proud of our guys and our school. Nothing beat us actually being on the big stage on CBS and though no one thought we stood a chance, our team shocked the world at first by going up 20-4 and leading by as many as 20. We were hitting every 3, grabbing every board, playing nasty D, it was amazing. I really felt we could've had that game. Towards the end of the half Wisconsin started coming back and cut the lead to 8, 27-19. I could feel it slipping away. Our guys were playing their heart out, but the Badgers were simply just the better team, and with Alando Tucker and also Kammron Taylor hitting every 3 in sight, it was just too much to overcome, and the end score did not reflect how competitive the game really was and how Wisconsin was thisclose to being on the losing end of one of the biggest upsets in NCAA history. It was the first time in college basketball that I could feel the pain, I wanted it sooooooooo bad for our guys, but I will always be proud of that Islander team(and yes a little part of me cheered, when UNLV bounced the Badgers in the next round, lol). We have not gone back to the tournement since and who knows when the next time will be that we can make it, but I'll never forget the 1st time, and that was a great store in itself.

2 comments:

  1. I remember when I got accepted to UNC-Charlotte in 1997. Right after I got my acceptance letter, they appeared in the NCAA tourney and won the first round, setting them up with a round two match-up with UNC. UNC was great that season but my 49ers took them to double overtime, only to lose by 2 points. That was an awesome game and UNC-Charlotte almost bounced their 'big brother' school, but it wasn't meant to be.

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  2. That's a real cool story, I would've been stoked if we actually got the win, and to go to double OT with the Tar-Heels, man that's amazing!

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